What are MUUGs Retreats?
MUUGs exists to serve youth who are in 6th to 9th grades by building intentional and supportive communities. It does this by putting on 4 weekend long retreats a year, along with a week long camp in the summer. These retreats have many different parts, and a vocabulary of their own. Below we explain what some of these elements are.
In many ways, touchgroups are the most important part of a retreat. A touchgroup is a smaller group, led by youth with a young adult (in MUUGs, young adult means someone 18-24 years old) or adult partner. These groups meet regularly throughout the weekend, usually after meals. Touchgroups are designed from the start to build community with the intention of breaking up cliques and placing people in a space where it easier to form new relationships. Leaders take the group through games and activities in order for youth to get to know each other and move the group through the 5 Steps of Community Building (bonding, opening up, affirming , stretching and deep sharing). It should be emphasized that the name "touchgroups" has absolutely nothing to do with physical touching. Touchgroups aren't about touching each other physically, they're about keeping in touch with each other's experience. Touchgroups also serve as work teams, for kitchen cleanup and end-of-gathering site cleanup.
These are 60-90 minute long periods where anyone at the retreat can lead an activity or teach a skill to those who might be interested. Generally, there are things such as , playing music, discussing a topic, learning something physical like a dance or yoga, playing a game or learning some leadership skills. This gives interested youth a chance to share something they know and are interested in, as well as gives the community opportunities to learn or participate in something new. The leaders at each retreat will ensure that there are a variety of workshops for youth to attend.
A worship held in San Jose in March of 2011
Worships occur each night and are generally led by an adult and a youth. This is a spiritual activity, done very differently from what you would see in a typical Sunday morning service. Worships are often organized circularly, with the chalice in the middle. They also tend to be less didactic and more focused on a communal exploration of shared spiritual experience. Worships will usually include song, readings, and self-reflection and may be centered on such themes as facing fear, accepting change, or working towards a goal.
At every retreat there will be at least one activity in which the entire community will participate at the same time. This can be in the form of a large-scale game, a social action event, a guest speaker or, on occasion, a super secret activity. These range widely from the retreat to retreat. All-retreat activities have ranged from workshops on body image and hate speech to a couple hours playing in a park.
Unnamed Event with Much ____ and ___!
This is the name we give to a our no-talent-required talent show which often happens on the last night of the retreat. Each retreat the blanks are filled in with something new to give a unique feel ("Unnamed Event with Much Happiness and Fireworks"). This event gives youth a chance to show off some talent, be it amusing, beautiful, interesting, or just plain silly, in front of a group of loving peers. Unlike many talent shows, however, there are no judges! This opportunity to share of oneself with a non-critical audience is important for this age range.
- What is Bridging?
2. Who can Bridge?
Bridging is both a personal emotional/maturing decision and a programmatic one. MUUGs serves youth 6-9th grade, though is intended largely for 7th-8th graders. Most high school programs (including YRUU Pacific, which serves high school aged youth in this area) are designed for primarily high school aged youth, specifically beginning at age 14.
Most youth choose to bridge out of MUUGs when they finish 8th grade and are beginning high school. However some youth find that their personal needs are served better by remaining in the MUUGs program for their 9th grade year too.
It is generally not advised that youth who are not yet 14 bridge out of MUUGs. This may put them in a position of no longer being part of the MUUGs community but not yet being of age to enter YRUUP.
3. When does MUUGs offer Bridging?
Bridging is only offered at two events each year.During our summer camp MiSC in July is when the majority of youth choose to bridge.This ceremony has begun to take a more ritualistic shape over the past few years and has a general form which persists annually. We offer an additional bridging ceremony at our August retreat.This ceremony is usually smaller and the design of it varies year to year.Most often the youth participating are individuals who were unable to attend MiSC and that ceremony, or youth who needed the little extra time to explore the decision for themselves.
4. Does a youth have to participate in a Bridging ceremony?
No- a youth is absolutely not required to participate in a ceremony before being able to move on from the MUUGs community and/or enter a high school program.
However, a youth who has not participated in a formal bridging but has begun to regularly attend high school programming such as YRUUP- would be encouraged to bridge. This would allow them to more fully ground themselves in their new chosen community and move on from MUUGs.
5. After a youth Bridges can they come back to MUUGs?
After participating in a bridging ceremony youth are allowed a “+1” retreat. This weekend is to serve as a final opportunity to say goodbye to their friends at MUUGs before moving on to a high school program such as YRUUP. After this “+1+ retreat though, youth who have Bridged are no longer eligible for MUUGs events.
6. How does a youth know if they are ready to bridge?
Bridging is a decision individual to each person, and each youth’s experience with the decision and ceremony will be different. Talking to your MUUGs leaders and church DRE or Minister (if applicable) can help you make this decision.