9th to 12th Grade
September 14-16, 2018
We arrived Friday night, welcomed to a dinner of salad, rice, naan and curry. We greeted friends, new and old, and hurried into session and news of me. During session we supported one another as we built an imaginary Bernini Fountain. We then shared about our core selves and things we have experienced as true and also situations that had caused us to change After, we settled into free time. Later we gathered outside to stargaze and listen to a great story. We sang a song and went to bed.
The next morning, we awoke to the smells of French toast sticks and eggs and sausage. We had another session, which included building a raft, burning burdens we wanted to let go of, and then sending the raft and ashes onto the pond. We began the session with a brief silence, which centered us as we moved into a listening exercise and then shared where we saw light shining through in the world.
After some free time with couch piles and jokes from the joke book, we had a lunch of veggie sandwiches and salad. We played an impressive game of wink’em with no casualties (but some rug burn). We separated into small groups to do work projects: berry picking, lopping vines, cooking with Tony and cleaning up the campground, fire pit area and the labyrinth. After, a group of us cooled down by swimming in the pond. Another group of us played the first of many games of Mao a card game that developed our skills in non-verbal communication.
After a calming free time, we settled into 3-way massage and self-space. We had a dinner of savory puff pastries and more salad. We sang Happy Birthday to all of us and had macaroons (and sorbet) made by our lovely kitchen crew. Evening session began as we “passed the face” dissolving frequently into laughter. We had spirited and thoughtful conversations in small groups about the components of the youth program that could be uncomfortable initially but that helped us grow individually and as a community. These included “news of me”, small groups, wink ‘em, 3-way massage, couch piles and sitting in silence.
We enjoyed a fabulous cabaret and had many different activities. Some of us had a dance party and some took a night walk to a bonfire while others played Mao or piled on the couches. We listened to another story, sang a song, and went off to bed.
The next morning, we cleaned our rooms and had a delicious breakfast of bagels, oatmeal and fruit. We cleaned the ACC then gathered for our final session. We spent some time coming up with conference ideas for the coming year. We talked about what activities and questions might be part of the themed weekends. We ended with singing and a gathered worship. We had an amazing pizza lunch and bid farewell to our friends.
Throughout the weekend, our theme was evolution. We explored how we as individuals, as a community and as the world are evolving and want to evolve. Our conversations were rich and interesting and gave us much to think about.
On Friday, we arrived and greeted each other. There was pasta for dinner. Afterwords, we had session and discussed the meaning of clans and which ones we are part of.
The next morning, we got into our new clans and cjose our names. We went into the woods to see our clan territory and planned how our clan would operate.
In the afternoon we played Clan Quest, trying to capture the other clans treasures and win lives from the Wise Women. (Note: the kids have asked that this game be redesigned to make it more collaborative so all the clans reach a goal together.) After the game, we came back for snack, 3 way massage and guided meditation. Then we went into self space.
After dinner everyone was SO excited for cabaret that we skipped the sessio0n and went right into cabaret. There were jokes, pillow racing, bus stop, musical performances and a great JC skit. Later, some people went for a night walk to see an almost full moon. We stopped to look at the clouds, the moon, and their reflection in the water. ON the way back we found glow worms in the grass.
Next, everyone had snack and some people danced in the common room.
On Sunday we cleaned up, had session, and sang songs together. We had pizza for lunch and hugged our friends good-bye. After a fun and meaningful weekend, we all knew each other better and had learned about working together in our PoHo clan.
4th & 5th Grade
October 5-7, 2018
This weekend we had a super hero themed time. We made a mask and received our powers. During Super Hero training we got to practice skills including observation, coordination and imagination by drawing, throwing, catching, creating stories, identifying squiggles, noticing what changed, figuring out what was in a box, working together to get a ball under and over a limbo stick. With our super powers and in teams, we saved the JCs.
Yay too for marshmallows and the awesome super hero training staff.
