CER Youth Events Procedures and Requirements
Safe and Healthy Youth Community!
Before signing up for a Central East youth event, adults and youth should be clear on the procedures and requirements.
This is required for youth and adults. Each event has specific deadlines. No walk-ins.
Both adults and youth must be active participants in a local UU congregation or Covenanting Community.
Congregational Approval for Adults
Adults must be approved by a congregational leaders, usually Director of Religious Education, paid Youth Coordinator, or Minister. Congregations without such paid staff may give this responsibility to a Board President or RE Committee Chair. There is an online approval form that must be submitted annually.
We encourage congregations to background check their adults. Adults must be background checked to attend Mid-Atlantic Youth Ministry Cons or any CER youth event in Pennsylvania.
Congregational Approval for Youth
Youth must be approved for each event they attend. We rely on local congregations to help us know both an event is safe for a youth and a youth is ready to be a safe attendee at an event.
This approval process is done via an online spreadsheet. Local religious leaders are sent a confirmation email when youth register and instructions on how to approve youth. Local leaders also approve the pairing of particular youth with particular adult sponsors/advisors.
Each youth must have a sponsor for community cons. This adult must be an adult who knows the youth and who the local religious leader knows is an adult able to meet any support needs the youth has.
Adult to Youth Ratio
Our regional ratio is at least one adult to eight youth. Events in Upstate NY (St. Lawrence) are 1:7. Events in Mid-Atlantic (Joseph Priestly) are 1:5.
Regional events such as the Regional Con and Regional Caucus use the 1:5 because the events are far from home and require additional adult support.
This ratio defines the maximum number of youth a single adult may sponsor or advise at a community con.
Senior high youth events are for youth ages 14-18 and in high school or the homeschool equivalent. Exceptions must be individually approved by regional staff in consultation with local religious professionals.
Metro New York and Western CER (Ohio Meadville) have specific junior high events. The age range for these events are described on the event pages.
Junior high youth may attend certain of Western CER (Ohio Meadville) events if they meet particular pre-conditions. They are described in the detailed information about this program.
We affirm the fact that we are sexual individuals. While this is an affectionate and loving community, it is not a sexual community. Sexualized behavior is exclusive behavior, and is not conducive to coming together in this safe and intentional space. This is not to discourage hugging and friendly affection.
Driving during events:
Youth may only be driven to sites away from the event where prior parental permission has been given. This is arranged for outings such as social justice field trips.
Community cons have clear sleeping spaces defined by gender identity including a multi-gender sleeping space. After programming, youth must be in the single large lit awake supervised room or in a sleeping space. In the sleeping space and whenever youth are sleeping there must be visible floor space between youth. A pair of youth and a pair of adults take turns sweeping the building so the awake room remains supervised.
At trainings and small leadership events, the community covenants to a particular bed-time. At least two adults sleep in each room of youth and two adults remain awake until youth go to bed.
Community cons have a team of youth and adults who function as a facilitator of covenant for the community. When the host congregation has planned the con, there is a local adult and youth who serve on this team.
We aspire to restorative practices that focus on creating understanding of the context which created the violation and on a plan for the future which emphasizes both safety and restoring relationship. This can include sending participants home and may require much process outside of events before a participant can be trusted at an overnight event again.
We know that people make mistakes and can learn from mistakes. We seek to be compassionate and not let one mistake define anyone. And we have a high commitment to safety, accountability, and process which restores the trust of those injured by someone’s actions.
We will always inform the home congregation and parents of any youth who isn’t able to keep others safe or who has been hurt. And we will include both in the processes moving forward.
Our implementation of formal restorative practice is in progress and we are far from perfect.
These games are not allowed at Metro New York and Mid-Atlantic (Joseph Priestly) events.
Because people are often far from home, activities that have a significant risk of physical harm (e.g. Wink and Kissy Face) won't be part of CER region wide events.