Youth Conferences (Cons)

About District-Sponsored Conferences 

YRUU District Cons are weekend events that run from Friday after dinner to Sunday before the first service of the host church that all high school youth and adult allies are invited to. At cons, we create a world that embodies our UU beliefs. Cons are an opportunity for UUs to put our principles into action. Attendance ranges from 40 to 130 youth and adults. A ratio of no less than one adult for every seven youth is mandatory. They focus on youth and adult lead workshops and worships and Youth Adult Committee business. They foster a feeling of community in which youth and adult participants treat each other with mutual respect. Thus, all participants are encouraged to stay the entirety of the weekend. If a participant must leave the con, they cannot return to that con.

Youth in 9th-12th grade may attend. Any new youth or adult wanting to attend must first meet with the Director of Religious Education, Director of Ministry to Youth or other Religious Educator (see Newcomer Orientation). They must be active (attending at least once a month) in their local church. MDD requires youth 18 years or older, all youth in leadership positions, and adults to sign the Code Of Ethics. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Sponsors

The YAC (Youth Adult Committee) recommends securing con sponsors (chaperones) for ALL cons your congregation intends to go to at the beginning of the church year. It is much more effective to secure at least one adult for each con in September than it is to scramble at the registration deadline.  Any youth that attend from a congregation must have an adult sponsor from their home congregation in a 1:7 ratio of youth to adults.

Con activities

At the Con the Opening and Orientation set the tone for intentional community and the behavior necessary to maintain it. The rules are read and clarified by the Youth Chair and Adult Advisor so all participants understand them.

Each participant will be assigned a Gaggle Group with which they can connect to a smaller group of people, share joys, concerns and goals of their con experience. Gaggle groups also divide the tasks required to keep the con running. They set up and clean up meals and share the responsibility of “The Miracle” (Sunday morning cleanup).

We begin each day with Spirit Circle, a short time we can all be together, light a chalice and set our intention for the day. Worship is a central focus and happens at least once a day. The host church youth group is responsible for organizing Friday night worship. Saturday night worship is run by the Worship Coordinator and a selected group of people at the con.

A UU Youth Chaplain will be on site at the Conference. He/she will serve on the spirit committee (see below) and is available to address any joys or concerns of con participants on an individual basis. Peer Chaplains will also be present and able to address personal issues as well.

Separate sleeping rooms for males, females, and gender non-conforming individuals (self identified) are provided Friday night. A mixed gender room is provided Saturday night which has an awake adult sponsor in the room at all times. There is an adult in every room, and all rooms are checked at night by the night shift adults and Spirit Committee. The curfew on friday night is set by the con planners (usually midnight). Saturday’s curfew is dependent on adult participation. If there are enough adults to take 2hr awake shifts, there will be no curfew for the mixed gender space on Saturday night.

Spirit Committee

Spirit Committee oversees the general atmosphere of cons and serves as mediators through the con. Spirit Committee members address any problems with individuals or with the conference community as a whole. The Youth Chaplain chairs this committee. The committee consists of the Communications & Resource Officer, Adult Chair, one other YAC Officer, a youth and adult from the host church, and at least two at-large youth and adult. It is everyone’s responsibility to see that the rules are followed and the covenant is honored. All participants, youth and adults are responsible for reporting rule infractions to the Spirit Committee, and for making the Conference a safe place. Anyone with a concern about any aspect of the Conference should feel free to talk with a Spirit Committee member. Confidentiality will be a priority. If someone reports a rule has been broken a second group, the Conference Affairs Committee (a mix of youth and adult leaders), will meet and decide by consensus what should be done. If it is determined that someone has broken a rule or guideline they could be put on probation and may need to sit out the next Conference and then be helped back into the community with a peer mentor. Spirit committee members try to mix with everyone to ensure a good experience for all.