Middle School Programming for Metro New York Yuuth

We provide programming for youth in grades 6 through 8 who attend Unitarian Universalist congregations in the Metro New York area. This programming consists of an annual retreat each fall and a conference (“con”) each spring.

Program goals

  • To create an intentional community that strives to realize our seven principles
  • To foster a sense of identity as Unitarian Universalists that includes membership in a broader community extending beyond the walls of a single congregation
  • To provide our rising youth with a safe space in an inclusive community in which they can explore their own identities


The annual retreat and conference are similar in structure. The retreat is held at a camp in Patterson, NY each fall. The con rotates between congregations in Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester. Both the retreat and con are 24 hours in length, with attendees arriving by 9:00 am on a Saturday morning and departing the following morning early enough to return to most congregations before Sunday services/RE.


Upcoming Events

Event Dates Registration Opens Location
Spring Conference March 24-26, 2017 February 2017 The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ
Fall Retreat September 16-17, 2017 May 2017 Camp Herrlich, Patterson, NY


Contact Information

Program info:                    Denice Tomlinson            914 310-0244    [email protected]

Registration info:              Charlie Neiss                     908 769-5820    [email protected]


Metro Junior Youth Event Details


Mornings are spent in ice-breaker and community building activities in large and small groups. After lunch there are two workshop slots, with choices that always include creative work, discussions, and physical activities. After the workshops there is an “all-con” activity in which the whole community participates. After dinner there is a youth led worship and a coffee house, during which attendees and staff perform skits, sing, play instruments, or just tell jokes. Lights-out is strictly enforced. All youth are expected to sleep. In the morning we have a final circle-up to say farewell.


All youth from UU congregations in grades 6 through 8 are welcome. 9th graders may attend if they are in an education program that groups 9th graders with middle school rather than high school, but should consider attending high school cons. Once a youth has attended a high school con they may no longer attend a junior con/retreat.

Adult chaperones accompany the youth from their congregation and include RE teachers, parents, and DRE’s. We strongly encourage adults to take part in workshops. Adults are expected attend the all-con, worship, and coffee house. One of the first activities during the day is an orientation meeting in which the role of adults is covered in detail.


Registration for the retreat typically opens in May so that people have an opportunity to register before leaving for summer vacations. Registration for the con typically opens about five weeks before the event.

Each congregation is expected to provide enough adults to maintain the necessary youth to adult ratio. This ratio is 4:1 for the retreat and 5:1 for the con. The lower ratio at the retreat is required because of the physical layout of the camp. Coordination of chaperones and transportation is the responsibility of each congregation.

Attendees are expected to arrive no later than 9:00 am on Saturday and should plan to stay for the duration of the event. Leaving and returning is not permitted. If an early departure is necessary advance approval from one of the event directors is required.


We provide lunch and dinner on Saturday, as well as breakfast on Sunday. The selection varies from event to event and the menu is designed with middle schoolers in mind. There are always options for vegetarians and vegans and food allergies are accommodated. Breakfast for the retreat is a full meal. At the cons we provide a brown-bagged breakfast to be taken for the ride home.


These events are run by Denice Tomlinson and Charlie Neiss. Denice and Charlie oversee high school aged youth in grades 10 through 12. The number of staffers ranges from 18 to 24, depending upon the number of attendees. Additional people may be brought in to deliver the all-con. High school youth interested in staffing should contact Charlie Neiss.