At Chalice Sparx camp for families, our children's programs emphasize learning and exploring our natural world at appropriate developmental levels. The focus is upon the idea outlined in the 7th Unitarian Universalist Principle: "The interdependent web of all existence." However, at camp, the idea moves from an abstract notion to a real one when children can explore this idea in a natural setting.
Children under age 5 will be encouraged to explore their own paths through free play both indoors and out. Since for them play is learning, they can explore their own ways of thinking through make believe, kinetic experiences and finding shapes in the clouds.
Stories inspire children to think about multiple perspectives which is a major developmental challenge. Our programs for children take stories about the importance of caring for our Earth as the springboard for activities which help them to connect with the natural world.
Children who are over five years old and have completed kindergarten will join with those who have completed grades one through five to explore Native American stories and engage in related environmental activities as part of a curriculum based on the book, Keepers of the Earth. This curriculum helps our children appreciate nature through immersion in the environment. The Native American stories and earth-centered activities are not only knowledge-based, but involve exploration of values as well. When we foster nurturing and compassion in the lives of our children, we help them to develop a sense of empathy. An empathetic child feels in relationship to the Earth and therefore understands the importance of being good stewards of our environment.
As children grow older and reach the "tween" years, the focus of their moral and faith development moves from what is good, fair and equitable for the self to an emphasis upon following the accepted values of the culture and society. Our programs for youth in this life stage emphasize understanding our collective Unitarian Universalist values and their application to the greater world.
Youth of middle school age (6th, 7th & 8th grade) will explore some sessions of the curriculum Compass Points which uses the journey as a metaphor. Along with the more formal sessions, tweens are encouraged to engage in a video project highlighting life at Chalice Sparx Family Camp. The video project is exciting because they are working toward creating a product which when completed can be shared with others at the closing worship service and afterward via the internet. This goal of shared project creation is very engaging for youth in this developmental stage. Working on a project together also helps to break down barriers and build community among youth who may be experiencing a difficult time fitting in with others.
With middle adolescence comes an emerging new cognitive structure which can provide markedly increased capacity and flexibility of thought. Usually corresponding with the high school years, this period of development and cognitive changes can usher in big advances in perception, thinking and understanding. And with the ability to conceive of an infinite possibility of perspectives, older adolescents increasingly engage in deep reflection and can apply this reflection to their lives.
As part of the Chalice Sparx camp for families, high school age teens can choose from three different tracks for their primary path while engaging in group activities for bonding and developing community.
- Exploration (through nature walks, improving camp grounds)
- Expression (through art, music and writing)
- Experiential (through spiritual practices)
Youth will be invited to join the larger community for worship services, reflection groups and the nightly bonfires. And persons of all ages are welcome to participate in the Talent/No Talent show and UU Olympics.