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Family Ministry Focus: Tribe

By Carey Cannon, Minister of Music/Worship

Navigating the transition into Middle School can be strenuous at best. The emotional and relational challenges coupled with an increase in academic demands are as heavy as the book-bags our sixth graders carry. On October 5 and 6, Janet and I loaded the car with Caroline to spend 24 hours at Camp Cho-yeh. There, we joined other families as we marked a significant life milestone – adolescence. We were given quiet opportunities to share wisdom, to challenge and to affirm her.  We hiked through the woods and as Caroline took the lead we marveled at how much she has matured and yet watching the Tribe light sticks and dance around the campfire we were reminded how young she still is. Any parent of a sixth grader will tell you, those contrasting moments of maturation and youthfulness oscillate with every moment of every day. Instead of approaching this time in her life with uncertainty, this retreat allows us the opportunity to face it head on.  

We grew together as a family, and as a community of faith, wrestling through those all familiar trust activities. Our children saw in their parents the attributes of leadership, humility, kindness, and grace as we learned to effectively communicate and work together. 

We were offered uninterrupted time in God’s creation to share about the qualities we see in our children. As we sat amongst the trees, we poured into Caroline all the attributes we see and hope to see in her. 

The one task of preparation Dolores asked of us was to write a letter to Caroline, and invite other adults who have been a positive influence in her life to share words of encouragement and wisdom. What would I tell the 12-year-old version of myself? At the conclusion of the retreat these sixth graders led us in worship. Janet and I were asked to light 12 candles marking each year of Caroline’s life and we shared these letters in a box for her to read.

The service concluded and our ‘Tribers’ shared out loud what they see in themselves and how they would like to grow. It warmed our hearts to hear that confidence was an attribute each of them claimed. These children have been loved and affirmed by their families and the South Main community. 

It was a rite of passage for our sixth graders and I am now convinced for us parents as well. We all helped each other see the image of God within each of us.


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