Camping in the maze with a parent 4th -5th Aug 28-30
Planning 9th - 12th Sept 25-27
Apples to Awesome Sauce 6th -8th Oct 9 - 11
Who?  What?  Where? 4th-5th Oct 23-25

Tapping Into The Mystical

Queries we wrote

9th -12th Oct 30 - Nov 1
I.  Am.  Changing.

6th - 8th Nov 20 - 22
Pop!  Pop!  Popping!
4th - 5th
Dec 4-6

Winter Song 2015 7th - 12th Dec 12 - 14
Junior Counselor Training ( JCT ) 9th - 11th Dec 18 - 20
Come Play 6th - 8th
Jan 22-24, 2016
Out Beyond 9th - 12th Feb 5-7, 2016
Getting Older
11th/12th grade & young adult Feb 26-28, 2016
If I Had A Hammer
4th - 5th March 11-13, 2016
Hubbard and The Cukes
6th - 8th
March 18-20, 2016
Sailing Through
9th - 12th April 8-10, 2016
Wild Things
3rd - 5th May 13-15, 2016
Earth Song
7th - 12th
May 28-30, 2016
Grab On / Let Go
5th-7th June 17-19, 2016
Unwinding 9th - 12th July 14-17, 2016

 Planning 2015

 September 25-27

 9th to 12th Grade

 We came together to plan (as the title implied). Friday night we arrived and greeted old friends and new friends-to-be. We sat down for an unorthodox dinner of hot dogs (our minds were blown). The group came together with a focused energy. We did a name whip and experimented with handling energy. We had interesting conversations about new conferences to have. We talked about conferences we enjoyed in the past and explored what made them good. We brainstormed topic ideas for new conferences. We checked in energy-wise before news-of-me. We heard from the beginning of The Storyteller then went to bed.
Saturday we had breakfast before going to session. We began session with 4 on the Couch, a game requiring focus and highlighting how each person present is important to the process. We then talked about our favorite things in a 4 Corners activity. We split into small groups to plan future conferences. The group’s energy was creative as we ended with a game of Honey If You Love Me.
After lunch we split into work projects. We trimmed trails, collected crab apples and olive berries; we built a campfire and made new song posters. Half way through the weekend the energy was content as we settled in for 3-way massage and then self-space. After dinner we split again into different small groups in session to discuss New York Yearly meeting and PoHo, inclusivity and PoHo and the World and PoHo. After session we had a talent filled cabaret followed by s’more around the campfire and a raucous outdoor game of Sardines.

Sunday morning whipped by in a flash. We grabbed a delicious breakfast, cleaned the building and entered into session with joy. We heard the call of the Primate engulfed by the Wave and the occasional stampede. We played Molly’s Game then settled into worship. Lunch arrived altogether too soon then tearful good-byes sent us on our way.

 plan to go back to the top

Tapping Into the Mystical

Oct 30 -Nov 1, 2015
9th -12th grade

October went out with a bang as we gathered to talk to ourselves and each other about our spirits, other spirits and, perhaps, a ghoul or two. Friday night we came together for a dinner of spaghetti. We played a rousing game of Hagoo, session and followed that with news of me. Next, we came together in a more literal sense for a game of sardines. The group settled in for some stories and moseyed up to bed.

Saturday swept in like a witch on a broomstick, as Jacki worked her magic to cook up some bagels and eggs. In session, the group separated to discuss our spirituality. A snuggly free time was followed by a lunch of spooky sandwiches, then another free time. For work projects we hurled walnuts, hauled leaves, chopped down dead trees, built a fire, and made s'mores. Following that we settled into check-in and three-way massage.

A much needed self space gave our spirits some time to wander. In a total reversal of roles, we ate zombie loaf for supper. For evening session we wandered around and took a peek at the queries inside the spiritual pumpkins we had carved earlier in the day. This was followed by a spooky fire-side music jam ritual which got everyone's spirits soaring and waking. We then settled in for some quite time, a night time lullaby, and slipped off to sleep.

