Gratitude and Good Food: Thanksgiving with the Vanguards

December 1, 2017

Each year, students participating in HoneyRock’s Vanguard gap year program organize and host a Thanksgiving dinner for their visiting families. Vanguards Joseph Lee and Chan Woo provide their insights and experiences from this past Thanksgiving and what they’re grateful for this year living at HoneyRock.

Thanksgiving for Vanguards Joseph and Chan this year took on a different significance without having their families there to celebrate alongside them. For Chan, the traditional aspect of a family gathering on Thanksgiving had the same significance even though his own family was not present - the families in attendance “adopted” him in a way and made him feel welcome. The presence of so many family members from all over the place uniting at HoneyRock made the day feel like a big family reunion. In contrast to his typical Thanksgiving experience, Joseph felt more relaxed without needing to wake up early to accomplish a number of tasks before the Thanksgiving meal. He appreciated being able to take quality time with the other Vanguards during meal preparation and set up before the families arrived.

Vanguards and families talking on Thanksgiving at HoneyRock, Three Lakes WI         Vanguards, program leaders and family members in conversation in the Chrouser Center dining hall

Both of the Vanguards have much to be thankful for, especially in the past few months at HoneyRock. Chan expresses gratitude for the opportunity to experience a variety of new things - water skiing, backpacking, cooking, outdoor adventures - most of which he would not have had the chance to take part in without the Vanguard program. He speaks to the caring Christian community at HoneyRock as well, and people at HoneyRock who are always willing to talk with him in times of need. Since being at HoneyRock, he is developing a more personal faith that has a place in his daily life, and is grateful for this spiritual foundation that he will carry with him to college next year. Joseph did not originally intend to spend this year at HoneyRock, but is very grateful for a complete change in lifestyle since beginning the Vanguard program. He has gained valuable friendships over the past several months and is grateful for the impact they have had on him thus far.

Vanguards preparing Thanksgiving meal at HoneyRock in Three Lakes, WI       Several Vanguards hard at work prepping the Thanksgiving meal

During the meal, Chan enjoyed seeing each family member enjoy the food he and the other Vanguards took time and effort to prepare and the chance for everyone to bond over good food. In the kitchen, he loved watching friends learn how to cook and the bonding experience of working together with everyone’s varying levels of cooking and food preparation knowledge. Around the dinner table, storytelling enabled further connection between the families and the Vanguards. Joseph found it interesting to observe how the Vanguards interacted differently with their families as opposed to friends and staff at HoneyRock. He also valued the opportunity to actively involve the families in HoneyRock’s technology free environment; having coffee, playing board games and other games like mafia with them allowed for deeper connections to take root.