SHARON –"Nothing can dim the light that shines from within."– Maya Angelou, poet.
"SHINE" was the theme for the annual Thinking About Working For God (TAWFG) retreat at Silver Lake, and the last weekend of October was a time for busy teens to reflect and recharge.
Youth enjoyed team-building games at the challenge course, songs and prayers around a campfire, and worship at the waterfall chapel. One after another they commented on how much they enjoyed spending time at Silver Lake.
"I love it here!" said Chance Dixon from Hamden. "I was here for a conference in the summer, and I got to come back after just a few months. This is a place where everyone can be themselves."
Participants included youth from First Church of Christ Congregational in Hartford, Dixwell Avenue UCC in New Haven, Mt. Carmel Congregational Church in Hamden, East Woodstock Congregational Church, Unity Hill UCC in Trumbull, First Congregational Church in Canton, and Memorial Congregational of Sudbury, MA.
TAWFG is a signature program of the CT conference that seeks to help youth discover their call. Retreat leaders Debby Kirk, Isaac Monts, Anne Russo-Priestley, and Jana Russo-Priestley provided a variety of activities to help youth understand how they can be a light in the world.
Youth shared stories of experiences that have helped them identify their passion. The group has diverse interests and gifts: writing, music, film-making, science, and story-telling. Reflection revealed that they share an interest in applying these skills to a range of social ills — everything from poverty and hunger to racism and gender inequality.
Claire Byko of Canton commented, "I kept hearing about TAWFG program. This summer on (Silver Lake) staff, I was like, 'Wait, I can actually see myself in this, because I already do work for God by volunteering at my church and working at the Winsted Soup Kitchen each week.'"
"My passion is kindness because when I was little I dealt with people who were unkind to me and I believe no-one should go through that," said Carly Chervenak of Orange, CT. Carly participates in the "Girl Up" group at her school and has recently started a social media campaign called Being Free Means Being Me.
"I have known from an early age that I wanted to help others. I am currently training to be an EMT so I can help people with medical emergencies," said Reid Young of Sudbury, MA.
"I have always loved technology," stated Charles Mabry of Dixwell Avenue, UCC. "Technology can change the world. It is advancing every day and I want to be part of making things that improve the lives of others."
For more information about TAWFG and the upcoming apprenticeship program, visit our website at www.ctucc.org/tawfg.