November 2-4, 2018
6th to 8th Grade
Hello Parents and Families,
This weekend involved lots of pillow/couch piles, ping pong and tons of piano. We had a lot of interesting conversations and a couple of hard ones. Oliver D liked Sardines in the dark. Gemma liked Cabaret and Jon E liked free time. This conference the theme was “I Hear You” listening to other people, other people’s bodies and ourselves and our bodies. One of the exercises/activities we did was sitting back to back with another person and in turns leaning on them and going back and forth. This gave your concentration to the person and you felt the warmth of their back on yours. Noah says it was fun and the hike was cool.
The hike must have been the highlight of the weekend. We went up high on a grassy hill. The hill is on our neighbor Lynn Cross’s farm. There is a gravestone and some flowers for Nicholas Kolesnikoff, Lynn’s son. We looked at the Catskills across the valley and the wind blew our hair. Then we walked back and had chocolate bread. Noah brought down some herbs (thyme) that he’d found and Tony our cook put them into the olive honey chicken for dinner.
In conclusion, we had lots of laughter and couch piles.
Young Adults (including 11th & 12th grade)
Nov 16-18, 2018
Despite an early November snow, on Friday evening we all established a physical connection to Powell House. Over the weekend we explored themes of connectivity of all kinds through intimate small group discussions and guided meditation (both back-to-back and individually on the floor). We strengthened our connections with trust falls and games, such as wink’em muddy ultimate Frisbee, Honduran hat game, will you buy my donkey, and many card games. Our weekend was punctuated with cuddly free times and several cozy fires in the fire place. We took a meditative, snowy walk to the Cornfield this time. Cabaret was delightful, if brief, followed by an “epic 2000s dance party.” We learned about Mike’s fish eating habits, as applied to romance as well. Our food this weekend, brought to us by Tony, was excellent as always. Overall, our weekend was defined by our wonderful small group discussions, and our feeling of unity and closeness.
4th & 5th Grade
Dec 7 - 9, 2018
Powell House is really fun. We came to JC* or be JCed*, to hang out with friends and to make new friends. It’s a place where people don’t tease you. And when we have conflicts we try to work them out.
We connected by talking to each other and playing games and by having new roommates. Three-way massage connected us to the whole group. Painting to music connected us to our creative spirit.
We’re going home with our friends phone numbers, a better understanding of what spirit is, hopefully with a smile on our faces, good memories and happy feelings. And carrying our new friends in our hearts.
*JC is a junior counselor – the high school youth who help facilitate the conferences for the younger kids.
December 14-16, 2018
7th to 12th grade
This weekend we came together from various corners of the northeast to celebrate winter’s arrival and all the joyous holidays that come along with it. We explored themes of family tradition, belonging, and what brings us hope. Amidst the cold, our life’s challenges, and a tumultuous political climate, we hunkered down together and kept each other warm, safe, and loved.
Starting the weekend we settled in and caught up with our friends. After dinner we had free time. In session we broke up into small groups and talked about our favorite winter memory. We created ornaments out of ourselves and then broke into News of Me. We shared moments of happiness and some sadness. Then free time again. We went off to bed.
On Saturday we had session then workshops where we made cookies, decorated the tree, cut vines, conversed about the universe, spirituality and alternate perceptions of the world, made music, played games or participated in a blind-folded walk to Dorson’s Rock. We had free time again, then lunch. Right after lunch we did our workshops once more, this time with dining room decorating, a book discussion group and improv added into the mix. Then later that day we had 3-way massage and the main attraction of the night, the dress up dinner. An impromptu dance party ensued afterwards. Then we had Cabaret with many great acts. There were jokes, performances, and poetry. We watched the Grinch and spoke about how he is actually very scary. Then, still cozily piled into the corners of the common room and spilling out towards the center, we sang “Here Comes The Sun” and settled into a moving silence with the query “What has given you hope in the last week?” We broke the silence by lighting the hope tree and hearing a beautiful Hebrew song of peace sung by two of our friends.
On Sunday we cleaned our rooms and beautified the building. We gathered for one more large group game and an affirmation activity then sang ourselves into worship to close our time together.
Over the course of this weekend we recharged our batteries, celebrated our differences and lit up our hope tree with love, joy and a continuing commitment to changing our world. We will all bring home a piece of that light and the memories of loving, good people who perpetually lift us up.
