submitted by Joanne Dingus
From June 30th to July 6th, the UUFP was home to Goldmine Youth Leadership School. What is Goldmine? Goldmine is a leadership training for high school aged Unitarian Universalists that covers three areas: Leadership Skills Development; Religious Values and Heritage; and Worship. Goldmine is a series of workshops that equip young UUs with a foundation that deepens their religious values and expands their ability to contribute both in UU community and in wider applications.
We had ten students from various locations including Greenville SC, Atlanta GA, Fairfax and Charlottesville VA, and of course our own Fellowship. When the students arrived on Sunday afternoon, they decorated chalices and mail bags to use later in the week. They played group games and began to get to know one another. Rosalee Pfister provided a delicious Italian feast for the first dinner. We had a beginning Leadership Skills Development session that night, but the real work began on Monday. From Monday on the students participated in ten intense leadership workshops, four worship style sessions and four values and heritage sessions. If that wasn’t enough, the students spent quiet time writing credos based on daily prompts, like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” The students prepared daily worship services for the group. They also prepared meals and helped clean up.
Over the week we took several outings. We went to Yorktown Beach, and narrowly missed what we are calling Hurricane Calvin. (Inside Joke!) We had a camp out at Newport News Park, complete with a drumming circle provided by Connie Ralston. On the Fourth of July, we enjoyed fun and fireworks at Victory Landing Park along the James. Friday morning, was our first service project. We spent the morning sorting clothing at the LINK warehouse. Later that afternoon we volunteered at the Fellowship, changing the wording on the sign, helping to paint the accessibility ramp and placing sun film on the windows of the office.
This week was possible because of the commitment of our Goldmine staff: Joanne Dingus, Jaimie Dingus, AJ Bennett, and Andrew Millard. Additional thanks to Mason and Patricia Moseley, Sandra Engelhardt, Beth McCullers, and Aaron Hansley.
The true magic of the week happened because of the students themselves. There openness to this new experience and their ability to create a culture of gratitude was priceless. Although from different churches and different experiences, they bonded together and created lifelong friendships. They created several heartfelt and inspiring worships and embodied the roles of facilitator, recorder and process observer during wise and wonderful brainstorming sessions. The highlight of the week occurred the last night when all the students and staff sat together and shared deeply their gratitude for each person in the circle. As promised, GoldMine was a transformative week, which unearthed the treasures in each of us.