Returning to DU after winter break is an interesting readjustment for everyone, but it is particularly different for students returning from studying abroad the fall before. When you return from abroad, you realize a quarter of the students you knew the year before are graduated and living in the real world, and a quarter of the students at DU are completely unfamiliar because they are first-years. This is slightly overwhelming because there is already so much to catch up on with old friends and lots of readjusting necessary to feel settled and at home again.
Lucky for me and about 90 other PLPers, the annual PLP Winter Retreat provided the time and space for us to reconnect and meet some of the new faces from around campus. For those who have been on the winter retreat before, it is always a fantastic weekend – PLPers caravan up to Mt. Evans to the DU-owned cabins together with cars jam-packed full of food and/or friends. The smell of Linda’s cider wafts throughout the main cabin as a beacon home for those who venture out to snow shoe or slide around on the frozen lake.
However this year was different. Due to PLP’s significant expansion, our group simply outgrew the DU Mt. Evans cabin, so we had to transition to Snow Mountain Ranch just outside of Winter Park, CO. After the usual Einstein bagel and coffee breakfast, we loaded up the busses (also new this year) and headed for the mountains. The cabins we stayed in were much more spacious and provided great open spaces for the usual Mafia, Tribucket, and conversation circles. We brought two carloads of food and feasted on everything from sandwiches and tacos to popcorn and KIND bars. The ranch provided several options for activities including a tubing hill, ice skating rink, athletic facility, and more. I spent most of my time on the sledding hill laughing as too many leaders attempted to organize a multi-tube chain down the hill. One of the highlights of my weekend (besides the taco bar) was dancing outside with blaring car speakers as it started snowing. Who knew Mimi had such great dance moves?
My favorite thing about the retreat is always getting to meet more of my fellow PLPers and connect with them through games, outdoor activities, and conversation. PLP is an organization which brings together some of the most interesting, unique, and impressive individuals I have ever met. I never cease to be amazed when hearing my peers in the program talk about the things that fire them up or share incredible stories about their pasts. PLP has been a second family for me since my arrival at DU, and this cabin weekend is equivalent to a big family reunion. Despite not knowing everyone, you automatically love them and want to know more of their stories, yet you also feel a sense of familiarity and comfort with them. Knowing I only get to go one more time before I graduate has me wanting to plan an alumni trip already.
Blog post written by: Emily Wolverton, current PLPer