A Charlotte Mason Education, Childlight USA Conference, Christianity, CM Reading Groups, Homeschooling, Mason Co-op, Mason Schools
Comments 14

Regional Retreats and National Conferences by Lisa Cadora

“I think the (Charlotte Mason) philosophy and methods sell themselves. They just need an EVANGELIST, someone to introduce them to others.”

These are the words of Jenn  Stec written to her mother, Linda Fern, who lives in Boiling Springs and helped with registration at the 2012 ChildLight USA Conference held this past week at Gardner Webb University. Jenn and her family moved to Lexington, Kentucky last July, away from family and friends and their CM community. She was at first hesitant to shine her CM light in her new surroundings, but a fellow CM-er who told her to go ahead and start a reading group because “at the end of the day, the Lord will draw whom he wills.” She did, and Jenn found that families were hungry for Charlotte Mason’s ideas and practices.

This year’s conference filled me to overflowing. When Linda shared Jenn’s words with me, I was moved to act. It was the word “EVANGELIST” that got me. “Evangelist” means “one who brings the good news.” An evangelist is someone who brings a message of light, life, hope, and joy. We most often use it to refer to someone who brings the gospel of Christ to people in an especially passionate way.

I must confess that I have held back a bit on sharing this treasure we have found and love so much. I’ve been nervous that I will mark myself as too non-standard or atypical in some of my circles. I have not wanted to begin a small work only to see it hi-jacked when parents grow nervous about being too far outside the mainstream. This little CM light of mine … I’ve kept it under a bushel, bringing it out to burn brightly only when and where I knew there were kindred spirits and receptive hearts and minds.

I hereby repent.

By protecting myself, I realize I never give anyone a chance to “taste and see” that this way of life and learning may indeed be the nourishment seekers have always been craving. Art Middlekauf said that Charlotte Mason ‘led him to living water.” I know that she brought me into a much “larger room” of Christ’s Lordship than I had known before. There are families and students in my own city, neighborhood, and even church who may be yearning to stand and stretch in that large room and don’t know where to find it. I want to bring them there.

While I do so treasure our national conferences, I feel the surge of conviction to take up this work of assisting as many of you who will in hosting regional retreats and beginning reading groups and co-ops or cottage schools in 2013. Several schools and co-ops already exist and host such events, and I plan to draw from what they have learned about evangelizing through these means in their corners of America and beyond.

If you haven’t already, please let me know of your reading group, cottage school, co-op, or community — or your desire to begin one. If you do host a regional retreat, I know that those who wish to host one would love to draw from your experience if you would be so generous to share. Contact me through ChildLightUSA.

So shine your lights and evangelize! Offer your living bread and water to a hungry and thirsty world, and know that CLUSA will support and encourage you in offering this life-giving education to your various communities.

© Lisa Cadora 2012


  1. Lisa, one thing I have noticed being part of a CM co-op for the past several years is that without fail every year’s end the children are sad that co-op is ending. A few cry. One year almost everyone cried. This generally doesn’t happen in traditional educational settings, maybe occasionally. I experienced this same reaction when I was leaving sixth grade and had had an exceptional teacher. There is a spark of ignition, a way of living that breeds loving companionship. I believe the CM community holds this cherished style gently in its hands and that is what makes our co-op special, too. Of course, it helps that all the teachers are on the same page, loving unconditionally each child in their care, treating him or her as a person. I also see instant acceptance and companionship within the teen community every year at the CLUSA conference. What we share is good and really should be “evangelized.” Thanks Jenn, for using that word!

    • lisacadora says


      Your Charlotte group is CMeLearn, correct? I’d love to hear about it’s history and get a contact for it. I’m working on a directory. Sounds like a flourishing group!

      • I’ll email you the history and contact info for the directory. It’s a beautiful group! But the co-op I was part of was Engage Charlotte Mason Community Co-op. It’s separate from CMeLearn.

  2. I yearn to see Mason’s ideas spread to a wider audience. I’m especially glad for CLUSA because they have opened my eyes to the fact that the ideas can be spread to more than just homeschoolers.

  3. Melissa Dunford Wild says

    Lisa, Please share the list that of local groups and meetings that you are able to assemble. It would be a blessing to many.
    Melissa in PA, praying about a move to the UK and possibly enrolling the children in the Heritage School, a CM school

    • lisacadora says

      Will do, Melissa! Send your contact info to lcadora at yahoo period com

  4. Pati in WA says

    I would love to start a reading group where I live, with a view towards a CM co-op or cottage school at some point, especially for older kids. I live in an area with alot of CM style homeschoolers (Seattle/Eastside), but there’s not alot of CM “group” things going on here. As my older kids get into Jr High, there are even fewer CM type resources. It seems to mostly be oriented towards elementary age.

    • lisacadora says

      If you will email me, I can give you some suggestions as to how to do a rdg group.
      lcadora at yahoo period com
      — Lisa

      • Pati, it helps if you have a homeschool announcement email group in your city. You can post your meetings there. People will probably come at first out of curiosity or to meet new friends. You could offer them a CM 101 night like we did early on. All I really had to do was read an excerpt from a History textbook, then read about the same topic from a living book. The teachers who came were immediately hooked!

  5. Also, I know what you mean about things being geared toward elementary aged children. It’s been tough for us to find a place where our teens felt they could continue learning the way we always have rather than shift to a more traditional high school journey. We are managing it, but with fewer comrades alongside us.

    • Pati in WA says

      I would love to start a co-op or cottage school just for teens, but I really have no idea how to go about it or a model to use. The only people I see doing it are the classical homeschoolers.

  6. Our CM study group has been reading together for 18 months. We are just starting to consider the possibility of a co-op. I would love insight and pointers!

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