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FSU’s Annual Retreat Gives Budding Leaders an Early Jump Start

FSU’s Annual Retreat Gives Budding Leaders an Early Jump Start
Students at the annual FSU Freshman Leadership Retreat pass a classmate through a ropes course as part of a team-building exercise.

As the Appalachian Mountains turned golden for the start of autumn, a group of Frostburg State University freshmen headed to Camp Allegheny to turn over a new leaf.

Working together to build egg launchers, navigate obstacle courses and build relationships at the bonfire, the new FSU students are taught how to lead while working with a team, thanks to the FSU Office of Leadership and Experiential Learning. FSU has been offering a form of this freshman leadership retreat since the 1980s.

The campground is off of U.S. 30 in Stoystown, Pa., which offers a secluded site where some of the 80 freshmen and dozen camp facilitators, including seniors and FSU faculty and staff, can get to know one another.

The trip solidified what Alexis Thomas learned about Frostburg State after her first month on campus.

“I have a better idea of what Frostburg is about,” said the Bowie resident and biology major. “When they show us the video about how they are one community, I thought they were just saying that to get us to come here. But I see that the professors here, the advisors here, really care, and they really want their students to do well and graduate on time.”

Thomas, whose focus is pre-med, added that she was happy to meet people outside of Cumberland Hall where she lives. She was motivated to sign up for the retreat from a mentor who spoke to her freshman orientation class.

“This retreat will help me open up more because I’ve always been a shy person,” she said. “I’ve met all these people from all over, heard their stories and where they came from.”

Students came from freshmen orientation classes with a variety of focuses, said Beth Bair, FSU’s National Service coordinator with ECHOStars. ECHOStars – Empowering Communities Helping Others Service Through Action, Resources and Sustainability – is a residential volunteer program at FSU that’s offered through AmeriCorps.

The leadership retreat weekend gave students a chance to break away from their studies to discover their own qualities of being a leader.

“The goal is to help the students dig deep into their strengths,” Bair said. “All of them have completed the StrengthsQuest Survey, which is part of the Gallup program we do at Frostburg State. Once they learn their top strengths, it’s a matter of what their strengths reveal about them and applying it to this weekend.”

When the students return to FSU, the lessons and experience will serve them well in student organization leadership roles, Bair added, whether it’s working at the Lane University Center, leading a Greek organization or being involved in community service.

“Some freshmen are here, and they want to focus on getting their degree, but other students are here for a bigger experience,” Bair said. “For those students, this is the place to get it started. It launches you out into a variety of things. This is a chance to get to know the people who are in charge of that and some of whom are already doing it.”

Thomas broke out of her shell even more during an egg-launching activity where her team had to build a contraption to launch an egg without cracking, as well as create a marketing presentation for their invention.

One of her teammates, Baltimore County resident Andrew Wall, loved how his group bonded to win for “best spirit,” thanks to a marketing rap they created for their product, named “Yolko Oh No.”

The freshman ethnobotany major and ECHOStars member could already see how this experience would give him a boost for his start at Frostburg.

“It’s helping me work with a group,” he said. “I haven’t had to work on a group project yet, and I know I will eventually, so this is helping me with communication.”

To watch a video about this experience, visit  

For more information about Frostburg’s leadership programs, contact the Office of Leadership and Experiential Learning at 301-687-7013.


For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589