AYF expands Spark Adult Retreat to Merrowvista

Posted on

View of Merrowvista from the Ledge

The American Youth Foundation is pleased to launch its Spark Adult Retreat at Merrowvista from August 23 to 25. Registration is now open.

Director of Adult Programs Holley Young said after two successful years running Spark at Miniwanca, the AYF wanted to extend this unique adult offering to its Merrowvista community.

“The Miniwanca Spark program doubled in participation from 2022 to 2023,” she said. “It was clear our community needed and wanted continued learning that includes people who have aged out of camp programs, those returning to the AYF after being away for many years, and those who are newly being introduced to the AYF community.”

During this three-day retreat, participants will gather for an experience that will nourish then mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually while reconnecting with the beautiful natural environment of the Ossipee Mountains. Spark will include large and small group learning, time for reflection and community sharing, outdoor adventures, and delicious meals.

Young said while the Spark programming components will be equally enriching at both sites, the Merrowvista retreat is one day shorter than Miniwanca’s as the AYF team pilots the New Hampshire program.

“Both locations offer awe-inspiring natural beauty, the activities will differ at Merrowvista simply due to the landscape!  We’ll have access to hiking and climbing, as well as waterfront options that differ between a Lake Michigan and a Dan Hole Pond experience,” she said. “After this first inaugural Merrowvista Spark, we may plan to extend the retreat weekend in 2025!”

A familiar face will welcome Spark participants to Merrowvista. Longtime AYF community member and former employee Matt Loper will return to co-lead the program with Young.

“Once a part of this community, always a part of it! In many ways, I don’t feel like I’m returning to AYF. This philosophy, way of living, and the impact this amazing community has had on how I navigate life haven’t diminished,” he said. “Returning to Merrowvista feels like a recharge, rekindling the impact this community has had on me. Now, with more experience in facilitating adults and insights from my graduate studies in clinical mental health counseling, I bring a deeper understanding of the psychological science behind the transformative power of AYF experiences.”

Loper encouraged everyone age 21 and older to consider joining the Spark community. “This program is designed for adults seeking to reconnect with a community adept at fostering personal growth and with the natural world,” he said. “This is for anyone who’s looking for a boost of inspiration to keep their actions, thoughts, and community focused on leading a life of purpose.”

The retreat will close Sunday after light breakfast and a short morning session. Young and Loper welcome participants’ families to join in the fun after for an optional lunch and time to join activities before heading home.

For more information or questions, interested individuals can contact Young at [email protected].