Inaugural Spark retreat ignites community

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The American Youth Foundation launched a new adult program this month at Miniwanca. Spark, a retreat for adults, welcomed 33 attendees for four days of reflection, connection, and introspection Sept. 15 to 18.

Adult Program Lead Holley Young and Co-Lead Teddy Pins said the program was an excellent start to what will become an annual event.

“It was a great first-time Spark Retreat,” Young said. “Participants came from 13 different states and ranged in age from 25 to 67, making the community a dynamic multi-generational experience.”

Most of the participants had ties to Miniwanca through summer camp or National Leadership Conference, but there were a handful of individuals for whom Spark was their first experience with the AYF.

“Those who were reuniting with friends shared the generous spirit of Miniwanca hospitality, welcoming newcomers to a community that will be fondly remembered,” she said.

Guest speaker Darrell Jones guided the community in seminars on Friday and Saturday, morning meditations, and the Community Closing Circle. He also offered one-on-one conversations for those seeking further engagement. Jones is a minister, spiritual director, and mindfulness coach with a long history at Miniwanca as a camper, seasonal staff member, and NLC participant.

Pins said in addition to the seminars, participants enjoyed lighter moments rooted in Miniwanca traditions, such as Polar Bear plunges, arts and crafts options, games, and Evening Reflections.

“Spark gave us the chance to form a whole new adult community, and we look forward to reconnecting virtually throughout the year before we reunite on the dunes for Spark 2023,” he said.