CanUUdle: The National Youth Conference

What is CanUUdle?

CanUUdle is the annual conference (“con”) for Canadian Unitarian Universalist youth ages 14-19 and their adult advisors (ages 25+). CanUUdle always happens over May long-weekend, and lasts from Friday evening to Monday at noon. It’s a youth-led con where youth and adults create an amazing community, worship together, attend workshops, play and grow as spiritual beings. It’s a beautiful weekend full of fun, laughter, games, discussion, thought, and above all, love and friendship—the special kind that can only be found in UU community!

Youth leadership shines at CanUUdle! Youth from all over Canada lead the CanUUdle Staff, planning the program and developing valuable leadership skills while they’re at it. To learn more about the staff roles and being on staff, visit the CanUUdle Staff page

Youth attendees who are not on staff also have opportunities to lead workshops, facilitate small groups, help with worship, help out in the kitchen, and be on Spirit Corps – keeping the energy of con positive and supportive. 

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CanUUdle, Chorus and the National Conference 

CanUUdle happens at the same time as Chorus, our national young adult conference (ages 18-35), and the weekend includes some shared programming. Older youth (17-19) can get to know the young adult community through the bridging dinner and may choose to “bridge” in a ceremony to mark their transition from youth to young adulthood. 

Every other year (on even-numbered years, or “Conference years”), both CanUUdle and Chorus happen alongside the CUC’s National Conference. On odd-numbered years (“Standalone years”), they happen alongside each other. 

On Conference years, CanUUdlers join with adults and children for the Friday night Conference Ingathering, and for Sunday worship and multigen day. 

Bridging

The CanUUdle community celebrates bridging, as our older youth transition to being young adults. CanUUdlers between 17 and 19 can join the Friday afternoon young adult gathering (ACM years only), the Saturday evening bridging dinner, and may choose to “bridge” during the bridging ceremony. 

Junior youth are invited to join the rest of CanUUdle for games and dinner, and can bridge into the CanUUdle community if they wish during the ceremony. The bridging ceremony is also a time to recognize young adults who are 35 and moving on from the YA community. 

Anyone who is bridging is welcome to invite family, friends and mentors to the ceremony to witness their transition. Religious professionals are also very welcome to attend!

What Do Youth Gain from Attending CanUUdle?

Many youth describe CanUUdle as a highlight of their Unitarian youth experience, as a place where they find acceptance, community, lasting friendships, and where their unique personalities can shine. Youth who attend CanUUdle, and especially those who take on a leadership role, are much more likely to stay connected to Unitarian Universalism. That connection can provide many former youth with loving community and support through times of transition in young adulthood. 

CanUUdle also offers participants:

  • A better sense of what it means to be a Canadian Unitarian Universalist
  • Spiritual youth-led worship services that help them reflect on big questions
  • Interactive workshops that teach skills, encourage reflection and discussion
  • Space to build close friendships with other Unitarian youth that can last decades 
  • Opportunities for leadership development and personal growth and discovery – many youth say that youth cons give them more confidence and a better understanding of themselves 

To view a short video about CanUUdle, and to read why past attendees loved going to CanUUdle, check out our “New to Youth Cons” page.

CanUUdle’s New Age Range: 14-19

After a year of consultation, and piloting a 13-19 age range in 2019, the CUC has decided to permanently change the age range for CanUUdle to 14-19. Previously, CanUUdle and CUC youth events had used an age range of 14-20. CanUUdle is designed for high school aged youth, and we have found that this range represents the ages that typically benefit the most from what it has to offer. A tighter age range means more shared experience between participants, which will allow for deeper trust building, engagement and exploration. This change is also possible in large part because of the existence of a thriving young adult community, ready to welcome in emerging adults as they transition out of youthood. 

Suggestions for adults supporting 13 year olds who were hoping to attend CanUUdle in Halifax: 

  • Support your 13 year olds to attend a local or regional youth con. These cons typically have a lower age range, fewer participants (generally 20-40) and last for two nights. This will provide an opportunity for your youth to experience a con that is less likely to be as overwhelming as CanUUdle. 
  • Junior youth (12-13 year olds) will continue to be invited to participate in parts of CanUUdle, such as the Bridging Ceremony and social time including games and dinner with younger CanUUdlers, usually Saturday afternoon and evening. This invitation will go out to local junior youth leading up to CanUUdle, and on even numbered years, to those who are registered for the junior youth programming at the National Conference as well. 
  • If you have a 13 year old whose 14th birthday is soon after CanUUdle, is a regular participant in youth group, is in high school, and who you believe to be ready for CanUUdle, contact your religious educator, youth advisor, and/or Casey (casey@cuc.ca) to discuss whether an exception may be possible. 

Guidance for 18, 19 and 20 year olds:

  • 19 year olds who still feel part of the youth community are welcome at CanUUdle up to their 20th birthday. They are also welcome to attend Chorus (young adult con) if that is a better fit. 
  • CanUUdle and CUC youth ministry is geared to high school-aged youth. Older youth (18 and 19 year olds) who are not in high school or youth group can still attend CanUUdle, but are encouraged to take on leadership/mentoring roles, or to register for Chorus. 

Safety and Adult Supervision at CanUUdle

The CUC takes your child’s safety seriously and has robust policies and practices in place at youth events, including the CUC Youth Event Rules, Policy on Sexualized Behaviour, and Night Time Safety Guidelines. We encourage you to take a look at our Youth Safety Policies, and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Youth cons are set up to foster safe, healthy relationships among youth, and between youth and their adult advisors (congregationally-approved adults who are at least 25). Adult advisors are wonderful mentors, role models and supports for youth, and they are an important part of youth events. During all con activities and outings, we keep a 1:8 ratio of adult advisors to youth. Two adult volunteers are also awake throughout the night to monitor the con community. 

All youth must have an advisor who will be staying on site and participating in CanUUdle through the weekend. For youth who are not coming with a youth group, or are from smaller congregations, we can help by pairing them with another group’s advisor for the con. Youth should indicate that they need an advisor on the registration form, and we will be in touch to coordinate that. 

Registration, Fees and Subsidies

All youth and advisors need to register for CanUUdle through the Events Calendar. Registration for CanUUdle typically opens in February. 

Our registration form asks for basic contact information, dietary restrictions, medical conditions, medications and emergency contacts – information we need to help all participants have a safe and fun con experience. Although we know that many parents/guardians fill out these forms for their youth, we recommend that youth participate in the process so they are informed about CanUUdle and can answer the questions geared to them. 

CanUUdle registration fees are “sliding scale”, meaning that participants and their families choose the amount they are able to pay. Sliding scale helps us make the event accessible to more people, and empowers participants to support each other. The information on our Sliding Scale page can help you in choosing your registration fee, based on your financial situation. 

Subsidies are available to help with registration and travel costs, through the Dawning Future Youth and Young Adult Subsidy Fund. See the Dawning Future Subsidy Fund page for more information and to apply. Applications are due by the end of each month (at least 3 weeks before the event), and are reviewed in the first 2 weeks of the next month. The limited number of subsidies available in 2020 will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Still have questions about CanUUdle? 

Contact the CanUUdle Coordinator during CanUUdle planning season (December-May): canuudle@cuc.ca

At all other times of the year, contact Youth and Young Adult Program and Events Staff, Casey Stainsby: casey@cuc.ca