Thanks to all who helped make the Jan 13-16 younger generations conference so awesome!
The mid-January younger generations conference in Boulder, Colorado was well attended and went superbly. The Friday to Monday program included a rich variety of activities. A large number of visitors also arrived early and stayed late for additional days of friendship-deepening great times. The weekend included a variety of group-readings, workshops, presentations and discussions having to do with spiritual living, community and more intimately getting to know each other. We also went on a short hike overlooking central Boulder, engaged in hilarious improvisational exercises, experienced a guided meditation, went to Chris Halvorson’s Friday night class (http://perfectinghorizons.org/), enjoyed the Outlook hotel’s atrium with pool and hot tub, and made the most of opportunities for nocturnal socializing. One highlight was the large potluck event to which local readers of all generations were invited. It included inspiring short talks from locals as well as young visitors and music by the UB-inspired composer Stockhausen which was played by a highly skilled young professor of music theory.
It was awesome to reconnect with old friends as well as to get to know several young and dedicated Urantia students who were thrilled to be participating in something of this nature for the first time. Some other participants were new to the UB and it was encouraging to see their enthusiasm and how they found the event so inspiring. Another highlight for me was the magic brought to us by the adorable one-year-olds that were with us throughout the weekend as we explored deep topics. The days were filled with awesome conversations and the joys of old and new friendships.
I initially envisioned this mid January event to be rather small and mostly for friends that were not able to come to the previous October one in Boulder. While both the October and January conferences for younger generations in Boulder were equally wonderful, inspiring, and joyous, what caught me by surprise about this event was the comparatively robust turnout – about twice the number of participants came from out of state compared to the previous gathering! We enjoyed twenty-four such visitors – one baby, one baby-boomer, two late-teens, and twenty people in their twenties or thirties. Quite a few dear friends travelled from Kansas, four made the trip from California, four from NYC, while others journeyed from Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin. An additional twenty four readers from their teens to thirties (as well as babies and kids) that live in Colorado participated to varying extents depending on their schedules and interest levels. I’ve organized numerous young reader events since the late 90’s and since there are so few active young readers in North America, attracting participants is always the greatest challenge and what I put the most work into. This conference for younger readers turned out to be much larger than any I’ve seen in the fifteen years since I became active in the movement, which was rather surprising especially considering that it took place in mid-January!
An encouraging development that helped in the task of attracting young, spiritually motivated individuals is that some who were kids when I was fostering community in the past are now active readers, a ‘new batch’ of mostly second-generation young readers has arrived on the scene! This includes the “YaYA” (Youth and Young Adult) Committee of the Fellowship, which is a relatively new team working to foster the younger generations of readers. I’ve recently become active with the YaYA Committee, and their input, encouragement, and attendance (five Committee members came) brought unique and priceless dynamism to this event. I want thank Angie Thurston, Tony Finstad, and the rest of the Committee for their help and support!
The YaYA Committee also contributed funds toward scholarships and event expenses which went a long way toward making it possible for us to have such a large group. The past events and young reader tours I’ve organized have not benefited from budgets for scholarships and so forth. When YaYA voted to devote money toward this event, I decided to also ask Urantia Association International if they would be willing and able to also assist with a few travel scholarships for young readers. This resulted in a handful of individuals also donating assistance to support this event via UAI. I want to thank James Woodward, David Linthicum, Rick Lyon, Arnie Ondis, and an anonymous donor for their contributions which were enormously helpful! Scholarships, which typically covered about half of travel expenses for those in need, made it possible for half a dozen young people to come who otherwise would not have been able to afford it. Had it not been for this assistance, we would also not have been able to accommodate so many young people coming from out of state. As it worked out, we were able to get some rooms at an inexpensive hotel that also served as an ideal location for some of our workshops and socializing! We who took part in this momentous gathering are deeply grateful for the support!
I want to thank Rocky Mountain Spiritual Fellowship and the numerous Colorado readers who participated in the Saturday evening potluck event and helped make this and other parts of the conference wonderful, including Chris and Cydney Riggio, Chris and Cady Halvorson, Paula Thompson, Andre Radatus, Claire Thurston, and Laura Hay. Part of this conference was held at Laura Hay’s beautiful home which was also the case in October. Thank you Laura for having us again and for the amazing meals! I also wish to thank Don Green, who maintains a Urantia club and booth at the University of Colorado, for booking rooms for both of the recent young reader events in Boulder. Finally, thanks to everyone who made it a priority to come to Boulder and contributed their unique perspectives and personalities!
Geoff Theiss, a young reader who attended, has written about his experience here:
We aim to keep the momentum from these great experiences going. I’m excited to be working with the YaYA committee and others to organize several similar gatherings for this July. Keep an eye out for information on a conference in Berlin as well as a young reader event in Chicago!