As Unitarian Universalists, we often find ourselves wishing we could live in a world that more closely reflects our values. We want more of what we share within the walls of our congregation to exist outside the walls. Many of us dedicate our lives to creating small pockets of community that reflect our values. It can come as a surprise to many Unitarian Universalists that there is already an established network of such communities throughout the United States and Canada. It’s our Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Centers. And they have formed an alliance to help spread the word, the Unitarian Universalist Alliance of Camp and Conference Centers (UUACCC).
Each center is a unique place, often located in a spectacular natural setting. Most operate year-round or close to it, offering retreats, conferences, and summer camp experiences that reflect our UU values. They offer similar experiences to the summer institutes and assemblies but because they are center based they are able to do so on a continuous basis throughout the year with a great many opportunities for learning and growing in community.
Adults and families are often surprised to learn what a wide range of opportunities for fellowship, self-discovery, and learning Camp and Conference Centers provide throughout the year. And all take place in natural settings of unparalleled beauty.
For those of us with children, the centers that offer summer camp experiences for youth are especially important. It can be challenging for our children to find peers who share their values, and a place to belong where they can live those values. Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Centers are often a home away from home for young people.
In the words of a camper from Unirondack, a UU summer camp in the Western Adirondacks of New York State:
“You taught me to seek out the innate goodness in every human being. You taught me that there is no fully good person, and no consummation of evil…that everybody is a rainbow. You just have to pick which colors to see,…You taught me how to love. You taught me that love doesn’t have to be between man and woman…that any two people can love each other. Love is holding hands, love is sitting together, reading together, singing together, holding each other up, holding each other back, and letting each other go. Goodbye Unirondack. I love you. And now I’m ready to go love some more.”
Transformative UUnique experiences like this young person describes are an everyday occurrence at our Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Centers. There is something for everyone: youth, families of all kinds, and adults. Visit the UUACCC website to find links to UU experiences beyond the walls of our congregation.