Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Advance Conference

I write this on a Wednesday afternoon at the computer in the administration building at Camp Christian.  I am in the middle of a busy and yet restful week at Camp Christian.  This is the quiet time of day for me - in between the busyness of the morning and the events of the evening.

Advance Conference in our camp for young adults - from the ages of 19 - 29.  I have been on "Faculty" for over 10 years and also serve as co-director.  Every year is challenging and different and wonderful.

The week's events are guided by the officers who were elected last summer.  They have already planned two retreats during the year and now have invited all the faculty to come together this week under the theme of Peace. The day has a certain routine which has become very familiar over the years. We start with breakfast and our first faculty meeting at 9 and then a Bible study, devotions, keynote and small groups.  It is a busy morning.  Then lunch and another faculty meeting and "demois" or committee meetings. And now in the afternoon - some free time - to rest, read, talk, swim, walk.  Then dinner, vespers, small group, the evening's activities and finally the closing circle.

 As I write this I realize that there is a good reason why I am tired - it really is alot.  The good news for me this year is that I did my "Keynote" on Monday and so the pressure of preparation for that is over.  But I will say that it is a lot of work to put together a talk, a powerpoint and some experiences and questions for this group.  My keynote was on the subject of "non violent (or compassionate) communication.  I have been very interested in this for the past few years and attended a workshop on it (and wrote a blog about it ) in March.

The most important learning for me from NVC was the understanding that every person's actions have a need behind it.  And when we can learn that need, we can better communicate.  .  Yesterday the keynote was about "Inner Peace" and  how important our own self image is in terms of attaining inner peace.  And today we learned about conflict mediation.  All of this is somewhat new and somewhat familiar - but really in practice - hard. It is hard to live thoughtfully and truly aware of our own feelings and needs and also honoring the feelings and needs of others. There is no question that I teach what I am trying to learn.

What is the greatest gift of the week. however is the genuine community that happens here.    I am always happy to be with my clergy colleagues and friends as we work together and care about the young people who gather every year.  We really get a window into their lives as we watch some as they are going to college, then graduating, then finding that first job, and that special someone.  There are always so many who are in transition and that  makes this week so much more important.   We watch people changing jobs and careers, facing losses in their families, struggling in relationships... and faith is so important during those times.  Our theme of peace has been really powerful this week as we keep learning that peace is what God gives and what we do and how we live.  It is a paradox and a gift.

And so, halfway through the week, I write this in gratitude for the great blessing of another week at Camp.
There is more to come - more keynotes, discussions, fun and surprises.
And I am grateful for Camp Christian, for young adults who take on leadership, for my church which allows me to be here.
I am grateful to God for blessings and blessings and blessings.

1 comment:

Kay McGlinchey said...

Margot, these comments about Advanced Conference bring back so many memories for me. AC was my very first Camp Christian experience as I came to Broad St. Christian Church at the age of 19, so many years ago. As I look back at that experience, I realize it was pivotal in my Spiritual Formation. It was wonderful and helped form me for ministry in my life. Not only "formal" ministry but serving God before ordination for many years in my local church, my neighborhood, my home and with my family besides leading me into going back to school many years later to eventually becoming "ordained." I believe AC ordained me originally and set me on the path. I am grateful for pastors like you who have a passion for young people. Thank you. Kay McGlinchey