SNOWMASS VILLAGE - It might be offseason, but the Snowmass Chapel is staying busy this fall with activities for people of all ages and all faith backgrounds.
"One of the things we're really focused on this fall is reaching out to the locals, the ones who are really here," said Charla Belinski, director of youth and family programs. "What we're really trying to do is back to school, getting kids and parents involved and engaged again."
On Sept. 26, Belinski is hosting an event for parents called "Flying Solo: Navigating Changes in Parenting." Beth Mobilian, a counselor for Pathfinders, will facilitate the discussion, which also offers free wine and cheese.
"This particular one is for parents who are going through transitions, so maybe they're newly single, maybe they're going through some grief and loss, kids went off to college, you know any kind of transition they may be going through," Belinski said.
The Little Red School House requested that Belinski offer a parenting workshop for single parents, and she decided to broaden the scope of the event and invite the whole community.
"So I'm doing these once-a-month parenting workshops that are free, with free babysitting, and different topics each time," she said. "The next month I'm doing one called 'Sticky Faith,' which is actually going to be about how to build lasting faith in your kids. And that'll be in October. ... The idea is to offer something for parents once a month throughout the school year to sort of keep them engaged and encouraged."
Belinski is also kicking off a five-week parenting class on Oct. 14, called "Redirecting Children's Behavior," a course she has been teaching for about 14 years. She also does one-on-one parent coaching.
"Totally nonreligious, it's not faith-oriented at all, and neither are the parenting classes that I teach," she said.
Belinski also plans to schedule "Whine and Dine," occasional dinners for parents to have fun together as well as talk about some of the things they might be going through. Also starting in October, the chapel will offer space for a group of moms and their kids to come together on the first and third Friday of every month.
Youth leader Kara Gilbert is working to get teens and young adults involved as well. She just had a slumber party for seventh- and eighth-grade girls this past weekend. The girls who attended got materials for a home Bible study, although Belinski said girls who would like to participate can still call the chapel and get involved. The home study will be followed by a six-week group bible study on friendship for seventh- and eighth-grade girls starting Nov. 4.
The chapel will also host a Halloween party for middle-schoolers on Oct. 27.
"We deck out the woods back there (behind the chapel) and make them haunted and bring the kids through, and they have a really good time," Gilbert said.
This year, the chapel will also open the haunted forest to the community for one night.
"I think that'll be a nice add for locals," she said. "We don't really have anything like that."
Starting in November, Gilbert also plans to have a Saturday evening for elementary-age kids along the lines of Camp SMashBox, a secular summer camp she and her husband, Adam, run.
Many events the chapel puts on are not specifically faith-oriented. Belinski said those programs serve as outreach to help support local families but also to help people get engaged with their faith.
"None of us believe that you have to be sitting in the pews at 9 o'clock in the morning in order to be spiritual," Belinski said. "So that's why we're trying to offer a lot of different things throughout the week for people to get engaged with their faith."
Involvement in some kind of religious services is particularly low in the Aspen area, Belinski said.
"People are scared of church I think. ... We're offering a lot of nonreligious things that just get people in the door," Gilbert said.
"And it's what church should be, church should be an outreach to people and a safe haven," Belinski said. "If people eventually want to take that next step and get more engaged and want to learn more ... What we're about at the Snowmass Chapel is just being open to people wherever they are on that."