OMDSI 2015

Programming specific to 2015

Chair’s Letter

As this year’s SI planning began last August, I had one wish: for a really boring planning year. After 2014 which saw a new venue, change in theme speaker, transition away from a paper brochure, and new procedures for youth housing, among many other changes, I was hoping for a little more stability, a little less excitement.

We came close. We did once again need launch a search for a new theme speaker, but mostly this year is about tweaking things after last year’s shakedown cruise at Oberlin.

This year we are bringing the footprint of the community still closer together. Last year afternoons on the North Quad provided a visual representation of everything SI is about. People were tie-dying, body-arting, playing music, watching the kids’ activities or just enjoying the scene, all within sight of each other. This year we will try Art Space and Duct Tape to the mix, placing those workshops in tents on the North Quad.

We are also continuing our efforts to improve the financial health of Summer Institute, so that we can continue to create this special community for generations to come.

Toward that end, we are trying to take better advantage of the free (or at least already paid for) spaces at Oberlin. Oberlin’s rental model is different than Kenyon’s. At Oberlin we pay for each classroom or other university room we use each day we use it. That does not apply to lounges in dorms that we are residing in — those come with the price of the sleeping rooms that we rent. This year we are working to put more seminars, workshops and meetings in dorm lounges. We are also going to try to make greater use of First Church.

We are also continuing to use technology to save more money. We have fully migrated the brochure online, reducing what we send out to a quadfold mailer. We have found that to still be expensive, dubiously useful and less than green. We are planning to create a generic “This Is SI” brochure for in-church promotions and keep everything else paperless.

With the continued evolution and growth of the SI community comes a set of questions – Is this where we want to go? How do we manage the change? What can we be doing better? How do we pay for it all? We are inviting the community to a series of “World Café” style conversations to share information and gather community sentiment on these and a host of other questions. Look for the World Cafes on the schedule Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

You also have the chance to participate in morning worship this year. Rev. Lynn Kerr is encouraging community members to make “Storycorps” type videos answering a series of questions tied to the topics of her morning worship services. We will have a video room set up in the basement of First Church.

As you read this, we are days, maybe hours, away. See you in Oberlin.

Scott Piepho
Chair of the 2015 Summer Institute Planning Committee

Theme Speaker: Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

joanVanB Rev. Joan Van Becelaere serves as the District Executive for the Ohio-Meadville District.

Reverend Van Becelaere will speak with us about “Faith, Evolving: How American Religion Is Changing and What It Means for Unitarian Universalism”

She has served in this position since July 2007. Previously, Rev. VanBecelaere was Vice President for Student Services at Iliff Theological School in Denver, CO where she also taught Unitarian Universalist history and polity classes. She has extensive experience with Unitarian Universalist congregations including serving as the Settlement Representative in the Mountain Desert District. She has previously served on the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association (UUMA) executive committee and on the UUMA’s Center Committee responsible for the continuing education of ministers. She has been teaching leadership development for almost a decade including service at two of our Unitarian Universalist leadership schools. Her BA is in Theater and Communication Arts from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO, her MPA in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Colorado – Denver, her M.Div from Iliff Theological School. In her spare time she loves to perform Dr. Seuss stories.


Rev. Lynn KerrMorning Worship: Rev. Lynn Kerr is the minister of the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation (MVUUC) in Bowling Green, Ohio and is that congregation’s first called minister. She has been at MVUUC since 2011 and is proud to be in a young congregation that is just 30 years old and is now experiencing tremendous growth, especially with young adults. She is also the ministerial settlement representative for the Ohio Meadville District.

Rev. Lynn served as minister of Lifespan Religious Education at the First Unitarian Church of Toledo; consulting minister for First Universalist Church of Lyons; young adult minister of First Parish Church in Concord, MA; executive director of the Dana McLean Greeley Foundation for Peace and Justice; director of donor relations at the UUA; and a grief counselor in a San Francisco Hospice.

