Youth Conference  Epistles  2010 - 11

EarthSong 2011 8th - 12th grade May 27 -29
Clan-tasmagorical 6th - 7th grade May
Silence Unfolding 8th - adult April 29 - May 1
What's So Funny 8th - 9th grade April 8 - 10
The World's A Stage 10th - 12th grade March 25 - 27
Myth Makers 6th - 7th grade March 11 - 13
Fictional Friends and Foes 4th - 5th grade March 4 - 6
Lovin' It 8th - 9th grade Feb 11 - 13
If God is Love, What is Sex? 10th - 12th grade Feb 4 - 6
World Jam 6th - 7th grade Jan 28 - 30
Layer It On 4th - 5th grade Jan 14 - 16
WinterSong 8th - 12th grade Dec 10 - 12
Joy, Joy, Joy 4th - 5th grade Nov 5-7
Cosmic Comic 10th - 12th grade Oct  29- 31
If It Were Up To Me 8th - 9th grade Oct 8 -10
Surviving and Thriving 6th - 7th grade Oct 1-3
Fruity and Nutty and Just Plain Funny 4th - 5th grade Sept 24 -26
Planning – 2010 8th - 12th grade Sept 17 - 19

EarthSong XXXVII

May 27 - 29 , 2011

Many came this weekend with happy hearts and high hopes for a great weekend. You could tell how ecstatic everyone was to be reunited again, for some of us hadn’t seen one another in quite some time. Following supper, which was wonderful of course, we broke off into smaller groups for session. We reminisced about PoHo’s 50 years and our many memories, while creating symbolic trees. After a great story, we went off to bed, even if it was not to sleep.

We woke up Saturday to a delicious breakfast, followed by a rousing game of musical butts. We set off for workshops, which included a game of Capture the Flag, PoHo in a box, gardening, card art and restoring a bench and old EarthSong signs. Free times were filled with music and conversations. Though fewer in number than usual, couch piles also formed and were enjoyed. We had lunch then set off to the pond for some much-needed swimming. Several folks enjoyed a walk to Dorson’s while others engaged in productive work projects, followed by a choice of 3-way massage or Tai Chi. As people got ready for the dress up dinner, a wonderful meal was created. After dinner, we had some ultimate Frisbee time and a wonderful cabaret. Many people showed off talents and received very creative awards. A much-needed snack was fed to the hungry youth and then we had some dancing and a moonlit walk. Some more fabulous stories were read to us and then the tired youth attenders went off to bed.

We woke up again to good food and good friends. Clean up was quickly carried out then we walked out to the senior graduation ceremony where we gathered to say our fond farewells.

Group Epistle

Silence Unfolding

8th grade and up

We entered the weekend in a rush of talking before the silence.

The silence came. Long and glorious and much needed. Waking up the next morning we learned a new language. Family-style meals facilitated our non-verbal conversations. Breakfast was awkward, dinner not nearly so. We settled in for a first silent session, learning to understand one another in a large group. On our walk to Dorson’s we took in noises and smells. We trusted the silence for guidance…and one another. A unique hand movement became each person’s name so that our silent conversations were more personal. By the end of the day we were practically fluent in non-verbal communication. And even though silent we laughed just as much.

Self-space spontaneously emerged after lunch. We experienced new forms of creating. Color. Sand. Cloth. Old friends and new. Sitting down with a book. Sound of moving air. Catch that Frisbee. How loud the apple. Paint the walls, cut the board, rake the leaves, plant the lettuce, clean the frog pond, oil the shelves, varnish the oars, banish the bishop’s weed. Who needs words to work.

Silence broke like increasing waves. The peace and tranquility of the silence was strange to lose.

Songs were song, stories were told. We sat around the fire gold.

top, top, take me to the top

The World's A Stage

10th - 12th grade

March 25-27, 2011

We arrived, we supped, we brainstormed a list of our problems from dying plankton to an excess of baked goods in our lives, and we slept, eager for the fun that awaited us.

