Peer Support Retreat Kicks Off 2021-22 Program – The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle


Printed with permission of Eliza Koblentz

Left to right: Peer support leaders and interns Lily Saada ’22, Eliza Koblentz ’23, Alec Rosenthal ’22, Sophia Haynes ’22, Henry Wendorf ’23, Will Sherwood ’23 and Harry Tarses ’23 relax in their pajamas before going to sleep. The peer support retreat is one of the few overnight trips the school has allowed since the pandemic.

Peer support leaders and interns participated in a liaison retreat at Camp Ramah September 10-12. This was the program’s first overnight trip since COVID-19 moved group meetings to Zoom. The students spent the weekend climbing ropes courses, participating in a costume party, and racing team-built boats with the intention of working as a team and growing up.

Intern Lily Weisskopf ’23 said she was grateful for the safe and open space the peer support provides and that she was happy to have attended the retreat.

“I think it was a great privilege and such an experience,” Weisskopf said. “We were able to bond and work with peers not only in our classroom, but also in the senior class. It was all the more unique as we don’t have high school pensions [as] we did it in college.

The bond becomes stronger when you are face to face. I can’t wait to relive it. “

– Kate Hassett ’22

Chief Executive Kate Hassett ’22 said after the year of retreats and virtual meetings, she was eager to return to peer support meetings in person. Hassett said she was able to interact with her junior co-leaders on a more intimate basis and strengthen her friendships with those she had not seen during the pandemic. Now Hassett says she looks forward to strengthening those bonds at school and in group meetings.

“The retreat was very inspiring and I admired how vulnerable and open everyone was,” said Hassett. “I can’t wait to meet at school because it’s a different kind of atmosphere. The bond becomes stronger when you are face to face. I really like it and can’t wait to relive it.

Coordinators Prentiss Corbin ’22, Estee Eidinger ’22, Milo Kiddugavu ’22 and Michael Lapin ’22 said they spent their weekend working on activities with friends and delegating leaders and interns to their groups. The coordinators facilitated light games, broader discussions of program rules, and bonding exercises. Corbin said that while the transition from the virtual to physical peer support experience was daunting, she was grateful for the change and had confidence in the leadership abilities of her peers.

“To say my nerves flew through the door would be an understatement,” Corbin said. “I quickly realized that I had underestimated the true star power that all leaders and trainees have. Everyone was super enthusiastic and ready to put their all into retirement. My expectations have been overturned and this year I really want to make peer support a success for as many people as possible. I have seen so many of my peers and myself reap the benefits of the program and would hate anyone to miss it. “

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