She brings her experiences of motherhood, ministry, marriage, and even wildlife rehabilitation and scuba diving to her worship, and believes in the power of shared stories to bring people together. She promises morning worship to be “a celebration of our multi-generational SI through a multi-media approach” and hopes to engage everyone in the creation of a beloved community throughout the week.

JoeDenisStolesVespers: Rev. Denis Letourneau Paul started off as a home builder and became a minister to the homeless in San Francisco. He currently serves East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland Ohio.

Before entering the ministry Rev. Joe Cherry managed an HIV/AIDS program in Chicago. He has served congregations in Chicago, England, Vancouver BC, and California, and is currently serving the UU Society of Cleveland.

Morning Seminars

  1. Awaken to the Heartbeat

    Rebekah Benner

    Make a joyful noise!! Connect to the heart of the Mother Earth through the drum! Learn the basics of hand-drumming and drum circle facilitation. Rhythms from many cultures will be shared. Shamanic drum journey, trance drumming, drum chant & song will also be explored. For the new and the experienced drummer. PARTICIPANTS MUST BRING THEIR OWN “TALL” PEDESTAL TYPE DRUM; i.e. DJEMBE, ASHIKO, DOUMBEK, THAT CAN BE HELD BETWEEN THE KNEES AND PLAYED WITH BOTH HANDS.

  2. Rock’s Most Wanted – The Greatest One-Hit Wonders of Rock and Roll

    Bill Brauning

    The history of Rock and Roll is laced with those groups and performers who were known as One-Hit Wonders. They received major acclaim in many cases and then disappeared not to be heard of again. Who were they, how did they rise to stardom, where did they go? The class will hear and see these heroes of Rock.

  3. Cultivating the Creativity Garden through The Artist’s Way

    Dawn Corley & Margaret McConnell

    You may have heard of The Artist’s Way, the creativity-enhancing series of books by Julia Cameron; you may have written Morning Pages and done the exercises in the chapters. Have you, however, explored her writings in a group setting, complete with simple crafts designed to cut through the inner critic? In this workshop, modeled on one offered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, Dawn Corley and Margaret McConnell will offer the highlights of Cameron’s principles in a supportive, enlightening, and fun manner. No prior knowledge of The Artist’s Way is required.

  4. Discovering Your Money Demons

    Sharon Delgadillo

    Why does that green piece of paper cause us such anxiety! We will examine our cultural and familial messages we carry about money; find our “true purpose” for money and review how our current relationship with the almighty buck is working for us and find some ways to improve it.

  5. Yes, You Can Create! Expressive Collage Workshop for Everyone

    Denise Deschenes

    Do you want to be creative but don’t know how to start? Do you feel that in order to create art it takes special training that you don’t have or don’t have time for? Or are you simply looking for a way to play? Collage may be just what you are looking for. Expressive collage can range from a few minutes of play, to a means of self-expression, to mindful creativity, to a sophisticated art form. Join us in making collages and spend a few hours experiencing what it feels like to create without pressure.

  6. Cultivating Resilience

    Cindy Franz

    Cindy Frantz is a psychology professor at Oberlin College. Instead of buying a sports car, Cindy has chosen to channel her mid-life crisis angst into increasing her own resilience. She would love some company.

  7. My Improvised Life: Comedy as a UU Philosophy

    Mike Frye

    Teamwork, listening, sacrifice, and support are all vital ingredients to building a working community, but are also vital to comedy! In this workshop we will learn the fundamentals of long form improvisational comedy, and discuss how these techniques can be applied both on and off the stage.

  8. Walking Towards Trouble

    Laura Howe & Laura Conkle

    Last year at General Assembly 2014 in Providence, RI, Sister Simone Campbell invited UU’s to reflect on “…the journey of faith as walking towards trouble.” As we bend the arc of history toward justice and create beloved community, UU’s do indeed walk towards trouble. Explore practical leadership skills and activities that promote and support success. Curiosity, challenges and excitement for the possibilities in the walk towards trouble are welcome! We will focus on common challenges to UU leaders in our congregations of all sizes and shapes. Ultimately, our work requires many of the same skills regardless of our context.

