With more than a little trepidation, the planning group for Upper Susquehanna Quarter’s Fall Retreat and Meeting with Attention to Business, decided that Crystal Lake 2021 was a GO for last September!
Knowing that in a COVID-leery environment we might attract far fewer participants, planners decided to focus on a home-grown event. One that was less reliant on well-known presenters (who might draw well, but would also cost us a lot in presenter fees) and leaning more toward things we could do ourselves. An event that would be inclusive as possible of all ages of attendees, and that would aim to bring the Upper Susquehanna Quarter (USQ) community together after a prolonged period of self- enforced isolation.
What we ended up with was TERRIFIC!
Our Quarter-wide gathering took place over the weekend of Sept. 17-19 at our collective home at beautiful Camp Crystal Lake. The managers of the Camp, having come to know and trust us, gave us access to everything we might want apart from those activities needing special or certified supervision.
With COVID advisements in mind, we worked hard to do as much of our program (and non-program) as possible out of doors under canopies and pop-ups. And we tried to build in time for both solitude and safely- distanced togetherness.
Lots of things happened out under the sky, including a Nature Walk, enjoyed by children of all ages. Featured on our walk were – mushrooms (‘shrooms!) and sightings of nearly 90 red spotted efts. Under the guidance of Greenwood Friends School art teacher Ruth Zalinski we made nature weavings and played with the ancient Japanese art of Shiburi dying. Some really imaginative and beautiful designs were created.
We were Spirited and Spirit-led
Bunches of us gathered to sing, on the porch and around the Saturday evening campfire.
We were led in a very stimulating discussion by Melissa Rycroft about how we may organize to both receive and give support as we undertake difficult assignments. Each of us has a role to play – probably at some times at the center of a concentric ring and at other times in a supportive circle role nested circle outside of the center.
Johanna Jackson and JT Dorre-Bremme challenged us to envision a vibrant and active Quaker future – one in which we hear, nurture and respond earnestly to the leadings and musings of all those who worship with us. Their attention to listening points to gaps in our inclusiveness that we need to acknowledge and respond to if we are to cultivate the next generation of spirit- led Quaker activists.
We held Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in good form, minutes of which were approved and distributed Quarter-wide. We were cooperative, collaborative, and nourished. Taking advantage of seasonal bounty, and contributions of ingredients from across the Quarter, PJ Harte–ably assisted by Robin Ertl–imagined, created and served a sumptuous spread of hearty food, with options to suit most every preference or predisposition.
We all worked together to clean up after ourselves in the kitchen and in the dining hall. We think we left the camp in as good a condition as it was when we arrived.
Looking Forward to September 2022
We are early in the planning stages for next year’s Crystal Lake Gathering 2022, knowing that this retreat does more to draw us together. More than any other function in the Quarter, it asks us to consider our Quaker opportunities and obligations, and to act boldly together. We already know that we would like to provide some more structured play activities to engage our youth and the young at heart.
Some obvious activities that would fit nicely into the Crystal Lake scene are:
- Swimming (any certified life guards out there?)
- Fishing (anyone prepared to offer help and encouragement to the less experienced?)
- Mushroom ID (anyone knowledgeable to help us learn what to sample and what to only appreciate with our eyes?)
- Rocket building (no – we’re not hoping to compete with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – we just think this might be good intergenerational fun)
Other suggestions are always welcome; let Amy Harte, Melissa Rycroft, Larry Mutti, Claudia Wilson or Ed Solenberger know. An offer to lead a session or activity would be just as valuable. Consider yourself asked!
Crystal Lake (as seen by a younger camper)
This year at Crystal Lake we set up tents outside of Alford Hall. This is where we did Shibori Dyeing. My favorite method was new to me. You wrap the fabric around a pole and tie it with string, then scrunch it. Then you let it soak in the indigo dye.
We also did nature weaving with Ruth. She brought some yarn and taught us how to weave. When we went on our nature walk, we collected stuff for nature weaving. We also found more than 80 salamanders!
We had lots of fun on the rope swing and went with Johanna and some parents by the lake. There we climbed trees and made up imaginary scenes. We drew some fun pictures. We had a lot of fun at the campfire at night, singing and playing fun games. We also had fun swimming in the lake. I hope that we can do this again next year! – Eleanor Harte, age 9