Baptist Student Union will host retreat beginning August 30 through September 1.
With the college year starting on Monday, there are a lot of new students on campus adjusting to the campus lifestyle. To provide a welcoming environment for them, the Baptist Student Union (BSU) is holding a retreat for students August 30 through September 1.
College can be a crazy time for freshmen students who are trying to adjust to being away from home and planned responsibilities. Along with that, some students aren’t familiar with the town of Oxford and do not know many people. The Baptist Student Union is there to help new students with these issues.
The Baptist Student Union has been holding a retreat each year for the last 12 years to help students get acclimated to their new environment. Each fall, at least 80 to 100 new students are in attendance. Baptist Student Union Director Mo Baker says the origins of the retreat came about when he first arrived in 2002 to breath a little more life into the BSU by recruiting freshmen and transfer students.
“We’ve continued to do this (retreat) as a way to help these new students get acclimated real fast to the university,” Baker said. “If they can come to this retreat and quickly get into a small group and get assimilated with other freshmen or transfers that are just like them and feel the same as them about certain issues, it kind of takes the edge off of being a person in a large group.”
Baker also says that coming to the BSU and getting into those small groups helps people get together and study the Bible, have meetings for accountability, prayer, and to help build friendships. There are also churches that are brought in to help provide food and talk to the students about particular college ministries that they offer to students from their church. Doing this gives students the opportunity to plug themselves into a church that they can attend and participate in while they are here as a university student.
There are also recreation events to help students get outside, blow off some steam, and grow socially.
Most of the events of the weekend are held at the Baptist Student Union building itself.
“We’ll do worship events, we will do meals here, and we will break (students) off into their small groups beginning on Friday night. We’ll introduce them to the upper classmen who will be leading their groups. These are people who are sophomore through senior levels,” Baker said. “Our transfers will go out on Saturday – and go to Sardis Lake. (The Church group that adopts them) will feed them and take them there for recreation.”
During this time, the freshmen will be at either Pat Lamar Park for a late lunch and recreation or go to the intramural fields. Then the groups will come back to the BSU for another worship time and have another church come in to speak to the students. There are also multiple seminars offered on Friday and Saturday night for different events that are on campus, such as rushing Greek.
“We kind of want to give them some of the positives and negatives to think about with that experience,” Baker said. “We’ll do a time management, a money management, and how to share your faith seminar. Mission opportunities to get involved both locally in the community and nationally and internationally.”
Then finally on Sunday the groups will meet up to conclude the weekend. They will meet at the BSU for a light breakfast and send the students out to some of the churches that spoke to them that weekend to help them get introduced to that church and what they have to offer.
Freshmen and transfers interested in attending the retreat should visit olemissbsu.org and follow the links to Survival Weekend. Students can register online and pay through paypal or write a check or bring cash to the BSU. There will be a registration push on the night of Tuesday August 27. Register is open anytime between now and Friday. The BSU also takes registrations at the door on Friday evening.
The event begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 30, and supper will be provided. Students are not required to bring anything with them. Students are also not required to stay the entire weekend.
There are also various events that the BSU is involved in throughout the school year. One afternoon a week, the Kids Club Ministry goes to a more needy part of town to tutor kids and play games with them.
“We’re heavily involved in missions. For example, we’ll raise money for our mission programs by cleaning The Grove after some of the football games. So we’ll be a part of five Grove cleanups after football games this fall and those can last from two to five or six hours. We’ll have 80 to 100 people out there (cleaning),” Baker said. “We will take some mission trips. Right now, we’re looking at going to Malaysia in January, Mexico in May and probably Nashville in March.”
The BSU also sends students who volunteer out on summer missions. Students can volunteer time and be sent on missions that are two to ten weeks long. These missions can be in the United States or abroad.
For more information on the Baptist Student Union Retreat and any events that they have coming up, visit olemissbsu.org. – Justin Taylor, senior journalism major, Meek School of Journalism and New Media.
Email Justin Taylor at email@example.com