Conferences

Q: What are Conferences?

A: Conferences are weekend-long events in which youth from all around the region can gather together to bond, discuss issues, and share our faith. These events include activities which focus on team-building, spiritual development, fostering leadership potential, and of course, fun!

Q: When do Conferences happen?

A: YRUUP holds four conferences each year. The dates of these cons changes each year, with the exception of our Elections Conference which occurs over Presidents’ Day weekend each year. Notices for upcoming conferences can be found on our events page.

Q: Where are Conferences held?

A: Conferences are held in various Unitarian Universalist churches throughout California, usually in or around the San Francisco Bay area.

Q: What rules are there at Conferences?

A: In addition to the congregational rules of the hosting church, everyone attending conferences must abide by the Conference Covenant that they sign before the event. This covenant prohibits violence, discrimination, drugs and drug paraphernalia, sexual harassment and activity, and other behaviors that are damaging to our community. A full account of the covenant can be found in our check-in forms or under the resources tab.

Q: Where do youth sleep? I don’t want my daughter sleeping in the same room as males, will my wishes be respected?

A: At every conference, there is a male-identified quiet room, a female-identified quiet room, a gender-neutral quiet room, and a gender-neutral loud room. Youth may choose to sleep in any of these, and are expected to stay sleeping in their chosen room. At least one on-call adviser is assigned to each of these rooms. If you have a preference of where your child sleeps, you may tell our registrar at registrar@yruup.org and we will talk to your youth to ensure that your wishes are respected.

Q: How do I register?

A: In order to attend a Con you need to fill out an online form, posted on the registration page or under the Facebook event for the conference. If you have problems with or further questions about registration, you may contact the registrar at registrar@yruup.org. Register as soon as possible to be guaranteed a spot! 


WUUKY

Q: What is WUUKY?

A: WUUKY, or Western Unitarian Universalist Karmic Youth, is YRUUP’s week-long summer camp held in the Mendocino Woodlands in early July of each year. WUUKY is always the same week as the MUUGs middle school camp, MiSC. The programming is very similar to that at conferences.

Q: What rules are there at WUUKY?

A: WUUKY attendees must sign and abide by the YRUUP covenant, as they do at CONs, which outlines the rules and behavioral expectations at YRUUP events.

Q: Where do youth sleep? I don’t want my son sleeping in the same room as females, will my wishes be respected?

A: Youth sleep in cabins clustered throughout the Woodlands campsite. Some cabins are designated as female-identified or male-identified, and many others are gender-neutral. If you have a preference of where your child sleeps, you may tell Council at council@yruup.com and we will talk to your youth to ensure your wishes are respected.

Q: How do I register for WUUKY?

A: WUUKY registration is a little different from conference registration. Instead of filling out an online form, you must print out the registration papers and send them, along with your check, to the address listed. Registration papers can be found on yruup.org or under the Facebook event. For more information about registration and WUUKY, email council@yruup.com.


Rule Infractions

Q: What consequences are there for breaking the rules/covenant at events?

A: With the close-knit and supportive nature of our community, severe breaches of covenant are infrequent and quickly resolved. However, when they do occur, they are taken very seriously. Council approaches breaches of covenant with the goal of restorative justice and reform. Consequences range from sending an attendee home early or suspending them from events to banning them indefinitely.

Breaches of covenant will be reported to the NCUUCC Board President in compliance with the NCUUCC Bylaws and Policies, and applicable state laws. When a breach of covenant occurs, the offending youth will be required to contact a trusted adult in their life. In the case of a non-mandated issue, this adult may be a parent, minister, godparent, counselor, or other trusted adult in the community. The goal of informing the adult is not to implement a means of punishment, but it is intended to foster healthy and thoughtful conversation about the youth’s actions and the direct consequences. In the case of a mandated issue, a parent/guardian will always be contacted immediately, as well as the host congregation’s DRE, the NCUUCC Board, and applicable authorities.


 Youth Empowerment and Leadership

Q: What do you mean by “youth empowerment”?

A: YRUUP is a youth empowerment organization. We seek to empower attendees to a place where they can embrace their self worth and confidence as a leader and as a person. We want YRUU youth to realize their full potential as active forces of change in their communities, and support them in discovering their unique life paths as lifelong Unitarian Universalists.

Q: Do you have to attend church to attend YRUUP events?

We serve youth regardless of their affiliation with any congregation or religion, or lack thereof. We choose instead to create programming which accepts all, but is built around the values and traditions of Unitarian Universalism.

Q: What leadership positions does YRUUP provide?