We awoke Sunday with a ghastly groan as we sorrowfully realized that the weekend was coming to an end. We played Molly's game and sat for some reflective silence. Lunch was delicious as usual. We left feeling spiritually nourished, educated and excited for the next conference.




Tapping Into the Mystical


written in small group discussions, to be put in pumpkins and discussed in pairs


What do I do to replenish?


What brings me spiritual transcendence?


How does my spirituality affect my life?


What does(n't) my family say about spirituality?


How do other people help me find myself?


How do I overcome the chaos?


When do I experience serenity?


What role does nature play in my spirituality?


Which values shape my life?


Which moments/experiences help me connect to my spirituality?


What relationship exists between escape and finding peace?


Can you be spiritual and still not believe in god?


If nothing is something, why is something nothing?


What is gender? Why do we have gender?


Why are teachers so mean?


How much of my identity can I determine myself?


How do social stereotypes affect me?


How can I act on my second thought and not my first thought?


How do we live the thought: Now let us see what love can do.




How can I get back to the top of the page?



Pop Pop Popping!


Dec 4-6, 2015


4th & 5th grade


We were a small group when we gathered on Friday night, all 14 of us arriving by supper time. A 'round the world' ping-pong game helped us all connect even before supper. Developing connections was important with five first time attenders and several here for their second time. We shared the things that make us feel like we might pop in some way: excitement; anticipation; siblings; a person who you trust is eman to someone else; too much sleep; being sick; a headache; being ignored; learning about a subject you like; a person you care about says nothing matters; friends' drama; a gorgeous sunrise; too much Thanksgiving.


We closed the evening with the JCs reading Shel Silverstein poems to us, or at least trying to read through their laughter. We thought they might pop before they finished. They did not pop, so we popped upstairs to go to sleep.


Saturday morning we practiced ways to relax and keep ourselves from popping. We folded origami that popped up to form paper balloons. We wrapped starch-soaked thread around balloons to make colorful thread balls. A great game of Wild People in the maze followed session.


The afternoon work projects were cake pops, popovers, popcorn balls, and raking a giant pile of leaves to pop in and out of. The food was fun to make and fun to share with each other. We played lots of games that made us feel happiness and a connection through the whole group. Three-way massage was new to many, but appreciated by all. The massage made us feel even more connected and relaxed. The evening session was going to look at dealing with our anger, but by then we left our anger aside and were feeling happy and content as a group. We played Will You Buy My Thing That Pops? and then Night at the Museum in the dark. Cabaret was awesome and gave everyone a chance to be on stage. We had a dance party with 80s funk music and ate our own popcorn balls with another round of cake pops. The quiet time story was “The Frying Pan of Doom.”


On Sunday, we woke and continued enjoying our time with friends. Amoeba sardines was an unusual addition to the Sunday routine. We settled in as a group to give affirmations to everyone and say some things we had noticed about each awesome person. During this gathering we have felt calm, cold, excited, happy and energized.


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Come Play


6th-8th grade


January 22-24, 2016


Ready… Set… Play!


We kicked off this weekend by discussing our favorite games and starting to get to know each other. Our first game for Friday night was Head Honcho. After head Honcho, we broke into small groups to make a list of types of games to be shared with the group and hung up in the common room. We went over the rules and safety measures at Powell House because everything is fun and games, until someone gets hurt. To finish the night we played Sardines and had a snack and story.


On Saturday we woke up to a delicious breakfast of bagels, fruit, cereal, and jam. After a short game of “Will You Buy My Donkey?” we came up with games that we played in other places. In small groups we added new rules to make them more inclusive. Two groups chose to make more inclusive versions of Thumper. Mean while, one group made a Banana Tag version of Ninja and the other group made a more inclusive and sensitive version of Mafia called Drama. We taught each other our games and discussed how we changed the rules. We closed session by playing Elbow Tag. Then broke for free time and lunch. During free time some of us played banana tag on the frozen pond.


