Monday, June 10, 2013

Workcamps, 2013: Breaking Barriers, Nurturing Leaders

As we get ready to shift into high gear with the summer Workcamps and programs, I have also been reflecting on ways to integrate new ideas and opportunities so that we do not fall into a rut of relying on a template, but instead keep things new and fresh.

For starters, I am ever-more convinced that the responsibility that comes with planning and running service programs is to not just meet the expectations of participants (i.e. to feel good about making a difference, or understand a social injustice better), but to also challenge these expectations in a way that promotes thinking critically about what kind of world they envision and what else they can do in their lives to move closer to that vision.  It is in this kind of conversation that we talk about the importance of relationships - you don't create your vision of the world that includes others without including them in the conversation and the creation of that world - and about the role that privilege and responsibility have in social justice work.

In addition to these "continuing revelation" conversations, here at William Penn House we have an added dimension of progress this summer: we are focusing a concerted effort on nurturing the leaders of the next generation in leading these conversations.  Our summer intern, Nate Anderson-Stahl, joined us last summer for 2 weeks on Pine Ridge.  Prior to that, he had attended Baltimore Yearly Meeting summer camps and the teen adventure program.  Now he will be applying his knowledge and experience of Quakerism, Quaker process and Workcamps to developing and leading them as part of our team. In addition, we have three rising seniors from a DC-prep school who will be joining us for 2 weeks in late July.  The first week will be to experientially learn about Workcamps, the kinds of service we do in DC, the importance of relationships in doing service (I often think that, without a relationship, there usually is not service), how things are connected, and the importance of critically thinking and questioning things.  The second week, these students will then be leading the process for a Workcamp group coming to DC and, hopefully, taking the relations they establish with them to their school, bringing a new dynamic of service and opportunities with them.

It is always an honor to be able to work with the leaders of tomorrow.  My hope is that this summer will be the start of breaking down the compartmentalization we sometimes create around programs and issues, as we weave more connections into the fabric of community.  One vision: to create a flow where youth who have been introduced to Quaker ideals (in schools, Meetings and/or camps) and had an opportunity to practice them in a larger arena (Workcamps), become the farm system for Workcamp organizers, creators and leaders where they get to experience facilitating visioning and implementation built on relationships, and then take these experiences into the rest of their lives with greater consciousness of stewardship, compassion and persistent hope that overcomes the frustrations and disappointments that are sure to be there as well.  This is something I have been envisioning for the past few years; this year is looking like it is starting to take root.  As with all things, patience and perserverance seem to pay off, but now the real work begins.  
-Brad Ogilvie

No comments: