Monday, October 25, 2004

A couple of thoughts upon my return

Lord, it's good to be home!

Over the last three weeks I've been home (meaning there for the whole day not having to travel to some event or place outside of the normal routine) about 4 days. I actually get to stay home for most of this week! I'm excited. I also have a LOT of chores to catch up on.

Things I discovered along the way:

Newark NJ is a puzzle to me. I've visited there several times and have gotten turned around both upon entering and leaving the city. Maybe someday I'll figure it out.

Angola NY seems to have the same effect on me! But I think I've finally figured that one out.

Had a moment of absolute panic on the drive home from NJ when I was sure that a PA state trooper was going to pull me over. He had his radar aimed right at me, checked it, flipped on his lights and pulled out onto the Interstate. Turned out he was after the guy right behind me. Be still my pounding heart!

I am happy to announce that the Province II youth network has taken its first step after many years lying dormant. I met with most of the diocesan youth coordinators and had a GREAT time! We're looking forward to planning more "stuff" in the future.

Now I'm home and enjoying sleeping in my own bed. All is right in the world.

Monday, October 18, 2004

What a long strange trip....

My apologies to the Grateful Dead and any Deadheads out there for hijacking their title but wow! Today is the first day in 12 that I haven't been elsewhere or traveling to and from elsewhere! A quick summary so you know what's been happening:

October 6 - Flew to Baltimore MD for a meeting with the provincial youth ministry coordinators. We meet twice a year for an intensive couple of days of planning, praying and playing. It's a fabulous group of people that I enjoy hanging out with, being inspired and challenged by. Baltimore is a very cool city. If you ever get the time make sure you get a ticket for the water taxi that will take you to all the spots to visit around the harbor. October 10 flew home

October 11 Got to sleep in my own bed, had a birthday dinner with my lady wife (her birthday was actually the NEXT day but....well you'll see)then drove to Buffalo to spend the night at Bishop Michael's (and Carol's too) house because....

October 12 Rode with the Bish plus a couple other diocesan staff types to London Ontario for the Quint diocese day meeting. Bishops and their staffs from WNY and Rochester in the US and Niagara, Huron and Toronto in Canada gather once a year to share ideas and laughs. (a secret - Canadian bishops are some of the funniest people on the planet. Don't know why. They just are.) Drove home the same day.

October 13Flew to Washington DC to be trained as a coordinator for the Journey to Adulthood program. Met some great folks, including one old friend and learned some good stuff. Brief plug - flew on one of the new small airlines, independence Air, and had a very good experience. RT Buffalo to DC was UNDER $140. End of plug. Took a whirlwind tour of some of DC, saw the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, WWII, Korean, and Viet Nam memorials at varying distances. Saw the Capitol dome and the White House in the distance. Got very wet because it rained and stormed. Flew home October 16

So I'm a tired puppy. Good meetings every single one of them, learned some good stuff, talked with some very cool people and came home with new skills and ideas for WNY.

I just need some sleep!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

And off I go....

I'm double posting today because I'm going to be away for a while. Part of my calling has been responsibilities at both the provincial and national church. So I'll be off dealing with some of those responsibilities for most of the next two weeks. I hope that I'll be able to keep you up to date on where I am and what I'm seeing but there's not guarantee. My third trip is to Washington DC to get some training in Journey to Adulthood. That will be pretty cool too.

So don't worry if you don't see anything posted here for a while. I'll check in as I can.

So What Happened?

(The following is my column from the October issue of the diocesan newspaper "ChurchActs".)

