Massive doors open to a wooden cabin. You step inside and feel the temperature jump ten degrees from the amount of people in the room, as you see nearly a hundred young adults crowding on couches, the floor and at tables. The noise increases as people shout for their friends and laugh at the antics in the room. The back wall is lined with windows, revealing the breathtaking silhouette of the Smokies. In the corner you see a microphone, a ukulele and… a full drum set. The energy is electrifying – you’ve never seen anything like this.
Welcome to WintOrr Retreat.
In early April, the Fellows embarked on one of Orr’s most revered traditions: WintOrr Retreat. About a hundred Fellows carpooled for six and a half hours to none other than Gatlinburg, TN, where two large cabins awaited their arrival.
The long weekend included all-Fellowship activities, such as an impressive talent show, a rambunctious game of Family Feud, small group meetups, competitions, etc. There was also a decent amount of unstructured free time, where Fellows could get to know each other however they pleased, whether on a seven-mile hike in the Smokies or over a game of pool in the cabins.
While constant activity and fun is the recurring theme, WintOrr Retreat is really about strengthening the Orr community. Benji Hudson, a Fellow, shares: “My favorite part is always meeting and seeing new people who I haven’t had a chance to interact with yet.”
With Orr’s recent growth, despite having several events prior, not every Fellow has been able to connect. However, WintOrr Retreat is a break from the usual hustle and bustle of work and regular Orr events, and is the perfect chance to do just that. “WintOrr Retreat is an amazing opportunity where Orr Fellowship gives Fellows the space to meet other Fellows in an informal setting,” says Fellow Hannah Robinson. “I was able to gain deeper relationships with other Fellows.”
The magic of this retreat cannot happen without the Fellows who planned it. While the travel costs are covered by Orr, WintOrr Retreat is run entirely by Fellows. “It’s important to the Orr Community because it allows for a customizable experience which highlights the skills and talents of so many Fellows,” explains Hunter Haines, Fellow and Director of Fellow and Alumni Engagement. “Through volunteer-led events, workshops and programming, Fellows get visibility to each other’s passions and hard work.”
Fellows are encouraged to step up to the plate and take ownership of planning parts of the retreat they’re excited for. This could be a logistical role such as organizing travel, food or sleeping arrangements. It could also be a Fellow deciding to lead a yoga session or facilitate a workshop. Whatever the activity, Fellows are there to support, learn and grow where they can in an empowering environment.
“I left feeling even more energized about the direction of Orr Fellowship and incredibly grateful for the many amazing people I am surrounded by,” says Sean O’Dell.
WintOrr Retreat isn’t just a four-day vacation; it’s truly a unifying experience for Fellows. It’s an experience that reminds many Fellows why they joined in the first place: access to a community of people in the same boat as them. People who can teach them. Make them laugh. Inspire them.
Orr Fellowship is an absolutely amazing career opportunity, and importantly, one that comes with a community like no other.