We started Saturday with a problem-free breakfast and then we were led by Maizy & Cleo in several "Heart& Soul'-felt exercises, including a 10-minute hug and exploring zero-gravity with the help of our supportive friends.  Then, we luncheoned.

We spent the next hour alleviating some of Powell House's problems, like moving an excess of lumber from point A to point B, moving a bunch of dead leaves from the flower gardens to the not flower gardens, & moving more wood from point C to point D.  Then we snacked.

After session with check-in, we 3-way massaged, guided meditationed, and then self-spaced.  Then we supped.

We watched an intriguing movie (TED talk( on vulnerability which completely redefined what it means to be happy.  We then cabareted..... hard.  There was music making, dancing, problem solving and jujitsu.  We snacked again.

There was a bonfire in the woods enjoyed by many.  We returned to the ACC and, before bed, added exploding cows to our list of problems.


We woke up.

We cleaned our stuff.

We ate breakfast.

We cleaned PoHo's stuff.

We acted out some resolutions to our problems, listened to some good words from Japan, and had some time to think about problems, solutions, and the part we play in the process.

We Molly's-gamed.  We sang.

We sat in Silence and heard each other.

We luncheoned.  .

We hugged. We left.

Myth Makers

6th & 7th Grade
March 11-13, 2011
We came here to POHO to have fun and joyous joust.  We were all so happy to be in one house.  When supper crew was called it was a quest to feed them all.  Some ate big and some ate small as we all shared spaghetti and meatballs.  To session we went and were welcomed by all: Chris the cook, Bryant the AP, the JCs Ella, Jack Caitlyn and Bevin and the facilitators Miriam and Chris.  In session we learned new names and played a lot of games.  We had News of Me then free time with Sardines.  A story read to us to end the day.  Then lights out and time to hit the hay.

We woke up all sleepy and tired, then breakfast came.  We were all so excited.  We then had session.  It was a smash.  We started off playing a game we now call B.A.S.H. (back roads, alleys, streets and highways).  We brainstormed about heroes and their challenges.  We broke up into small groups and created a room in a mythical place.  We went around with mythical challenges we had to face.  Then we transferred our “dooms” back into rooms and went into free time.   We headed off to lunch and had soups and sandwiches.  Free time once again followed.  Then came Hero Training.  There amidst flying balls and near falls, we learned we could trust one and all.  There was no draggin’ as we circled the wagon and sculpted each other.  We had check-in and 3 way-massage.  Then next was self-space and many hit the showers or wandered the maze.   We had supper with barbecue chicken and tofu with a nice dessert. An energetic cabaret started off the evening.  There were a lot of mythical creatures and singing and gods.  We then on ambrosia the snack of the gods and drank nectar.  Some limbo and amoeba sardines led into a late night session of Prui and Light as a Feather and sharing what we learned this weekend.  We snuggled for a story and hit the hay hard once again.

We woke up very early and did not get much sleep.  Time shifted forward on us.  Now we have to clean our home without a peep.   Session ensues where a  primate bellows and we affirm our gals and fellows.  Tea, a bathroom break some Pata Pata then back for singing and worship together.  We have lunch as we say good bye with sadness and hugs and tears in our eyes.  We gather our things and depart, feeling fuller in our hearts.

Fly back to the top of the mountain on a winged horse

Fictional Friends and Foes

4th  – 5th grade
March 4-6, 2011

This was a great weekend at Powell House from the magical quests to the fun games and walks.  We arrived on Friday night wondering what we were going to do.  We had a delicious dinner of macs and cheese.  Some kids started a game of Harry Potter, transforming fallen branches into magic wands.  After session, we had a great game of Amoeba Sardines (invented this year by one of our own age group) and quiet time with many massages and a reading of The Tale of Jeremy Fisher and went to bed.

We woke up on Saturday ready to start the day.  We had a breakfast of oatmeal with a bunch of toppings including chocolate chips, nuts and brown sugar.  We had a great session that included the small groups going to different stations to get powers, allies and problems for writing and acting out quests.  The afternoon had more free time, work projects, a relaxing three way massage and a great self space in which many of us took a nice walk around.  The free times had a lot of spontaneous games we started ourselves like “Stick in the Mud”, chess, ping p[ong and more Wand-erful Harry Potter.   Several attenders remarked on how we played and worked well together.  A fun cabaret with lots of variety and night walk filled the evening hours before quiet time with A Tale of Two Bad Mice. 

