Program History

A Brief History of the Children’s Program for All Star 1

All Star One was conceived by Fred and Ginny McGill, along with other individuals who had attended Star Island youth conferences (the Young Peoples’ Religious Union, or YPRU).  As these individuals began to marry and have families of their own, they wanted to continue coming to Star, and they envisioned a conference that would offer stimulating programs for adults, and great child care for kids as well.

That model, which began in the late 1940s, grew in the 1950s and blossomed with the involvement of Barbara Marshman, one of the landmark Unitarian Universalist religious educators of her day.  Marshman, along with other child educators like Bob Hawthorne, carried the program forward through the 1960s. In the late 60s, Frank and Bea Robbins became Children’s Program Coordinators for both All Star One and All Star Two (AS1 and AS2).

Frank and Bea knew that an experienced, professional, consistent children’s program staff was in the best interest of both conferences. In1978, AS2 co-chairs (Betty and Warren Eberhart), who lived in Concord, NH, had knowledge of  teachers in their local school district and worked with the Robbins to fill the Children’s staff with professional educators. Tom and Deb Walton were hired by the Eberharts, with Tom becoming the Senior Teen leader, and Deb leading the Gulls.  Frank and Bea were eager to share the same model with All Star 1, and in 1980, Larry and Elizabeth Yermack suggested that Deb and Tom Walton join the ASI staff.  Tom served as Senior Teen leader, Deb led the Gulls, but they soon joined forces to work with the Senior Teens for many years, debuting innovative programs including The Great People Hunt and team-building exercises.

In 1994, after their decades of leadership, the Robbins decided to step down from their role as Children’s Program Coordinators and asked the Waltons to assume this position. Since Deb and Tom were appointed to begin their work (1995), which was affirmed by the conference’s Executive Committee and the conference chairs, the Children’s Program has undergone change.  The size and shape of the staff has changed; for safety and liability reasons, there are now at least 2 staff members in each group.  Policies for teachers have been developed, including the  AS1 Children’s Program Code of Mutual Respect and Safety, a Code of Ethical Behavior contract, and the Star Island Policy on the Guidelines to Prevent Child and Adult Discrimination or Abuse.  A Music specialist has been added to the staff, working with each grade level and coordinating the Children’s Stunt Show.  Children Program Coordinators are now paid positions, reflecting the understanding that the responsibilities of the coordinators are significant and the work load, both before the conference and during, are considerable.

The program continues to undergo evaluation and assessment.  Conference feedback, and classroom observation, are part of the evaluation method.  All Star I’s children’s program is recognized by the staff and board of the Star Island Corporation as a model for all other children’s programs, a vital part of the island’s flagship family conference.

For questions regarding the All Star I Children’s Program, please contact the co-coordinators, Deb Walton and Lisa Jennings: .



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