Although we have many campers who are not Unitarian Universalist (UU), we do call ourselves a UU camp. Why do we do that? To answer that question, we need to look at our history, to SaugForAll’s beginning. Whether you knew it or not we’ve always been a UU camp.
S.A.U.G. is a descendent of SaugForAll...a camp that also began as a kind of spin off camp. It was started to allow AMUUSE campers (a camp for UU singles) to keep going to camp after they were in a committed relationship. In the late 1990’s when AMUUSE decided to no longer allow couples to attend, SaugForAll was born.
AMUUSE has always been a UU camp. SaugForAll was also always a UU camp. SAUG is a UU camp too!
In a nutshell, being UU is about being open to the world, embracing social justice, respecting everyone, and loving the earth.
When I started coming to camp I was a UU church member. From my experiences in UU churches, I can tell you that many of our camp traditions are very common in UU. Things like check-ins, love of coffee, snacks at all meetings, along with a broad interest in social justice, and a love of music, poetry, philosophy and art are quintessential UU. These things are also loved and enjoyed by many non-UU communities (and our non-UU campers).
Are there things that a UU camp doesn’t do that most UU churches do? Well, at camp we have a lot less committees, fundraising, and a lot less time in religious services. Our time together is mostly fun, growth and friendship and the spiritual activities (like vespers and sufi) are optional.
The church talks about how to be a UU, camp is an experience of UU.
UU isn’t like most religions with a strong dogma or a defining belief system. People don’t get baptised or confirmed or bar mitzvahed into being a UU. Part of being a UU is to not make a big deal out of being one.
I went to a UU church for about 10 years and while I still believe in the principles and philosophies I no longer attend. Although I no longer go to UU church, I still want to go to a UU camp.
I’ll quote from a recent AMUUSE’s website where they stated:
“What does UU stand for? Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a liberal religion with Judeo-Christian roots. It has no creed to which one must subscribe. It affirms the dignity of all, and advocates freedom of belief. UU works to provide a warm, open, supportive community for those who believe ethical living is the highest religious expression. You need not be a Unitarian Universalist to attend.”
Back when Jon and Joan Lager started their couples camp, even though it didn’t have UU in the name, it was a UU camp. It was part of the Council of UU camps and Conferences. There was a definite UU connection. And, just like AMUUSE, they welcomed all adults UU or not.
What about our websites? The SaugForAll website always mentioned UU. Here’s what it said:
“Eligibility: Any adult 21 or over. Our community is comprised of singles and couples. While we are affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist religion, a camper need not be a UU member to attend but should agree with our 7 principles. Saug-for-All is a member of the Council of Unitarian Universalist Camps and Conferences.”
At http://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles the official list reads*…
1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our community*;
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our communities* and in society at large;
6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
* I’ve replaced the word “congregation” with “community”, because that’s a better fit for what we are at camp.
I feel these are very appropriate for SAUG. They work as basic principles and I certainly think all our campers (UU or not) would agree with these.
While I agree that are downsides to any organized religion, I can’t think of another group that better fits the philosophy of what I experience at camp.
Whether we do or don’t say we’re a UU camp, we’ll still have the same ideals and be the same community.
We want to encourage new people to come to camp. From a practical standpoint it’s very helpful if we can give them an idea of what camp will be like. Saying we’re “UU” summarizes a lot of ideas that are hard to describe.
You can call it being UU or you can call it being a decent human being, but either way we want to be that and to meet others that aspire to be that at camp.
We like it the way camp has been and it’s been UU. We invite our friends, and we welcome people who find us on their own. With UU in our name we hope even more like-minded people will join us (beyond just friends of friends).