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Reflections on our 2019 Winter Wonder Camp at Pilgrim Pines

By Tracy Halter-Balin and Lily Penner

Over the Martin Luther King long weekend (February 18-21), a wonderful group of Junior and Senior High School youth, along with some pretty great adult volunteers, got to experience God’s grace and wonder at Pilgrim Pines.  It was the 3rd Annual Winter Wonder Camp and the theme was “Spread Your Wings”.   Along with our adult keynote/worship leaders Wally Hoeger (FCCLB) and Rod Echols (Neighborhood Congregational Church, Laguna Beach), we explored the complexities of mental health, spirituality and the importance of learning to care for ourselves and each other in order to grow and thrive.   We spent time in small family discussion groups, had fun in different interest groups, had an amazing talent show (solos by Dante Wilson, Milo Penner and Lily Penner included) amidst other camp fun.  While there was no snow, it was chilly and we got to see the lunar eclipse among a spectacularly clear star-filled sky.

The weekend was planned by the SCNC/UCC Conference Youth Round Table and their adult advisors.

And from one of the youth:

My name is Lily Penner. I am a junior in high school and have been going to Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center for about a decade. Most of my time here has been spent being a camper in minis, juniors, jr. high, and currently, senior high. All of these years have been amazing thanks to my friends and also my counselors.

Since this camp is such a special place to me, I decided during my freshman year that I would apply to the Youth Round Table (YRT). I was thrilled to be accepted!  This year, my friend Quinn and I are co-moderators. On YRT, we plan the events such as the summer and winter camps. Our most recent event was Winter Wonder Camp in January. This was for kids in middle and high school. Our theme was “Spread Your Wings” which revolves around the topic of mental health and staying healthy. It was an amazing experience, both in the planning of the weekend and leading our fellow teens and ‘tweens. I was able to share my ideas and knowledge about our topic and even lead some interest groups (activities that the participants sign up for during the day).

In my opinion, this year was one of the best executed event that YRT has had during my time  with this group. We worked efficiently, communicated well, and kept everyone engaged and happy. It felt very rewarding to give back to the camp that has given me so much of my childhood and shaped who I am today. This mindset has pushed me to lead and support people as best I can. On Youth Round Table, I can make sure everyone can get the amazing experience of camp that they deserve.

As for the future of YRT, I believe it is very bright and is only going to go up from where we are now. We have a very strong foundation and our bond with each other is unbreakable.

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