79 teens. 17 adults. 10 alumni core volunteers. 4 days. Infinite connections.

And that’s the PFO Annual Retreat in a nutshell! We like to say that PFO is ‘Camp meets Corporate America,’ and that spirit was definitely evident throughout our four days of dance parties, presentations, relay races, workshops, water gun fights, seminars and paint-splattered scavenger hunts.

In PFO, we’re all on a team together. It’s why we all wear the same shirt on the second day of the retreat, and it’s why we break down barriers as quickly as possible.

Every day at the retreat starts with a dance party – not your typical dance party, where some people are left against the wall and others form exclusive circles on the dance floor. This is a PFO dance party! Teens are circulating, making connections with people they haven’t met before with a high-five here and a hip-bump there. Teens and adults are dancing like no one’s watching, because they know that PFO is the safest place in Charlotte.

The dance party that kicks off day one of the retreat is a tradition unto itself: Marker Face Dance Party. And, yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Music starts, markers are thrown into the air and the game begins. Dancers make their way around the room, marking as many people on the face as possible before the music stops. Faces are a beautiful, multicolored mess – and they stay that way all day! It’s silly and fun and entirely by design.

Something amazing happens when you scribble all over someone’s face. It’s hard to be intimidated by someone who’s wearing a green marker mustache! And it takes immediate trust to let someone color on your own face. When the song ends, everyone in the room is covered in marker. It doesn’t matter if you are brand-new to PFO, an adult Advisor, a teen in a leadership position.

Marker Face Dance Party, the great equalizer.

The PFO year is about to begin in earnest! Soon we will be in our fall Committee meetings, and before we know it, we’ll be moving into spring Arts Experiences. The bonding that took place during the retreat was incredible to witness, and it’s set us up so well for the season to come.

One thing is certain as we start the year – we couldn’t have a better team assembled.