First-ever MindBodySpirit Camp a wild success!

Dispatches from MindBodySpirit Connections Camp,
(primarily by Leah Mann)

Today we talked about the Sanskrit term Ahimsa ( no harm) and we practiced yoga together and finished our glass mosaics.

We walked to the immigration office with love notes. The staff there cried. We went to Seattle’s best playground near Museum of Pop Culture.

We toured the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center and learned about global food insecurity. When the Seattle side youth passed the Immigration office on the way home, they had posted the hearts and one of the signs!

The Vashon commuters were treated to a very special tour given to us by Evelyn Reingold. Evelyn is a Seattle Unity / Spiritual Community and a docent at Seattle Art Museum. I highly recommend a visit to the Institute of Empathy!!!”

We will have the honor of working with Senegalese Griot, Thione Diop. Drumming and the practice of Ubuntu – humanity and the sentiment, “I am because we are”.

For our ending, we made ice cream with blackberries from my (Leah’s) yard. We used an ice cream making ball. Each student had to give a self affirmation before rolling the ball to someone else. I heard a lot of kids say that they were happy or proud to make new friends. Let me know if you’d like any parent contacts so the kids can stay connected.

A slideshow of the fun

Parents’ comments:

“I find that these kids are so fortunate to have such an amazing experience! If only the world could be so fortunate to see such deep passionate kindness and love for others and the planet.”

“My son is very sensitive to the subtle ways kids can exclude one another and often finds camps like this challenging because he’s social but feels a little left out not knowing anyone ahead of time. His constant refrain all week was what a great time he was having and how kind everyone was. He loved every minute and would happily get together with any of you who wish it. Thank you for a life-giving week.”

“My son is having such a great time at camp and he is especially excited about giving to the homeless man with a dog that he sees every morning. He has added some items to the goody bag like clementines and granola bars. He was so thoughtful and empathetic. Thank you.”

“I also want to thank all the wonderful teachers and guests this week, and an extra BIG thank you to Leah for organizing this amazing camp that was fun, educational, inspiring and heart-opening! I hope you make it an annual event! :-)”

“I really appreciated the daily updates and seeing all the photos, which helped me to have specific questions to ask my son about each day. I also really appreciated the extended care hours.”

Wrap-up from Leah:

Well, let me just say that MindBodySpirit Connection Camp was the best camp ever!

It was magical, vital, real, and inspiring. It was mental, physical and spiritual boot camp and the kids showed up, rose up, and shined. We walked 14,000 steps on a number of our daily journeys. Each and every child left PROUD of what they accomplished!! I’d love to see the camp happen annually with just this many kids so that it can retain a level of intimacy and excellence.

Thank yous to:

Seattle Unity Congregants for helping to scholarship 14 of the 22 youth from Seattle, Shoreline, and Vashon to attend camp!!

The incredible staff:
Michelle Fokos, Youth and Families Ministry Director of Lynnwood of Unity, kick booty black belt Aikido instructor, smooth segue maker and cooperative games genius. Thank you for taking the week off from Lynwood!!
Brenda Alatoree, youth leader from Unity of Yakima, para-teacher to Alexander and chaperone to the 10-12 youth commuting from Vashon
Maria Guagliardo, extended care specialist, calming energy and support through the entire week
Louis Mason, extended care, spiritual lessons, and prayerful holding of space

Guest facilitators, hosts, sponsors:

Afua and Boka Kouyate of Kouyate Arts
Paul Cheoketen Wagner of Protectors of the Salish Sea
Thrett Brown of Numbers2Names
Be Luminous Yoga
Guru Gayatri- for loaning us yoga mats
Immigrant Citizen Law
The Gates Foundation
Shelly Sundberg for setting up special tour at the Gates Foundation
Shelby Wilson – nutrition specialist for the special Q & A
Evelyn Reingold – SU congregant and Seattle Art Museum Docent for getting us all complementary tickets to SAM and donating her time to give us a tour through the Institute of Empathy (Highlight!!)
Thione Diop, Senegalese Griot, percussionist and the funnest 7ft tall guy the kids have ever met
Marla Durden our SU Youth and Family Director for jumping in to help with extended care, printing, and caring for stomach flu victims


Monte Duge and Tina Gilbert for providing rides and assisting in camp
Miriam Goldberg, child and family therapist, Monday’s escort from Vashon and parateacher
Irene and Alex Tokar, for assisting with transportation to and from the ferry

**Special Thanks

to Seattle Unity for providing the celebratory pizza party at the end! Special
Thanks to Jeanne Strawn for taking it well when she saw the kitchen!
Special Thanks to everyone who forgave me for getting their name mixed up!!
Extra extra special thanks to Susie Parsad for buying so much applesauce and going above and beyond to help clean after the camp food and art projects. I think camp scholarship fund should officially be called, The Susie Parsad Scholarship Fund.