The Oakgrove retreat recently took place this past month on the weekend of October 18 to 20. It was at Camp Eaton in the beautiful mountains near La Canada. Oakgrove provided about 60 students with a safe place to connect with one another in a more intimate setting. Another main goal that Oakgrove presents is getting the opportunity to meet other students who they previously did not know or interact with.
“Oakgrove is the best thing I have ever experienced. Being surrounded by the loving, nurturing community has and will forever impact my life for the better. Not enough words can describe how wonderful Oakgrove is, you have to experience it yourself,” said junior Daniel Pine.
Oakgrove, a student-led club at Venice High School, plans a retreat every semester for its members to attend. It originated in 1972 to help students express how they felt and discuss their thoughts on the race riots that were taking place during that time period. Since then, it has become a place for students to have an opportunity to share their feelings towards a variety of topics that many high schoolers may share, ranging from addiction and mental health to goals and aspirations to love and relationships.
At Oakgrove, students are able to participate in many bonding activities. Students also are encouraged to speak during the panels and or during their small trust group meetings. Some students even take time to themselves and go on hikes during their free time.
Oakgrove is run by a group of elected students who go through tryouts. “Being co-chair was an unforgettable experience and I’m so glad I had the chance to bring so many great students together,” said Ava Haresh.
Alumni, who have previously attended Venice High School and were on Oakgrove council, come to the retreat to help organize the program and make sure everything runs smoothly. This also gives students the opportunity for role models and to gain advice from students older than them.
“Oakgrove is the program I was most passionate about as a high schooler, and to this day it is still the most important thing I’ve ever been involved in,” said Kyla Laing, a sophomore at the University of California San Diego. “I keep coming back to Oakgrove as an alumni because Oakgrove changed my life in the most positive way, and shaped me into the person I am today.”