Where is the Weekend Held?
The Central Minnesota weekend is held at Luther Crest Bible Camp in Alexandria Minnesota. Nestled within 98 acres of mature Maple-Basswood forest and located on the west shore of beautiful Lake Carlos, the setting is ideal for rejuvenation and reflection. Accommodations at the Adult & Family Retreat Center (pictured below) are comfortable, clean and secure with ample bathroom and showering facilities. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided at the Luther Crest dining hall. All weekend activities are wheelchair accessible.
What Happens on a Beginning Experience Weekend?
Beginning Experience team members are widowed, separated or divorced people who will be working with you throughout the weekend. The Beginning Experience team is a peer ministry. This means team members have experienced similar situations as the participants who attend the weekend. They have also gone through a weekend as participants. Although not professional counselors, team members are trained in the process of small-group facilitation and confidentiality. Many team members and participants become lifelong friends.
The weekend lasts from Friday evening until late Sunday afternoon. Over the course of the weekend you will hear personal stories presented by past participants who are now team members. Then you will be given time to reflect and write – don't worry, however, as all thoughts and feelings are kept private. Lastly, participants are given the opportunity to talk with others and process what they have experienced in small groups led by two small group leaders who are also team members. Each person shares as little or as much as they choose and no one is ever pressured to participate.
Woven throughout your weekend is time to socialize, have fun, or just wander around the beautiful wooded grounds of Luther Crest. Maybe you will use your downtime to get to know your fellow participants and team members, or maybe you will use your time to meditate and reflect – or maybe both! Whatever you choose, you'll find that the atmosphere is one of comraderie, healing, peace and acceptance.
When is the best time to make a Beginning Experience weekend?
The Beginning Experience weekend is designed to be a time of closure on the past and renewed hope for the future. Those who come should be beyond the initial feelings of anger and despair which usually follow the loss of a loved one. They should be at the point of wanting a new beginning and ready to work to make that desire a reality.
What measures are taken to ensure confidentiality?
We take participants' privacy seriously. The Beginning Experience team fully understands that to get the most out of the weekend, participants must start from a place of safety and security, just as they did. That is why the only information shared about you by the team is your first name and surname initial on your name tag -- it's up to you if you wish to share more. Rest assured that your application is completely confidential and will never be shared.
Furthermore, participants are reminded throughout the weekend that everything said on the weekend is confidential – from the large group presentations to the small group discussions to conversations shared over coffee. Participants quickly realize that it is in their own best interests to be discreet and respect the privacy of all.
Who Should Attend a Beginning Experience weekend?
The program is both psychologically and spiritually sound, having been developed by respected professionals in the fields of ministry, grief psychology and education. Beginning Experience may be right for you if:
You're grieving the loss of a spouse through separation, divorce or death.
You're having trouble accepting that you no longer have a partner regardless of your best efforts to “get over it.”
You have unresolved anger and you want to deal with it.
You struggle with friends and/or family that, while well-intentioned, simply can't relate to what you are going through.
You wish you could just move on.
Team members have been right where you are. They know the pain of separation, divorce or death and have made their way through it to a new beginning. Those who help facilitate the program are former participants who have personally benefited from Beginning Experience, and are now able to "give back." Having been in the same place as you are now, each is uniquely equipped to be good listeners, to empathize and to encourage you through the process.
What is my next step?
Fill out the application found on this website and submit it today. Space is limited and weekends often will fill up. Once the application for the weekend is received, a Beginning Experience team member will call you and help you decide if a Beginning Experience weekend is right for you. Additionally, other members are available to answer questions and help you determine your readiness for the program.