  9. Size: The Other Diversity

    Deb Lemire

    As UU’s we pride ourselves on how readily we welcome diversity…. of gender, race, culture, theology. We accommodate, without judgment, for physical disability. Yet are we welcoming to people whose body is larger than our defined “normal?” As a larger person do you experience discrimination based on your size? This workshop explores size as the other diversity and how those of us that live in larger bodies can embrace our inherent worth and dignity through the Health at Every Size model.

    Deb Lemire is a member of the UU Church of Akron. She has served as President of the Associate for Size Diversity and Health and currently serves on their public policy committee. Deb has presented on size and health and the impact of stigma in both seminar settings and theatrical with her one woman performance piece,” For Beauty’s Sake.”

  10. Reading the Earth of Oberlin and Beyond

    Jamie Martin-Hayden

    During this workshop we will investigate the surprising variety of geology around Oberlin. Join us on our field trips to a Berea Sandstone quarry, Cascade Park in Elyria, the rock gardens and mineral exhibit in Carnegie, the Lewis Environmental Center and the glacial moraine exposed at the Oberlin Arboretum. This workshop will involve a moderate amount of walking, at most a mile round trip.

  11. Making Our Lives Magical

    Andrew Nash

    We will learn how to perform magic tricks in several styles, ranging from the David Copperfield-esque stunning feats of illusion to the street magic of David Blaine, to the comedic routines of birthday performers.

  12. Exploring the Architectural Treasures of Oberlin College

    Raymond Schinhofen

    Now that Summer Institute is happening at Oberlin College, learn more about the significant architecture located all around the campus and that spans over 125 years of design excellence. Focusing on notable architects and their works (among them Cass Gilbert, Frank Lloyd Wright and his concept of the Usonian house, modernist Minoru Yamasaki, post-modernist Robert Venturi as well as others), this workshop will provide an in-depth exploration of Oberlin’s amazing architectural history, including visuals, lectures, discussions, and a walking tour that includes the Frank Lloyd Wright house.

  13. Kosha Yoga — Journal toward Wholeness

    Lisa Thiel

    We are complex beings of 5 koshas or layers that, although distinct, impact one another. They are sometimes referred to as the “lampshades over our light,” or guideposts that can help us orient to where we are in our practice. We will travel layer by layer, taking 1 of these koshas each day both in discussion & in practice – physical, breath/prana, mental/emotional, wisdom, & bliss. We will explore ways we can live more wholly both “on” and, perhaps more importantly, “off the mat.” All levels welcome.

  14. Ten Buddhist Meditations

    Shih Ying-Fa

    The core of Buddhism is the practice of meditation. Ven. Shih Ying-Fa will instruct participants in 10 styles of Buddhist meditation including Breath Mindfulness, Zen Koans, Visualization, Meditative Walking, Recitation, Traditional Buddhist Chanting and the Meditation on Loving-Kindness. If sitting close to the floor is not an option for some, chairs will be provided.

  15. GET “F.L.Y.” IN FIVE MONTHS (* Fitter, Leaner, Younger)

    Christa Champion

    Would you like to regain your youthful daily energy levels? Do you want to feel better, move more easily, and get rid of some of those nagging aches and pains you’ve been carrying around lately? Wouldn’t it be nice to touch your toes again? If you need some motivation to get up off the couch and get active, then this workshop is for you! We will: 1. Review the science behind the powerful anti-aging effects of exercise. 2. Learn basic nutritional information to improve your everyday eating habits for better long-term health. 3. Practice simple and functional body-weight exercises that will improve your posture, strengthen your movements, and increase your flexibility while simultaneously reducing joint pain.

  16. Coming of Age 2.0

    Tiffany Grinstead

    Many of us did not have the opportunity to grow up as Unitarian Universalists. While our youth go through a year-long experience to write their faith statements and share them with their congregations, we may have never had that opportunity. This class will focus on conversations and journaling built around the topics covered in a typical coming of age class. By the end of the week you will have the opportunity to write and share a faith statement with the class. Together we’ll prove it’s never too late to come of age.