A: Our events are mostly led by youth attendees (called Youth Empowered Lay Leaders, or YELLers). With such a diversity in leadership positions, youth at our events can develop skills in almost anything! Leadership responsibilities can include organizing events, cooking, leading group activities, community building, peer chaplaining, spiritual guidance, and more!

Youth that have bridged (or “graduated”) from YRUU have gone on to be successful in varied professions. Some have even started other Unitarian Universalist programs and organizations such as the Middle School Unitarian Universalist Gatherings (MUUGs). For more information on specific YELLer positions, check out our leadership page.

Q: How can I hold a leadership position?

A: If you are a youth aged 14–20 and would like to lead at one of our conferences, send an email to our Co Conference Coordinators at cococo@yruup.org or fill out our YELLer application form here.

Q: With so much emphasis on leadership, what place is there for followers in YRUUP?

A: Our programming is designed in a way in which youth may choose to step up as a leader as much or as little as they wish, and have an enjoyable and fulfilling time at events no matter what roles they choose to fill. We believe that the most effective progress is made when everyone is able to “step up” and lead when they are needed, and subsequently “step back” when another can better serve the needs around them, or when they have been leading often and would like to give others an opportunity to do so. By empowering and creating leaders, those who are not yet comfortable leading but might like to one day (especially those new to YRUUP) are provided with mentors and role models until they are ready to take on positions themselves. As our members become more comfortable with their peers, they are given an environment in which they can grow and actualize the inherent potential present within all.

Q: What is Council?

A: Council is the governing body of the YRUUP organization, an elected board of youth and adults which creates policy, books sites, handles inter-event disciplinary action, and provides local congregations with information and notifications for YRUUP events. Each member has a specific job geared toward running and planning events, organizing council meetings, or communicating with communities outside YRUUP.

Q: How is Council elected?

A: Council is elected each year at YRUUP’s Elections Conference in February. Individual candidates are selected by a volunteer Nominations Committee, and a proposed council is presented to the community for a confirmation vote. All attendees of the conference are given the opportunity to vote on each individual council nomination, and on changes to our bylaws or policies and procedures. Any community member may run.

Q: What are the positions on Council?

A: A full list of council members, and their responsibilities, can be found on the Council page here.


Adult AdvisErs and Supervision

Q: What roles do adult advisers have at cons?

A: Adult advisers are valued and experienced members of our community, who act as mentors to leadership and attending youth at conferences, and fill staff positions when needed.

Q: What are the requirements to be an adult adviser? How many do you have?

A: Adult advisers must be at least 25 years of age, background checked, and have a connection to Unitarian Universalism. We run on a strict 1:10 adult:youth ratio, with the aim of 1:8.

Q: Where do adult advisers sleep?

A: Advisers have a designated Adult room where they can sleep at night. At least one adult will be assigned to each of the four youth sleeping rooms.

Q: How can I become an adviser?

A: Adults aged 25 or older may contact the Adult Coordinator to apply as an adviser for conferences. All applicants must pass a background check before being approved for advising. For more information, email council@yruup.org.

Q: Do you have 24/hour supervision? What if there is an emergency in the middle of the night?

A: Yes, we do have 24/hour supervision by a youth and adult team. At least two youth leaders are awake at all hours of the conference, and one adult is awake and/or on call at all hours. The awake youth are trained to walk around and manage the conference, frequently check on every room, and know where the on-call adult is in case a situation arises. 


Age Range

Q: What is the age range for YRUUP events and why?

A: The current age range for YRUUP events is 14-20 inclusive, with adult advisers being at least 25. Having youth over 18 allows the older youth to serve as peer-mentors, as well as have time to gain the leadership skills and institutional knowledge necessary for larger leadership roles. Further, extending the age range allows youth ages 18-20 to transition out of the community at their own pace. Especially since the Pacific Central District lacks district-sponsored young adult programming, it is important that the transition out of YRUUP is a bridge, not a cliff.

Q: Will my 14 or 15 year old be comfortable in a program designed to include 20 year olds?

A: Absolutely. To clarify, YRUUP is designed for high school-aged youth. Many of our 18, 19, and 20 year olds that stick around are in leadership positions and spend the majority of their time working conferences, such as deaning, chaplaining, GoFering, or cooking. Further, our older youth tend to become mentors and role models to their younger peers, providing an invaluable peer mentorship experience for your younger youth that our attendees have highly benefited from.

Q: What percentage of youth attendees are over the age of 18?

