3rd - 4th grade with a parent
August 26 -27, 2017
We came with our worries about being included and the other people liking us. We weren't sure what would happen, but we had heard there would be games and meeting new people. As soon as we got inside the ACC (Anna Curtis Center), those worries we had while still outside began to go away – quickly.
Smiles, cushions in piles, and morning snacks made us feel welcome. We started our conference with a name whip. We started getting familiar with each other and the Powell House youth program and property. We thought about what is good to have inside us – both physical and emotional stuff. It did not matter that we were many different ages. The kids gave deep, insightful answers to the group questions; the parents jumped into active games with abandon and joy.
We played, walked, talked and shared our experiences as we explored the building, woods and ponds. We made our own ice cream by the pond as we swam and canoed. We did Tai Chi and deep relaxation exercise before a self-space period of individual, quiet activities or rest. We shared laughter during the evening cabaret and then shared creating stories around the camp fire.
On Sunday morning, we ate omelets made-to-order and waffles before walking up the hill to Dorson's Rock. We went slowly, noticing many intriguing rocks, plants and animals on the way. Our chatter drifted away and we sat quietly looking out over the Hudson Valley towards the Catskills. After awhile, we shared what we had thought about and observed before heading back down.
We closed with sharing these things that people had appreciated during the conference:
- others helping me to have fun.
- folks were spontaneous, funny, including people.
- the parents engaged with other kids, kids interacting with adults in positive ways.
- thinking about things I don't usually think about.
- It was good to meet everyone here.
- I thank every kid for being my friend.
- This was a nice intro to Powell House. All the activities helped us let go, be goofy lower the barriers of everyday life.
- All the kids played together, shared, and were kind.
- I thank the whole community for making Powell House.
- A deep appreciation for this particular group of people and their energy.
- A great break from 'everyday' for parents.
September 22-24, 2017
We threw ourselves into orbit at Revolution on Friday September 22 and filled our bellies with a delicious dinner of cheesy pasta. Then we settled into session and split into small groups and discussed what our lives revolve around. We participated in News of Me and basked in some free time.
We woke up on Saturday morning to a gorgeous fruit platter and some breakfast that was followed by a session with game of eclipse glasses and the sun where we tried to keep our constantly moving glasses between us and our constantly moving sun. We imagined our ideal communities (school, world, Powell House) and captured them on large sheets of paper. Then we debated whether it would take revolution or evolution to move from where we are now to where we want to be. We spun into lunch and orbited into work projects, followed by swimming. We enjoyed a fun game of wink ‘em and settled into a calming session of check-in, massage and self-space. After self-space we took a trip east for a delicious Indian-style dinner. Session in the evening involved practicing some “in-the-moment” grounding techniques, talking about talking with strangers and listening to Dylan Marron’s pod cast “Conversation With People Who Hate Me.” Cabaret followed with music and improv. We had a snack of nachos and played a game of Sardines and went off to bed.
Sunday morning we woke up, made our beds and packed our bags. Everyone came downstairs to an amazing breakfast. During session we identified possible conferences for the coming year, focused our affirmations on one lucky “molly” and had a brief but deep worship following singing. The weekend was both calming and exciting, a great way to start a new academic year.
6th -8th grade
Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2017
The theme of this conference was “Fitting In, Standing Out.” Some things we were trying to do together were make new friends, have fun and learn when it is and isn’t a good time to fit in. We also learned when it is and isn’t a good time to stand out. Everyone seems to have been expecting about the same things. When we asked people what they were expecting, they said almost identical things: “have fun, make new friends, reconnect with old friends.”
The highlights of the weekend were when everyone was coming together to play games and how everyone was comfortable with each other to do a giant cuddle puddle.
Some things we did to explore the theme of the weekend included activities that asked us about fitting in and standing out. We also think that the cabaret showed this theme, especially standing out. Some things we struggled with were paying attention especially when we split into groups.
We learned that it is okay to stand out and you should not be embarrassed. We will take home ideas about when it is and isn’t a good time to stand out.
When asked something you learned or thought about during this conference, people said:
- the ideas we talked about in small groups.
- about where it really is a good time to fit in or not.
- how we grow together.
- there were a lot of people to talk to and play with.
- How fun it is to be in the bottom, middle and top of the couch pile.