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It was a Friday
We re-kindled our friendships
Food was super sublime
We drew and others drew too
Cabaret was cool
Haikus are quite hard
Sunday morning is so sleepy
I don’t want to leave
Highlights of the conference: Learning to crochet, ART! Especially collaborative art projects & little canvasses & yarn crafts, Nature walk to get inspired, the numbers of games especially 4 on a couch, Tony Shiri & Art’s food! Good amount of free time, Great cabaret.
Jan 19-21, 2019
6th - 8th grade
During this conference, we discussed a lot of thought-provoking questions about death, grieving, how to recognize grief and how to cope with it. Despite the sad subject, it was a laughter-filled and loving conference. We all enjoyed the delicious food, new games and, most especially, the hilarious cabaret.
Due to snow, we started Saturday at noon and ended on Monday mid-day. Saturday started with games like “Elbow Tag”, sharing our expectations and a round of “What Is This” with a scythe. The evening had a snowy, full-moon walk in the forest and a bonfire.
On Sunday, we woke up at 8 and had a filling breakfast. Shortly after, we played “What Are You Doing” and discussed the safety guidelines for sledding and boot skating on the pond session. We all went outside in the snow and chose whether to sled or shovel so we could boot skate. Sledding was super fun but exhausting and boot skating was fun but it was kind of hard to shovel. Otherwise, we all had loads of fun skating around.
Lunch soon came around and afterwards we played a quick game of “Rattler and Miner.” In small groups, we discussed topics like grieving, dealing with loss, and supporting others who are grieving. Something that we did to explore the theme of the weekend was to read a memorial minute for a woman named Ellen Flanders and discussed ways Quakers have memorial services. We talked about stages of grief. During this entire conference we learned a better understanding of death and how to acknowledge it.
We then had free time with a fun and loving couch pile. We finally had check-in and then a much-anticipated three-way massage. After a relaxing massage or a nice book with soothing music, we had self-space which many enjoyed. Soon after we had supper and another session to play “Wax Museum” and “Molly’s Game” - an exercise in affirmations.
Then we had cabaret!!! It had great improv skits, music and a fun talk about a lizard conspiracy. We had more free time afterwards and a Native American story to think about before bed.
All in all, it was a fun yet serious educational experience. We learned how to comfortably talk about the idea of death and grieving. We all get to take home a new perspective on death.
February 1-3, 2019
young adults including 11th & 12th graders
Lucian’s guitaring on Sunday morning and his sincere, royal demeanor
Rebecca approaching new friends and old
Amelia’s Charleston lessons on ice
Arthur’s piano playing was gold
Gemma’s smile and stripey pants
Carson’s awol “old man” eyebrow hair that he protects from getting plucked
Hannah’s thoughtful insights in small group conversations
Will and Keyra spending all of free time cuddling and talking developmental psych
Aeryn’s powerful poetry at Cabaret
Samy’s friendly warmth and scrunchy
Margaret’s kind eyes and how she’s calm and collected
Drew’s color bursts
Alex’s fearless and friendly introduction and skills at paddle-less ping-pong
Dove’s massage and watercolor skills, Kwame’s dance moves and styleee
Sarah’s poetry moving Maeve to tears
The soultry sound of Soren’s voice –
The umption in Andy’s gumption – his love of the place
Milo’s commitment to 4 on a Couch, and facila expressions
Bryant’s skillful direction that lead the bandana team to glory
James’s intensity and Tupac sweathsirt
The “click” of Allison’s camera
Lucy’s loving hugs
Matt’s building the bonfire and Adam’s feeding it with the xmas tree and his cool sweater on Saturday
Iain’s doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and forgets what he forgot, how cool he looked coming in from the snow
Jen’s funny stories about genetics and linguistic skills
Jackson noticed the tiny paper hat – a focal point
Sofia was missed when she left to host a chowder fest, but she returned
Evan’s decorative shirt-pockets
Grace noticed a black splotch in the tie-dye and we noticed her whale joke no one had heard before
Matilda’s poise and grace and skills with a pen
Laurel’s all blue snow gear
Leila and Nina’s Middle English knowledge in cabaret
Peter’s chill poses
Mike’s segues and Chris’s wisdom
Tony’s paper tube trumpet and tasty good food.
