Thursday, August 6, 2009

Four days in the woods with a bunch of kids

I just spent four days trapped in the woods with a bunch of kids and I'll never be the same.

The whole gang, muddied from Capture The Flag
Warriors Maddie and Megan
Partners in crime Shana and Wade
Shana and Super Forth Year Kristin

I've been around Workshop for Youth and Families ( for a long time, probably since Shana was around 11. She started with the one-day workshops, then did one or two week- long summer programs for several years. For the past three years, she's been volunteering as a Peer Leader (over 300 hours a year!) and has committed to one more year. It's always been hard to explain what exactly "Workshop" is. Here's the official mission statement "To foster personal leadership and resiliency in youth and families that inspire positive growth and change," but that doesn't do it justice. I tagged along for the finale of the year, a retreat up north at Hawley Lake where all of their hard work and lessons learned over the year bubble up into an amazing experience of playing and bonding and challenging each other to go farther, cross the line, dig deep and be stronger in order to reach their goals. We followed ancient rituals and applied them to our own lives. We learned about what it means to be a family and how hard that is to find. I joined girls with colorful wildflowers in their hair as we walked into a meadow to join a circle of sisterhood and I heard teenage boys express their true emotions, overcoming any fear. I watched a fierce Capture the Flag game, complete with intense team pride and lots of mud and I was there when the forth year Peer Leaders said good bye in an incredibly moving ceremony (I'm a big cryer as it is, but this pushed me over the edge). These kids (along with the one-of-a-kind Dr. Franny and her Leadership Team) have made so many connections over the years in a thousand different ways and I was amazed how the entire group came back together again one more time before getting back on the bus to head home, taking a part of each other with them until they meet again.

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