USA: Close the Year with Winter Workshops
By FFWPU USA
Hundreds of Unificationist youth around the nation opted to spend their year-end holiday breaks hard at work–spiritually–by attending their local youth winter workshop, geared toward faith-exploring and community-building. FFWPU USA youth ministries in Dallas, Minneapolis, and Washington state sent in their winter workshop highlights and reflections:
Dallas Winter Bash – by Sawa Suina
This December, the young adults of Dallas and Arkansas hosted an exciting Winter Bash for the youth of Dallas, Texas. This was our 3rd annual Winter Bash and it was a successful workshop for the community. Over 20 youth and young adults joined the festivities, which stretched over four days. The theme of the workshop was Gains, and throughout the time we spent together, our staff emphasized the importance of gaining as much as possible from each activity and lecture. The participants proved that they can and will strive to grow and thrive in their everyday lives.
We split our first and second full days into an external day and an internal day. On the external day, we held a mini sports festival where the youth played a variety of team sports to earn points. The young adult staff joined their youth teams to compete with one another, making for great bonding between our youth and their older brothers and sisters. Everyone had a fantastic time sweating together!
Next was our internal day, where we focused on the roots of our faith. In the morning, Reverend Mark Hernandez talked about True Mother’s life course. This was a chance for many youth who were less familiar with True Mother to learn more about her life.
“I gained a lot from Uncle Mark’s lecture,” recalls one participant. “[Previously] I had no knowledge about [True Mother’s] early days.” Youth learned about the heart that True Mother’s parents had for Jesus and of the foundation that she laid for God.
In the evening, a current Generation Peace Academy (GPA) second-year participant, Sarah Jackson, gave a talk about having a heart of attendance toward her own parents, as well as toward True Parents. Following the talk, we showed the participants a video compilation of their own mothers and fathers expressing their hopes and desires for their own children. This was a heartwarming moment for everyone. We ended the day by writing out New Year’s Resolutions and expressing words of affirmation to one another.
Youth left the workshop refreshed and ready to go back to school with a more centered attitude. “The Winter Bash gave me the opportunity to get back in touch with myself and figure out the type of person I want to be. I’m very grateful for this experience and for everyone who contributed to it. Thank you!” reflected Sofia Todd, a high school senior from Texas.
District 8 Winter Workshop – by Ann Marie Bard, Minneapolis Family Church youth pastor
District 8 held its Winter Workshop from December 28 to 31, 2016—once again at the Minneapolis (Minnesota) Family Church. The theme of the workshop was “Rekindle, Reconnect, Revive.”
The purpose of the workshop was to encourage District 8 youth to rekindle their relationship with God, reconnect with brothers and sisters, and revive or create spiritual habits. This year we wanted the young participants to pause their life, reflect on the past semester—its challenges and victories—and come out with goals for the upcoming semester.
Activities that drove this theme included the first evening of ice-breakers. The participants ended the night with “Radar,” an activity that had served as a breakthrough for many at our last summer camp.
We were able to kick off the workshop with more depth, setting a more reflective atmosphere for the next couple of days. Throughout the workshop, the staff asked the young participants to “check in,” to show us on a scale of thumbs-up to thumbs-down how they were feeling. This helped set a reflective atmosphere and encouraged the participants to be honest with themselves, and to think about why they felt the way they did. Having listened to guidance from four older brothers and sisters, at the end of the workshop the young people had time to set goals for their relationship with God, relations with brothers and sisters, and their spiritual habits.
Other major highlights of the workshop were skiing and snow-tubing; going to an open gym to play “Wireless Communication” and dodgeball; and our annual open mic night. These activities not only provided the participants with a fun time with brothers and sisters from all over our district (and some from outside our district) but also connected us as a larger District 8 family. As District 8 is one of the smaller communities and is very spread out, this workshop provided young people with the environment to see what they want to achieve and what God wants for them in this upcoming semester.
Camp True North: Winter Workshop Reboot in the Northwest
Young Unificationists in the Northwest U.S. rebooted the winter workshop with their own hands. Camp True North was held from December 27 to 31, 2016, at Millersylvania State Park near Olympia, Washington. More than 60 participants and staff from both the United States and Canada attended this winter workshop, where they unified their hearts and found the value of community. Alaska state and Montana state in District 10 also held local winter workshops that were run by young adults.
Camp True North was given a fully new format by Unificationist-born young adults who had taken part in the Global Top Gun and the Global Top Gun Youth workshops. The four co-directors were inspired by the workshop, especially by True Mother’s guidance, and decided to return their love to the community. Their effort also inspired more than 10 other Second Generations, who volunteered to be staff for the workshop. Six participants from Canada came and made it an international event. “It gives me so much joy to see the Second Generation stepping up and taking responsibility for their own life. They are growing up here,” said Mr. Dario Pisano from Vancouver, Washington.
Under the theme of “community,” sessions on value, culture, and goals were given by a good combination of First Generation and Second Generation lecturers. The participants also enjoyed multiple activities related to community building, such as constructing a gingerbread house, sports, and team skit playing. “I liked how there was a good mix of funny talks and real talks. This was the most powerful, inspirational and amazing workshop I’ve ever been to,” said Yasuhiro Ishiyama, a participant from Seattle.
Unificationist communities in the states of Alaska and Montana also held winter workshops for their young people. In Alaska, the Kodiak community invited young people from Anchorage and ran the workshop together from December 26 to 30. Masami Kageyama, a youth pastor in Kodiak, led the workshop with the support of First Generation members. Montana also held its annual winter retreat with first and second generation Unificationists together.