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Opportunities for Community at Summer Institute

By Amy Kent

Summer Institute is a great vacation option for families, youth and adults of all ages! It is an all-inclusive vacation that includes meals, accommodations and enough programing that you have plenty to choose from. Sometimes people are nervous to go the first time. Well this is the story of our first time.

Our family of three is just two parents and a daughter. We started going to SI when our daughter was 3. We had been members at our local UU church for about 5 years and families raved about SI and I really wanted to give it a try. My husband was not too keen on staying in a dorm room on a campus with 500 or so UU’s he didn’t know. I kept telling him – its an adventure! But I was also terrified – would anyone even talk to us? Don’t they all know each other?

When we arrived we checked into registration. People seemed friendly and there were First Timer tours of the campus and people there to greet us. When we got to our assigned dorm there were more UU’s who had taken work shifts to help move people in. This was a huge help since, we had never been there before- I packed everything we might need. There was hardly room for our daughter in the car.

After everything from the car was in the room- I went to park the car. Part of the joy of SI is not driving anywhere all week. When I returned my husband was trying to open the windows to put in a fan. He knows his wife is not a happy camper if she is hot. He tried so hard, he put his hand through the glass. Immediately, as he screamed out, our room was filled with helping UU’s. One family took our three-year-old to their room to play. Not fewer than four women took my husband into the bathroom to clean and dress his wound. Which was a lot more attention he would have gotten at home, by the way. Another camper who heard the noise from outside came up and got on their walkie talkie to summon campus maintenance to repair the window and clean up the mess. I thought we have only been here less than an hour and we are going to be asked to leave. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Those people who took my daughter became great friends, my husband’s hand healed and we found out the campus painters had accidentally painted that window shut. They quickly fixed it and I had a nice breeze while we slept. We met a lot of people that year and were excited to come back.

The next year as we left registration we ran into another family of three – 2 moms and their daughter. Our now 4-year-old daughter grabbed the little girls hand and said “welcome to SI, do you want to be my friend?” The look of relief on the first timer family is what we must have looked like when the UU’s stormed our room. We smiled at them and introduced ourselves.

You might not know many people at Summer Institute before you come to SI but believe me – everyone is glad you are here!! For more information about Summer Institute can be found at OMDSI.ORG.

Amy Kent, CER Event Coordinator

About the Author

Amy Kent

Amy lives in the City of Champions, Pittsburgh, PA with her daughter and dog. She has been a member of the UU Church of the South Hills (Sunnyhill) for twenty years. Amy most recently was working in workforce development – helping people with barriers receive free training that would lead to jobs...

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Amy Kent