Dear Fans, Families and Users of Rite 13 and Alive and Well-

Well, forgive the slightly impersonal nature of another email-but we-Kathie and Bill-wanted  to make contact with all of you, and let you know how excited we are for the year ahead with you and your kids.  And, we thought you might value some details, too.  Read through, or scroll down.  Yes, it's a bit long-and still, we hope this helps.

Getting Started and Other Housekeeping Details

Mary Kay Dolejsi has already sent word that we start up next Thursday, September 17th.  And yep, as soon as we announced that date we learned it was Open House at BHS.  Oh well.  We'll be at Grace-parents will be at BHS.  Enjoy walking the halls, and remember how that feels . . .

So, we start on the 17th.  And we're glad for it.  If you are receiving this email then you are on the list-which, we know, is mostly parents.  And we're trying to keep the list current, so if you want "off" (sad!), let us know.  If you know someone who wants to added (happy!), forward this to them.  And let Mary Kay know (mkdolejsi@gmail.com).  We assume this email is mostly for parents-and we are working on other ways to stay in touch with kids.


And Those Other Ways

We use word of mouth, subtle signs, peer pressure, FaceBook, texts, email-and even some phone calls and random encounters-to stay in touch with kids.  We have also created 2 new social network sites that are dedicated to Rite 13 and Alive and Well participants.  We will be inviting kids to use them-and in doing so we'll be trying to create a connection that is safe and friendly.  You can find links to them on the Grace website to get a glimpse of what we are trying to create-but this will be a social network site for kids only.  This is a bit of an experiment, and we'll see how it works.  And, regardless of the means for communication, we want to stay in touch with kids.


What Do We Do on Thursdays?

            Good question, or course.  In some ways, the energy and connection on many Thursday nights just seem to happen.  We'll use a movie clip, or some piece of music, and that will open up some conversation.  We do love to use all kinds of movies, and edit our clips as carefully as we can (and yes, sometimes the language in the clips will be . . . well, movie language).  The goal is conversation and growth.  Each year we use themes to help us along-and focus.  Usually 4 words, or 4 questions.  This year it's: "Dream. Think. Be. Do."  Mirrored with "Love. Mind. Soul. Strength."  We use these themes to open up conversation, and open ourselves-to each other, and to God.  We finish every evening in the Church, trying to quietly open the doors of faith in our lives.  We are not trying to "teach" faith, or religion.  We are trying to model community, and spirit, and we want kids to wonder, think, experience.  Therefore, we hope that kids will feel comfortable here regardless of where they are on a faith journey.  And yes, we do talk about God, and Jesus, and "stuff" like that-and we do so with open minds and hopefully open lives.


And We Eat

Yes, this is a popular part of Thursday nights, and often a creative burden for those parents willing and able to cook.  And we do need the help.  We actually believe the food to be essential-but sometimes we are feeding up to 50 kids.  No small task or expense.  What we hope is that parents will share the work.  Please. 

And, we have a new web-tool called Lotsa Helping Hands, that is available (free) for communities to coordinate tasks. We're going to use it to coordinate meals for Youth Group Thursday evenings.

All parents of teens are invited to join this web-site, and help us use this powerful tool. We can post menu ideas, volunteers can see a calendar of when they have signed up, and who else is on the team. Please go tot the following web-site: lotsahelpinghands

Joining this community will take a couple of steps. First, you will fill out a request to join, and then, once approved, you will be sent instructions for setting a password and signing in. You will need to do both steps. Let Mary Kay Dolejsi know what you think. Thanks for all your help.  Yep, it's a little more work now to sign up, but should make it easier for all of us.

When is All of This Happening and Who Can Come?

            We know that Thursday night is "Kid Night" at Grace.  In fact, it's pretty cool to feel the place hum on Thursdays.  The Rite 13 kids gather at 5:30, and then we eat at 7 pm.  The Alive & Well gang shows up at 7 pm (or later) for food, and then stays until 9 pm.  We meet throughout the school year, taking breaks for school hoilidays--and remember: we don't meet on the first Thursday of each month.

            We hope kids will come as often as possible.  It's our experience that continuity builds the best sense of community and connection  And, we also know that the "busy-ness" of their lives reflects the busy state of our own lives.  So, we know that many kids will miss many Thursdays.  We are happy to see kids whenever they can come-and missing many weeks, or arriving late from a practice or school event, is just fine. 

            And, we are so delighted when friends come.  Please, let folks know that these evenings are for anyone who is interested. 

Something for Juniors and Seniors

            We know that Juniors and Seniors have full lives.  And of course, they are a vital part of Thursday nights-bringing insight, leadership, plenty of humor, and even wisdom.  We also know sometimes they are dealing with "stuff" that deserves some dedicated time of its own.  And so on the first Thursday of each month-those first Thursdays when our regular programs don't meet-our Juniors and Seniors meet from 8:45-10 pm at Bainbridge Bakers.  We just hang out, eat (we have the place to ourselves!), and check in.  Usually funny stories are told, we moan over American Studies, get caught up on college applications, and sometimes we even get a little homework done together.


6th Graders and Those Freshman

Ah, the "new" guys.  We know it can be a little hard for 6th graders to walk into the Youth Room for the first time.  Especially if the couch seems full of loud 8th grade boys.  But those 8th graders were once 6th graders too, and worked to get them included.  It actually happens pretty quickly.  And the same is true for those freshman moving up.  At the start of each year we make some effort to help get kids over the natural, but unnecessary, "class boundaries."  This isn't like school.  It's more like a neighborhood where we all know each other.  So, if kids are feeling shy, or new, or both-well, we just ask them to dive right in.  Or at least show up . . . It's worth it.

The Bigger Picture

We love these kids.  Really.  Each year we go through the "letting go" process of sending off those graduates, and then we build up anticipation for kids we don't yet know.  Over time, there are honest and good relationships that we try to build.  We try to respect the trust that kids give us, and therefore what we do together in both groups remains as confidential as we can make it.  We also know that these particular years can be challenging and full of change.  If we can help-or even if you just think we can help-let us know.  And we will offer that same support to all the kids.


Something for Parents

            Yep, parents get a chance, too.  We plan to expand on the very successful gatherings and conversations we had last year.  We are parents, too, and we know that no one should parent alone!  We have insights and wisdom, and we can always laugh together.  Here's that schedule:

Parents of Teens - Six first Wednesdays at 7:15pm

Change Happens: October 7 and November 4

Sh*t Happens: January 6 and Februaray 3

Grace Happens: March 3 and April 7


And that's it!  See you Thursday.  Sign up to host a meal.  Share this info!


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