2016 IA Youth Staff

Tryst Chagnon & her family
Tryst Chagnon & family

Our program in 2016 is directed by Tryst Chagnon, who has served as the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh for 13 years. Tryst also works as a divorce and custody mediator. She is a longtime Shoaler and former Pel. In her spare time she enjoys live and recorded music, spending time with friends and family, telling jokes, and dancing. Tryst lives in Raleigh, NC, with her partner, their three children, and their dog, Puddy.


Marc Bender & family
Marc Bender & family

Marc Bender originally was introduced to IA over 11 years ago by his wife Katie, a life-long IAer. His love for Star has grown over the years as he has enjoyed seeing his three young daughters, Abby (8), Brooke (5) and Lilla (3) enjoy all that Star Island offers. Marc is looking forward to getting to know the personalities of the little ones in the Toddlers group this summer.


Andrew Linscott & family
Andrew Linscott & family

Andrew Linscott has attended IA with his wife, Rev. Robin Bartlett, several times. Andrew loves children, as is evidenced in his loving caretaking role with his son and step-daughters; we are thrilled to welcome him back to the IA youth staff.



Katie Bender & familyKatie Bender, a life-long IA conferee, is thrilled to be sharing her love for Star Island with the kiddos in Barners! Katie is mom to Abby (8), Brooke (5) and Lilla (3). She is also a kindergarten teacher in Wellesley, MA. Katie is psyched that her husband, Marc, will be the one on diaper duty this summer!



Ian White MaherRev. Ian White Maher was raised Unitarian Universalist in Portsmouth, NH. His pastor, Bob Karnan, inspired him to follow the call into ministry, which Ian first voiced at the age of 21. He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the founding pastor of Original Blessing, in Brooklyn, NY. He hosts a podcast exploring the devotional life called Meditations by Ian White Maher, easily found on iTunes. You can find his writing at www.ianwhitemaher.com.


Yuri Yamamato
Yuri Yamamato

Yuri Yamamoto is the Music Director at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh. She has six children of her own, and has experience working with children and youth through her work at UUFR. Yuri loves musical improvisation and looks forward to being on Star for the second time!





Elizabeth McVey Erickson
Elizabeth McVey Erickson

Elizabeth McVey Erickson is a former longtime Pelican and has served on the Youth Staff at the Pel Reunion Conference. She also has experience running two church school programs. It is Elizabeth’s second time at IA.


Megan Lynes
Megan Lynes

Rev. Megan Lynes grew up UU in Boston, attended Andover Newton Theological School, and was ordained in 2008. She is about to begin her 8th year as one of the ministers at The First Parish in Bedford, MA. Before serving in Bedford, Megan worked as a chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and with teens at the Interfaith Youth Initiative in Boston, and at Interlocken International Summer Camp in NH. Some of Megan’s favorite things to do are lead a middle school youth group at church, make art, go contra dancing with friends, and snuggle with her gray tabby cat, Habibi.


David Neufeld
David Neufeld

David Neufeld has been an artist all his life and has managed to make a living doing it. From a painter in youth, a potter in his twenties, a writer and storyteller in his thirties and forties, a landscape designer and stonemason in his fifties, he recently got a master’s degree combining found object sculpture with Jungian psychology. He has had a blast doing all of it. He comes to Star Island for the seventh year looking forward to his time with youth and bringing his own youthful enthusiasm to the program.


Isaac Eddy

Isaac Eddy is very excited to return to the IA youth staff this year. He was conferee on Star through high school and met his wife, Lucia, while working as a pelican through college. Isaac has performed with the Blue Man Group for the past twelve years and now teaches theater at Johnson State College in Vermont. Check out his TEDx talk on the power of vulnerability in performance at isaaclittlejohneddy.com. Isaac has two kids who will be at IA this year, Hero, 3, and Aria, 8 months.

Robin Bartlett & family
Robin Bartlett & family

Rev. Robin Bartlett is a former IA youth program director and Director of Religious Education and currently serves as the minister at the First Church in Sterling, MA. Robin has three children and enjoys any kind of singing. We love Robin’s balance of ministerial earnest and whimsical humor…she entices us all into FUN! Robin will be helping us with our opening songs in the morning, a long-loved tradition at IA.


Shayna Appell
Shayna Appell

Rev. Shayna Appel currently serves as the Interim Minister at the Peterborough UU Church in Peterborough, NH. She is a former firefighter/paramedic and has brought that career with her into the ministry by serving as the Fire Dept. Chaplain with multiple local fire and !rescue groups. She is also a founding member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry Team. Shayna brings to IA a long history on Star Island working with UCC and UUA Youth Conferences. She is looking forward to learning about IA’s distinct personality and to working with a new crew of youth and her co-leader!

Leon Dunkley
Leon Dunkley

Rev. Leon Dunkley has a long history on Star Island! He has attended conferences, worked as a pelican, and served as the Island Minister; he was even our IA Youth Program Director’s youth advisor at a YRUU conference on Star in 1990! Leon is a talented musician and writer and he currently works as a Unitarian Universalist minister. He brings his passion for life and learning and his contagious laughter and light to our youth staff team this year.


