Snowball plans virtual retreat

Directors prepare for new Zoom setting

Morgan Fry

When Snowball theatre director Lily Skwarek ‘21 drank her last sip of the famous Camp McClean hot chocolate, gave hugs to fellow participants and read her warm and fuzzy group notes on last spring’s Snowball retreat, she had no idea it would be her final traditional Snowball weekend. 

Long gone are the days of affectionate hugs, group gatherings and energizers. However, Snowball still strove to create new peer relationships by hosting their fall retreat on Zoom Saturday, Nov. 14 and Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. While the fall retreat typically takes place Friday to Sunday, Snowball decided to make the retreat one day this year, with two different options to attend, Snowball staff director Norah Rehor ‘21 said.

“With students being online for school, we were worried about having the retreat virtually because of Zoom fatigue,” Rehor said. “However, we know kids are struggling, and it will be an escape for people to get away and think about themselves a little bit more, even if it’s just for a day.” 

In addition, half of the staff and theatre members led on the November date and half led in December. However, the activities and topics discussed were the same on both dates. This includes the same speakers: Snowball directors David Stormont and Angela Patel, as well as D’Marco Fomby who works for the Snowball state organization. Fomby talked about how to follow your passions during quarantine while Stormont and Patel talked about the impact of the choices you make, Patel said. 

In past years, small groups have had anywhere from 15 to 17 people. For this retreat, they reduced the number down to five to seven people, Patel said. 

“In a large Zoom setting, more people means more anonymity, and [students are] less likely to share, so a smaller group sort of holds them accountable to talk,” Patel said. 

Snowball’s theatre still wrote, practiced and presented their traditional theatre show, Skwarek said. Five theatre members performed monologues on mental health issues like anxiety, depression and self-image. 

“I know that everyone’s mental health was affected by not being able to see people you know after being quarantined for so long,” Skwarek said. “I think that those monologues are going to spark a lot of discussion.” 

For the virtual setting, theatre members recorded and sent their skits to Skwarek and co-theatre director Liam Ludden ‘21 who edited all the skits together. During the retreat, participants were  given an unlisted Youtube link, meaning only those on the retreat could view the video, Skwarek said. 

“My biggest fear is that we can’t get Snowball to translate into this sort of setting,” Patel said. “But I’m excited that maybe someone will be able to meet one person they find something in common with that they can use as a resource to help them get through their troubled times.”

Participants were able to pick up goodie bags with their shirt, hot chocolate mix and supplies for activities at the North Campus Clock Tower any time the week leading up to the retreat.