Dunrovin: From youth retreats grew a 50-year heritage of youth outreach

dunrovin-retreat-center-1964

Dunrovin Retreat Center in June, 1964. Pictured left to right: Joe Naughton, Paul McNellis and Jerry Grochowski, students from Hill high school.

Building a future and a hope

On Ash Wednesday 1964, Dunrovin Retreat Center officially opened its doors as host of spiritual retreats for high school students. It was a day rich with symbolism.

On the day that marks the beginning of Lent, a period of reflection, penance and fasting, it launched a youth ministry that is now entering its fifth decade. Those first weekend retreats provided a time of reflection and fasting … of a different kind.

Students on weekend retreats didn’t fast from eating. But for two days they abstained from talking. The experience had a profound impact on them.

One student, interviewed for the Saint Paul Dispatch in June, 1964 expressed what many have in the years since:

“You know, I came out here like I was going to have to do penance. I didn’t want to come. I thought not talking for two days would kill me. That I’d never make it. But I don’t want to leave now. I want to stay another day. Above all, I want to come back again. I’ve gone through a lot of things in my mind these last two days. And discovered a lot about myself I never knew. I never thought teenagers could accomplish so much without saying a word.”

Since 1964 Dunrovin has grown its youth outreach while remaining focused on its primary mission. That is to provide youth programs that renew spirits and raise hopes for future generations.

Youth summer camp and leadership training

In 2001 Dunrovin began running summer camps for inner city middle-schoolers. The week-long youth summer camp is filled with activities that build self-confidence and relationship skills.

Dunrovin expanded its youth programs again in 2009.

That’s when it started two experiential youth leadership programs that teach team-building and leadership skills that prepare teens for bringing positive influence into the lives of others. The experience has a positive influence on their own life as well.

One leadership training student recently told us, “Over the four summers, it changed me from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ to ‘I will.’” Making that kind of a difference in the lives of future generations is cause for celebration.

Help celebrate 50 years of youth outreach

This year Dunrovin will be hosting several events to commemorate its first 50 years of youth outreach. Events open to the public include:

Afternoon Mass of Thanksgiving: March 16, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Join us at the Dunrovin Chapel for a time of praise and worship. We thank God for His good works through Dunrovin’s 50-year ministry of hope and spiritual growth. Fellowship time and light refreshments follow Mass.

Camper experience open house: Tuesday evening June 10 & 24, 2014
Tour the Dunrovin facilities and scenic camp grounds. Hear inspiring stories from youth who have been transformed by Dunrovin programs. Join us for a home cooked dinner from the Dunrovin kitchen.

Sunset Cruise on the St. Croix River: July 28, 2014
Our annual benefit cruise will have all the frills that have made it a wonderful event in the past: beautiful natural scenery, great food and good company. This year we plan to add some surprises you don’t want to miss. To commemorate 50 years of service, we have set a goal of raising $50,000 for improvements and expansion of Dunrovin youth programs. Come celebrate with us on the water!

Dunrovin River Rendezvous: October, 2014
This fall we are hosting a countryside event for friends of Dunrovin. Join us for a barbeque and live music highlighted by scenic fall colors on the Dunrovin grounds. We will also share our vision for the next 50 years. Experience the beauty of Dunrovin today and catch the vision for our exciting future.

The 50-year anniversary is not just a time to celebrate Dunrovin’s heritage of youth outreach. It is also a time to look ahead. We look forward connecting with the community of Dunrovin alumni and supporters and make plans for expanding our youth programs into the next 50 years. We invite you to be part of those plans.