After lunch we had a variety of small group activities, including pulling each otheer around the icy pond on sleds, reading and hanging out. We did our work projects: setting up a bonfire, cleaning out the game closet, sorting cards and creating a PoHo version of the Clue game. The evening started with a game of Wax Museum in the dark and Four On a Couch. We prepared for and performed in the always awesome Saturday-night cabaret. After that there was chill night walk around the pond and an almost bonfire. We came back to a delicious apple crisp. With our bellies full we enjoyed a short free time, listened to a few short stories, and headed to bed.


Sunday morning we prepared to leave and did the jobs that help keep PoHo running. Our last games were This Is a Cat (A What?), The Primate Bellows, and Molly's Game. We ended the weekend with silent worship, singing, and delicious lunch. We took home with us lots of new games to play and lots of fun memories.


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Getting Older


Feb 26 - 28, 2016
11th -12th grade – young adult


Friends arrived! Some brand new with fresh eyes. We all were getting older. After eating we played by tumbling and we played a game of hot chocolate river with rescue marshmallows. We had to work together to actually lift one another up. We laughed as our traditional daily roles were not defining us. We became one gathered community.


We lay down on our cushions and carpet in silence to tell our friends what has been happening in our lives. The silence allowed us to hold these truths, together. After a funny story we went to bed excited about what the morning would bring.


Saturday, we started off the morning with theoretical and physical exploration of food, followed by a silly game. We passed a wave of energy in a Tai Chi exercise and appreciated the communal feelings generated. We then split off into small groups and spent an hour discussing everything from our place in the world to logistics of independent living.


Dissolving into free time, some friends braved the cold to toss around a disk before an invigorating lunch of soup and sandwiches. After lunch, some of the group trekked up top Dorson's Rock and enjoyed a refreshing, if chilly, silence. During work projects, many tasty things were cooked, brush was whacked and friends settled in for a freshly made snack of El Salvadoran pupusas and homemade soy-almond cookies.


Afternoon session was a low-key one. Friends engaged in revitalizing touch and quiet through the 3-way massage and self space. Supper was an exciting array of foods both Jacki-made and group-crafted. Afterwards, we worked out our excess energy with a fun round of tumbling around with each other in original play. Then we moved on to a fish bowl exercise where friends at different points in their lives could ask questions and gain insights and clearness for the years ahead.


Cabaret was exciting as always, comprised of songs, jokes, improv, and a dozen other skills you never knew existed. We slipped into free time and snack once more before settling in for story time and bed, looking forward to the morrow, with the bittersweet expectancy that only Saturday night at Powell House can bring.


Sunday morning started with the usual mad rush to put bedrooms to order and consolidate our persons. Food was re-energizing as always and excellent breakfast conversations psyched us up for morning clean up, which seemed to go quicker than usual. Session was defined by a trampling game of Primate Bellows followed by affirmations of each person there. That sent us into singing and worship with a very warm glow.


Lunch was a delicious affair of joy and finality, and we all trundled off into the world with heavy hearts made exceptionally lighter.


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If I Had A Hammer


4th -5th grade
March 11-13, 2016


We came together to see what we could do if we had hammers.  We did get hammers and we diud a lot, including discussing how to make the world a better place.  We liked making and painting wooden tables.  Painting was really fun but messy. 

We played “If I Had A Hammer” tag – it was a chaotic call and response in the forest.  Meal crew were fun – wet, messy fun.  We had a loud hammering name whip and a “How to Change the world for better” name whip.  Ping Pong made us feel alive because we got to move. 

We worked on creating a model world together, building a beautiful world that we would like to live in..  It was exciting to see what people came up with.  We were really tired after all our games and work.  We enjoyed hot cocoa just before check-in and three-way massage.  When it rolled around,  we were relaxed and ready. 

We played a lot of fun and new games with Trinity and Lili.  They made us feel happy and excited.  Cross The River, with a secret move, was really fun because everyone was acting crazy trying to discover the mystery move.  Sock Sock Secret Sock was an amazing activity and beautiful as the black lights created lightening out of our movements and made us shine.  We liked cabaret.  It felt interesting when skits and acts (like the Mystery Skit) actually worked.  The JCs did a really funny skit and we learned important information about growing up.

