FRESH Coaching Weekend in the Swabian Alps

A Weekend Full of Great Ideas and Even Better Friends
(Schönbühl at Irndorf, October 22 – 24, 2022)

At FRESH’s first student group meeting of the year, I spotted a sign-up sheet for a “FRESH Coaching Weekend” on a table in the corner.  Being as it was the first meeting – and a pizza party – the turnout was impressive.  I saw the limited number of spaces being offered for this mysterious “Coaching Weekend” and signed up right away.  The description for the event revealed that we would be staying in a “hut” for a leadership training – I was instantly intrigued and was the first to put my name on the list.  A few days later, after some confusion about whether it was necessary to bring a sleeping bag or not – a required item that few of us had – I headed to the meeting point, where we would all carpool to our destination together.  The journey through the rolling farmland foothills was incredibly beautiful and retrospective of the amazing weekend to come.

Once we arrived and got settled in, we feasted on a beautiful vegan lunch prepared by our very own senior members, who had arrived early to prepare nourishment for all of us (thanks again, friends!).  We were given a quick rundown of the days to come, what to expect, and how to contribute to chores over the weekend, where we all worked together to prepare our meals, wash dishes, and keep the house clean.  After lunch, we met outside to play a get-to-know-you game called “Fruit Salad”, which we enjoyed so much that we have since played it in a club meeting with members who were not able to join that weekend.  It quickly became clear the dynamic of the group and the days that would follow – a weekend full of inspiration, motivation, laughs, hugs, dancing, and glühwein.

 There was never a dull moment that weekend.  If we weren’t participating in group exercises or brainstorming fantastically creative ideas, we were fulfilling our individual “hat” duties – such as making sure everyone was drinking enough water (great job, Danilo!), waking up the group first thing in the morning with motivational tunes, making sure everyone picked up after themselves, and several other important roles – all of which everyone happily volunteered for.  Outside of group work, we kept ourselves engaged by getting to know each other by the fire, preparing meals together, and even hosting a small dance party in the barn with three of our very own DJ’s.  It’s safe to say that everyone in attendance bonded that weekend.

 Along with the social aspects, we also worked hard to brainstorm new organizational elements and future events for FRESH.  In fact, we were in workshops up to 8 hours each day, and although we were being productive during this time, the dynamic of the mediators and the group made it feel as though we were all just enjoying a weekend getaway together.  Towards the end of the weekend, it became obvious how much work we had really done, with all the workshop posters covering every bare spot on the walls throughout the house.  For this reason and others, we felt an immense sense of accomplishment.

Our biggest concern throughout the weekend was knowing that most members were not able to join due to the limited space and wondering how we could continue building on these ideas with those who were not in attendance.  We have been very productive since then, holding onto and building upon our ideas with everyone from the group, and even implementing some of the activities we learned that weekend.

 These few wonderful days in the Swabian Alps with my fellow FRESH members was something I’ll always cherish.  We more than just participated in a training weekend – we made lasting friendships with people from all walks of life.  As our own Malwine said, “the weekend brought us together as a group and strengthened the team spirit.  It was really a lot of fun!”.

This weekend made me realize how important it is to celebrate the little things – like tying a shoe while balancing on one leg while 10 people watch and celebrate together (thanks Malwine, for being a shoe-tying inspiration to us all).  It’s times like these that one can see the real beauty in people coming together for a common purpose and leaving as friends with memories that will last a lifetime.  A huge thanks to my fellow FRESHies, and an especially big thank you to Leonie and Selim of netzwerk n for making this happen and inspiring passion in all of us!