Religious Education Corner - April  2016


I am thinking about summer right now. I love the warm breezes, the sunshine and water lapping at the shore.  Who can forget the sounds of children laughing and playing?  Seems like a a distant memory right now as I gaze thoughtfully out the window.  But, the thought of summer warms me and keeps me hoping for the spring to come soon and following it… summer!

Have you ever been to summer camp?  Many of us have in our childhood and youth.  The experience is usually remembered with fondness and a full complement of sights, sounds and senses rushing back.  I remember singing around the campfire under the stars.  I can practically taste the yummy s’mores!  The water always plays a central role whether you went to camp on a sea shore, on a lake or at a pool.  I can still remember the calming sound of the waves lapping at the shore, learning how to swim or just taking time to horse around and have fun.  Everywhere there is the sound of children’s laughter and shrieks of pure joy.

The Long Island Area Council of Unitarian Universalist Societies (LIAC) provides Long Island UUs with a camp for children and youth located on Shelter Island.  This year camp begins on Sunday, August 7th and runs through Friday, August 12th. Sophia Fahs RE Camp is held at the 25 acre United Methodist Camp Quinipet on the western shoreline of Shelter Island. The facility includes recreation fields, a swimming area, dining hall, recreation hall, dorms/ cabins, nurse’s station and more. It is easily reached by car via ferries from the South and North Forks. The LIRR station is close to the North Ferry with taxi service to camp.

So, what happens at Sophia Fahs RE Camp? A typical day has the following sequence of activities: Wake-up call, Breakfast, Morning Worship, Cabin Cleanup, Morning Program sessions, Lunch, Circle groups, Camp Store, Afternoon Activities, Dinner, Evening Activities, Campfire, Bedtime. The camp has many special activities as well.  Campers choose from a variety of activities such as newspaper, drawing, drama, cooking, crafts, sports, tie-dye, swimming, stamp art, evening campfires, Talent Night, and more. Campers from all age groups enjoy these and other activities.  Campers are grouped in housing units based on the grade the camper will enter in September. Our campers reside in former “Summer Homes” with multiple rooms for 2-6 people or dorm style rooms. All housing has bathroom facilities, hot showers, safety exits, warning systems and equipment. Each house has a minimum of 2 counselors. Housing assignments are based on matching the number of campers in each age group to housing capacity.

From the LIAC website: “The mission of Sophia Fahs RE Camp is to provide enjoyable, practical and spiritual experiences in a safe, beautiful and natural environment that will inspire children, youth and adults to explore their identities: personal, communal and Unitarian Universalist. 

Children and youth from grades 3-12, from the Long Island Area, are invited to serve as campers working toward creating a UU community for one week in August each year. Adults from Unitarian Universalist Congregations are asked to serve as staff. Each community member is asked to sign a Covenant, code of attitude and behavior, by which to live during our week together. We can support approximately 120 campers and a staff of approximately 35 adults including a minister.

Our camp is planned and governed by a Council of 5 members hired for this purpose by the LIAC (Long Island Area Council). In all of our programs, worship and activities we try to create a special intentional community based on caring and respect. Our staff members are chosen very carefully; many are returning staff. We support a Youth Spirit Committee and a youth leadership component. Staff lives with campers, providing care, support and interesting programming while focusing on respect, cooperation, trust and communication as they interact within the community.

- To provide a safe and friendly environment
- To encourage personal exploration and creative community building in a relaxed atmosphere
- To provide positive role modeling
- To develop a caring community for all campers and staff
- To strengthen a sense of Unitarian Universalist identity
- To connect more deeply with our 7 Principles through Program, Activities and Worship.”

For further information, the 2016 Sophia Fahs RE Camp summer program brochures and necessary forms can be found on the LIAC website  Many of our own UUFSB children and youth have attended this camp.  Many parents and youth would be willing to answer any questions you may have.  Wendy Engelhardt, our RE Committee chair, has been attending with her family for many years.  She says, “It's a magical, life changing week (in the best way possible) for the children as well as us adults.”

~ Gretta Johnson-Sally, DRE

~ Gretta Johnson-Sally, DRE