On Sunday we woke up sad because we had to leave.  We slowly made our beds and went downstairs.  We had a very filling breakfast of pancakes and eggs.  We cleaned up the ACC.  We played and chased each other and the JCs.  We had an affirmation circle where we poured water with each affirmation until that person’s glass was full.  We sang, spoke out of the Silence and ate lunch before heading home.

If God is Love, What is Sex?

10th to 12th Grade
February 4-6, 2011

Sex.   A word we were taught by today’s society to be taboo.  God.   A word that means something different to everyone.  Love.  A word that is universal.  Something which so many of us seek to find and hold in our lives.   These were the topics of this weekend:  what they meant, how they felt, how they fit together and the importance of discussing them.
We arrived to welcoming open arms of friends and facilitators.  Ready to dive into the challenging and important discussions and activities we would soon face.  And to boldly go where no youth conference has gone before -  at least in recent memory.
After a delicious dinner, we settled into session and talked about relationships and what they mean to us.  We then divided into small groups and took on the roles of each weekend topic: Sex, Love and God. We discussed why we (Sex, God, Love) exist.  What we’re here for.  How we’re experienced by humans.  If we’re needed and what would happen if we weren’t present. This exercise turned out to be more difficult than expected.
Later that night we settled into “News of Me”.  Out of the silence we listened to each other’s tales of triumph and trouble (try saying that five times fast).
After breakfast on Saturday, we split the group by gender and talked about what attracted us to others and what we wanted in a relationship.  We tried identifying what the other gender was looking for.  We then attempted to write personal ads extolling our virtues and specifying what we were looking for.  Another hard to do exercise it turns out.   We shared our insights with the larger mixed group, surprised in a good way by some of what we learned.
Next was a hearty lunch followed by same gender group discussions where we talked about our opinions, experiences, fears and feelings of sex and what it means to us.   Unfortunately time encroached and work called.  We went off to Godly work projects (snow removal), Lovely work projects (exploring the mysteries of the art and game closets) and Sexy work projects (making cinnamon rolls, deviling eggs and dipping pretzels in chocolate).
Free time followed before a much-needed three-way massage and self-space.  A smooth transition into the evening began with a delicious dinner and a rousing game of Four on a Couch.  Cabaret was fabulous with improv games like bus “sex” (bus stop with a twist) and songs of consensual sex.  While cabaret was racier than usual, it was done tastefully and tenderly – poking fun at the humanity and divinity that sex can highlight.
We scurried off to bed, ready to brave the new day and the things it would bring.   Session the next morning included a terrifying game of The Wave that morphed into Primate Bellows.   We began worship with songs and a quote from Psalms 46:10 Harpu u’de’u ki-anokhi Elohim.  Often translated as “Be still and know that I am God” Chris shared a weighty Friend’s rendition “Shut up and make love to me” and then her own version based on the original meaning of the Hebrew words “Let go and experience me”
This weekend we did let go and experience meaningful conversations and much fun around topics that are often difficult to talk about.  We never did formally answer the question “If God is Love, What is Sex?” Maybe next time.


World Jam

6th & 7th grade
January 28-30, 2011

On Friday night, we arrived at Powell House geared up and ready to go.  We sat down to a delicious meal of spaghetti and meatballs.  After dinner, we grabbed cushions for session and played fruitbowl.  We broke into small groups and worked as teams to come up with as many holidays and celebrations as we possible could.  After putting all those on the wall, we realized how many things there are to celebrate in the world.  We gathered to discuss and discover what PoHo is truly celebrating:  Friends!

We turned the music on to dance the Pata Pata before settling down to share during News of Me out of the silence.  Stumbling through the dark, we played a game of sardines.  We packed ourselves together, heard a story and went off to bed.

