Prep Retreats during the Pandemic


Sam Shillcutt, Jay Journal Staff

This year, student retreats at Prep have been in a precarious situation. Many retreats have been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus, and many future retreats are in danger of being postponed as well. However, recently, retreats have started back up again, with new regulations and formats to account for the new situation with the virus. 

Mr Jerry Kinney, the Creighton Prep Director of Retreats, says that it has been a challenge to schedule retreats this year due to the virus.“There have been lots of logistical changes, but thankfully most retreats have been able to occur in one form or another” said Kinney. 

Freshman retreat was supposed to be at the beginning of February, but has been moved back to March instead. 

Sophomore retreats have had many format changes, with a new Sophomore Pilgrimage retreat being formed. This pilgrimage retreat is a day long outdoors hiking retreat, which mitigates Covid risk, in which students appreciate nature and find God in all things, while having fun. 

Junior encounters have also had a location change compared to previous years. In previous years, Juniors would go to the Creighton University retreat center. However, since Creighton has closed it for the year, all encounters have been moved to being at Prep, without the overnight stays. Senior retreat has been postponed all the way to May, so it can hopefully be in person and completely the same as previous years.

Kinney also said the criteria for deciding whether or not to postpone a retreat is two-fold. Kinney says that there are two main factors that determine whether or not a retreat gets cancelled: recommendations from the Prep administration and from hospitals and health departments, and the current situation at Prep with regard to Covid cases. 

Kinney said that the retreat team is constantly contacting health departments and taking advice from the Prep administration when deciding whether or not to hold a retreat. Kinney said that canceling a retreat is always a possibility.  

“It’s possible,” said Kinney. “It depends on how the new variant of the virus affects us.” 

In other words, future retreats’ possibility of happening depends a lot on current and changing circumstances, like how a new strain/variant of the COVID-19 virus is starting to spread. However, in order to mitigate as much of the risk of infection as possible, many retreats are planned to be held outdoors, and no overnight stays are planned for future retreats. 

“Because some retreats have been cancelled, we are getting to a point where most retreats are being pushed back into spring,” Kinney said. “We are going to try to offer students a retreat experience in the following year.” 

In other words, cancelled retreats this year will get pushed back to next year, giving students who had their retreats cancelled a year to experience a retreat experience, albeit a year late. 

But what about current retreats? Are there any changes or limitations to retreat leaders or student participants? Students must wear masks and social distance, according to CDC and school guidelines. The main changes to retreat leaders and participants this year, however, are in the aspect of responsibility and mindset. New retreat leaders must now monitor their group’s physical health and safety, in addition to their mental and social states.

“[Retreat]Leaders now have the double task of making sure people are having fun emotionally and socially, as well as staying healthy and safe.” 

Kinney spoke about his hopefulness about future retreats. 

“We hope to hold many more retreats in person in the coming months,” Kinney said. 

He hopes to hold 3-4 more sophomore pilgrimage retreats, 3 more junior encounters, as well as freshman retreat and senior retreat. He also reminded us of the small Ignatian service retreats that happen every Tuesday, where groups go and volunteer at a food bank. 

Retreats have taken a massive blow this year, being postponed and cancelled left and right. However, retreats are finding a way to bounce back, adapting to the new situation in order to make sure that students can have a fun and rewarding experience during their school lives.

 “This year has been a hard one to plan retreats for, but we’re now ready to get back into the swing of things.”