We played a hilarious Primate Bellows game on Sunday morning after clean up  We went into the forest for a round of Wild People before coming back for singing and silent worship. 
It was really nice meeting new roommates and so nice to find out how kind and understanding they are. Don and Jacki made amazing foods that added fuel to our fire.  We learned how to hammer and made something durable and useful.  We learned to sing the song together and thought of ways to hammer and sing out a better world.  We felt contentment, joy and friendship.



( your way to the top)


Hubbard and the Cukes




March 18-20




6th to 8th Grade




On Friday night we almost immediately formed a couch pile.  It wasn’t big or crazy but it was comfortable.  Dinner was full of good conversations and laughter.  Session involved movement individually and as a group.  Later that night we played Sardines.

Saturday was an action filled day.  We started out with bagels and eggs, which got us ready for other things planned.   After breakfast we had a session that started with a conversational game and some brainstorming and then we broke into small groups.  We made funny and weird band names for our group.  We then continued to make our new band’s hit single.  These singles had names like: “Fuzzy Fun”, “Blue Midnight on Broadway”, “Phat Carpet Cupcakes” and “Barbara-Bob”.  There was also a name-less but hauntingly beautiful song involving a slinky, steel drum, zither and several rhythm instruments.  We then had a jamboree to perform these songs for the other bands.

We moved into free time and many of us took part in awesome couch pile while others of us played Frisbee and Banana Tag.  We ended free time with a rug-burning dynamic round of Wink ‘em – a first for many of us.

After lunch we had a full field Capture the Flag game preceded by a massive jump roping session waiting for meal crew to finish.  There were also some “educational” readings in the library. Then we moved into work projects.  There were many groups of cool projects.  There were a number of outside groups who used the Powell House grounds to build and create sculptures out of things and places we found in nature.   There was another group that painted a paper mural to hang under the stairs.   Snack was the result of three different work project groups.  It was AMAZING!  There were trays of shaped fruit arrangements.  There were also breadsticks in the form of musical instruments and notation.  But the best part for many of us were the cookies!  There were cookies that we could decorate with yummy frosting.  We were allowed 3 cookies!  Some of us thought the facilitators were bribing us or something. 

Things started to wind down in the middle of the day.  We calmed down our craziness and got ready for 3-way massage.   Relaxation overran us and we drifted off into a mostly quiet self-space.   We had dinner, a session of games and affirmations and then got ready for Cabaret.  Cabaret was filled with music, skits, bus stop, advertisements for Limosaurs and various experts including a potato-planter with a demonstration of his own potato growing song.  The unplugged-in but aesthetically pleasing microphone was a big hit as well.  Cabaret was followed by a rocking Dance Party with songs spanning the Macarena to the Animals (a dub-step band?).  Before bed, Noah read us a story about a prince who we thought was gonna die because of his confidence but apparently he didn’t.  We then went to bed.

Sunday we packed up and made beds.   Before breakfast we had, yet again, another couch pile.  We had delicious sweet potato pancakes.  After clean up we played Primate Bellows and Molly’s Game.  We sang songs and settled into silence.  Out of the silence we one by one created a 3-D painting on the carpet canvas with balls, hoops, rackets, Frisbees and a cardboard box.   Then we settled deeper into the stillness before rousing ourselves for a final meal and farewells.




Sailing Through


April 8-10, 2016
9th - 12th grade


To kick off the weekend, we had an amazing dinner of franks, beans and coleslaw.  Then we had session and started with a name whip about our day since 12:30, told in the third person.  We broke off into small groups and discussed the stresses of high school.  Among these topics we discussed lack of sleep, taxes, college, sexuality, work load, fights and drugs.  After session we did News of Me out of the silence and learned each others joys and sorrows.  Then we had free time and we caught up with friends.  Snack was ice cream with home made caramel sauce.  The quiet-time story was eye-opening and controversial and led to discussion later in the weekend. 

On Saturday, we sailed out of our beds, down the stairs and into breakfast, which was Jacki's eggs and bagels.  Session involved great game of Prui.  We had a big discussion about the book read the previous night.  We broke off into small groups and talked about  different topics such as sex, intimacy, identity and self awareness, and drugs and addiction.  In the following free time we played  a game of wink'em. 

