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1) Who or what is LaCygne?
• LaCygne is the name of a small town in eastern Kansas. It rests on the Marais Des Cygnes river.
• The community at LaCygne is a committed group of people that has come to call LaCygne home. For many years Youthfront has been cultivating opportunities to express this way of life, and now the community invites individuals and groups to come and experience LaCygne during summer sessions and various gatherings and retreats throughout the year.
• The summer high season is made available for primarily high school age young people in June and July.
• The community at LaCygne has learned much from similar faith communities that are committed to one another, to prayer, and to being a place of contemplation, peace, and reconciliation in the world. Some examples of similar communities are the Taizé community in France, the Northumbria community in England, and various monasteries, or other intentional communities.
2) What is Youthfront?
• Youthfront is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been serving young people and churches since 1943.
• Before the community at LaCygne began, Youthfront operated Youthfront Camp South on the same property, a primarily high-school age summer camp. Prior to that Youthfront operated L-Bar-C Ranch on the property, one of two ranches that were summer camp locations for the ministry.
• Youthfront leadership has chosen to develop the community at LaCygne and make space for this community to exist.
• Youthfront still maintains stewardship and leadership for the community at LaCygne.
• For more information about Youthfront, please visit the about page on Youthfront’s website.
3) What does a typical day look like at LaCygne?
• The community at LaCygne exists year round, and the high season is during the summer. A day at LaCygne outside of the summer season consists of a small community of people committed to working together, praying together each day (morning, midday, and evening), and serving one another and the wider community. For more information about joining the community at LaCygne please visit the join the community page.
• During the summer season, a typical day is anchored with three times of corporate prayer. These are the only times during each day that all other activity ceases, and everyone gathers in the chapel for morning prayer, midday prayer, and evening prayer.
• Beyond the prayer times, there is space for people to explore and discover the grounds at LaCygne. There are a number of self-guided prayer experiences throughout the property.
• There are also numerous optional experiences that people can choose. These offerings will be posted each day and will be led by residents of the LaCygne community. Some examples of offerings include musical worship, creative arts, experiencing nature, or hiking, practical work to serve the community, Christian practices like lectio divina, scripture discussion, silence, and centering prayer, conversation about current topics and theology, physical exercise, and play. The amount of opportunities available each day will make it impossible to experience them all but will give people the opportunity to choose what they are most interested in participating in. These opportunities will be available each day from early in the morning to late at night, and will not overlap the corporate prayer times.
• In addition to the small group offerings from the residents of the LaCygne community, the space is set up so that groups and individuals can create their own experiences as well. This is encouraged, and the community at LaCygne will provide space or resources wherever possible for these opportunities.
• Each afternoon, LaCygne will be open for people to find the presence of Jesus Christ in any number of playful activities. Spaces open for the afternoon include the swimming pool and water slide, lakefront with boats and a blob, snack shack for food, games, and conversation, and the sports center with ping-pong, foosball, air hockey, pool, and equipment for disc golf, basketball, sand volleyball, and other team sports on the sports field.
• Each evening following dinner, a number of the above spaces will continue to be open, small groups will gather for meeting time and discussion, the entire group will participate in a guided worship and learning experience, as well as a group game or activity.
• A curfew will be enforced for participants, and everyone must be in a cabin or tent plot no later than 12:30 am. A typical back to cabins time would be 11 pm.
• Groups attending LaCygne have many possibilities to enjoy group experiences as well to allow individuals from the group to enjoy the space on their own. Those coming to LaCygne without a group are certainly welcome and encouraged to join with others in small group opportunities in order to make the most of their time spent at LaCygne.
4) What are the three daily prayer times?
• The community at LaCygne is committed to a regular rhythm of prayer. Three daily prayer times anchor each day and remind us that we are not in charge of ourselves. We submit to this rhythm regardless of what is currently occupying our time.
• The practice of fixed-hour prayer is handed down from our spiritual ancestors. Accounts of fixed hour prayer exist throughout the old testament books in both individual and corporate expressions. Jesus Christ and the disciples are found observing hours of prayer as well as the early church. There are numerous communities of prayer across the earth that submit to similar rhythms. This way of prayer connects us to the larger community of Christians, and develops in us a growing desire for constant communion with God and others.
