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Summer Institute is for Families
Summer Institute is for Families

This weeks' blog post is by guest writer, Brian Hagemann at First UU Columbus.

I want to relate a story about how my family experiences connections to the larger UU community.  Last Friday evening, my son Jeremy (age 12) and I were staying up late watching random videos online.  Like you do with a tween...   Somehow, in the rabbit-hole that is browsing YouTube, we ended up watching a series of UU Summer Institute and Hal Walker music videos.  Hal Walker, Music Director at Kent UU, has built a reputation as a fabulous, multi-talented musician and troubadour... performing at many churches and events in the region including running the music program at Summer Institute (now Central East Regional Summer Institute, CERSI).

SI is a weeklong UU inter-generational summer camp for the Central East Region (formerly OMD) that takes place at Oberlin College in July.  My family has been going to SI for 6 summers now.  Jeremy and I spent the better part of the next 2 hours watching slideshows (set to Hal's music) of all the previous SI's often surprised by finding ourselves or friends from other UU churches in the pictures.  It's also fun to see pictures of all the things that happen at SI that you simply could never find the time to do.

It's clear to me that Jeremy's experience with this weeklong camp every summer has made an impression.  Good memories and important connections.  To be fair, it is a running joke that once you attend SI for the first time with a kid, THEY will be the one insisting that it become a yearly vacation for the family.

So I want to encourage folks to check out this years Summer Institute and see what it has to offer.  If you've never attended, consider giving it a closer look.  For one week in July you will have a UU flavored inter-generational experience with plenty of kid activities, RE, youth and young adult offerings, and workshops and space for older adults to learn, play and socialize.  Pop up music and art... good food, drinks, conversation. This year the morning theme speaker for the week is performer, teacher, and musicologist Dr. Ysaye Barnwell (Sweet Honey in the Rock) with the topic "Building a Vocal Community."  More info including a list of seminars and workshops, housing options, and a fee calculator can be found at the CERSI website. Scholarships ARE available and applications are being accepted now.

In Spring, it's a great time to plan ahead for warmer days and for some -- long school breaks. There are various opportunities this summer to connect with UU's in a variety of settings.  This is where it is easy to slip into a relaxed rhythm and build strong bonds while chatting outside in the warm sunshine.

In closing, I'd encourage folks to go search YouTube for 'summer institute' or 'Hal Walker' and check out some of the videos!  And ask around at your local congregation to get more first hand information about any of these activities.

Editors note: you can also find the annual Summer Institute slideshow posted at the CERSI website. If you are unsure if you can afford Summer Institute this year, check the scholarship page for details, but don't delay - the deadline for scholarship applications is May 31.

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For more information contact cer@uua.org.