Thank you to all those who hosted local engagement sessions across BC, Alberta and Toronto! We are very grateful for your support and could not have done it without you. There were 20 public sessions and a number of individual submissions. Over 270 people participated providing us with valuable feedback about a possible future for Naramata Centre.
Once we received all the feedback (thank you note takers!) we analysed the data using a theme analysis. We asked you what we should keep doing. From the theme analysis the six strongest themes, in order of priority, of what Naramata Centre should keep being were:
- Continue to be a place of Spiritual nurture, growth and transformation
- A caring community which creates the space for growth by being a physically and emotionally safe place for children, youth and adults to risk and grow
- Providing leadership training for youth, clergy and lay leaders in the church
- Music and the arts as an integral part of the Naramata experience
- Providing intergenerational programming, and
- Child and youth programming
We asked you what should change at the Centre. Overall there was a strong appetite for change with many suggestions. The top six themes for change, in order of priority, were:
- Don’t hold to how summer programs were done in the past
- Change the way people are fed when they attend the Centre
- Improve the marketing and advertising for the Centre
- Change the staffing and business model
- Don’t try to be all things to all people
- Reduce the amount of land used for Centre programming
We asked you who else we should call to be involved in this work. The top six themes in order of priority were:
- Learn from other spiritual retreat and arts centres
- Partner with Universities and Colleges who would provide courses on the Centre site
- Continue the truth and reconciliation process with First Nations
- Create partnerships with the local community and businesses in Naramata
- Have a “trade work for time” volunteer approach at Naramata Centre
- A temporary place for refugees or the homeless
Lastly we asked you for your ideas for the next steps. There were fewer ideas presented and less agreement about which should be a priority. The top four themes in order of priority were:
- Expand and upgrade the campground opening to the public in shoulder season
- Reconcile our land and building assets with our needs
- Restore hosted programs for year round sustainable income with organizations which share the Centre’s values
- Contract for food services when needed
The feedback was rich and sometimes contradictory. Most of the people who attended had strong connections to the Centre often speaking of profound positive changes in their lives made because they attended the Centre.
We heard that we need to do a better job of communicating to all people who are interested, particularly those who do not use social media or visit our website. Watch for changes in how we communicate with you.
We value the time you took to be part of this and will use the information in building our plan for the future. Given the enthusiastic response we received from you, the Board is keen to move forward towards re-opening the Centre, if a sustainable financial model can be found to do so. The next step is developing a financially viable operating plan that ensures meaningful activities and experiences for people who attend the Centre.