Skip to main content

December Retreat Diaries

By Kevin Diggins (ACE 28, Tulsa)

Tulsa at December Retreat

One of the highlights of my ACE experience, both in my first and second years of teaching, has been December Retreat.

After four months of living in community and teaching, all ACE teachers around the country come together in Texas on the first weekend of December at Camp Balcones Spring. We reflect upon the highs, lows, and buffalos of teaching. Of all of the fun activities and sessions I experienced over the course of the weekend, three aspects meant the most to me: the chance to catch up with great friends I had not seen for months, the opportunity to reflect on my past experience and think about where it has been leading me, and a beautiful celebration of Advent that officially got me ready for the Christmas season.

ACErs gathering for reflection

After months of living in a new city, nothing feels as refreshing as walking into a place full of friendly people who know your name and have gone through similar experiences. For me, this was a chance to relax, see friends, and play games. From beautiful walks around the camp with friends, to watching people out on the Pickleball courts, to even playing Codenames with Sister Gail, simply being around friends was an amazing way to unwind and have a great weekend.

Throughout the weekend we were also given the space to think about how our teaching experience has shaped us. I reflected on how much I have learned from all of my new communities, including my ACE community in Tulsa, my school community at San Miguel, and especially all of my students. No matter what I end up doing next year, I realized that the past year and a half has taught me so much, and I will be able to use this experience for the rest of my life.

December Retreat Christmas Party!

The part of the weekend that really brought everything together for me happened the last night. During this night, we had time for individual reflection and reconciliation, followed by everyone coming together for Christmas carols and a Christmas party. This was just such a wonderful way to have one last hurrah with everyone together and to look forward to the coming of the Christmas season. While it was hard to say goodbye to everyone on the following day, and traveling so far and doing so much over the weekend made me plenty tired by the time school started on Monday, I came back feeling refreshed and ready to end 2022 on a high note.

As an aside, TulsACE is truly the best, and December Retreat gave us some great time to appreciate this fact!