- School is for math and stuff, but Powell House is for learning life lessons.
- The real rules in ping pong can also be a lot of fun.
- This really is a space and time for everyone to connect.
- How nice it is to be with people.
- How much I love being here.
- How I might apply some of this at school.
Small group notes
A GOOD TIME TO FIT IN IS…
- in a community like PoHo
- when you want friends.
- A class project
- during a game
- a party with duck tape suits
- improv theater
- you know a group of people well
- hide & seek or Sardines game
- being embarrassed
- in class, in middle school
- in trouble
- a zebra in a herd being chased by a lion
- when you are around good happy people
- when you are Waldo.
A GOOD TIME TO STAND OUT IS …
- You know the answer
- airplane skydiving
- you win nationals
- you need to be rescued
- during a protest
- when everyone else is making a bad choice
- an audition, performing
- helping someone who is bullied
- you have something important to say
- to see how it feels
- in trouble
- when things seem routine
- in a big group, don’t try to blend in
- when you disagree with the group
- a school project or presentation that should be original or creative
- when the group doesn’t like you because of who you are – Be proud of who you are!
NOT A GOOD TIME TO FIT IN IS …
- people are misbehaving (trash on table, teasing someone)
- in a cult circle
- where others have been injured
- when everyone is awake too late
- in class
- in a talent show
- at PoHo (you can just be yourself )
- you are with people being rude or mean
- it is something you don’t agree with
- people are doing illegal things
- people are doing dumb things
NOT A GOOD TIME TO STAND OUT IS WHEN …
- matter of life or death to blend in
- you make unfortunate body noises
- you don’t have a parachute in an airplane (don’t stand out on the wing)
- you are work being selected by a fisherperson
- you are attacked by a corrupt wizard
- you are a ninja
- your feet are stinky
- at an illegal protest
- as a criminal
- respecting someone else’s spotlight or opportunity
- during class
- Powell House quiet time
- business meeting
- session time
- moment of silence
- someone else is presnting
- someone is irritated
- other are being nice
- you are in trouble
Though we didn’t pass the Frisbee a lot, we continuously gave thanks in many different ways throughout this weekend. Our first name whip of the weekend was each person describing their morning and nightly rituals. We then broke into small groups to discuss games we like to play and conversations we would like to have.
In both planned and unplanned small groups, conversations were fruitful, fulfilling, and warm. One conversation that stood out in particular was the fishbowl on Saturday evening which started with the query: How do you find your people after high school?
Games were lively and abundant all weekend with many laughs. A rejuvenating walk up to Dorson’s Rock gave many a much needed release. We discussed things we’re grateful for, both mutual and individual.
After many different varieties of work projects, we bonded over making our own sushi rolls. We partied (we mean having deep and loud conversations), making sure that Chris Koster’s last weekend as a scheduled cook was a memorable send off even if we did keep her awake. We thank her for keeping us healthy, happy and fed all these years.
We closed with affirmations, singing, and a centered silence out of which we shared vocal messages.
back to the top
November 17-19, 2017
6th to 8th Grade
Poho kids’ conferences are very fun. I’ll show you. We did session with some fun and awesome games. Then we had “News of Me” and some free time. In free time you get to play. You’re free. You can play ping-pong. You can play chess. You can play with costume clothes. You can rest and etcetera… We end the night playing Sardines and then listening to a bedtime story.
We do other things as well like self-space and 3-way massage and work projects. We also have healthy and tasty food and a lake. For meals you help on one or two crews by setting out food and cleaning up afterwards.
For this weekend’s topic, we talked about our feelings of Ugh and Ahh. It was easier to complain for some. For others it was easier to remember and talk about the ah moments. We also talked about where and how we get support and where we don’t.
Most of us experienced AHHHH throughout the weekend and a little bit of Ugh when it was time to leave.
This was an amazing snow-filled weekend. We enjoyed seeing friends we haven’t seen in awhile. Couch piles and watching the snow from inside was nice. This Wintersong we got to see the first snowfall of winter. Cabaret had very good performers and funny skits. Some dressed up for dinner Saturday night, which was a blast. The food was fantastic. To wrap up the night we watched the original Grinch Who Stole Christmas and ate chips and salsa. Forgot to say that there was an impromptu Wild People in the snow, unbeknownst to the JCs ahead of time. The JCs liked JCing. The new people made this Wintersong so great. The walk to Dorson’s rock was absolutely gorgeous and the snow made it even more enjoyable. Anyone who reads this be sure to thank Chris and Mike, this was an awesome 2017 Wintersong. We hope you have/had a wonderful weekend.