6th -8th grade
March 1-3, 2019
This weekend was wholesome fun and different. Griffin would say it was an exciting, energetic and tiring weekend. While participating in uncomfortable activities, we explored, pushed and strengthened our boundaries. We played games such as Elbow Tag, Bear of Poitier and Will You Buy My Donkey, that assisted in building our PoHo family. As always we created new friendships and memories that will stay with us for years to come.
Over the weekend we hit PoHo traditions; Cabaret, three-way massage, great meals, tasty and fun to make food projects with a side of trail clearing, singing and worship to close the weekend. Cabaret was a success, thanks to the MCs, the JC skit (and of course the many performers.)
We’d like to thank our JCs (Eddy, Eamonn and Rebecca), our AP (Carson) and especially Samy and Chris for a wonderful weekend.
9th - 12th grade
March 8-10, 2019
This weekend we gathered away from our chaotic lives to be together, here and now. We explored themes such as
• what it means to be grounded,
• what helps us connect to the present moment, and
• how mind fullness can strengthen our relationships.
We savored every precious minute of our time together and practiced various forms of re-centering ourselves.
On Friday night, we arrived to new friends and old and enjoyed a delicious meal together. Next, we broke off into session and used art to visually express what happens when we are not centered. After we had finished our chaotic masterpieces, we settled into silence and focused on grounding ourselves. Then, we created a new piece of artwork representing how we felt in that moment. After discussing this experience, we scattered into free time and took time to catch up with our friends. We once again settled into silence for News Of Me, where we heard from one another about we as individuals were coming from. Through joys and hardships we supported one another, and, after some additional free time and story time, we went off to bed.
Saturday morning, we groggily roused ourselves for breakfast and then circled up for session. We played Leader of the Orchestra, then set off as a group for a walk in meditative silence. The cool air and snow beneath our boots brought us serenity and connectedness.
After our moving meditation, we once again enjoyed some free time featuring wink’em, a game where we expressed our Quakerly love for one another through wrestling.
Once we had eaten a fabulous lunch, we broke into silent work projects. We practiced non-verbal communication, being mindful of including everyone as we made sushi, baked cookies, gathered firewood, planted flowers, sorted the library and pruned vines. After feasting on the spoils of our labor, we had a group check in and massage. We participated in a guided meditation, rested and then enjoyed some self space. Many people showered did homework or went on walks. All of us cared for ourselves.
After a supper and a fantastic apple crisp dessert, we had another wonderful and centering session. This featured contact improv, where we practiced non-verbal communication through partner movement. We did yoga and then a peer lead us in the mantra meditation “I am loved, I deserve love.” We had a hilarious cabaret filled with improv and cuil theory and fantastic MCs. Once we had laughed ourselves silly, we broke into more free time. Many of us ventured out to a bonfire. While it was initially difficult to light, we were able to set it ablaze by using extra scrap paper and chanting “OM”. We enjoyed snack and a dance party. After our wonderfully hectic evening, we gathered as group of lovely, sleepy people for story time and bed.
Sunday morning came all too quickly as we rose and made our beds. We cleaned up our space, then enjoyed a final group session. We played Primate Bellows and Molly’s game to affirm a member of our group. We had singing and worship in silence, and once again brought ourselves back to the present moment in that silence.
We had lunch and then said our good byes. Each of us left feeling more centered and ready to return to our busy lives. This weekend we truly escaped into now and enjoyed every second of our time together.
4th & 5th Grade
April 26 - 28, 2019
|Some of us who had not been before to Powell House came because we wanted to see why friends and family liked it so much. We found it is like a second family. We played games for fun and to make new friends. We learned new trees and what makes a tree a tree. We connected with the trees around us and everything they bring us. We explored outside in the woods. And we each spent time with an individual tree that we picked.|
|Things that brought us together were three-way massage, amoeba sardines, and making our own individual pizzas as a group. We are bringing home pizza, friends, peace, and lots of stuff about trees.|
May 10-12, 2019
We journeyed to Powell House from points east, west, south and north to be together in the Powell House community. We found our center through movement and activities and also through quiet and reflection. We found the center both as a group and as individuals. For first timers, it was cool to be here and the community was welcoming.