We had a lunch sandwiches, soup and salad.  We had a relaxing free time before work projects.  In work projects, we cleaned the frog pond, cut invasive vines in the woods, wrote on spirituality of the PoHo community, cut up veggies, and moved the hedge pigs (chestnut hulls ) off the grass.  We ate sandwiches and fruit for snack.  We enjoyed three-way massage and a much needed self space.  We had  a lovely dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and miso soup.  A post-dinner free time was followed by session with an intense game of Four On a Couch.  We watched and participated in a fine cabaret.  We went for a night walk and had a snack of popcorn.  We listened to a story and went off to bed. 

Sunday morning we had a delicious breakfast of sweet potato pancakes, melon, and cottage cheese, the cleaned up the youth center and played some games of Primate Bellows and Molly's Game.  After lunch, it seemed like we had sailed through the weekend far too quickly.




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Wild Things




3rd to 5th Grade
May 13-15, 2017




On Friday we had a nice dinner and started socializing.  We squeezed ourselves into a pile of sardines.   We had a wonderful snack of ice cream, a story about tracking a woozle and then went to bed.

Some of us woke up really, really early and were bored out of our skulls for about 30 minutes until all of us came down for breakfast.   During session, we had a fun hike in the forest with instructions for finding wild things.  We saw a bunch of things we wouldn’t have seen normally, including the mysterious crystal doorknob. It opened our eyes to the forest and what’s going on in it.   We sat quietly in the woods after Mike told us that if you are still for five minutes in the forest you will find a bird watching you in the end.  We came back and some of us painted pictures of our experience.  Others played banana tag then all of us had a good lunch of grilled cheese and soup.

After lunch we hiked up to the bird sanctuary.   On our hike we paired up with someone new to us and got to learn about them – then we introduced them to the rest of the group beneath the trees.    We played wild people in “the bowl”.  After rescuing our JCs from the extraterrestrials we walked up to Dorson’s rock. Many of us loved the cliffs.   We had water, apples and graham crackers while enjoying the scenic view.   Then we went back down to the Anna Curtis Center (ACC) where a relaxing 3-way massage awaited us.  Dinner led into a nice game of Wizards and Gelflings, then it was inside for Cabaret.  We ended the night with Piglet meeting a Heffalump.

Sunday morning we cleaned up and gathered as a group to reflect on the weekend, to hear the Primate Bellow and to share something we appreciated in someone else in the group.  This involved converting a purple ball of yarn into a large web.   After a delicious lunch we headed home tired but happy to have made new friends and explored the wild things world around Powell House.