From Your Friends at Powell House
Friday we came to Powell House to do art. When we arrived, we went straight to the art of eating the results of a culinary art – supper. The evening session’s name whip was something you enjoyed creating. We played several rambunctious rounds of Snake in the Grass before dividing into small groups to discuss which home-made desserts we enjoy, what is art and what is beauty. News of Me closed the session with the deep and hard things going on in people’s lives. Free time, sardines and story time rounded out the night. We went to bed, but not many people slept soon as we talked for hours and drifted into sleep.
Saturday we woke up at 8 and went down to breakfast of eggs, fresh fruit and home-made breads. We had our first session of the day, in which small group discussions around tables morphed into playing and creating art with shaving cream and colors. A buffet of art options spread out on tables invited us to create individually. We had a music-filled free time with ping-pong, couch piles, singing, reading and talking. Lunch was hot soup and more fresh bread.
At 2:30 pm we went back to the options for creating art – drawing, sculptures and paintings writing were just some of them. And cookies as an art project became our snack. We had the three-way massage where you give two massages and get one (from 2 people). We had a quiet self space time where you could be alone and relax. Dinner was tofu or pork, a pear sauce and salad.
The evening session started with a relay of crossing the common room on pillows. We role played as extra-terrestrial beings who had to explain the possible uses of an object common on Earth. It stretched our creativity to use new eyes and humor. In cabaret we performed skits, did improv, and shared our talents. A nice free time was followed by a story in quiet time and bed.
Sunday was a time for cleaning up the major mess from the art projects, and enjoying our time together. We closed with singing and silence. And of course – lunch.
Throughout the weekend, we felt satisfied, were aesthetically pleased, had fun and made mess. We created and connected – through our relationships with each pother and with K’nex. We did a lot of art between other things and it was very relaxing.
January 19-21, 2018
9th to 12th Grade
Friday we started with a supper of ravioli and then talked about what nourishes us. Afterwards we played the Honduran Hat Game, substituting a potato for the hat. We described a meal we felt a spiritual connection to and then with our whole selves depicted a spiritual enlightening three-course meal. We shared guidelines and settled into News of Me. We had snack, heard some Sideways Stories from the Wayside School and went off to bed.
Saturday we woke up and had a nice breakfast of cinnamon raisin pancakes and bacon. We got our energy out by playing Streets and Alleys and reflected on how we felt before and after the game. We talked about what spirit is to us and where we experience it in the everydayness. We enjoyed contributing to our own nourishment by cooking dishes for lunch and snack. We made vegetarian shepherd’s pie, salad, biscuits, cookies and tomato soup.
Before lunch, some of us went sledding, others of us walked to Dorson’s rock, the last stretch in silence culminating in an impromptu worship sharing at the top. After lunch we played Wink’em, Empires (introduced to us by the Irish Young Friends) and Twister. We also prepared more food: lentil and beet soup, apple crisp, a cheese plate and vegan date “caramels”.
We relaxed with 3-way massage and a guided meditation inviting us to be a root vegetable or the gardener or both. We settled into self-space and then had a wonderful dinner of the things we had cooked. After playing group sardines, we discussed by candlelight in small groups the stresses of cooking. This was followed by an entertaining cabaret. Before bed we had a dance party, night walk and a snack. We were all exhausted as we went to bed.
Sunday we started with a breakfast of bagels, eggs, cheese and more bacon. We all worked together to clean up. After everything was clean we played Primate Bellows and Molly’s Game. We began our singing and worship with a Tea Blessing Circle where we each gave thanks to someone or something that contributed to the cup of tea we had in our hands. The worship that followed was for many of us nourishing and relaxing. For others it was a reminder that our time together was almost over and the outside world with its demands was waiting.
February 2-4, 2018
11th, 12th & Young Adult
This weekend we came together with open minds and hearts. Ready for deep conversation and different perspectives on being alone while enjoying time with new friends and old. Excited for a time to not feel alone in a place with people who give us joy and happiness. We wanted to explore being alone and loneliness with them.
