About Young Friends
Young Friends is the high-school-aged youth group for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. We have five weekend retreats throughout the school year plus a week-long program during NEYM Annual Sessions in the summer.
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Get emails notifying you when retreat registration opens as well as other exciting news. Click on the button below and under "Interests" check the box next to "Young Friends" on the sign-up form (as well as any other Interests you'd like).
Young Friends Statement of Community Intention
As Young Friends, our purpose is to create an intentional community which empowers, supports, and nurtures its individual participants in their spiritual growth through Quaker practices and values. We continuously strive to uphold the spiritual and emotional well-being of the community and each Young Friend. (Written and approved by Young Friends, 2015)
Frequently Asked Questions About Young Friends Retreats
What is a retreat like?
Young Friends retreats are fun, silly, soul-searching, warm, loving, accepting, and transformative. Each retreat has its own theme or topic, chosen by the Young Friends. Most retreats are held at Quaker meetinghouses, and start on Friday night and end around noon on Sunday. Throughout the weekend we sing, play games, spend time in silent worship together, have free time, and enjoy the outdoors. Programs and workshops are led by Resource People, the group of adults who support Young Friends and keep retreats moving. At most retreats we bring sleeping bags to sleep on the floor, and we all help to keep the space clean. We try to abstain from exclusive relationships and use of technology in order to build the loving community we want to live in and be fully present.
What if I don't know anybody else? Come anyway! Young Friends are incredibly welcoming and friendly-- you’ll make friends quickly, people will talk to you, and you will have fun. This is not like high school. Seriously!
How much do retreats cost? Our fee structure is a version of the Pay-As-Led approach that New England Quakers adopted for Sessions several years ago. It’s about trust and abundance. Families can pay less or more depending on their budgets–from giving more to support others, to zero dollars—no questions asked.
For a typical weekend retreat, we offer these guidelines:
- $45 is great if budgets are tight
- $70 covers food and supply expenses
- $150 covers all related costs. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
What will be expected of me? You will be expected to be as present as you are able during the retreat in a way that actively contributes to the well-being of the group- we believe that every person who attends brings valuable and special things to share with the community. In practice, this means unplugging from technology for the weekend, participating in all aspects of program, and being actively inclusive of all. You will also be expected to work with your affinity group to help prepare, set up, and clean up a meal. Each Young Friend (YF) commits to being inclusive of everyone at the retreat and to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and sexual intimacy (i.e., smooching, etc.). We expect everyone—Resource People (staff) and YFs—to be respectful of each other and to work to create a strong, loving, accepting community.
Who are the staff? The staff—we call them Resource People, or RPs—are Quakers or Quaker-adjacent people from throughout New England who find a lot of meaning in spending time with Quaker youth. RPs range in age from 23 to 60-something and love to share their experiences, interests, talents, and learn about yours. Each RP has completed an application, undergone a criminal background screening, sent in a number of references, and gone through an interview to make sure that they are a good fit for this program and are ready to help make the community a safe and loving place.
What should I bring to a retreat? Can we bring electronics? We'll send you a packing list along with directions just before each retreat. These are the normal things on it:
- Sleeping bag and pillow—we sleep on the floor (except for the Midwinter retreat when we bring sheets and sleep in a bed)
- Toiletries and any medication you take regularly
- Comfy clothing—we spend some time outside, so bring layers
- P.J.s you don’t mind being seen in
- Musical instruments, journal, camera, games, cards, frisbee, etc.
If you are someone who falls asleep better listening to music, it is OK to bring a iPod/MP3 player, but please only plan on using it quietly, by yourself at night. We ask people not to be "plugged in" during most of the retreat. If you carry a cell phone, please do not plan on using it during the retreat. It is fine to call your folks to let them know that you arrived safely, but generally we consider technology to be a barrier to being part of the community during the retreat.
Can I bring a friend to a retreat? Yes! We are always happy to meet new people. Your friend will need to fill out a health form & register. While it is great to share retreats with friends from home, we expect that both of you will not spend the whole weekend together, but will get to know other Young Friends. Make sure you tell your friend about Quakers before they come your friend knows what s/he is getting into. We ask all participants to join in our program, including worship.
Who runs Young Friends? Young Friends is part of the youth programs of New England Yearly Meeting and is overseen by Youth Ministries Committee. Young Friends has its own peer leaders, called clerks, that help guide the group, help people follow the commitments, and look after the spiritual health of the group. Young Friends also has a coordinator, Maggie Nelson, who organizes the retreats and checks in with Young Friends between retreats.
What kind of food do we eat? Each retreat has a different cook, so the food varies a little, but you can be certain that it's always yummy! Breakfast might be cereal, fruit, and eggs, with soup and make-your-own sandwiches for lunch, and then spaghetti and salad for dinner. There are always plenty of snacks available during meals and when everyone arrives on Friday night. We are able to accommodate dietary restrictions with enough notice given, so when you register, please be sure to include any allergies or restrictions you have. Many of our cooks are quite skilled at providing vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
What are the clothing expectations at Young Friends events?
Everyone (youth and adults) must cover the areas that an old-fashioned men's one-piece bathing suit would cover. This means for all genders we always at least wear shorts or skirts that cover the upper thigh and butt plus tops that cover the torso to mid-chest and mid-back and have some sort of straps over the shoulders (so they don't fall down during active games). Clothes should not be so see-through or flowy that the "old-fashioned men's bathing suit" area can be seen. This includes at night when we are sleeping because we sleep next to others. The exception is when we are swimming, when swimsuits are fine.
Everyone must also wear shoes when the site or activity requires it.
How do I sign up for a retreat? Details for registering can be found on this page. Registration typically opens about a month before a given retreat.