Youth Program (arriving 7th grade-Completed 12th grade)

The Summer Institute youth program provides programming for over one hundred youth in an atmosphere of fellowship in a safe and supportive community. The program is organized by a panel of elected youth and adults working together. Youth also join the entire SI community in afternoon and evening activities which seek to engage them in the wider community. Participants break into daily youth workshops that highlight their diversity and creativity.
Community Organizing 101: How to Get Yourself, Your Friends, and Your Community to Act on Issues You Care About

Theme Speakers: Katie Fry & Sue Lacy, Round River Consulting, LLC

In our many years in the world of community organizing, we have developed principles and tools that can be utilized in your communities to impact your world and create concrete change. We will share those principles and tools, while focusing on two dynamics – the Nature of Power and the Power of Relationships.

All sessions will be interactive. Daily discussion topics will include: Understanding Power, Organizing People, Identifying Issues, and Spiritual Activism & Our UU Principles. A combination of whole group sharing and small group working sessions will be included. Participants will identify issues to organize around, and issue-based groups will work to develop action plans.

Our final day together will include a Call to Action for taking concrete steps to improve your community – with friends and UU youth group members.

This theme workshop will be engaging, enjoyable and provide youth with tools to give back and keep acting!

WeddingSue and Katie are experienced UU youth leaders. They served as COYA Adult Advisors at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron (UUCA) for several years and Katie was the Director of Religious Education at UUCA for two years. Sue was a member of the UUA’s Just Change Consultancy project for two years, advising UU congregations around social change initiatives.

Sue and Katie co-founded Round River Consulting (RRC) in 2002. Their ability to equip leaders, organizations, and communities with the capacity to take effective action on issues that most impact their lives has shaped the firm’s reputation for producing valuable results and more sustainable organizations.  They have worked with a wide range of leaders and organizations including public agencies, non-profit organizations, health systems, faith communities, businesses, public policy and elected officials, and community residents on the development of strategies to address priority community issues.  They have organized hundreds of community- based planning processes and dozens of large-scale meetings that bring community members and policy-makers together to inform decision-making.

Notable accomplishments include engaging Katrina survivors and evacuees in shaping key policy decisions to rebuild their lives, managing a multi-county community health assessment that has provided community-based data to help shape new community initiatives, and launching an award-winning community reading initiative.

Prior to forming RRC, Sue directed a local development corporation, served as constituent services staff for a city councilman, directed a city-wide anti-racism initiative, founded a faith-based community organization that changed the governance structure of Cleveland Public Schools to mayoral control and served on the senior staff of a faith-based community organization as national training director. She is currently coordinating a project in Summit County to strengthen the workforce system so that the right people show up at the right place, with the right skills.

As a professional educator Katie taught in public schools, supervised student teachers, created curriculum for Kent State University and taught in Developmental Education and Upward Bound programs. Through her work as a medical trainer, Katie developed curriculum for community educators and a six-month training program for a medical staff. As Education Director for Mustard Seed Market, she created a cooking school and a community wellness education program.

Touch Groups
The youth program can seem overwhelming sometimes therefore each youth participates in a “touch group”. These youth/adult-led groups encourage youth to share conversation and games and closer friendships with a small crowd and ensure that both youth and adult staff can provide support to each youth throughout the week.

The SI Youth Program creates an environment of safety that fosters youth independence and accountability. A panel of youth and adult leadership manage situations that arise with empathy and confidentiality. Parents and sponsors are notified during the process. Youth staff are committed to providing a safe and healthy community and regularly reexamine policies and procedures. Expectations of youth for the week include no sex, no abuse or violence, and no substance use. Respect for others and their property is also part of our covenant to one other. Youth check in 2x daily with staff and are expected to check in with parents/sponsors as well. Supervised youth hangouts during non-programming time are provided. Junior Highers are escorted by youth leaders from evening activities to their dorms. If a parent or sponsor also rooms there, older youth (10th-12th grade) may stay in the “Youth-Focused Dorm”.

