The Presbytery of the Genesee Valley has several designated validated ministries, that is, programs or organizations run by teaching elders and receiving some oversight or support from the presbytery. Lagom Landing is one such ministry. For the next several months, the monthly Messenger will feature these validated ministries in turn so that Third Church members can learn about, or get a refresher on, the work being done outside and in between churches in our presbytery. 

Lagom Landing is a gap-year program that serves as an alternative to college, military, or immediate employment for 18-23-year-olds who are undecided about the path they’d like their lives to take. The husband-and-wife team of Rock Castor and the Reverend Laurel Nelson have created a nine-month-long residential program on 55 acres of land near Dansville, south of Conesus Lake. Each September Rock and Laurel take in a small cohort of young people interested in learning to work with their hands and discovering their passions and gifts.

The ministry was born about ten years ago after Rock and Laurel noticed a trend among the young people in their lives: fewer and fewer 18-23-year-olds seemed prepared for the social and emotional rigors of college, yet there weren’t many alternatives beyond joining the military or entering a very limited workforce. Lagom Landing was developed to fill that opportunity gap for young people. Rock and Laurel are also concerned about the “skills-gap” faced in the construction trades.

Lagom Landing participants spend much of their time outdoors, working on building projects, gardening, and even making their own maple syrup. Rock, who has 35 years of professional experience in the building trades, trains the young people in carpentry and framing, helping them to build confidence and familiarity with power tools and construction principles. Participants work at building projects on site or in the community, assisting non-profit organizations or homeowners. They also learn “soft skills” like time management, work ethic, and self-awareness. Every morning, Laurel and Rock lead the participants in a mindfulness and reflection exercise, as part of the spiritual nurturing of the program. 

Participants live semi-independently, but communally, with other people their own age. They are required to take personal responsibility for their cleaning, cooking, basic home repair, and personal finances, but are given support and guidance from mentors. The goal of the program is to set participants up for success on whatever path they choose to take, be it higher education or independent living.

Visit Lagom Landing’s website to learn more about this ministry.