Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Opening Retreat & Orientation


Camp Dewan
Our Opening Retreat weekend provided us an opportunity to relax, get to know each other better and learn more about intentional community.  We made our way a couple hours north to Camp Dewan in rural Wisconsin.  When we arrived we discovered the first thing we all have in common:  biting flies love us all!  Camp Dewan was beautiful!  The Camp had an old barn topped with solar panels.  Inside the barn held a kitchen, dining room, half court basketball, and two gathering areas.  There was a small lake with an island stocked with kayaks and paddle boats, which we took advantage of during the weekend.

Our sessions focused on spirituality, intentional community, and simple living, which are essential elements to our work and life at FOA.  We shared what our expectations for the upcoming year were and how we could best live in community - we all agreed to cleanliness, consideration and support of each other!  Each evening ended with a reflection in which we were able to share our stories with one another.  Our diverse backgrounds were evident in these lifeline reflections which helped us to better understand the background and characteristics of our community members.
2011-12 Community

We took advantage of our free time playing basketball, volleyball and baseball, watching movies, and relaxing down by the lake.  We spent most of the time laughing with each other!  Our first night we spent hours watching a beautiful lightening storm in the distance.

After returning from the Opening Retreat we began our Orientation.  The first day consisted of two workshops.  The first was presented by Thresholds.  We learned about mental illness and addiction issues facing many of our guests as well as crisis management and how to de-escalate situations that may arise.  Our second workshop was with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.  We heard 3 speakers who were formerly homeless share their stories with us.  We then learned about how the issue of forced prostitution affects some of our guests.

Free time at the Lake
The second day was also divided into two workshops; the first session was on First-Aid and CPR Training.  The keyword was 2/30 - two breaths, 30 compressions.  We had a great "Community and Staff Pizza Lunch" which was an opportunity to meet and get to know the FOA staff.  The second workshop was with the Br. David Darst Center and focused on Social Justice; I found that this part was very enlightening.  We got a better understanding of the structural poverty affecting our guests.

These were great opportunities to begin my year at FOA.  Spending time reflecting after our Opening Retreat and Orientation, I've realized that we all arrived here more or less as strangers, but because of my loveable community members and the time we spend together in service, I feel so at home right now!

For more pictures from the Opening Retreat click here!