• The prayer times at LaCygne have an expression that is unique to our location. Each prayer time follows a simple liturgy whereby participants engage in corporate prayer, silence, musical worship, scripture, and declaring our faith. You can find more information about our liturgy on the pray page.
• Prayer times last between 15 and 30 minutes and participants are asked to enter and remain in silence so that the presence of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be observed.
• People are encouraged to sit or kneel, and laying down on the floor is discouraged and sometimes not possible if many people are gathering together.
• Prayer times are signaled by bells being rung 15 minutes beforehand so that people have time to move to the chapel. As the bells are ringing, people are encouraged to begin silently making their way to the chapel. The bells, in this way, serve as a call to worship.
• Prayer times are at 9 am, noon, and 8 pm and outside guests are welcome to join in the prayer times, but must check in first. Please arrive early enough to be able to check in and enter the space without disrupting anyone.
5) My child isn’t part of a group, can she/he still attend a session?
• Yes. How well this will work depends on the nature of your child.
• If young people between the age of 14-16 cannot attend with a church or group, we recommend the invite a friend to come along.
• The summer experience at LaCygne is an immersion into community life, and it is our hope that even if young people attend by themselves, that they will quickly feel known, and that they will be welcomed into full participation.
6) Can I bring a group to LaCygne and have our own meetings?
• Yes. We ask that nothing be scheduled during any of the three daily prayer times.
• Indoor space is limited, and we will try to provide audio/video capabilities where requested, but this is not always possible, so please plan accordingly.
• If you have specific questions or ideas for how your group can function at LaCygne, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7) How long is a summer session?
• Once you are signed up for a session, you will receive detailed information about how to get to LaCygne and what time to arrive.
• A typical summer session begins Monday evening, with arrival starting at 7 pm. Dinner is not provided on Mondays.
• A typical summer session ends Saturday morning, with departure taking place following morning prayer at approximately 10 am. Breakfast is provided on Saturdays.
• We have designed the summer sessions to be accessible for people traveling from far away. If you are seeking special accommodations because of your travel, please email us at email@example.com.
8) How do I decide whether to stay in a cabin or camp outside?
• Once you are signed up for a session, you will receive detailed information about the accommodations and expectations based on whether you are staying in a cabin or camping outside.
• Staying in a cabin includes a bunk bed, common space, lockers, shared sinks & vanities, and shared restrooms and showers. People staying in cabins are responsible for bringing their own bedding for a twin sized bunk bed.
• Those staying in a cabin will be separated by age and gender.
• Group leaders may be screened by the community at LaCygne, and serve as home hosts in each cabin, along with residents of the LaCygne community. Two adults will be present as home hosts in every cabin housing young people 17 and under.
• Cabins are air-conditioned and heated.
• Staying in a cabin during a summer session costs $220.
• Camping outside includes a designated tent plot, separated by age and gender, as well as designated bathroom and shower facilities.
• Those who choose to camp outside are responsible for bringing all of their own camping gear including items like tents, camping chairs, and bedding.
• At this time, campfires, stoves, or grills are not permitted.
• Campfires can only be used in designated locations and are contingent upon the weather, and not for cooking food.
• Meals in the dining hall are included in the experience for those who wish to camp outside.
• Group leaders may be screened by the community at LaCygne, and serve as home hosts in each tent plot, along with residents of the LaCygne community. Two adults will be present as home hosts for every tent plot housing young people 17 and under.
• Tent camping during a summer session costs $115.
• If you are interested in bringing a RV or camper, or have additional questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9) Why is the price so low compared to similar summer opportunities?
• The resident community at LaCygne has chosen to provide a summer session as close to the actual cost as possible per person.
• The community at LaCygne desires for young people to come as participants and not as consumers.
• In order to encourage this, the price is such that people should not expect to “get their money’s worth”. Instead people should come with a heart and attitude that is open to participation in the life of the community which includes prayer and service.
• Additionally, the community at LaCygne hopes to make the experience of a summer session accessible to all, and does not desire to turn people away because of financial reasons.
• If you have more questions, or are interested in financial assistance, please email us at email@example.com.
10) How does the community at LaCygne ensure the safety of the young people attending?
• Ensuring the safety of all people presenting themselves as guests at the LaCygne community is of utmost importance.
