A Secret Retreat
During the closing days of June, a secret “retreat” had been organized for the Tier One Organizations. TOO consists of the Student Government, the Viking News, and WEB. The question you might find yourself asking is, “what are the TOO retreating from?” As as reliable and trusted, stable genius, I can tell you, WE WERE NOT RETREATING– We were merely advancing in another direction.
Taking a local bus, through our sheer strength of force, during the dawning hours of a Tuesday morning, the TOO set forth on a holy pilgrimage to the distant, mythical lands of a plane of existence known only as Rhinebeck. The journey was difficult; a single bathroom on the bus, a single rest stop, and nothing but potato chips and peanuts to sustain us– It was a grueling ninety minute drive.
Arriving in the remote local, we were briefed by a strange wanderer, who made himself known only as “Tiago.” He informed us of the many who had come before, and of the legacy we bore. As members of TOO, we all had a heavy responsibility to shoulder. It was upon us, that the students of our school would depend when it came to information, security, structure, and order.
The mysterious organization, which oversaw the care of this remote and secluded part of Rhinebeck’s badlands, simply referred to themselves as the “Children of Ramapo.” They served a mantra, a higher calling,a belief that all young people want the same things: to learn, to feel valued for who they are, and to experience success. To this end, they shunned normal civilized life and adopted the wilds as their home.
Their leader, or presumed chieftain, had selected for us two of their most experienced guides, in order to lead us further in our journey. Many grueling tasks were set before us that day. More than once I found myself carrying another man; his feet no longer able to touch the ground. We were barraged by, what I can only describe as, round “things.” Forced to compete against each other even– as the hot noon-day sun beat down upon us. Many sacrifices had been asked of us, and many more would be required before the first night fell.
The next morning, several of our members would no longer be among us (having gone back early to attend summer classes). The morning proved to be challenging; forced to climb for our lives across ropes, up trees, hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder. A forced march ended the morning– leaving us at the cafeteria.
The remainder of the day had us broken down into factions. Through a series of mock exercises and drills, designed to break mind and body, the indoctrination instilled in us our purpose within TOO. Later that evening, insanity took hold of a few, and in a zombified state, they would stumble toward a makeshift stage in order to belt out the wailing and moaning echos of the damned– Karaoke night; truly a hell on Earth. The horror of the night culminated in a roaring bonfire, which saw many-a-marshmallow sacrificed over it.
After a quick brunch, and a lot of soul searching, the following morning saw us file out of that godforsaken place as fast as our bus would carry us. The ride back afforded us a moment to recognize that we survived– Well, most of us anyway (We never did see Ken again)– And that we had triumphed in the face of adversity, and as a whole, would move forward in to the new semester all the more stronger and more driven for it!