Every year each grade at Castilleja leaves the busy hustle and bustle of school life and embarks on a retreat. Students find the couple of days away from home and school to be quite a change in atmosphere and a good time for a little relaxation. The primary purpose of the retreats, however, is to allow classes to become better united. During a retreat, girls not only become better acquainted with each other, their advisors and faculty members, but also have time to reflect on the school year. During retreat time, a student will often learn quite a bit about herself, as well as her classmates. These are the common goals for all the retreats of grades 6 through 12.
Retreats in the Middle School are designed to meet the needs of our girls as they grow in experience and independence.
Our sixth grade students, new to the school and each other, spend two days at Marin Headlands. The science study centers on a study of marine biology, coastal ecology, and pond habitats. The primary focus, however, is on teambuilding, friendship, and group dynamics.
Seventh graders become reacquainted in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, continuing the work begun in sixth grade. This forest setting provides inspiration for reflection and writing as well as the perfect venue for spirited campfires, group activities, and creative skits. Low and high ropes activities engage the girls in teamwork, healthy risk-taking, and encouragement of peers.
Washington, D.C., is the destination for the eighth grade class. The girls soak up history in colonial Williamsburg, at Monticello, and at the many monuments, museums, and government buildings in our nation's capital. While studying our country's quest for freedom, the eight graders gain their own level of independence and increased responsibility as they travel together. This six day retreat is a highlight of the Middle School experience, complementing both our history curriculum and the goals of our retreat program.
The Upper School Retreat Program at Castilleja is an integral part of our mission to educate young women by fostering their intellectual, physical, creative, and emotional growth. Castilleja believes that lifelong coping and decision-making skills are developed when we find ourselves out of our comfort zone. Retreats allow that challenge in a safe setting.
Our ninth grade class is a mix of new and returning students. The two-day September retreat in the local mountains provides team building, through individual advisory time, personal reflection, quiet time and journal writing. Since ninth graders remain with their advisory groups for two years, many of the activities occur within those groups. This retreat lays the groundwork for the relationships that will build as each advisory travels the next two years together.
Pinnacles National Monument is the setting for a four-day tenth grade retreat. The overarching theme for the retreat is leadership. Group activities and discussions are specifically designed to have the sophomores explore the different styles of leadership and to appreciate their particular strengths as leaders. Within this theme the focus is on empowerment, stepping out of one’s comfort zone, teamwork and self-reflection. The activities include rock climbing, hiking, “sola” time, and problem solving initiatives.
Eleventh graders end their year on the beautiful Santa Cruz coast. Through awareness and assertiveness seminars and quiet time with faculty advisors and friends, this retreat allows the girls to reflect on the year that has passed and look to the challenges of leadership that lie ahead their senior year.
As senior year wraps up, the twelfth grade class embarks on their last adventure as a class. Past activities have included white water rafting on the American River and sailng on the San Francisco Bay. Regardless of their destination, this final retreat is a chance to laugh, to celebrate, and to remember.