In July 2014, we attended Youth Midwest Leadership School (YMWLS), a week-long UU leadership camp for UU youth in Beloit, Wisconsin. It was the best week of our lives.
We arrived with little preconception about the week's activities. We hoped for fun and eye-opening experiences. What we encountered was far more than we could have hoped for, particularly the relationships we developed with 28 other open-minded UU youth. We created a unique UU community where, together, we pursued acceptance, spirituality, communication, peace, equity, and unconditional love. We bonded until the idea of leaving sounded impossible. We departed feeling we'd evolved into new and better versions of ourselves who had experienced a real taste of what community, spirituality, and love truly means.
Daily life at YMWLS involved attending worship twice a day, examining the UU principles and their meaning in our lives, exploring the origins and evolution of the UU faith, building leadership skills, a social justice project, bonding with peers, and exploring and sharing our beliefs in CREDO groups with 5-6 peers, plus one youth and one adult leader.
CREDO writing provided daily time for personal spiritual contemplation. We were given questions to ponder about our lives, UU faith, our existence, and our ultimate purpose. Each night, we gathered with our CREDO group to share our reflections. Sharing our deep insights with our peers enabled us to connect through mutual acceptance and respect for each other, and helped clarify our own beliefs and values.
Since our time at YMWLS, we're seeking to create a more inclusive and understanding youth group environment here at Eliot. We want to help others at Eliot develop their beliefs, just as we did during YMWLS. And there's much more we want to bring from our YMWLS experience to Eliot:
There's one other thing we learned at YMWLS we're excited to share with our Eliot community.
"It IS our job to make the world a better place."
With Unconditional Love,
Colleen Lee & Phoebe Mussman
About Colleen Lee & Phoebe Mussman
Colleen Lee & Phoebe Mussman are active members of Eliot Chapel's Senior High Youth Group and serve as UU leaders at Eliot Chapel (Kirkwood MO) in numerous capacities, including teaching RE, directing the Christmas Pageant, and worship leadership. Colleen is the daughter of Christie Lee and granddaughter of Pat Lee. Phoebe is the daughter of John & Denise Mussman and sister of Camille Mussman.