Saturday wake up was at 7:30.  We ran downstairs excited for the day.  Jackie made us a yummy pot of oatmeal for breakfast.  In session, we learned about some holidays unfamiliar to most of us.  We went into new small groups and studied up on one big holiday that we would later present as a group to the circle:   Holi (India), La Noche de los Rabanos (Oaxaca, Mexico), La Tomatina (Spain),  Chinese New Year, and Khovsgol lake Ice Festival (Mongolia).

There was more teamwork as we moved into a game of four on a couch, girls vs. boys.  We let off our steam into the snow while sledding.  An art project was both fun and entertaining.  We made posters of our own personal holidays.

We did some more sledding and came back to unwind into three-way massage.  Self space was a break from all the craziness of the day.  We had a great dinner of Chinese mu shu pork and cabbage.  Then Jacki brought out the delicious pumpkin cupcakes.  We came together as teams to find Mrs. Mumbly to save our partners from a hat in the Honduran hat game.  We had a surprisingly long cabaret and went to bed.
Sunday morning, we woke up at 8:00 and made our beds.  We came down to the smell of pancakes for breakfast.  When our stomachs were satisfied, we did clean up.  

A game of Primate Bellows brought us into session.  Each person stuck in the middle had to act out one of the celebrations from our Friday night list.  Everyone calmed down for affirmations.  Each person who gave an affirmation poured water into a glass for that person.  When the glass was full, that person was given their glass and we moved on to the next person.  Singing and worship ended the session.

We had lunch and said our good-byes.  Special thanks to our directors Mike and Liz, our cook Jacki, our butlers Willy and Claudia, and our four new JCs Jen, Jack, Jan and Alma.

Celebrate your return to the top of the page!

Layer it On

4th & 5th Grade
Jan 14-16, 2011

We arrived eager and excited on Friday night to a great supper of mac and cheese.  Then we did a random and fun pata-pata.  We shared about things that recently happened to us in news-of-me.  We played ping-pong and had fun at free time.  We had some quiet time, listened to a story then hit the sack.

On Saturday we woke up at 7:30 ready for the new day.   After a yummy breakfast we pretended to be archeologists and discovered new civilizations than we created a museum room dedicated to ourselves.  We went sledding and played in the snow.  Tired and hungry we came in for a delicious lunch.  After we made lots of layered foods such as s’mores, lasagna, layer cake, bean dip and shepherd’s pie.   We had a fun free time and then some snacks.  We had session with three-way massage that melted into self-space.    After supper we had cabaret, which included tons of different talents, lots of laughs and cool magic tricks.  At 9:15 we had s’mores for snack, a game of Amoeba Sardines, a story than lights out.

Sunday morning we had a cheerful breakfast.  After we cleaned up our messes we sang.  We sang lots of good tunes that made us better friends.  We gave each other put ups and glasses of water.  We had silent worship together and then a wonderful lunch.  With lots of hugs and sad good-byes we left to go back to our own houses.

WinterSong 2010

Dec 10-12, 2010

On Friday we all gathered in the PoHo spirit and the spirit of Emmanuel (God with us).  As always, we were welcomed by friends new and old and friends we didn’t even know we had, which we probably met in a previous lifetime from a WinterSong in years past, as well as the ever smiling faces of Chris and Mike.  Then off to supper we went to enjoy salad and spaghetti.  Afterwards, we were introduced to the cast and crew.

Crew: Jacki & Chris K in the Kitchen; Mike and Chris facilitating.  
Cast:  Butlers -Julie and Martha, Adult presences- Jill E, Birdie C and Derek P.  JCs – Rob K, Julia K & Eva T.

We broke into small groups to learn more about what you can’t know about each other just by looking.  The Pata-Pata dance preceded our review of what every cool place has -  the rules.  News of Me out of the Silence and the following fun, free time gave us time to learn what is new in each other’s lives.  Quiet time stories of a fractured fairy tale version of the Elves and the Shoemaker and a Joan Baez skit on non-violence.  We made a big huggle, enjoyed a lullabye, and went off to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.

