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An Update From Rock Point Commons

As you all know, the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years has literally changed the world in many, many ways. As reported previously, we on Rock Point have been able to “pivot” and serve the greater Burlington community in a variety of different ways. Currently, Rock Point is home to the alternative education program known as “On Top” and is associated with Burlington High School. You may remember that back in September of 2020, Burlington High School had to be evacuated due to high levels of PCB’s detected in the air. The BHS facility is currently vacant with most students being educated at the modified Macy’s building in downtown Burlington. Two alternative education programs affiliated with BHS, “On Top” and “Horizons,” are located in two satellite locations; “Horizons” is located at St. Mark’s RC Church on North Avenue and “On Top” operates out of the facilities on Rock Point. We feel good about supporting the students at “On Top” who are benefitting from Rock Point’s beautiful and therapeutic environment. At this time, it is unknown when or where a new high school facility will be built in Burlington.

This past summer, Rock Point Commons hired a professional consultant, Priscilla Rose Consulting, to work with the Rock Point Board and staff to discern and develop a renewed mission and a vision that would allow Rock Point to become financially sustainable well into the future. This active discernment for Rock Point was occurring concurrently alongside our own diocesan discernment team known as THRIVE. Both the Episcopal Church in Vermont and Rock Point Commons are working hard to listen, learn, and lean into what the Spirit and the future are calling us to become as we move into a new day.

This past September, Priscilla Rose led a Visioning Day for Rock Point held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Burlington. The daylong event was attended by Bishop Shannon, Diocesan Staff, representatives from Rock Point School, the Rock Point Commons Staff, representatives from the “On Top” program, and of course the Rock Point Board of Directors. During this Visioning Day, we were encouraged to think ten years into the future, imagining what Rock Point Commons could become. It was almost uncanny, when at the end of the day, the consensus among all the participants agreed that by 2031 Rock Point Commons will become a hub for education, ecology, spirituality, and sustainable micro-agriculture. This new vision for Rock Point ties with our original mission which identified that Rock Point would “be a place of residence for the bishop and a place for education for persons of all ages.” We anticipate that this vision will be actualized through the current and future partnerships we forge that will be mutually beneficial, each supporting the mission and vision of the other.

Obviously, this new vision for Rock Point is still taking shape and there are many unknowns that will need to be clarified over time. Right now, Rock Point’s staff is skeletal and we are multi-tasking on many levels. One thing that has become clear to me, is that of all the core values we embrace on Rock Point, the value of engaging in hard work, both physical and intellectual, is essential in getting things done. We are grateful to Rock Point’s partners who are actively supporting us, as we navigate through these uncertain times. We anticipate that Rock Point will operate as a hybrid conference center/education hub for the foreseeable future. And we are open to the movement of the Spirit, as we try to remain flexible and fluid as we move into the future.

One other topic that needs to be addressed is the future of Rock Point Camp. In both the summers of 2020 and 2021, Rock Point Camp was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, both Rock Point’s Marketing Coordinator and Camp Director have left employment with Rock Point. Last summer, the greater Burlington YMCA operated two summer day camps from mid-June through mid-August. The camps were very successful and we were pleased to support children and youth who were able to come to camp once again on Rock Point. The YMCA will again operate summer day camp this summer between June 24 and August 12, 2022. While it is not the same as Rock Point Camp, we are still offering a camp experience to a diverse group of Vermont’s children and families.

What does this mean for the future of Rock Point Camp? At this point, we do not consider Rock Point Camp to be dead, but instead dormant, with the potential that it will be resurrected in a new form or fashion. Recently, a new member of the Rock Point Board joined our expanding team. Her name is Aleksah Visco and she is a former Rock Point Camper and Counselor and has many, many fond memories of being at camp. Aleksah is an enthusiastic advocate for Rock Point Camp, and I suspect that her enthusiasm will encourage our staff and Board to reimagine how Rock Point Camp might be transformed in the future.

My intent in sharing all of this information with you is to be transparent about where we are right now. Two and a half years ago when I started my job as Executive Director for Rock Point Commons, I could not have imagined we would be where we are now. It has been disorienting to say the least. That said, I am also grateful to the leadership of the Rock Point Board, my staff colleagues, and of Bishop Shannon, who have been incredibly supportive in the face of such uncertainty. I’ve said previously that we have found ourselves in unprecedented times, but I also feel the power of the Spirit moving among us, encouraging us to continue moving forward with hope, optimism, and confidence. Please do keep us and Rock Point Commons in your thoughts and prayers.

Respectfully submitted,

Paul Habersang

Executive Director

Rock Point Commons



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