A: While it fluctuates, there are relatively few attendees over the age of 18 or out of high school; at most, 10-15%. The vast majority of our youth currently are in the 14-16 age range.

Q: What do YRUUP youth and conferences gain from the presence of 19 and 20 year olds?

A: The most beneficial part of having 19 and 20 year olds is the presence of role models. While our adult advisers serve as wonderful mentors, having a peer-mentorship relationship with someone similar in age has had extremely positive impacts on our younger youth. Also, many of our 19 and 20 year olds have been in leadership for many years, and therefore have invaluable institutional problem-solving knowledge and are able to take on larger leadership roles that the younger youth are not necessarily prepared for.

Q: Are adult-aged youth treated the same as the younger youth?

A: Youth ages 18 years and older must sign an additional covenant acknowledging that their age means they are held to more severe legal restrictions and expectations, and that they are aware of power imbalances due to their age.

Q: Will the older youth manipulate my high schooler, sexually or otherwise?

A: No. Our older youth are aware of the higher behavioral standards and expectations they are held to. We take these expectations very seriously, and monitor all of our youth for potentially inappropriate actions. Further, most of our youth who continue attending conferences past high school are in leadership roles, and are therefore held to the highest possible expectations. Overall, we trust all of our youth to be responsible, and know what is appropriate and what is not.

Q: Have you considered a high school only age range?

A: Absolutely. Council has never outright said “no way, never” to the possibility of having a smaller age range. However, after exploring the possibility in depth, Council decided that the benefits are outweighed by the drawbacks. For one, conferences would lose the invaluable peer-mentorship and leadership capabilities that older youth possess. Younger youth would be forced into leadership before they are ready in order to fill positions, particularly the few Council positions that require two-year dedication. Also, transitioning out of YRUUP would go from being a bridge to a cliff, and give the feeling that the youth is being “kicked out” of their community vs. leaving room for them to leave at their own time. Thirdly, in terms of concern over the possibility of a lawsuit, we have spoken to multiple lawyers and concluded that the organization is not in danger of legal trouble with the current age range due to the complexity of state and federal law, and a high school age range would not make a difference in this matter. Our insurance is also aware of our age range and fine with it. Lastly, the idea of a “high school age range” is ambiguous in itself. Does that mean high school, or 14-18? What if a 13 year old is in high school, or a 19 year old, either of which could easily happen. What about those who graduate early? There are simply too many unaddressed variables to consider shrinking the age range right now. 


 Re-affiliation and NCUUCC

Q: What is YRUUP’s Parent organization?

A: Northern California Unitarian Universalist Camps and Conferences.

Q: What is the main reason for reaffiliating under NCUUCC from the Pacific Central District?

A: The decision to choose NCUUCC as YRUUP’s parent organization can be pinpointed to this: The relationship between YRUU and PCD was no longer mutually beneficial for either party. Because youth programming is so important and honestly life changing, Council needs to make it a priority to do everything in its power to ensure that the community is as safe, fun, and empowering as possible. The PCD is an incredible organization that has so many responsibilities, and therefore does not and should not spend disproportionate time on the needs of a single program. However, youth programming is too important to be deemphasized. Further, regionalization, being the national shift in the UUA from districts to regions, is creating an unstable landscape that YRUU is not able to function on. If we want to engage in effective conversation with our wider UU community geared toward creating the best youth programming possible, we need a stable foundation to build on. You can read NCUUCC’s official statement here.

Q: Does this mean you hate the district and will discourage your youth from attending anything PCD affiliated?

A: Not at all! We have endless love and appreciation for the PCD, and exceptional gratitude for our long-standing relationship with them. We have simply reached a point in which NCUUCC is better able to support our community, and out of commitment to our youth, it is our responsibility to go where we receive the most support. We continue to encourage our youth to attend PCD churches and events, continue to hold close relationships with PCD organizations such as MUUGs and CoA, still have an elected youth on the PCD Board, and hope to continue a close relationship with the PCD Board and district as a whole.

Q: What are the benefits for being under NCUUCC?

A: There are many benefits that we have gained through affiliation under NCUUCC. Under NCUUCC, YRUU has been given the extra attention and priority that it needs to engage in conversation quickly and effectively around the development of our policies in such a way that fulfills the needs of our youth, the concerns of parents and others, and the values of our faith tradition. NCUUCC provides stability, which the PCD cannot due to the shifting landscape of regionalization. Financially, our profits were previously absorbed under PCD. Now, we are able to track our profits and use them for things like hiring staff members, giving scholarships, sending youth to PCD and other UU events, and performing social justice outreach.

