Unification News for September 2002

Behind the Scenes at the Family Camp

by Rob Sayre

People who attend the Family Camp for the first time or even the first few years always remark how "amazing" it is that so many people can come together and create such a diverse, rich and almost addictive experience. They also are amazed that we have 400 yards of heavy duty extension cords, lighting to light outdoor events and five lecture halls, a truck that hauls in over a ton of equipment that includes everything from cooking utensils, to soccer goals, to toilet cleaning brushes.

People assume that there is some master checklist of what you need to pull this kind of thing off and a master time table for how to go about this. Alas, this is not really the case. Not that we donít have pretty detailed lists and our schedule and processes are pretty much the same every year. To "really understand" the magic and complexity of this, I thought Iíd highlight a few things, behind the scenes glimpses that helped form the experience that around 600 people had this summer..

In October, 2001, we held a Strategic Retreat at a wonderful retreat center operated by the Mennonite Church in Pennsylvania. We had around 40 people attend, including kids. At this session, we assessed how we did in the summer of 2001 and made a variety of commitments for the coming year. We held another meeting in Philadelphia in Jan. of 2002, where we discussed policies and very specific roles. During the spring of this year a small group of people met for lunch 5-6 times to discuss and plan the seasonís activities.

Behind the scenes, a large number of people did things that all come together for a few weeks each summer. Here are a few highlights, which will give everyone a sample of the kinds of things that happen which make all this occur. This is also my way of recognizing people who have contributed in ways large and small. This is not a complete list and any omissions or errors are mine alone.

Carlos Delgado and Bruce Bonini single-handedly re-built the front end of our Camp truck, finding used parts and doing the labor themselves. This probably saved us $1,500.

In February, we decided to put up a web-site and not just any site, but one where people could download ALL the forms necessary and find ALL the information they need to register for many events. And not just that, we built a back-end database which helped the Camp Directors and others to assimilate the huge flow of data that comes from each person and family. Robert Pickell and Peter Brown did heroic work and probably saved us $10,000, we never had anyway. By May 1, our site was up and running. Also, Bruce Bonini, put in countless hours integrating the data and forms into attractive pages.

Like our newsletter? Rod Cameron and Bruce Bonini pulled this off.

Guess who directed the Camps this year? Not me, but Geoffrey Hinkle, Robert Pickell and Bruce Bonini. These guys could not have been successful if not for the able help of Jim Stevens and Chris Ching. These guys prepared the registration packets and all the other stuff that form the basic organizational information that every person needs. Each of these people put in at least 300 hours of work before the first day of Camp.

The food at Camp is always good. Wonder why? Food is a priority, it is our number one expense and people like Hiromi Stevens and Kim Berry make very detailed menus and plans for each meal at Camp. We also have 4-6 people per meal assigned to help with the cooking and cleanup for each and every meal. Thanks to all.

Our teachers are some of the very best in the world, no kidding. They prepare for their responsibilities, and our kids and anyone else within their realm of heart and teaching is filled, enhanced and embraced. Gerry Servito introduced Unification Thought to our teens for the first time with grace, clarity and such heart. Linda Haft brought her Free Teens lectures to our teens for the first time and their response was overwhelmingly positive. Noah Ross continues teaching an entire new generation and people like Jeannie Carroll, Heddy Ching, Milon Townsend, Elke Noll, and Sally Sayre all teach our youngest age groups. Alan Feldsott who also taught for 10 years at Camp K, taught a teen group this year. New teachers this year included, Alan Rohganian, Amy Shuckers-Cuhel and Gregg Noll. For those who attended French Creek, they had the blessing of having Dan Fefferman lead songs and the square-dance.

Why does this happen? A shared vision and commitment to build a spiritual event and community that nourishes our families and children. Another is our commitment to create job responsibilities that allow every person to participate and contribute. Finally, we honestly evaluate what works and what does not. We have a culture of improvement and a commitment to learning. Last of all, we do it for our own kids.

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