On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville and this year’s Coming of Age Class, I want to thank you for your generous contribution to our Coming of Age program’s trip to the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. Your contribution made possible a week-long learning adventure for nine teens and four chaperones. Traveling in two vans, covering over 700 miles each way, there were visits to three different UU congregations, a tour of Cornell University and the Entomology Department, time for hiking and swimming and several days of service projects at the Farm Sanctuary.
During the trip, the Coming of Age participants got to put their UU values into action. They experienced each other’s support on the emotional ups and downs of a very active trip in close quarters, explored the interconnectedness of all beings, and gained insight into the food production system that feeds us. They also experienced some added independence in being responsible for their daily budgets and schedules.
Here are some quotes from the COA teens:
“I became responsible with money and eating wisely on the COA trip.”
“This trip was such a unique experience. I learned a lot of information at Farm Sanctuary that was heartbreaking but was really a wake-up call for how I can make a difference. I am really grateful to the donors for making it possible for us to go on this exciting trip!”
“The trip was wonderful and the Farm Sanctuary was enlightening.”
“One of the best experiences of my life. A true bonding trip. The animals were cute. It made me think about becoming vegan.”
And from their chaperones:
“I am grateful to have been part of this trip. It was incredibly rewarding to get to know the teens a little better as they learn about their UU values and how to live them. “
“I volunteered to chaperone so I could get to know the CoA youth. I can report complete success on that front! I particularly enjoyed discussing current events, the Democratic debates, and a couple of philosophical conundrums that helped to pass time during the long drives. I’m curious to know if our visit to the Farm Sanctuary changed any attitudes towards their dietary choices. I look forward to exploring that and other topics with them during the coming year.”
“This trip was the culmination of a year-long experience in which participants explored their own understanding of spirituality, God, the inherent worth of each individual, and their interconnectedness to the world around them. At the end of the year, the youth presented their credos to the congregation in a service that they planned and delivered.”
“I know that when I thought about my children coming to UUCA, I envisioned that my kids would have a community of peers, outside of school, that shared their values and were supportive. This CoA group gave me faith that that is possible. Each of these students had different personalities and yet they have a strong bond and truly supported each other during the trip. Their connection was strong, but even got stronger through spending time together on the trip learning, working, having fun and exploring their UU identity.”
Again, thank you for your support and for making this invaluable experience possible.
Tom Dessereau, on behalf of the parents of this Coming of Age class.