Throughout this weekend we took part in many activities to explore our theme: When You’re Alone. We shared our thoughts, developed them further in our small group conversations and then brought them forward to benefit the larger group. We discussed ways to nurture ourselves, the group and the larger Powell House community. Later we spoke about the feeling of being alone versus the feeling of loneliness. We also discussed finding groups to be part of.
Midway through the retreat we connected with three-way massage. Afterwards we had self-space in which many people enjoyed the feeling of being alone while still surrounded by the support of everyone else.
From the hardy and tangible sincerity of News of Me to Saturday night’s song-burst-filled bonfire (complete with the burning of a Christmas tree), we experienced a strong presence of love and togetherness. Our weekend included a multitude of moments of listening and sharing with each other in the small groups, the larger group and around cups of tea during free time. We especially felt the spirit moving among us during a heart warming and enormously entertaining night of cabaret acts: from incredible improv to spectacular stories.
This group of young adult Friends came together in laughter, movement, quiet and cuddles. For some of us the weekend transformed our concepts of “aloneness” by giving us insights into the idea that our feelings about aloneness, or even confusion about it, are shared amongst a lot of people. We are reminded of the importance of being alone, of finding balance, and of the strength we can draw from having agency and choosing time with ourselves, as well as the strength we draw from time with others.
4th - 5th Grade
Feb 16-18, 2018
We arrived Friday night ready to create our own scene. We enjoyed fun games like Fruit Bowl and What Are You Doing. We made three kinds of delicious pie. We bounced. A few of us explored the wilds outside and got back just in time for pretzels. We slept and made pillow structures.
We enjoyed drawing on the walls so much that we did it three times, capturing our walks at least once. We played a bunch of ping pong - some of it cooperative with volleys up to 38 times. We had fun on the ice. We found a bunch of old, mossy shoes on our walk and awesome wands. We threw rocks on the frozen lake. We had lots of fun painting on canvases. Cabaret was a blast. We went sledding on Sunday morning on the fresh snow and hit a ring of ice.
We now are sleepy, happy to have been here, and sad that is is over. We are ready for the next time.
The beginning of the weekend started out great when our first arrivals came and played fruit bowl. Then we had pasta for dinner. We had session with games and activities to help us connect and communicate. We closed session with News of Me where people shared about things going on in their lives at the moment. We played a super fun game of Sardines and had free time. Next it was bedtime.
On Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast with eggs and bacon. Then we had a session where we split up into small groups to talk in a fun way about what it means to say no and yes. We also shared about decisions we wished we had or hadn’t made. After we had free time and lunch. For work projects we made healthy and tasty snacks including Guacamole, Chocolate covered strawberries, vegan date caramels, high protein cookies and applesauce with peaches.
In afternoon session we played “Honey if You Love Me”. We checked in with each other to share how we were feeling and had a relaxing three-way massage. Then we had some time to our selves during self-space and moved into a traditional St. Patty’s Day dinner. After dinner we had a session where we played Rattler and Miner and talked about consent by shaking hands in different ways. People showed off their talents during cabaret. We played Amoeba Sardines and went to bed.
Sunday morning we woke up energized and had breakfast. We played Primate Bellows and Will You Buy My Donkey and Molly’s game. We sang songs and sat in silence. Then we had lunch as parents arrived and we went home.
Scattered through out the weekend were couch cuddle puddles, slogging through knee deep snow to go sledding, self-space walks in the beautiful winter-scape, abstract painting and realistic drawings, cups of tea and games of ping pong and dungeons & dragons. Throughout it all we put into practice caring for one another, checking in with each other and respecting yeses and nos.
March 17 - 20
This past weekend, a small group of Young adult friends from NY, NJ, CT, and MN, made our way to Washington DC for Friends Committee on National Legislation- Spring Lobby Weekend. We were joined by three Young Adult Friends from New England Yearly Meeting to participate in preparations at the National Press Club over the weekend, and eventually to lobby on Capitol Hill on Monday and Tuesday, many of us for our first times.
The early part of the program included small group discussions and activities led by appointed Delegation Leaders, as well as panels, speeches, and workshops all weekend long in preparation for lobbying on Monday and Tuesday. Our group was a small portion of the nearly 500 other young adults who gathered from all over (mostly the USA) to be present for this year’s Spring Lobby Weekend, focusing on the issue of our broken immigration system, and demanding a pathway to citizenship for dreamers (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals eligible people) that does not pose further threat to their families and communities.
