In 1989 we began a new retreat program called Junior Yearly Meeting Elementary Retreats under the care of New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) for children in grades two through six. We provide five retreats during the school year held at larger meetings around New England, and two retreats, spring and fall, at Woolman Hill Retreat and Conference center located in western Massachusetts.
As the elementary aged retreat attenders eventually outgrew our program it became clear that the spiritual community of transitioning children needed to be sustained in what soon became the Junior High retreat program, for youngsters in grades six through nine. I coordinated both programs for four years, eventually turning the Junior High Retreat program over to other emerging leaders so that I could focus more closely on the younger retreat program. Today, both programs function simultaneously with their own coordinators, staff, and bare-bones budgets. The sixth grade year serves as a bridge, with some children staying with the elementary aged retreat community, and some heading off to the Junior High program. The choice of which retreat to attend is made by the 6th grader (with parental/caregiver assistance, of course).
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