We loved seeing the creative interpretations and varied portrayals our small groups made of an imagined journey to the center of the earth. Designing challenges for each other, journeying to each other’s challenges and hiding from one another was tons of fun. We fed our centers and our creative urges making our own personal pizzas and s’mores around the campfire.
Laying on the mountain in the sun with a guided meditation was the perfect center to the weekend. Later that night we tried to find the center in a candlelit labyrinth. In many ways, with all the twists and turns, it was a lot like life. You thought you were close to the center and then found yourself on the edge again. Sharing afterwards we became aware of the different ways people find and experience the center.
The group came together as one center as the weekend went on. We felt it in simple things like Sunday morning breakfast which was quiet, collected and peaceful and in thoughtful things like the affirmation web circle we made. We felt it while crafting this epistle and later when we sang and worshipped to close our time together.
A beautiful reunion weekend was jump started Friday night with an exciting juxtaposition of curry and snapplenot, together at last! Session followed in short order. A name whip was followed by reunion themed activities and elbow tag as re-imagined by the Ministry of Silly Walks. AS the evening progressed we helped each other remember how to youth conference and caught up on what we’ve been up to through News of Me. Free time arrived with a splash and much of the group spent a nostalgic hour bumbling through dark hallways in search of a large terrestrial fish. We ended the evening with story time and huggle and (mostly) dropped off to sleep looking forward to the next day’s shenanigans.
Saturday morning dinged us into consciousness and set us up for a fun-filled day with croissants, eggs and a whole cast of supporting characters. Session started off with an exercise of poking sleeping bears before we split into small groups to further explore and reconnect with each other’s recent pasts and future hopes and fears. Carrying these thoughtful questions along with our towels, we took a silent walk around the pond ending in a session of outdoor worship where we marveled over the beautiful surroundings and delved deeper into ourselves, our lives and how Powell House has shaped us. After lunch work projects arrived on the heels of a refreshing swim, allowing us to replenish the sweat removed by the pond. We gardened, cooked tree-cut and brain-stormed about fundraising or –in one case – waxed poetical over earthworm reproductivity.
The afternoon wore on with check-in leading into a small but cozy 3-way massage and self-space. Dinner fortified us in body and soul for a quick hike up to Lynn’s field. We admired a stunning view through misty eyes and were reminded of the unconditional support network we all comprise. Holding hands in a circle we each spoke the phrase “I will hold you up; I will not let you fall.” Then we held that idea through a silent, ant-riddled worship.
Coffeehouse was a rousing success that bore an uncanny resemblance to the phenomenon commonly known as “Cabaret”. It featured interviews with some very interesting hopefuls for the youth director posts, along with a nostalgic throwback to the Doughnut Act, or whatever that thing was (Cookie Skit). A truncated but energetic dance party was followed by a truly excellent fire, around which many stories were shared, memories relived and adults reminded just how far we’ve really come in the last decade or two. Time being as ever, our fickle friend, we ended the day twenty minutes into tomorrow and traipsed off to bed with firelight and unexpected golden underwater vessels swimming behind our drooping eyelids.
Sunday morning we emerged bleary-eyed to face our last few hours together with bagels and joy. Many hands made light work of Sunday morning cleanup before swinging into Primate Bellows and a terrifying towel game. Next came an opportunity for larger reflection as we shared our hopes and expectations for future youth directors. We then filled each other’s cards as we recognized all we adored of those around us. AS the circle keeps going round and round our voices joined together in song before settling into silence where this group reconnected and re-grounded.
June 14-16, 2019
3rd to 5th grade
Why We Came Together
We came together this weekend in June 2019 to spend time in this shared space as children and parents, to learn about the wild edibles in our own backyards and to experience a service animal relationship firsthand. We came to listen to one another, make and strengthen friendships, to laugh and to move and to be.
Some of us came to Powell House expecting to learn, others to have fun, and some just to be here – a place that is not our routine, busy life but a special separate place where magical connections happen.