• Every person attending a summer session at LaCygne will be required to register online and provide information that will assist us in the event of an emergency.
• Certain residents of the LaCygne community are trained in varying degrees of emergency medical response and care, and safe practices for serving food. All residents at LaCygne are trained by LaCygne’s summer resident handbook and child protection policy.
• A resident of the LaCygne community is always on duty for any assistance or for emergency response. Local medical response is nearby and can be on site in less than 20 minutes.
• Phones for emergency use are located in every building and throughout the grounds.
• Certified lifeguards are present for all water activities.
• Guests are required to check-in, and must provide identification as well as wear a guest pass at all times while visiting. Guests cannot stay overnight.
• All participants are provided with a wristband that identifies them as legitimate attendees of a summer session, and any person without proper identification will be asked to leave the grounds.
• A night watch person is appointed by the community at LaCygne and serves as overnight security and emergency response.
• All overnight sleeping arrangements are separated by age and gender. People 18 and over will stay in a cabin or tent plot together, and people 17 and younger will stay together.
• Any adult serving as a home host for any sleeping arrangement involving people 17 and under will provide her/his social security number and be background checked. Adults serving as home hosts are also required to fill out an application and be approved by the community at LaCygne.
• Adults are never permitted to stay in the same room or tent as people 17 and under, and adults are never permitted to stay overnight in a cabin or tent plot alone. There is a minimum of two adult leaders for all overnight sleeping arrangements.
• Signs, fences, and area restrictions exist throughout the entire property in order to keep people safe.
11) Is there some kind of service component?
• LaCygne is committed to providing the unique experience of spiritual retreat or pilgrimage.
• LaCygne is not designed to be the same as a mission trip opportunity, but there are opportunities throughout each day to participate in practical work that sustains the community. This may include preparing, serving or cleaning up during meal times, gardening, keeping supplies stocked throughout the grounds, changing trash receptacles, serving in the office, helping prepare for prayer times, or other unique opportunities. These possibilities are optional.
• Groups seeking to couple a stay at LaCygne with a service opportunity may be interested in a Missional Journey, an initiative of Youthfront that seeks to cultivate life in a lower income neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. Please visit the Missional Journeys page for more information.
12) Do I need spending money at LaCygne?
• The cost of attending a summer session at LaCygne includes room and board, and all of the spaces throughout the grounds. Nothing comes at an additional cost.
• The Snack Shack is the only area where money can be exchanged for food, beverages, and merchandise.
• While it is not required to bring spending money, one of the ways that LaCygne keeps the cost of attending low is by developing and selling merchandise. Please consider supporting the community in this way. Many of the items available in the Snack Shack are handmade by the resident community at LaCygne.
• Additionally, items that may be useful while at LaCygne can be purchased in the Snack Shack such as water bottles, sunglasses, books, journals, disc golf discs, and apparel.
• The meals at LaCygne are designed to be simple, and cost-effective. Additional food options are available for purchase in the Snack Shack. Food in the Snack Shack includes pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, ice cream, candy, and other small and specialty food items.
13) How do I become a resident, or volunteer at LaCygne?
14) Can I come visit LaCygne before I decide to attend?
• You are welcome to come visit with the resident community members, and see the space at any time. If you would like a personal appointment, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Additionally, there are regular gatherings and opportunities to participate in the community throughout the year. For more information, please visit the events page.
15) What is a pilgrim?
• Young people attending in the summer are often referred to as pilgrims.
• Psalm 84:5 reads “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”
• Pilgrimage has been a practice of Christians for thousands of years. Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey that is more than just time off or vacation. Pilgrimage involves community, work, play, and worship.
• In ancient times, pilgrimage would often mean that a village or group of family and extended family would travel by foot to Jerusalem to observe a week or weeks of festival and worship. This involved, planning, sacrifice, everyday chores, and everyday fun and play, as well as special worship, prayer, and gathering with others who had chosen to be on pilgrimage.
• Because it is our hope that young people view their time at LaCygne not merely as another week of activity in the summer, but as a form of pilgrimage, we introduce Psalm 84 at the beginning of the week, and explain that instead of “campers” or “students” we will often refer to them as pilgrims in order to reinforce this concept.