Sunday, November 20, 2011

This past weekend our daughter Erin invited 31 students and 5 leaders from Seneca High School in Tabernacle, NJ to our farm for a 3 1/2 day retreat. These young people are the cream of the crop,the DaVinci's with a brush, the Michael Angelo's with a hammer and nail.

Team building, befriending fellow students, encouraging each other, developing talent are only a few challenges undertaken.


Painting the Turkey Tractor and Egg Mobile was a site to see.
What got more paint, the building or the painter?

The happy milk cow, pink pig, baby chick, a Mama Turkey and her chicks all put a smile on our Turkey Tractor which will grace the farm for years to come as a reminder of the wonderful weekend with so many beautiful young people from Seneca High School of Tabernacle, NJ.

Learning to build trust among your peers is an awsome challenge for teenagers but we saw an incrediable group or young people push it to the limit. Falling off of hay bales into the waiting arms of several trusting souls is not an easy task.

The cows and sheep are not the only one's to enjoy the beautiful green grass.

Many of the students & their leaders tried their hand @ milking Big Mama and drinking her warm milk.

Drug Squad is the name of the group these young people belong to. Their purpose is to encourage fellow students to make the right choice's in life which will affect the rest their life.
The following is a quote from our daughter Erin's blog commenting on the event.

I will never retreat...

This weekend marked the sixth annual Drug Squad Retreat. Every year I have anxiety attempting to top the previous year's retreat. Part of me wonders how everything could fall into place as perfectly as it did a year prior. The funny thing is every year brings a new batch of kids, different experiences and an opportunity for some really great things to take place. Six years in and I feel beyond honored to have the opportunity to work, teach and learn from some pretty spectacular kids. 
It's amazing what happens when we are removed from our every day obligations and the constant stimuli of the internet, texting and instant messaging. Step away from the crazy and step into the zen. Thirty one kids hopping on a bus from Jersey and spending 3 1/2 days on a farm removed from all reminders of their normal environment create the perfect platform for evoking change.
I spent a good amount of time conveying the importance of accepting people for who they are and attempting to put aside the impulse to judge and make preconceived notions based on surface. How often we are guilty of judging swiftly based upon external factors that are typically determined in a fairly short amount of time. We become judge and jury. 

It's interesting how little we really know about those we surround ourselves with. How common it is for us to talk and how rare it is when one actually takes the time to listen. Pause. Silence. So much can come from accepting the fact that we do not know everything and we can learn from others, even if they're teenagers : ) It turns out that I have learned some of my greatest lessons in my own life working with teens. 

I feel profoundly blessed to work with so many young people who have a desire to make an impact in their daily lives. Kids refusing to settle for just getting by in high school, but instead digging deep and having a vision for others. Out with the selfish and in with the goodness. 

Going beyond ourselves requires taking the time to figure out how we work and what makes us tick. In order to be there for others we have to take time to take care of ourselves. How often we burn the candle at both ends or take on more than we can physically handle (I am guilty of this more often than I like to admit)? In order to be capable of being effective in the lives of others, on a long term basis, we have to place a little more emphasis on 'I' then we are accustomed to. Taking time to clear out the mind and recharge the heart is critical. 

A whole lot of effort, time and emotion went into the weekend. After fifteen hours on a big yellow bus, a heap of time planning, chatting and processing and I can confidently say that it was all so very worth it.  I have come to view the weekend as sacred, as a gift that I consider invaluable. My hope is that this annual tradition will stretch beyond a few days and will carry on into the hearts of these young people throughout the course of their lives. It is, after all, not meant to be contained among the thirty one, but for each of them to pass the baton and inspire their own challenges upon those they encounter for years to come. 

May we all just keep on keeping' on.....

Amen to that our Erin, you make your parents proud.

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