I helped run a youth retreat this weekend, just three days after the Presidential election. Nothing about our planning anticipated the potentially charged atmosphere over the outcome and how that might effect the kids who came on the retreat. So we made a brief statement on the first night about how there’s lots of different feelings in the room about the outcome, and while it’s okay to talk about the election, please do so respectfully. No chanting.
It mostly worked to preserve an environment of recreation and reflection. Some of the leaders reflected as we were leaving that we appreciated a couple of days to turn off all things electoral. But I’m hearing a little bit of student feedback that is disappointed we didn’t make time during the retreat for youth to process it together.
For the youth groups that gathered back home this weekend–the kids who didn’t go on the retreat–, I asked volunteers to leave space for youth to talk about the election. But for the large retreat some of our students went on? Nope.
I’m not sure how that would have gone. A workshop maybe? I spoke during the retreat, and my talks only obliquely made mention of the situation. I never named a candidate. Could I have done something there?
I think the majority of retreat participants were not interested in getting into the election. They wanted a retreat from all that. But it would have been good for some kids, and I wish I’d thought of it.