The Rev. Dr. Teri Ott is hoping a retreat she led earlier this semester will become an annual tradition at Monmouth College, where she serves as chaplain.
Accompanying Ott to the Stronghold Camp and Conference Center in Oregon, Ill., on Sept. 22 were seven students, including four of the college’s first class of Presbyterian Scholars.
The goal of college’s new Presbyterian Scholarship initiative is to attract students interested in leadership or campus ministry. Monmouth targets Presbyterian high school seniors interested in connecting their faith tradition to an education at a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related college. Recipients are required to maintain good academic standing and actively participate in the college’s religious and spiritual life program.
“One of the purposes of this first event was to lay out the program for them and tell them what to expect,” said Ott. “These students will be actively involved in religious life, and our staff has been working on creating rich experiences for them, inspiring them to be religious leaders. I’m looking forward to working with them and helping to nurture their faith.”
Presbyterian Scholars who attended the event were Kayla Cherry of Oswego, Rachael Landrey of Wonder Woods, Zach Platt of Harvard and Taylor Sutschek of Park Ridge. The other scholars are Katie Schmierbach of Marissa and Bryce Willett of Monmouth.
“We really had a fantastic time,” said Ott. “One of the highlights for me was a very open and honest discussion session on Saturday night.”
“The retreat was a lot of fun,” said Landrey. “I am so glad I got to meet new people and learn all about them.”
The group participated in an “ice-breaking” high-rope activity on Saturday and grilled out later that evening. On Sunday, they held a worship service before heading back to campus.
“I enjoyed the high ropes because I feel like it helped us trust each other more,” added Landrey. “Overall it was a great experience, and I can’t wait until next year.”
“We plan on doing a full retreat every year,” explained Ott. “This year’s scholars will host next year’s recipients, and we hope it becomes a tradition.”