Over the weekend, we feel that we were able to learn more about immigrant experiences from hearing first hand stories, as well as from the materials that FCNL provided for us. We were reminded of the power of being intentional with our language- for example, choosing to use the word “undocumented” instead of “illegal”. We leave feeling more deeply connected to the issues we discussed, and with an increased awareness of the inner workings of our political system, and where we can make our voices heard.
For most of us, it was our first visit to our nation’s capital, and also a change in pace, as none of us identify as city folk. This gave us an opportunity to flex our navigational muscles and push ourselves to get around on our own, as well as an exercise in budgeting for ourselves. We enjoyed some very tasty dinners- among our favorites were Venezuelan sandwiches, Salvadoran pupusas, and “Indian Chipotle”. We increased our practical skills! We learned about Washington DC, and about the process of legislating by hearing first hand from representatives and senators, and by hearing the stories of those who spend much of their time lobbying on Capitol Hill.
It is a very empowering feeling to be reminded of our influence as young documented citizens (new and future voters), and to learn how our political system is accessible. We leave with a stronger understanding of the ways that we can demand the attention of our representatives and participate in making change in our communities both local and global. It is both informative and inspiring to be surrounded by a large group like-minded people from all over; to get a sense of the broadness of an issue. We were joined by people from over 40 states, all bringing their voices and experiences, all recognizing the importance of creating legal space- including and welcoming the voices- particularly for those among us who arrived to our country as children and have yet to be legally recognized as fully participating members of our society. We are excited to come again next year for FCNL’s Spring Lobby Weekend programming, to bring new friends with us. We are excited to share what we’ve learned with our friends and family at home, and to remind and encourage all of our people to stay informed about the activity in your home states and counties, to write and call your representatives, and for those of us who have the legal ability to do so, to make sure you’re registered, and GO VOTE!
Over the weekend we discussed active enthusiastic consent, sex, dating and relationships. Everyone was able to openly talk about their opinions and to be heard. There was an intimate, informative vibe to the weekend. Amusing, amazing, exciting and beautiful. Together we created a sense of safety in which to engage with the topic.
We did activities such as the Three Handshake exercise where we explored what it feels like to consent. We paired up and connected through shared touch and breathing exercises. We let ourselves close our eyes and be guided by one partner around the room and then be sent off for short distances on our own to be picked up by another partner. We listed our favorite pizza toppings before acting out active, enthusiastic, mutual consent as seen in ordering a pizza. We had spectacular couch piles full of loving people and interesting conversation. We spilled out into the field to take advantage of sunshine and the perfect snowball-making snow.
This weekend we discussed the importance of communication in intimacy. Some of the most intimate activities a group can do are to bake and draw together. So some of us talked about body image, sex and relationships as shown in the media. We then made murals depicting what we would like to see instead. Others of us stirred, chopped, dipped and mashed as we prepared afternoon snack. The experiences brought us closer together than originally thought possible. The laughter, paint, large sheets of brown paper, cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, guacamole and a crisp & juicy vegetable platter made us feel sexy.
Natalie Lindop-Braun joined us Saturday evening for a conversation around what consent might look like when social media is involved. She returned on Sunday morning to answer questions that had made their way into the ??? box during the weekend. We closed our sessions around sex by trying to complete “I believe sex is…Therefore I will…” We closed our weekend with song, worship, a well apportioned, tasty baked potato bar and a longing for pizza.
We came here to have fun and to meet new people and make new friends. We came here to have safe space and to think about when and why we shine.
We played lots of games like ping pong, banana tag and more. We planted a bunch of pretty stuff. We planted some yummy stuff. We baked bread – individual little loaves we each made. We talked about rising and shining. We built cool structures out of paper and tape.
Many of us had a lot of fun. The excitement resulted in a few injuries, but we took care of each other. The structures were both frustrating and satisfying. The fire alarm went off and sent us outside. The fire men came. It was awesone and startling. The food was delicious, making us feel good. During a fun cabaret we met a 3-headed creature who knew all the answers.
We are taking home new friends, garden garlic, stories, and nice feelings. We tried to do the “mashed potato” and now we are bringing home good memories.