If you’ve already read the annual camp article you’ve noticed it’s short by one whole camp. Senior High 2004 was cancelled. It was a terribly difficult decision that has sent a variety of ripples out into the diocesan youth ministry. All three of our camps had troubles this year with attendance at some all time lows. The most commonly heard question is: What happened?
In simplest terms Senior High was cancelled because not enough young people signed up. To justify the amount of money involved and the time invested by the staff there has always been a minimum number required. That minimum has changed from year to year based on a variety of parameters. This year we set the lowest minimum ever and still missed by approximately 15%.
Why did attendance drop at all three camps? We’re still looking at that question. What’s coming up in the discussions are some interesting points. There are two obvious problems that need to be addressed right up front:

Communication – It appears we fell victim to the oldest advertising mistake in the book. It’s the one that starts with “Everybody knows about…” While many people have some general knowledge about camp we quite simply failed to move that general knowledge to what’s called Top of Mind Awareness. Without that awareness we became just another item floating around in the very busy lives of our young people and their parents. Discussions are already underway on how to fix this challenge. It includes more materials going out to campers and their families, to the congregations and to the leaders (both lay and clergy) in those congregations. As always our best advertising is our young people telling all their friends what a great time they had. Look for the information, ask if it’s arrived (in a month or so) and stay in touch with me for all the details. Please remember that there are e-mail newsletters available for youth and leaders (with an parents one being discussed) and the diocesan youth web site is always there (

Deadlines – The problem here is that no one seems to take them seriously. Consequently paper work dribbles in and leaves all the camp directors in a serious bind trying to make plans. The deadlines exist because we need to be able to tell the camps, in advance, how many people are coming. They need to know so they can order enough food to feed us and make sure there’s enough staff available to help in some cases. But that ‘s only the beginning. The camp directors need to know so we can make sure that we have the right number of staff, the right amount of materials and have activities appropriate for the size group coming. The needs of a camp of 95 youth can be VERY different than the needs of 45 youth. We try to get the applications out as soon as possible. This year you could even register online at the web site. Camps get cancelled because the time comes when we have to decide if we have enough young people or not. That’s the deadline. All I can ask is that you please, please, PLEASE take the deadlines seriously. If there’s an unavoidable problem then get in touch with the appropriate camp director so we know what’s going on and can help.
So where do we go from here? The camp directors, the Youth Commission and other interested parties are looking at everything to try and insure that our camps return in 2005 stronger than ever. Problems with how the applications were put together this year will be fixed. Communications will be improved and expanded. We’re looking at possible changes to expand the number of activities available at Senior High. The list goes on and on.
How can you help? Talk with other young people and adults about improving the whole camp experience. Pass along any ideas to the other camp directors or me. If you love camp then talk it up among your friends. If someone wants to talk to you about the Bishop Harold Robinson Society please listen. The Robinson Society is designed to help us insure the financial stability of our youth ministries.
Our diocesan youth camps will be back next year. We hope to keep EVERYTHING good about them, add more good stuff and minimize the problems. Like so many things it’ll work best if we can work towards being “One Church – Embracing and Living into the Dream of God”.

Friday, October 01, 2004

And now for something completely different

Since this blog is supposed to cover a wide variety of the things going on in my life I'll include this:

Indoor soccer score Team Gray 5 Team Navy 5

Soccer season has started again and we played our first game last night (at 9PM my least favorite game time - tough to haul this old carcass up and down the pitch at any kind of speed at that hour)

I am happy to report that I a)did not fall down OR hurt myself, b)did not embarrass myself playing and c) had several good chances to score. None of which I converted. Ah well, first week. Much like the Bills last week we lost on the last play of the game after leading the whole time. I wasn't out there so it wasn't my fault.

I must confess that soccer sometimes brings out the worst in me. It's tough to remember one's faith and belief's when some rotten SOB has just whacked you, tripped you or made you look like an idiot. I will admit that I will, upon occasion push back, once in a while make a stab for a ball that I know is going to be late just to make the other guy "stumble" (I almost always help them back up). I almost never make anyone look like an idiot. Well anyone other than me of course.

There is a way to be competitive and still stay within a life in faith. It's that old fashioned concept of fair play. So I try hard to do just that. If anyone asks I just tell them I'm "old school".