We all have touchstones in our lives. Sometimes they may literally be stones we keep in our pocket such as those we would give our NY delegates attending the Youth and Government Conference on National Affairs that they could use to settle if nervous or feeling a little glum. As we age, our touchstones may take the form of places or people where we connect, reinvigorate, find a new path, renew acquaintances, or meet new people.
Our YMCA Silver Bay Conference Center is such a stone. Situated on the shores of Lake George, it is nestled between the mountains that rise directly from the lake, 1,000 feet on each side. Being north on the 32-mile lake, it is separate from the busy touristy locations south, promoting an opportunity for retreat that has served as a YMCA Training School for our movement’s colleagues that began in the early 1900s.
Almost like returning home, here we rekindle memories with colleagues, meet others who also engaged in our work of service to community, refreshing our soul in song around a campfire or through an inspirational hike, a boat trip on the Lake (where we stopped to listen to the sounds and views ancestors had seen hundreds of years ago).
We reflect on our journey whether in a rocking chair, along a labyrinth path, in a short workshop about our retirement stages or simply in conversation with a friend. Trying new things such as Yoga stretching and toning these older bodies, learning how to play paddleball, walking on the campus, or simply exploring the area with a friend.
While our connection was so short, so it is with all who visit Silver Bay – why we need and want to return every year to once again touch the stones in our lives in celebration with those who have journeyed on this path before us.
(Mark Rutkowski was Associate Executive Director at Silver Bay for 18 years.)