Monday, July 15, 2024

Summer Teen Camp 2024

 

I don't know if there is a word in our language- or even 100 all strung together that can adequately describe the magical transformation of what happens at Teen Camp. (But I am going to do my best and try). The theme of the camp this summer was Finding me Through Divinity. 

We worked so hard to get to take 7 teens (and 2 advisors) to teen camp. We baked goods, wrote scholarship essays, made art and prepared our hearts. The travel to get there is filled with excitement and a long day. Learning to move as a group can be challenging but when we finally arrive at camp- the magic begins. 



Cabin assignments and bunk selection is made easier by some of the choices already made for you. There were two boys cabins, two girls cabins, and a cabin for non -gendered persons. Advisors always sleep by the door- the rest is up to the teens. After that, we head into our first groups where we meet other campers. We meet in various group throughout the week. You've got your "just teens" group led by elected teen leaders. There's the "youth group" which is the Center you came with. Then, there the small process group the "family group".  Made of 2-3 advisors and 5-6 teens - this is the group we spend most of workshop time with. There were 10+ workshops this time. Each of them aimed to get us to know ourselves better, practice some of our spiritual practices, and ask ourselves important questions. Teen get to practice expressing themselves, receive validation, and practice listening to others. 


With all that hard work there has got to be some balance. This time at camp we got to slide down the big giant slip'n' slide as opposed to sledding down in on baking sheets in the snow last winter. The other options were swimming in the pool, the arts and crafts table, writing in camp stroke books, basket ball, tether ball, kickball, walking the labyrinth, taking a hike, just chillin' with friends, working with a licensed prayer practitioner....the list goes on......

Are you hungry yet? Great! The food in the kitchen is ready- just listen for the bell! We had a variety of things from Chinese food, Fettuccine Alfredo, Chili Dogs, Tacos and my absolute favorite Tetris Tots. The name of the game this year was making sure everybody stayed hydrated. With several of the days reaching over 100 degrees we stayed on top of filling our water bottles with ice and water and staying in the shade.


As if our hearts weren't already full each day we got to participate in several nurturing practices. You may wonder what this means? It could be group singing or dancing, passing around the love awards, practicing affirmative consent hugs, Angel Wash or As and Bs. These nurturing practices are so meaningful for teens. While everybody gets to choose their own limits and participation- it is pure magic to watch as barriers drift away and they can both give and receive unconditional love from others. It is like watching the harshness of the work melt off their faces and a warmth that lets them know they are special and desrve this kindness. 

I bring you back changed beings. I am proud of who they are - we have some really great teens. But the magic that transforms them into even better people at each camp is simply out of this world. I appreciate all their hard work at fundraising and all of our community support. Most of all, I am proud that they are able to use the opportunity, stay present - even through the tough moments and grow. Thank you CSL Santa Rosa for being part of the village that raises our youth into he best adults they can be. 



When I did an informal survey on the way back - they are excited about Winter Camp and they know that we can grow our teen program to invite more friends to come with us. And so it is!

Jennifer Caldwell

Youth and Family Coordinator 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

April Teen Overnight and Camp is Coming!

 


Have you ever wondered what it might be like to play with 100 stressballs? All at once?  (A big thank you to Catholic Charities for the donation!) Or maybe sleep on the floor at Center? Curious how many mini marshmellows fit into the mouth of a teen or what time a room of young ladies might go to sleep? Maybe not. But I bet you might be more interested if you could feel the energy of people connecting for the first time in warmth and love and supporting each other in safety as they explore spiritual practices. Our young people of CSL have such an amazing way of welcoming and accepting each other and opening themselves up when sometimes it can be very scary. We recently held a Teen Overnight at CSL Santa Rosa. Good 'ole fashioned pizza, games and fun- but with a twist. 




If you've met me- you know I love our youth at CSL and I love planning things for them. They had such a fun time at camp over the winter and were eager to spend more time together and continue to build relationship with other New Thought teens. As our movement is coming back out post pandemic the growth has been steady. Both in number of youth as well as their spiritual growth. 



During this overnight we practiced writing our own mind treatments, meditation, spiritual circulation of giving and receiving, talked about things that are on our minds and made new friends! (We also ate a copious amount of jello and marsh-mellows.) As they entered the weekend so they did not leave. They are all a little wiser, hearts filled, new experiences had, loved on a little more by people who care.


We look forward to hosting more events over the summer and already have plans for another over night. We can't wait to see our friends again at summer camp. If you have a teen who might be interested in joining- we have some spaces open! Please contact the Youth and Family Coordinator for more information before May 20.  Also, another big thank you to our adult volunteers! 

Warmly, 
Jennifer Caldwell
Youth and Family Coordinator


(Yes, this is my candle holder out of a playdoh jar!)

Monday, March 18, 2024

Spring is Coming!

 Spring is Coming! 

Every year, sometime in January, I start getting achy for the sun to return and for Spring to come.   I think about what I want to do in the garden, long for warmth of the sun and grow wearisome of being cold and of sweaters. I have, over time, had to develop patience for the period between January and the actual Spring to come. This year seemed especially hard to hold out hope for the return of the warmth as the rain soaked every inch of our county. Don't get me wrong, I am greatful for the rain but was definitely longing for sun.

In Science of Mind, we have a very useful teaching metaphor about planting a seed and of all gardening as a matter of fact. Maybe you've heard it? It can go something like this. We are taught that our minds are the fertile soil for which thoughts are the seeds. We can plant what we want there and nurture it to grow. We talk about the importance of tending this garden and the practice of removing anything unwanted to make space for the seed we planted. It is actually the basis for our teaching symbol.

When working with our youth, I have repeated this metaphor- usually I like to help plant some actual seeds to go along with the project. Last year we got some wildflowers growing in a little planter box in my office window. The children took joy in spraying it with water each Sunday and watching the seeds emerge. We wondered which color flower would emerge. We even had a chance to discuss some of the seedlings that didn't make it. Not all ideas are meant to grow and must be given the conditions that it needs.

Over this last Winter I was so blessed to get to go with our Teens to Teen camp. In fact, when they got back they immediately set about planning how to get back to camp in the summer and to bring more friends along with them. A seed had been planted and they were nurturing it. I was in awe at their complete conviction and readiness to not only return but to bring others along. It wasn't the mid winter longing- it was just a knowing that it will happen. (You can contact me or click on the link for more information: https://csl.org/teencamp/camps/ 

It is that same energy I try to use with my own children as I guide them into being the best versions of themselves. I remember a time when I was absolutely certain that we would not have need for any screen time. I thought I would always have enough time to sit and read and that it would cultivate curious and creative children. For a long time that seed was blooming in our parenting garden. Life got busier and then at some point we came across a realization that one of our two kiddos struggles with written word and does much better with audio. In fact, absolutely loves audio books, documentaries and anything of the type. I had, in fact, grown a creative and curious child but it was time I had to plant a new seed regarding use of screens and electronics. 

For a moment of contemplation. Take a moment to jot down or think on what seeds have been planted in your life? In your children lives? What kind of cultivation are you ready for? 

It may be necessary to cultivate your garden, to uproot the weeds and straighten out the rows, planting new seeds – new ideas, broader visions and deeper realizations of life. New aspirations must be bedded here, fertilized with the fervor hope, the conviction of faith, the beauty of wholeness and quietness of peace. Watch your garden carefully, guarded patiently, waiting for a new harvest - for you shall reap what you have sown.

— Ernest Holmes, This Thing Called You Chapter V


The Garden is calling me- warmly yours,

Jennifer Caldwell

Youth and Family Coordinator

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