Young Adult Program (SI-ers aged 18-35)

YAs at SI are a diverse, growing community. Because young adulthood is a time of transition and self-discovery, this year’s Young Adult theme is all about balancing UU beliefs and ideals with living in the real world. Young Adults join the general community for most daytime activities, including meals, theme talk, morning worship, workshops, and evening vespers. They also engage in Young Adult specific activities, which include themed touch-base groups and their own worship. The themed touch-base groups offer a variety of activities that range from exploring nature to discussing what “growing up” really means, and provide a daily opportunity for first-timers and old-timers alike to meet new people. Don’t forget to bring formal evening wear for the Young Adult run Monte Carlo Night, where we run all sorts of fun games of chance to raise money for the Scholarship Fund!

For those Young Adults who want to attend but can’t afford to, there are scholarships available!

If you can’t take off work for the whole week, there is a discounted “Weekend CON” option available as well.

Early Afternoon Workshops (1:30– 3:00)

  1. Duct Tape

    Sara Beech

    Today’s Duct Tape has many more uses than just a tool in your toolbox. We will be creating your master pieces out of all kinds of colors and patterns. The focus of the workshop will be on the construction of beach/grocery bags, pull string backpacks, wallets and so much more.

  2. Body Art

    Jane Dirks

    What could be more mindfully meditative than creating a multicolored chalice which winds around your ankle? Or a beaded hair wrap in your best friend’s (or your daughter’s or dad’s) flowing locks? Join us under the trees for a peaceful afternoon of world music and body decoration.

  3. It’s Game Time

    Claire Galpern and Danny Galpern

    Come learn about all kinds of outside group games to play! We will be learning and playing games that help groups get connected, have a lot of fun with each other and play hard together. We will be playing old classics and learn lots of new games. All ages welcome.

  4. Tie-Dye and Un-Dye 2015

    Nicole Hayman and Lexi Staples

    Come show your creative side with an SI staple! Pick a pattern, freestyle dye, or un-dye a darker clothing item! Let your creativity flow with little rules or regulations! Limit two items per camper please!

  5. Poetry for a Summer Day

    Dean Hazelton

    This is a workshop in reading and appreciating poetry. We will read aloud and talk about poetry on a variety of subjects from different times and poetic traditions. Some possible topics are nature; love, lust and loss; poetry by Rumi, mystical poetry and poems about poetry.

  6. Volleyball

    John McCrystal

    Fun, good sportsmanship, safety and community are all goals of this afternoon gathering. Drills and work on serves, setting, passing and hitting techniques will occur during the first part of each afternoon along with the review of several rules each day. Everyone’s volleyball skill level will improve during the week and a fun time will is a sure thing.

  7. Art Space

    Lauren Straubhaar and Ali Cotton

    This year’s Art Space focus will be on repurposing and recycling items and turning them into fun pieces of art. We will have designated “craft of the day” for adults and kids, as well as an “open art” area where you can let your creativity flow. Come be creative and have fun!

  8. Play with Me

    Colleen Thoele

    This workshop is for taking a few moments to stop rushing and just play. Each day a new activity will be introduced that is designed for small children through older adults to enjoy together. Drop in and spend some time creating, connecting and playing. Create a sidewalk paint mural, paint your own SI rocks and take home a treasure box of your week at SI.

  9. Lego PalooZA

    Diana VanWinkle

    Come create with Legos and have an all-out fun, crazy time! Participants will experience Lego fun encompassed with daily themes. Themes include: “Say Aaargh”, “Build like a SuperHero”, “Things that Move”, “Tall, Tall Towers” and “Free Play”. Duplos provided for the littlest among us. Build together or create your very own creations.

Late Afternoon Workshops (3:15—4:45)

  1. Ultimate Frisbee

    Seth Sykora-Bodie and Ryan Haker

    Ultimate Frisbee is one of the most popular workshops at SI with over 40 participants taking part on most days. Seth and Ryan have been playing for years and keep coming back because they love the truly intergenerational aspect of the workshop. And, the highlight of the week is a night ultimate game with glow sticks and light up disks so that everyone can play under the moon!

