What do you get when you combine Unity, Recovery, and Service with unbounded energy and enthusiasm, and Monster Energy drinks?
Welcome to MCYPAA XL!
I was introduced to Michigan Convention of Young People in AA (MCYPAA) at this summer’s Michigan State Convention in Kalamazoo where the MYCPAA group presented the sobriety countdown, complete with DJ accompaniment, 4 wandering T-Rexs, a cadre of characters handing out high-fives and hugs, and 1 exhausted guy in a human-sized hamster ball. I was totally blown away by the experience. So much so, that I immediately bought my registration for MCYPAA XL (that’s 40, for non-Romans) which was held the weekend after Thanksgiving in Grand Rapids.
As a somewhat young-thinking 50-something, I was looking forward to the full on MCYPAA experience anyway. But about 4 weeks prior I started sponsoring a newcomer to our club. He’s in his thirties, big into the music and dance scene, and he had told me a couple of times he was looking forward to getting back to Ohio to pick up his DJ equipment. Our local club offers solid recovery and a boatload of meetings, but it’s not a social wildfire, by any stretch.
We scored him a registration and got him back and forth to the conference. He was wide-eyed the whole weekend. Picture 400 chair-dancing 20, 30, 40, 50, even 60-somethings with music so loud you can feel it in your chest. The energy was incredible. The speakers were awesome. The panels were informative and engaging, including a great panel discussion about attending concerts, shows, and festivals in sobriety.
I know a couple of members who go to concerts and even some who attend weekend festivals, but how cool is it for someone with a few months sobriety under their belts to learn about multiple organizations across the country that provide safe environments at festivals and shows (I don’t know if I’d go so far as to describe them as “sordid”; maybe they fall into the “plain old whoopee party” category!) These groups organize meetings multiple times a day over the course of what might be a multi-week event. He learned about websites and social media pages where he can learn more about it and get and stay connected. And he connected with others in recovery who enjoy the same things he does and who know how to do it safely. As one of the panelists perfectly stated, “we can create the fellowship we crave.” And he got to experience the atmosphere of a few hundred sober people who take their partying as seriously as they take their sobriety and literally love the hell out of each other.
While the solution is the same for all of us, our personal recoveries aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. My sponsor has taught me to think beyond the steps when I’m working with someone. I can’t use the tools of the program if I don’t know what tools the program provides. My experience with MCYPAA gives me one more tool in my belt when I’m working with someone young.
Maybe I’ll bump into you next year at MCYPAA 41… BURPYPAA won the bid (that’s Metro Detroit to us 50-somethings!) If so, say hi, I’ll be the 55-year-old grey hair, standing on his chair batting beach balls around and dancing to music I’ve never heard before in my life.