Since the annual fall Snowball retreat was held over Zoom last year, the club planned on making its return to a more traditional format at Camp MacLean from Nov 5. to Nov. 7, with accommodations for COVID-19 safety measures. Such adjustments included policies similar to the school’s: wearing masks indoors and having the option to take them off while outdoors.
“Re-establishing connections [is] a lot of what we have lost during COVID-19,” Snowball advisor David Stormont said. “The ability to leave our lives here, to be able to go up to camp, to meet each other—I’m so excited to see students have that ability.”
Modifications to an in-person Snowball included food distribution by one individual, small groups that remain together for eating and sleeping, and reserving separate cabins in the instance that someone were to contract COVID-19. Members of the club were excited for a return to an environment where they feel connected, staff director Beaudan Brown ‘22 said.
“It’s relieving to hear other people have had similar experiences as you,” Brown said. “[Snowball is] an opportunity for people to grow and have a good time.”
Although the spring 2021 Snowball was able to adopt a hybrid format for its 170 attendees, the fall 2020 Snowball was forced to stay virtual, with members joining the events via Zoom. They held online group sessions (hosting around 100 people), which allowed for smaller group meetings in breakout rooms. This was an irregular style for Snowball members, Stormont said.
“[It was] weird and different,” staff director Lilja Waliewski ‘22 said. “[You were] disconnected from people [and] you want[ed] to be [there] so it was frustrating.”
But there is still hope, Stormont and Brown said. Aspirations for next year include a similar environment to that of a year and half ago, before the pandemic.
“[There are] definitely things we have to work around this year that hopefully won’t be the same for [Snowball] next year,” Waliewski said.
One of the most anticipated parts of the upcoming Snowball, is how different it will be from the virtual format of the fall gatherings and the hybrid version of the spring.
“The ability to have freshmen through seniors meet each other [and] connect with each other is something that has been much more difficult to do during the last [year and a half],” Stormont said.
No matter the format, Snowball continues to serve as a place where students can come together to grow in a safe place, Brown said.
“It’s a weekend where you can go out and escape from the anxieties of the world,” Brown said. “It’s so fun to get to meet new people, hear other people’s stories, and not feel that alone.”