Retreat Prepares Scholars for New School Year

Retreat Prepares Scholars for New School Year

At the picturesque location of LaSalle Manor in Plano, Ill., 15 of our Mercy Home scholars prepared for a successful academic year during this year’s Community Care Scholars Retreat. Mercy Home’s Community Care program helps a number of our young people access a good education after leaving our full-time care through academic scholarships while providing them with continued guidance and connection to their extended Mercy Home family. The retreat was a two-day respite from everyday life that allowed these young people to refresh, prepare, and begin the school year with confidence.

On Thursday, August 5, our scholars were given an introduction by staff at LaSalle, as well as our coworkers, before enjoying lunch together. The fun began with some ice breaker activities, which included a competitive water balloon toss. After a break, everyone reconvened in two separate groups for a seminar called “How to Manage Stress and Have Healthy Outlets/Supports.” The scholars did relaxation exercises and talked about strategies and resources that worked for them.

After eating dinner together, the high school scholars met in one group while the college scholars met in for a seminar called “Finding Support Systems and Ways to Meet Others on Campus.” The night ended on a high note with time in the pool and a bonfire, complete with s’mores.

Friday then began with breakfast and morning sessions on topics like “Navigating Career Exploration” and “Navigating Financial Aid.” After lunch, they attended sessions on “Becoming Your Own Advocate” and “Problem Solving School Challenges.” These sessions were a great opportunity for our scholars to learn valuable information and support each other by sharing their own experiences.

Throughout the retreat, our scholars met with our coworkers to review the scholar agreements with our coworkers. This allowed our scholars to know what was expected of them through the year, as well as what to expect from our coworkers.

The trip wrapped up with our scholars enjoying some free time playing games like ping pong, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and swimming. After dinner together, they headed back to Mercy Home, feeling ready for the challenges ahead this school year.

“It was wonderful to be with so many of our scholars and see them connect with and support one another,” Katie Keller Smith said. “We can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings for all of our scholars!”

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