  2. Dancing Hands Rhythm Workshop

    Mary Palmieri

    This workshop is both intergenerational and ability-inclusive. We use rhythm instruments as well as “dancing scarves” to encourage people of all abilities to participate in the circle.

  3. Folk Orchestra

    Pat Lorei

    We will be using fuller arrangements this year and will have a very simplified part available in case young players want to give it a try (probably need a year of school lessons under their belt).

  4. An Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation and Movement

    Karen Jepsen

    Are you always rushing from one thing to the next? Misplacing your keys? Forgetting names? Is your mind 3 steps ahead of your body? Come learn from Happy Panda how to be a Mindful Monkey. You will be introduced to the concept of mindfulness through movement, demonstration and engaging activities such as mindful eating. Mindfulness has proven to be beneficial in many areas, including stress management, schoolwork and the ability to focus. Appropriate for ages 10ish (with an adult) and older.

  5. Hogwarts SI

    Becky Haines

    Hogwarts is back! This workshop is designed for kids 3rd-6th grades, with beginning wizardry for newbies. Students will receive a robe, wand, and hat. Classes will include: sorting, potions, care of magical creatures, defense against the dark arts, Quidditch (with water), Transfiguration, and the all important”Night Challenge”. We will also perform a magic song piece at the talent show.

  6. The Seven Principles Happened Here

    Nancy Boutilier

    This workshop will explore Oberlin History through a UU lens. Learn about Oberlin’s link to social justice, political and environmental movements that resonate with the 7 Principles. In what room did Frederick Douglass argue against slavery? And why is there a “Ladies Grove” in town? Each afternoon will have a different theme – and place. There will be a short presentation each session paired with a walk to the various sites. Participants may also choose to bicycle or drive to meet us at the day’s sites.

  7. Dungeons and Dragons

    John Bores and Reid Parsons

    This workshop is open to everyone in middle school and older. Dungeons and Dragons is a table-top fantasy role-playing game. The leader of the group runs a campaign, or story, for the participants, acting as their eyes and ears into the world. Dice, pencils and paper serve as the mechanics of the universe, keeping track of the player’s abilities and influencing the outcome of events.

  8. Ready, Set, Go

    Connie and Steve Wagner

    Calling all kids ages 5-11 to play! Bring your wiggles, fun ideas and a bathing suit (or clothes that can get wet) and a towel.


Each evening’s events are planned to engage, entertain and provide relaxation for campers of all ages:

Lively Concerts
Intergenerational Movie
Family Friendly Monte Carlo Night
Intergenerational Dance
Ultimate Frisbee in Dark
PEEK – an Intergenerational Card Game
Instrumental/Vocal Ensemble Concerts
Open Mic Night
The Youth Coffeehouse

The Pub

From 9:30 PM onward, adults gather there to socialize, share a pub beverage, make music, play games and make new friends while reconnecting with old ones. It’s a great place to relax and hang out when the day’s events are over. This is a great time for families to utilize the Childcare Co-op. In compliance with state laws, no alcohol is permitted to be brought into the Pub or removed from the space.

Monte Carlo Night

This casino style event is family friendly and includes games for every age and skill level. Favorites such as Texas Hold-Em and Rock-Paper-Scissors will return alongside a variety of competitive wagering games. Win enough Nathan Money to claim a classy prize or relax with refreshments from our snack bar.

Your first $500 Nathan Bucks will be free.

All donations & proceeds will benefit the scholarship fund.


A Summer Institute Tradition that defies description. If you have never encountered a PEEK experience, brace yourself for the perfect UU game. It’s a loud, fun, and quick card game for everyone, no matter what age. Everyone leaves a winner, with a prize and a smile. For veteran PEEK players, the management hopes that you will once again gladly contribute a PEEK prize for the festivities.