Chapter Leader 1 (00:01):
We have two children. Our oldest Ruth identifies as non-binary, and the younger one, Jacob identifies very much as a boy. And I read the moral compass and I was sold instantly. Everything in the moral compass really spoke to me and it spoke to our family. The idea of inclusivity and creating a world free of prejudice and ignorance. I mean, that’s exactly what we wanna do. So I, I started talking to some families that we knew from school, and I found my five original members. And in that very first year, we jumped to like, I don’t know, like 24 or something for our first year, which is kind of crazy. So we are now starting our fourth year. Yeah, our fourth year. Last year we had about 30 kids, but I’ve got a huge list of people that are interested in joining for next year. So we are, we are really growing in that way.
Chapter Leader 2 (00:53):
And another question, Robin, I think was what do we want it to be now in this post Covid moment? I think really it’s just so simple just being together again in person and my kids having some continuity in their friendships. My kids did the school at home for a full year or a year and a half really. And so they both have been feeling kind of lonely and not connected. And so coming back to meeting in person and then being here has been just, I can just see in Jenny, oh my gosh,
Chapter Leader 1 (01:28):
Chapter Leader 2 (01:29):
Her face these past, these past day and a half has just, she’s just so glad that we’re together again.
Chapter Leader 1 (01:35):
So nice. So we went with navigators and I’m not sure what would happen if we, if navigators hadn’t been a choice, but we, we would’ve found something somehow. But navigators ended up being a perfect match. Do, I don’t know if every chapter still functions this way, but we do the whole family model and what your family looks like is what your family looks like. So if that’s you know, a single parent and many kids and it takes a village that day for that parent to leave something, I don’t what <laugh>, but that’s Jim. That’s just what works for us. And we do have single parents, even just little things who really likes sharing meals with people and who really likes bringing their own meals. And just so we always have that harmony is, I find it to be a really good group for that.
Chapter Leader 3 (02:26):
We’d be the odd people out if it’s an elementary school based setting
Chapter Leader 1 (02:31):
And if it’s secular or if we need it to be secular,
Chapter Leader 3 (02:34):
Right? And also this way we’ve got a son and a daughter and they could be in the same group and it’s just been a great sponge to catch our family.
Chapter Leader 1 (02:44):
And we came away after several adult beverages saying, let’s start a chapter of navigators. And so, and the rest is history. And yes, we’re doing just fine. We have a 14 family wait list currently, and every single person who emails me, I go, there’s a chapter in Denver, there’s a chapter in Longmont, there’s a homeschool chapter in Erie. There’s, cause we have quite a few chapters locally in Colorado. And, and then I go, oh, I will help you start your own chapter. Cause I have a chapter’s worth of people who want in. And they all go, oh no, I could never do that. It’s so easy. They make it so easy. I will hold your hand. I will, I will give you an entire chapter here of kids. But note takers so far.
Chapter Leader 4 (03:26):
And so I started navigators and it, it’s, where would I be without it? Where would our community be without it? And I didn’t want them to be a part of an organization where they were felt, felt like they weren’t good citizens because they aren’t religious and they don’t believe in God and that their parents, you know, weren’t accepted fully in the community. I’m just really grateful to the founders of navigators because it means a lot to me to have an all-inclusive scouting model to help guide me for these children. And I think it means a lot to the families in our group as well. Because, you know, it’s kind of, it’s hard to be excluded and Boy Scouts excludes us. Like specifically in 2017, they rewrote some of their bylaws to specifically exclude nonbelievers. And the family model I think also makes a lot of parents comfortable because they can participate as much as they want. They can camp with their kids, they don’t have to worry about them going to sleep away camp and not knowing, you know, the chapter leaders very well or anything like that. So that’s it’s been really wonderful and we’re really happy to be, I think it’s just gonna keep growing and
Chapter Leader 5 (04:38):
Growing. I I look at things from a different standpoint. I work in the fields of youth and community development and part of my job is to basically create program designs for children for ages five all the way up to 20. One of the things that attracted me to organization is the sense of freedom, which is something that if you understand how the politics of New York City works, you would know that it’s very difficult to incorporate a program like the navigators organization. And my goal with the navigators, and when I say go, always say what I’m gonna do, and I always do, right? That’s just the type of person that I am is to open up 15 new chapters in New York City next year. So just getting some chapters started up here and, you know, helping this organization grow up. I’m sorry, the movement.
Chapter Leader 6 (05:37):
<Laugh>. Hi, I’m Dennis. I’m a recovering Catholic <laugh>. Oh, Dennis, I got somebody laughed at that <laugh>. You know, I went into this not really a knowing, understanding or realizing I guess the depth to which all of you really engage and, and do these great things for these kids. You know this weekend for sure has been a real eye opener for me living on this side of Michigan. Trying to find inclusivity, diversity, somebody who has a different viewpoint than the the one that screams in your face. So I really love the fact that this is a non sort of organization a non movement. And yeah, I, my son Desmond, I mean, this is his favorite thing. He looks forward to this every Monday night when we get together, whatever it is we’re doing, he doesn’t care. He’s just excited to be here. So in Rifka, I figure a lot to, lot to blame on that. So but yeah, I, I mean I really can’t, I can’t speak fondly enough of it. I’ve just, it’s almost overwhelming and it’s nice not to feel alone. I guess the best way
Chapter Leader 1 (07:01):
To put it, the area we live in is so conservative and very religious, and Desmond was so young and we were doing school at home. It was like, okay, he needs friends. I don’t know what to do here. Like, everyone I talked to, first question is what church you go to? I’m not comfortable.