What to Bring

  • Plenty of clothes for a week on an island that has ever-changing weather: Plan for hot, cold and rainy, and possibly a straight week of any of the above!
  • Something dressy for Banquet Night (it’s not required, but better to pack a skirt/khakis and not wear them than to wish you had)
  • Sneakers and/or rubber-soled shoes — at least two pairs. Water shoes/flip-flops are a good idea, too, since the beachfront is full of sharp rocks
  • Bathing suit (or two) and beach towels (the Island provides towels for showering and daily washing up)
  • Books, journal, camera, stuffed animals, games, musical instruments, kites, sports equipment (softball mitt/glove, Frisbee, football, tennis racquet, lax stick, yoga mat, etc.)
  • Sunscreen, bug spray and the stuff to make the itching stop
  • A flashlight or book light
  • Biodegradable toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.)
  • Cleaning wipes for those days in between showers
  • Spending money for the snack bar and gift shop
  • A reusable water bottle! Let’s set a good example for the adults
  • Masks, for all the times they are required


Consider leaving your phone/laptop/tablet at home. We could just say, “Don’t bring ‘em, they’re not allowed” but that would be hypocritical, since some staffers will have their phones and computers on the island. Honestly, it’s your (and your parents’) choice. Please remember that one of our reasons for being on Star is to be in community; please use electronics in private, away from public areas where you may disturb others who are enjoying the natural beauty of the island. Thanks!

For conferees ages three and younger, there’s info on what’s provided by the island, as well as helpful suggestions for what to bring (and not bring),

Age Groups

Age Groups

The IA Family Conference has a unique, exciting, well-staffed, fun program for youth from 18 month olds to 18 year olds. Youth take part in their own groups while their significant adults attend conference activities.

Each year the Youth Program staff begins meeting in the spring to plan themes and activities for the IA Youth Program. The program is run much like a day camp, with activities ranging from walks exploring tidal pools to art projects, plays, games, songs and more. The program is scheduled to coincide with the adult activity schedule, allowing parents/guardians the freedom to enjoy lectures and workshops knowing that their kids are well-supervised, building bonds with each other, exploring the island, creating, and — most of all — having fun!

IA Youth Staff are selected for their experience with children. In addition, many of them have a long-time connection to the IA Conference or to Star Island in general.

A strong effort is made to develop a sense of community. Children who are new to the program quickly feel like “old shoalers” (Star Island lingo for people who have been to Star before), because of the welcoming atmosphere of the program.

The program is divided into groups determined by age. Sometimes, two or more groups gather together for interage activities. Final age groupings are determined each year based on the demographics of the program as a whole. A general idea of the groupings, starting with the youngest, is as follows:

  • Toddlers:  18 mos–3 years
  • Barners:  4–6 years
  • Larries:  grades 2–3
  • Brookies:  grades 4–5
  • Marshmans:  grades 6–9
  • Seniors:  grades 10–12

During scheduled meeting times, youth are under the direct supervision of the group leaders. If a child will not be attending a session, the parent/guardian MUST inform the staffer before the session begins. In this case, the parent/guardian will be responsible for the youth. During all other times of the day parents/guardians are directly responsible for the supervision of their youth, even if youth staff are present.

What about bedtime?

Each evening the Island Staff (not the IA Youth Program) provide hall monitoring in Oceanic (the main Hotel building) from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. There is a fee of $46 per family for this service, which is added to room and board bills. Please keep in mind that hall monitors leave at 11 p.m. whether parents are around or not. Those parent/guardians who desire childcare at other times may make arrangements with one of the older youth or with a Pelican (college-aged island staff). In these cases, all financial arrangements are made between the parent/guardian and the care provider.

What Parents Need to Know

What Parents Need to Know


Star is a wonderful place for all youth to safely practice independence and take responsibility within this beloved community. As is true every year, it’s important for parents and youth to remember that the youth program is just four or so hours each day. The rest of the time on the Island, parents are responsible for their children/youth. Parents: just as you would off-island, it’s important to check in with your kids throughout the day and provide whatever guidance you would when you are at home.

Social Hour: Each evening from 5:15-6:15, all conferees of all ages are invited to come up to the Stone Village for Social Hour. This gathering is geared both for adults and for people under 21 years of age. As weather permits, Social Hour is hosted outdoors on the Stone Village lawn, with a separate table especially for youth snacks and beverages. Youth have their own snacks/beverages table, and are not permitted to request beverages (of any type) from the adult area. However, if you’d like your children to hang out beside you in the glorious sun and air of the Stone Village, that’s a great option. Additionally, the Kiddie Barn playground is very close to the Social Hour area, and families are welcome to bring snacks and drinks over from the Stone Village. When there is inclement weather, Social Hour will be indoors. It is important to know that according to New Hampshire law, no one under 21 years is allowed inside of Newton Center while alcohol is being served. In the case of rainy days, youth will be set up indoors in a separate building, and parents are responsible for making certain that their youth do not enter Newton Center if alcohol is being served.

Parents of Seniors: Sometimes, the Senior group likes to hang out late into the night in the building (Parker) where they meet for youth program – historically and generally, this is absolutely fine with the Island and the conference. However, parents should understand that this does NOT constitute youth program time; neither does the Youth Program, the Conference, nor the Island, provide supervision of the teens during these hours.


The island and the IA Conference take fire safety issues very seriously. Star Island is a remote island with several very old, historic wooden buildings. While sprinkler systems have been installed, and the island staff is well trained in fire protection, the risks to life and property are higher than they would be were there a fire station nearby. Therefore, the rules that have been put in place by the island regarding smoking and the use of fire in and around buildings must be taken very, very seriously. The island has a zero-tolerance policy for violations of these rules. Anyone found in violation will be required to leave the island on the next available boat. No questions asked. We strongly urge you to discuss the policy with your children and impress upon them the importance of following it. Being “next boated” is not a pleasant way to end a wonderful vacation! The policy will be explained during the mandatory island orientation at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, also called the Fire and Water talk.


Illegal drugs, guns and fireworks are prohibited on Star Island. Anyone found in possession of any of these items will be required to leave the island on the next available boat.  Please explain this to your children as you deem necessary.

Please review the Family Handbook with your child for these safety & supervision reminders, plus island boundary information.