I can hardly believe that a month has gone by since Christmas and that we are in a new year. When I look at the upcoming months in a new year, it feels like I am looking down a new road riddled with yearly traditions, seasonal programs, and new opportunities. For many, the new year is about setting new goals and assessing the success of prior year goals. Goals are important for people and organizations interested in making a change. Goals are good as they allow us to articulate our visions, hopes, and desires, and they help form a sense of oneness when others support and share the need of achieving them.
Unfortunately, many New Year resolutions and goals shift from the importance in our lives, fall by the wayside as they are forgotten, or were not well thought out and became unattainable. Some are relegated to pipe dreams that would be nice, but will most likely never come. S.M.A.R.T. goals have helped people and groups guide their thinking as they flesh out their hopes and desires. S.M.A.R.T stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. S.M.A.R.T. goals have become my friend at Slumber Falls. Anything that we do at the camp, discuss in Camp Council meetings or are discussed with volunteers and supporters now have a measuring stick. This concept has been so influential; the Young Adult Mid-Winter Retreat was built from this premise.
At the Young Adult Mid-Winter Retreat held January 4-6th, I took this concept and built upon it and the results were incredible. The premise given to the group was that they were approached by a divine messenger who is calling them to elevate humanity in the upcoming year. They were selected because of their unique story, experiences, and skill sets, and as a result, they had to use their narrative or background to determine what 2019 was going to be known for. In a similar fashion to the Chinese New Year having an animal/theme, they had to identify what this year was going to be. Groups were formed, discussions ensued, and storyboards and creative presentations flourished.
In order to push them deeper in thought and not give “church” answers, they were challenged to think in a variety of frameworks. How are they going to share or convey their message to get buy-in by others? Does the message or approach change for those older, younger, or the same age as them? They had to figure out skill sets and knowledge bases needed to be effective. They had to examine their actions to prior efforts and figure out what they were doing differently which ultimately led to their success. They also had to think about naysayers and those that might challenge their efforts and how to respond. For some, the activity had some difficult elements. Part of this was the set-up of the activity without letting them research, so it forced some speculation and many educated guesses, but the end resulted in 2019 having 5 different, yet well thought out themes.
The themes were the Year of the Orca, The Year of the Ocelot, The Year of Love, The Year of the Bridge, and the Year of the Spirit. The year of the Orca focused on relationships and connections using emotion as the conduit, bridge, and transformation of people. The Year of the Ocelot used the image of a wild cat to talk about concepts that humanity should embrace to care for all of God’s people, with the main focus on access to healthcare and wellbeing. In the Year of Love, the group wanted to teach people how to understand our understanding of cultural love juxtaposed to the realities of Divine Love and how that permeates, changes and connects humanity. The Year of the Bridge was developing relationships between groups based on deep connection, active listening, and a desire to unify society. The year of the Spirit called humanity to seek the Divine in new ways so that they would develop, strengthen and hone their spiritual being and lens to build relationships with the whole of creation in profound ways.
As each group presented and the peanut gallery posed questions, I sat back and listened. In a few hours, these young adults were using critical thinking skills, creative integration, and adaptation of various knowledge bases, and developing plans that could transform the world and elevate humanity. In my decades of working in the church, I had never been privy to conversations with this type of intentionality and critical evaluations of behaviors to elicit a particular cultural change. I hope that our churches and related ministries are discerning their call, having critical conversations on the future, and establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals to increase their effectiveness.
This is a new year filled with so much potential. Slumber Falls Camp is up to our eyeballs in potential for enhancing our facilities, amenities, programs, and relationships. Slumber Falls Camp is benefiting from these practices, and the results are positive and exciting. If you are interested in being a part of this ministry, I welcome these conversations. Who knows, Slumber Falls may be the path where you find blessings, growth, and unimaginable transformation. I look forward to Christmas 2019 where we look back together while eating Santa’s cookies and milk and celebrating how the Spirit moved in our various ministries and the lives that were forever changed for the better as a result of the planning done today and our ministries throughout the year.
Blessings and peace to you. I hope that our paths cross sooner rather than later! Happy New Year!