Chapter Leader 4 (07:20):
Chapter Leader 1 (07:21):
And I don’t want him growing up that way either. It’s just confusing. So amazing Facebook group popped up in our area. It was a started off as yes to really our liberals in Zealand, <laugh>.
Chapter Leader 6 (07:35):
Chapter Leader 4 (07:35):
Chapter Leader 1 (07:35):
Changed to West Michigan cuz it grew so much and it was awesome. That’s time at Rivka. So our kids were going to the same school for a while and she was taught us about navigators. I was like, all right, as soon as I get my schedule changed, we’re in. Like, I indeed we need this. We all need this. It’s such an awesome community that we’ve been introduced to and we just love all of it.
Chapter Leader 4 (07:56):
My husband’s the Eagle Scout, my dad’s an Eagle Scout, my grandfather’s an Eagle Scout. We started getting the paperwork and it was like, oh, as a leader, you have to sign a profession of faith. Oh, by the way, there’s a religious requirement to every single Cub Scout badge. Even it has nothing to do with religion. Oh, if your child becomes an Eagle Scout, they have to sign a profession of faith and they have to make an oath to God. And I’m like, not only for my own kids, but you know, and of course the gender exclusion. I was like, kids can learn and grow and develop and be good humans with or without religion. And I want an inclusive, safe, open space where everyone can get together. Navigators is one of the few safe spaces. So for a lot of families, whether they be Jewish atheist, deconstructing on the fence, secular, like this may be the only space in our community that we can hang out together and even find other people in a safe way.
Chapter Leader 4 (09:02):
Because we live in a community where there are Trump signs, every five houses at least. And a lot of, a lot of people things go on and you don’t always know, you know, is it going to cause issues at work? Is it going to cause issues with whatever? We’re just slowly person by person, family by family, not just with the navigators, but with the broader community that it’s helping create and the relationships that it’s helping build. Building safe spaces in West Michigan. Building places where people can be their authentic selves where people can get together across the spectrum of beliefs and hang out and camp and find clubs. It’s a what
Chapter Leader 7 (09:47):
We came back to Michigan. We lived in Bend, Oregon, which is a liberal island in the sea of Oregon. And we moved here to western Michigan to a town called sa, which is a liberal island in the sea of western Michigan. So you sense a pattern and why navigators in particular was a great draw. We have a, we have a boy, he’s nine, his name’s Archer and he’s, he’s only late as they say. And you know, we are generally fairly sort of introverted ourselves in a natural state. And then, you know, our, our son is two, we try to model, you know, of course model something else. So, you know, all of that is to say we look for great opportunities for community with people that we really enjoy to be around. And just so happy to find
Chapter Leader 4 (10:44):
It. I’m Maggie. I am from chapter 1 37. She’s looking the numbers around from Cincinnati. Kristen and I met in 2015 and then our kids joined when the chapter started in 2016. So a year later. And we enjoyed, you know, we formed a nice community with the other families. We had, you know, a lot of different types of people in the group. My family’s not religious, her husband’s a pastor. There was a rabbi in our group for a while. It was really a lovely way to, for like, to, you know, form a community of different people with different experiences. We really enjoyed it. We came to the jam Berean 2019 and loved it, which is kind of what drew us back here again this, this year.
Chapter Leader 8 (11:37):
And it really, like, it has been really fun being a part of our chapter because it started in our kids elementary school when our oldest two oldest were kindergartners. Yeah. You know, and it really, you know, we, our friendship has really blossomed with those people that I don’t know that we would’ve met, met besides being a part of navigator. So it’s been a really good experience for all of our families.
John Friedman (11:59):
Janie, my wife was just marvelous human being. Those of you who may have known her. And you know, I didn’t want to impinge on the navigators cause that was really her thing. And I have a tendency to suck, suck the oxygen out of a room. So out of respect for her, and now being here, I understand, listen to you all the importance and the significance of the navigators I did before on an intellectual level, but viscerally, I can feel it. I mean, it’s remarkable. She had a whole bunch of causes that she was involved with and movements, but I think this was the one closest to her heart and well deserved. You know, my background is, I was a Jewish Cub scout. My mother was a den mother. You know, growing up in New York, the concept of, you know, a Christian organization for the Scouts was ridiculous because at least in my part of New York, there would’ve been no scouts.
John Friedman (13:04):
And, but I dropped out quickly because there was something about it that just didn’t sit right and feel right with me. You know? And when I heard what Robin and George and Jamie were involved with, I was fully supportive. And I’m just so glad you know, Janie’s involvement, and I know she’s looking down on us now and smiling at, you know, the jamboree and what it will become. You know, and you know, I feel close enough that I’m, I haven’t told you this, I’m going to increase the donation in her name in honor of you all and in honor of her, because you’re doing, ironically, I’m gonna phrase this in a way that sort of oxymoron, you’re doing God’s work, <laugh>. Now, this may maybe a non-religious God, and since I’m a Unitarian and a Buddhist, I’ve covered most of the denominations, you know, and you know, and ways of living.
Chapter Leader (14:04):
But I just think this is just great and kids need it today. You know, our society needs it today where society of today have lack of civility. You know, lack of, you know, <laugh>, that’s Janie calling, that’s telling me to shut up <laugh>. But we, we really need something that brings people together, not tears us apart. And, you know, that’s what the navigators does, and it gives people a grounding in a unity, you know, that we can all come from different backgrounds, but most importantly is what we share and what we have. And today, too many people are forgetting that. So I’m going on and on. You can see why I, I decided not to get involved while Janie was so actively involved. But thank you all.