Saturday was filled joy and immense amounts of fun.  We woke up to another of Jacki’s delicious meals.  Session started with small group discussions.  Then we went to various workshops of illustrating the new PoHo cook book, dining room decorating, cookie baking, talking about addictions, board & card games, and dances of Universal Peace.  

Lunch led into a rousing game of Ultimate Frisbee.  Afternoon workshops were sharing about the whole process of childbirth, a walk to Dorson’s Rock, stacking lumber, caroling, planning the Hope Tree ceremony, and cookie decorating.  

Many participated in the much-needed three-way massage, while other went to Pitt hall for tai chi and energy work.  We settled into self space before preparing ourselves for the beautiful dress up dinner.  Everyone looked stunning in their fancy attire.  The food was delicious and we enjoyed friendly conversation with good company.
After the formal dinner, we gathered for together time in the ball room while meal crew cleaned up.  Once everything was tidy, we gathered for an amazing cabaret featuring rappers, dancers, singers, some games and even a mystery story.   

After a laughable JC skit, we all walked a candle-lit path to the ACC’s sun room where our Hope Tree was lit.  We shared stories of the things gained and experienced since we first started attending.  Everyone who shared put all their heart into it.  Many people were teary-eyed by the time it was over.  All the hugs and comforting words people shared showed how close we all are.  We had some free time that included a very funky dance party to burn off energy, a star-light walk around the frozen pond to name our own constellations, and a great cuddle-up in the common room to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  This may have been the moment in the weekend when the entire group was the most concentrated and intrigued.  A whole-group huggle and lullaby again sent us off to bed.

Sunday, we woke up to a wonderful breakfast presented by the kitchen cast and crew, then we headed off to our clean up jobs.  We gathered in session with a round of “What are you doing?,”  talking about upcoming conferences, read the epistle and evaluated this conference.  We played Molly’s game and sorted through the lost and found.  After a break, we re-gathered for singing and worship which was followed by a simple but scrumptious pizza lunch.  We said our sad good-byes as our friends departed, all of us hoping to meet each other again.

Sing your way back to the top!!

Joy, Joy, Joy

November 5-7, 2010
4th & 5th Grade

We came together on Friday night, some of us new, and some coming back to see old friends.  We all felt welcomed.  Our conference was about joy, and we discussed it after a tasty supper made by Jacki.
We played lots of fun games, such as Hagoo and a new game called Human Hurdle.  We danced the Pata-Pata and shared some of our personal experiences during News of Me.  The evening ended with a rousing game of Sardines, followed by quiet time and a story about puppy joy.
On Saturday after “Buying Donkeys” and “Running in the Alleys” we broke into small groups and shared stories about times we feel joyful and where that feeling comes from.   Along with that we created “Joy” books, which were filled with pictures and words to represent joy.  We had a lot of fun doing it.
During free time we played lots of Ping-Pong, did string and art projects, laughed, explored the maze and had a good time.  We worked for Powell House in the afternoon-it’s not all play here.  Some raked leaves, some cracked walnuts, some created pictures for the new brochure and others searched for autumn olive berries and crab apples.  3-way massage was a relaxing start to self-space, so we could recharge our batteries before dinner.
After dinner we played some of our favorite games like Snakes in the Grass, Fruit Bowl, Head Honcho and Amoeba Sardines.   Cabaret was great!  It included a fashion show, art auction, jokes and a great game of bus stop.  We dance partied before snack.  Some friends went to a campfire together after snack and then came back for more stories and quiet time.
We were all feeling very happy that we were here with new friends and old.  Everyone seemed to fit right in.  We came to share joy and are looking forward to going out into the world to spread more joy to others.

Return to the top of the page and core of JOY!

Cosmic Comic

Oct 29 – 31, 2010

10th 12th grade

We could start with a joke, but that might not show the seriousness of the weekend of mirth and merriment.  Our small group of 12 high school youth was made complete by the facilitation and presence of three young adults.  The small size of the group made for a conference that felt more intimate, close knit and autonomous in our choices.  There were no junior counselors, so we each had to play the leadership role at times.

