By Allison Abdelnour, DiscoveryBound Compass Guide
It was 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve, and I was just finishing up a planning discussion about the next day’s activities. Through the kitchen doors, we suddenly heard uproarious laughter blasting in from the other side. Curiosity piqued, we entered a now much quieter room to find all 13 of the 2015-2016 Compass teens with massive smiles, intensely watching and listening to each other as they decided together what their next course of entertainment would be.
This moment perfectly describes the Compass group in many ways. Joyful, creative, inclusive, spontaneous. But it’s not just the laughter and the fact that this newly formed group of friends can entertain themselves for hours on end when given the opportunity. It’s also about an important quest on which each one of them has embarked this past year to enrich the discovery of their individual moral and spiritual compass – an experience that has been greatly buoyed by the fellowship, camaraderie and love they now hold for one another.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at the Boston airport, waiting for this same group of individuals to arrive from all over the country for what will be the final of three gatherings for the pilot year of this new DiscoveryBound program. In addition to the three in-person “retreats,” we have also come together via video conference call once a month since last September. While together, the group participates in a range of adventure, social and educational activities as well as discussions around spiritual and moral themes. Our monthly calls involve inspirational sharing, reconnecting socially and thoughtful discussion.
A-ha moments, deep experiences, big questions
The thing that impresses me the most about this special group is their sincere curiosity and desire to question, learn, understand and grow through this discovery process. They want tangible answers to tough questions – answers that they can hold to and build on. And, together they are finding them.
Early on in the program, it became very clear that the teens had their own ideas about the topics that are most meaningful to them to explore. It was quickly decided that the majority of our discussions together would be led, not by the adults, but by the teens, and the topics would be chosen by the teens as well.
Some examples of themes brought to the group are corrective thinking, effective prayer, how to talk about Christian Science with others, time management and praying for global issues. Often, the discussions would circle back to the idea of guarding your thought and being clear on how to stand with Truth in any situation.
The preparation for these discussions involved light homework assignments. Teens would often bring the topic to their Sunday School class or to their parents for ideas. Homework questions like, “What’s the first thing you think of when trying to reach out to God for a healing or help in overcoming an obstacle?” would help each teen prepare to contribute thoughtfully to the next gathering. During our retreats, our discussions usually included experienced Christian Science practitioners, who added valuable insight and inspiration to the topics.
Whether it’s giving the voice of encouragement to each other on a tough snowshoe trek, feeling deeply impacted by the care given to stranded sea lions at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, or standing up to gossip at school (perhaps for the first time), these teens are really learning to trust their compass.
My husband, John, and I have had the amazing opportunity to be the “guides” of this first Compass group. In reality, our role as guides has been mostly to get out of the way of these remarkable teens so that they can be the ones to navigate through this quest with the support of their peers. The Compass program is really all about the participants learning to find their individual True North, spiritually and morally, and then trusting it. Over this last year we’ve seen this discovery happen again and again.
Registration for the 2016-2017 Compass group has opened! If you know of any upcoming 10th-12th graders who would love to be a part of this supportive group, please let them know they can sign up here: DiscoveryBound Compass.