SUUSI is an intentional community, and we make time to build community. We are a diverse mix of ages, philosophies, and interests, and it's stimulating to make new friends as well as meet old buddies at SUUSI each year. About one-third of the 1,000 or so participants are attending SUUSI for the first time, and a special effort is made to build that sense of community with the "newcomers" or "first timers." Each afternoon we gather at Community Time to connect as a group.
SUUSI is a vacation week to grow, relax, play and connect. Many experience the workshops, expeditions into the Appalachians, music, and the relaxed conversations with new friends as a welcome time of recharge and re-creation before returning to hectic lives a week later. They discover new interests, new ideas, and new friends in an environment that is safe and family-oriented, but also offers opportunities to stretch and accept new challenges.
Some challenges might be physical - if you have never been canoeing or caving, or want to "get into" biking, then SUUSI is a great place to give it a try.
Others discover a deeper understanding of their spirit and emotions, especially through the worship services, theme talks, and workshops. There's also a subtle change that comes from living for a week with 1,000 others who have a wide range of perspectives on politics, food preferences, music, and all the other facets of life. So often, those differences can divide us.
At SUUSI, we create an "intentional community" where we acknowledge our diversity and reconnect with others based on our shared humanity. At the end of a week, our sense of trust and confidence in the inherent goodness of others reaches a new level. The good feeling is often reflected by simple things, such as a willingness to sit at a table with strangers and make friends through casual conversation. We sit down at the table in the cafeteria with people we've never met, start a conversation ("So how did you find out about SUUSI? What did you think about that worship service last night? What's your favorite workshop experience so far at SUUSI?"). By the time a meal is over, tablemates are not strangers. That's part of the SUUSI community magic - could you behave the same way at a regular restaurant? After SUUSI, you may still choose to bury your head in a book when eating alone at a restaurant on a business trip. At SUUSI, however, the sense of "aloneness" tends to fade and the sense of belonging to a supportive community tends to grow. The good feeling from knowing that the strangers are not strange tends to stimulate proposals to extend SUUSI for another week - but the alternative is to extend SUUSI into our "regular" lives, and create more of a sense of community with those who have not attended SUUSI... yet.