What Came Out of Our Time Together
We learned about at least 8 common edible plants and how to harvest and cook them with yummy oil and salt. We learned how kind and loving everyone is to each other. We noticed things we don’t ordinarily notice, like the tiniest things we’ve ever seen, grasshoppers in the grass, the wind swaying at the top of the trees.
We loved the comfortable fun of playing and listening in the pillows and in the grass. We experienced that things don’t always go the way you want and it doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to. At the same time, as parents we delighted in watching our children as they made friends in an instant, took responsibility for themselves and romped in the joyful summer weekend.
What We Did
The first night we started to get to know each other. We talked about what we would need to do for each other so that everyone would be healthy and safe, including Ace, Jo Clayson’s service dog. Because this is Powell House we did a lot of activities that built community and allowed us to get to know ourselves and each other better. These activities included Elbow Tag, The Blanket game, Prui, etc…
We also explored the theme of the weekend: Wild Edibles! We started by learning about how to safely gather things we can eat that grow in the fields and forests. Then in small groups we ventured out to observe, identify and most importantly TASTE. We found garlic mustard, wood sorrel, plantains (not the ones that look like bananas), red clover, dock and grape leaves and tendrils. Most people liked the lemony tang of the sorrel best.
When we worked together we gathered more things to eat and we turned the things we’d foraged into snacks. We also went swimming and hiking! How did we do so many things in one day?!
Then we entered the delicious time of self-space. We remembered that we all have the capacity to slow down, look closely & notice things we don’t normally see. Some of us observed sounds like the wind in the trees or watched bugs walking over the leaves. At night we laughed and laughed at Cabaret. We remembered how improvising means listening to your partners on stage and helping them to tell the story.
Throughout the weekend we ate delicious meals and snacks and are grateful to Tony and all the meal crews for keeping our bellies happy.
July 4th – 7th, 2019
We came to be with a bunch of awesome friends, to re-forge old friendships and create new ones. We came to be nurtured spiritually and emotionally. We came to have time for introspection: getting in touch with who we are and what we want to be in the world.
We experienced everyone opening up and connecting to one another resulting in a relaxing, playful, spiritually deep weekend. Lots of time outside contributed to that feeling with refreshing swimming early in the day and mid-afternoon; the Thursday night walk around the pond amidst the fireflies and stars; the worship at Lynn’s field Friday evening with the query “what I know is…”; the work projects making walls, washing walls, moving rocks, and clearing trails; and the Saturday afternoon moving worship at different stations outside and in. Large group activities, free time conversations, a long intricate D & D game and cuddle piles were important too. And of course, Tony’s meals kept us full and happy.
Saturday night we sang and worshipped once more, than settled in for the all-night film festival. We watched Spirited Away, Loving, Arrival and Up, heading to bed as the sky grew light outside.
We unwound and re-centered this extra long weekend: individually and together.
6th -8th grade (rising)
July 12-14, 2019
We came seeking to make new friendships and to renew old ones. We spent the weekend in the campground and slept in tents. It was chance to appreciate the natural world. We have happy memories of the fire, the smell of baking apples on the coals and of burning wood.
The feeling of warmth from all the group, of playing and participating together, was as nurturing as the warmth of the long fire that we kept going. We hiked to Dorson’s Rock for the sunset. We explored and mapped the maze trails, played a soccer-like game with a watermelon in the pond, basked on the floating dock, exchanged massages in the shady campground and walked around the pond at night to see the fireflies and the stars above.
On Sunday we shared times during the weekend that we had felt connected to something outside of ourselves. The group gave affirmations to each person as we sat around the campfire. We sang songs by the pond and then each person took a float to form a silent circle in the deep water. Silence settled briefly until shivering started. We had open swimming to warm up again and feel the joy of being in this natural setting.
Coming here is a break from the stress of daily life. Here we experience being loved and cared for, everyone is contributing to that and receiving it at the same time. We felt the closeness of everyone even though we spent the weekend in wide open spaces.
We fell re-energized going back home. It was perfect being outside continuously in great weather. We loved the physical and emotional fresh air.