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During the days of September 30 to October 4th, 2016, the IB Juniors of the graduating class of 2018 went on their first CAS Retreat to Marsa Alam. Speaking personally, I myself was one of the juniors who went on the retreat, and to be one hundred percent honest, it was amazing. For those of you in lower grades who are thinking of joining IB in the future, the CAS Retreat and CAS in general should be one of the greatest motivations.

The first day of getting to Marsa Alam wasn’t anything too special yet. We rode a bus for around 12 hours to finally get to our camp resort, but trust me; it’s not that bad! Spending so much time on a bus with all or most of your friends isn’t boring at all, and you actually get to bond quite a lot too. Besides the bus ride, we pretty much just settled into our tents, which were extremely cozy. The next day, we snorkeled, observed reefs, observed weather and water patterns (and as much as it sounds science-y, it’s not boring at all), and we completed a pattern activity which was basically to draw all the patterns that we see on a gigantic poster and truly see the patterns of life. These activities not only provide fun and excitement, but they expand your knowledge on the world and its elements.

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The next day was probably one of the most anticipated days of the CAS Retreat. Our day plan was to go on a boat to Samadai, a dolphin house. We were split into two groups during the trip and my group luckily was the group that ended up seeing AND swimming with the dolphins. The beauty of the sea was easily identified and the simplicity and stress-free feelings felt so far was captivating. That day we also did a biomimicry design, which was inventing something inspired by a sea organism, and we also learned how to build a beaner stove. If you don’t know what that is, hopefully you’ll know in the future when you go on your CAS retreat too. Personally, that day was by far one of the most exciting days I’d ever experienced.

Our final full day of the CAS Retreat was crazily hectic. The IB Juniors had experienced a day they’ve never experienced before, and finally understood how much one can actually do in a day. We first went to a nursery and renovated it, repainted its walls, painted murals, played with the kids and overall bettered the learning environment there. It was crazy to make sure everything was completed and that we did a good job. After that we went to a beautiful lagoon in Qulan to have lunch before we started our 6km, 3-hour trek into the desert. Now, it may seem like a lot and extremely tiring, but our trek into the desert was actually one of the greatest experiences too. It was long sure, but to have the opportunity to truly walk in the desert and observe its surroundings and the desert life was fascinating. When we finally arrived to our campsite, it was dark and the stars shone so brightly, it was unbelievable. The captivating energy they possessed was inspiring and we had a great final day with our sound activity, and a final bonfire where we sang and danced.

The CAS Retreat is definitely something everyone can look forward to in IB, and we are so fortunate that our school offers such a great opportunity to connect with our environment. If you haven’t seen the beauty of Egypt before, Marsa Alam is definitely an amazing place to witness the wonder that Egypt owns.

By Farida Hamza