The Saturday morning session started with a hike to Dorson’s Rock.  Outside in the beautiful fall morning, with a view of the Catskills Mountains, we adopted random alternate identities, broke into small groups and “found” each other in the woods in an improv exercise.  We talked about how identity plays out in our lives.

We laughed, we talked, we told jokes funny and lame.  We had small groups that all presented a skit for cabaret.  We shared a bonfire that lit up the night and then went back to the building for a late-night, no-lights, giant black felt hanging across hall and doorways version of Wild People upstairs in the ACC.

We came to laugh and be with friends.  We took away a sense of peace.

If It Were Up to Me

8th & 9th Grade
Oct 8-10, 2010

Good things come in small packages.  A small but very driven, very passionate package.   The weekend started with much hugging and joyous shouting and it never really stopped.

Throughout the weekend games included wink’em, ultimate Frisbee, blind person and the bomb, blind car and honey of you love me.

However the theme of the weekend wasn’t a game.  Whether you were a 13 year old or an 18-year-old JC, the attendees were impassioned for change.   They dealt with issues ranging from homelessness to equal rights and representation for all.   They then came up with tangible solutions and presented them to a panel of experts (cough, cough, Chris, EJ and the JCs, cough,cough).  The young men and women were eloquent and passionate about their cause.   It was great to hear and anyone after listening would have high hopes for the future.

Cabaret was wonderful, graced with lovely singing including Emma, Jenifer and Skyler (who, for the first time ever didn’t tell a joke).  There was the concluding episode of Detective Wilkinson and an awesome jazz improv piece with piano, guitar and trombone.

As always Jacki’s cooking was the highlight of the weekend and enlightened the entire building with wonderful fragrances.   A night walk in the dark was blessed with the beauty of the sky and, if we listened hard, we could hear a coyote’s lonely, mournful cry.

The weekend was on the whole a great success and if it were up to us we’d do it again.


Surviving & Thriving

Oct 3-5, 2010

6th & 7th grades

On Friday night we arrived here
Friends new and old began to appear.
For dinner it was mac’s and cheese
Every one said “More, more please!”

Session games were so much fun
We played elbow tag and Island
If we were abandoned out in the sun
“How to survive?” In small groups we did question.

We danced Pata pata, played sardines
Then went to bed to have sweet dreams.

We woke up in the morning, refreshed from our nap
Breakfast and session we did in a snap
We went to small groups to build shelter and fire
To show we weren’t the consumer and buyer

Lunch was good bread and oh so hot soup
We played “Oh, Deer!” and to work projects we trooped
Three-way massage was very relaxing
Guided meditation to self space kind of taxing 
From panel discussion to cabaret we slid with ease
To bed time and snack, though we wouldn’t sneeze.

We woke up on Sunday and stripped our beds
Breakfast and clean up woke our sleepy heads
We sang and we worshipped and played Primate Bellows
All that thinking made us happy fellows
We went through "good-byes’ and lunch all with out a tear
We’ll have this much fun on our next visit here.

back to the top

Planning – 2010

Sept 17 - 19, 2010

8th - 12th grades

If a person walked from off the street, unknowing of the Powell House rituals, Friday night they would be overwhelmed by the group of youth, yelling and hugging, obviously elated to be reunited with each other.

Later in the evening we got to the point of the conference which was to think of ideas for future weekends.  We played many games including Wink’em, Catch Your Partner (with live accordion music), Molly’s game, a spontaneous Ultimate Frisbee match, and Coffee Pot-edly.  Saturday night, we had cabaret with some jokes “I can’t tell you because you’re not a Catholic priest” (the punch line of one said joke).   After cabaret, we went on a beautiful; night walk around the pond. 

The weekend was graced with Jackie’s masterpieces (some call them food) and by the welcoming Powell House Spirit.  We all had a blast and will come to the conferences we planned and have tons of fun then too.

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Powell House is the conference and retreat center of the 

New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Powell House
524 Pitt Hall Rd
Old Chatham,  NY
phone  518-794-8811
fax     518-794-8815
Adult Program
Youth Program