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Earthsong XLII


7th to 12th Grade
May 28-May 30, 2016
Powell House Youth Retreat

On Saturday we gathered in the ACC in the evening.  At 7:15 we had a delicious supper of spaghetti, meatballs and a great salad with the vinaigrette of our choice.   At 8:30 we had session and broke into four groups.  We played games like Monty Python Elbow tag and others.  Then we quietly chatted with our last partner about a few questions: their name, how they got their name, how far they have walked in a day, what they are good at and what they need to work on.  Then we introduced our partners to the group.  When we were waiting for other groups to finish, we talked and we made advertisements for things we had coming up.
News of Me was next.  We heard from a bunch of wonderful people about the happenings in their lives.  Next was free time, where some of us played our instruments and some of us cuddled in couch piles in the ping-pong room or the library.  Throughout the gathering, we wrote affirmations to the seniors, which they will receive by mail at the end of the summer.   Chris and Mike then read us two stories, one by Neil Gaiman and the other by Ursula K. Leguin.  We only heard half the second story but finished it the next night.  We got ready for bed and then slept until wake up at 8:00.
On Sunday morning, we had bread and jam, cereal and blueberries for breakfast.   Then we had work groups including sawing logs and chopping vines, pulling weeds, setting up the dining room in Pitt Hall, planting flowers and making cards for the graduating seniors.  The seniors were busy planting their tree, painting their sign and designing the ceremony for Monday.  Free time was next and a great many of us went swimming.   For lunch we had sandwiches, salad and a chilled gazpacho soup.
We went swimming again after lunch, some of us at least, but we had to get out early because of thunder.  Then we played Ultimate Frisbee and some of us made movie scenes about vampires and werewolves.   We had another round of workshops, where some of us walked to Dorson’s, played Capture the Flag, or worked artistically with paint and clay.  Snack was after that with graham crackers, other crackers and milk.  Next came 3-way massage or energy healing with Ann Davidson.  This was our last chance to work with Ann as she is retiring this July. 
We went into self-space where some of us went for walks and some of us played instruments and some of us slept.  Then we had 15 minutes to dress up for the final formal dinner.  We gathered in the ballroom and sang Simple Gifts.  Then we formed two lines and partnered up with the person across form us and made our way into the dining room.   We had chicken, rice, hoppin’ john, cheese, blueberry lemonade and coleslaw for dinner.  For dessert we were given chilled watermelon balls and blackberries with strawberry glaze and mint leaves.   Between dinner and dessert the seniors affirmed the 7th & 8th graders, identifying many positive and insightful things that they had noticed about them.  It was a sweet and tender interlude.
We went outside to take pictures or play Ultimate while we awaited Cabaret.  There were so many wonderful performances and laughs.   Snack after Cabaret included salt & vinegar chips.  After snack we had a little bit of free time and then we went on a night walk around the pond.   After the story sleep welcomed us.
On Monday morning we woke up and tore apart our beds just to remake them again.  We gathered up for breakfast, which was egg muffins, bagels, cream cheese and fruit, all delicious.   A quick shout out to our cooks!  Especially to Jacki, who is retiring this summer.   Thanks for always making our tummies full and hearts happy.   We broke into groups and cleaned up as much as we could so the cleaning staff wouldn’t have to work so long on their holiday.
Then Samy, our AP, came and led us wordlessly to the campground where the seniors had set up tarps and fairy lights beneath a beautiful old maple.  As we waited in silence, the dulcet tones of “Dear Friends” filtered to us through the woods.  Growing louder as the seniors approached and then fading as they veered away to grow louder yet again, it was a powerful reminder of their pending departure from us and eventual return to us.   Altogether once again, seniors on the facing bench (read rugs under the tree) we settled into a gathered and deep worship.   The seniors spoke out of the silence; sharing their sense of feeling welcomed, unconditionally loved, ready to bring what they have learned out into the wider world, and gratitude for this place and these people.  This was followed by messages from the rest of us, including a number of youth program alums and parents of seniors who had joined us for the ceremony.   We concluded with the song “River” and a healthy dose of hugs and tears.  Celebration snacks (pizza, deviled eggs, sweet tea) awaited us back at the ACC to conclude our Powell House EarthSong gathering!


Grab On, Let Go




June 17-19, 2016


5th - 7th graders


On Friday, after a delicious dinner of spaghetti, we met each other at session.  Then, we tried to get across the hot chocolate river on pillow-marshmallows.  After that, we did a wagon wheel exercise to get to know each other better.  We talked about rules and safety and heard News of Me out of the silence where we got to talk about what was happening  with us.  After free time we listened to some Native American folk tales and went to bed.

On Saturday, we went to Evelyn's Pond and on the way back played Wild People.  Before that we broke into small groups and tried to create a puzzle without speaking with puzzle pieces that we shared.  Then we talked about a time then we grabbed onto something and let go of something. After we wnet to the pond and played Wild people, we went swimming.  Then we played many fun games in session and had 3-way massage.  During cabaret there were so many funny skits and great performances.  Rose sang a beautiful song and the JC skit was very funny with one pretending to be the Doctor form Dr Who.  Then we went to bed.

On Sunday, we p[acked up and made the bed to prep for our departure.  Once everyone was up, we had amazing pancakes for breakfast.  The we had to clean up the ACC.  After that, we gathered together to play Primate Bellows and gave affirmations of everyone.  After we finished singing and worship we had great lunch of pizza.  After our last time together, we said our good-byes and headed home.







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