Q: How does re-affiliation affect my child and me?

A: In day-to-day terms, it doesn’t. The main difference now is that Council and the YRUUP community are in a position to have the space, the voice, and specialized guidance to truly examine our policies in an intentional commitment to emphasize the importance of physical, emotional, and spiritual health and safety in our programming.

Q: How does NCUUCC feel about all this?

A: NCUUCC has been extremely welcoming and supportive of YRUUP, and excited to grow in our collaborative partnership. To read their full welcoming statement, visit ncuucc.org.

Q: Why does Middle school Unitarian Universalist Gatherings (MUUGs) feel it can stay under PCD?

A: For more information about MUUGs and questions regarding their community, we invite you to contact the MUUGs Ministry at Muugministry@googlegroups.com, as Council cannot speak on behalf of them.

Religion and Spirituality


Religion & Spirituality

Q: How does YRUUP meet the spiritual needs of its youth?

A: All of our events have nightly worship services, with many events having smaller worships in the morning. Activities explore the faith traditions of many cultures with respect to their origins to create a deeply fulfilling ritual environment. Each worship varies, but worships throughout an event will often carry a common theme such as self acceptance, creation of community, or coping with loss. Our worship services aim to grow youth spiritually without being “preachy”, and have been successful for youth of many religious identities, including those that consider themselves non-religious. In addition to worships, we emphasize and explore our Unitarian Universalist spiritual values throughout the duration of events through activities such as chalice lightings and readings before meals. Our Spirituality Conference in May has a special emphasis on spirituality.

Q: How do you serve youth that do not identify as Unitarian Universalists?

A: We have a long history of attracting non-UU and non-congregational youth, many of whom have gone on to be active members of UU congregations, and the UU faith at large, through actions such as the formation of MUUGS by young adults who bridged from YRUU. A major part of the mission of YRUU is youth empowerment for its own sake. The mission of YRUU is to foster this confidence and empowerment in our youth so they can be active forces of change in their lives and in the world.

Q: If my youth start going to conferences, will they stop going to church?

A: No. YRUUP serves as a community for youth to connect and practice their spirituality, but it in no way replaces congregations. We encourage our youth to connect with and attend their local congregations, and many youth who become involved with YRUUP become even more involved at their local congregation.

Q: With so many youth at conferences unaffiliated with UU congregations, how can ministers and churches work to bridge the gap?

A: Many youth within our community come from non-congregational backgrounds, or consider themselves non-religious. However, many of our youth simply haven’t been exposed to the work that ministers do. We welcome ministers to come see how our conferences work, and have always appreciated when they have been visible points throughout the weekend, be that through welcoming the youth during orientation on the first night of the event, participating in our all-con activities, or otherwise interfacing with the community. Attending our nightly worship services can also help ministers understand the spiritual needs of the youth, and get ideas for activities that could be brought to congregational services to attract, appeal to, and include youth and young adults.

Q: How can I serve youth and young adults here at church?

A: The simplest way a minister can serve their youth is to give them respect, and make sure they feel heard. Involving youth in decisions surrounding their programming is an important part of creating these relationships, and giving them a voice in the congregation at large would be a meaningful step toward creating a healthy collaborative environment. Ask your youth for their input on policies, especially when they would be affected, and even if you do not chose to follow their particular suggestions be sure that their opinions hold weight and are valued. No one likes to feel like they lack agency, and communication and collaboration are the best ways to create a positive community-oriented relationship.


Other:

Q: Are you insured?

A: Yes, YRUUP is insured with Church Mutual, the same insurance that YRUU had under the PCD.

Q: I heard rumors that there was sex/drugs/lack of parental communication/(insert bad thing) at an LRY/YRUU event in the past.

A: It is important to understand that not only is YRUU vastly different from LRY, it is also extremely different than it was just a few years ago. In the past few years, Council has recognized problems and tightened many policies in order to ensure the utmost safety and comfort of our attendees. YRUUP has a zero tolerance policy for sex, drugs, and other inappropriate behaviors as outlined in the YRUUP Covenant. While it is important to learn and grow from the history of YRUU and LRY, it is of equal importance to recognize the differences and improvements implemented.

Q: If this is such a big problem, why has it not been dealt with before?

A: Good question. Discussion around youth programming has, frankly, not really existed in previous years. Now that the wider Unitarian Universalist community is engaging in open conversation around youth programming, we are realizing areas that need to be changed or strengthened, leading to the best programming possible.


Thank you for reading! If this document failed to address a question you have, please email council at council@yruup.org and we will do our best to answer.