Join us for our annual winter gathering for young adults (ages 18-35) who are Quaker or interested in Quakerism.
What is a YAF Retreat? Our retreats are for young adult Quakers and Quaker-curious individuals (ages 18 to 35) who want to center spiritual growth, build community with other young adults and explore Quakerism.
Young Adult Friends (YAF) retreats are an opportunity to "try on" Quaker spiritual practices, connect with peers in a similar life phase and/or in a similar stage in their spiritual journey, enjoy time spent in joy and worshipful togetherness, bring a spiritual lens to the decisions in our lives, and cultivate friendships and spiritual connections with one another.
What’s the theme? The theme of this retreat is “Gifts and Leadings: What makes you come alive?” Throughout the retreat we will hold questions like:
- What are our spiritual gifts, and how can/do our gifts shape how we show up for community?
- What does it mean to have a ‘leading’, or be ‘called’ to something? What does it feel like to follow our leadings, and have them nurtured?
- With a sense of our gifts, interests and leadings - how do we find or discern what paths are open to us? What is the difference between vocation and work?
- What tools or practices from Quakerism can help us answer/live these questions and support our continuing discernment?
- What would support look like, as we’re answering/living these questions, from our Spiritual communities?
Where? The retreat will be held at Woolman Hill Retreat Center in Deerfield, Western Massachusetts. Woolman Hill is surrounded by the beauty of meadows and woods and features simple facilities such as a big farmhouse-turned-modern-dormitory, a historic Quaker meetinghouse, and rustic cabins heated by wood stoves. We sleep in shared rooms (2 to 4 people) on a mixture of bunks and other beds and when you register, you’ll be able to specify your housing or sleep needs.
When? Arrivals begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, February 17th and the retreat ends at noon on Monday, February 20th (President’s Day). If you need to arrive late or leave early, you will be able to tell us that when you register.
In addition to registering for the full retreat (or most of it, if you need to arrive a little later or leave a little early), we are also offering a Saturday commuter option (Feb 18th) for folks who live nearby and can’t stay longer.
This retreat will involve many layers of prevention to decrease the risk of COVID transmission at the retreat. We will regularly review and revise our protocols as the retreat approaches to align our practice with COVID conditions and public safety recommendations. Currently, our safety plan includes:
- Limiting the number of participants to the number of people we can comfortably feed and house at Woolman Hill.
- Requiring all participants who are sleeping in Woolman Hill housing to be fully vaccinated with a booster within the last six months. If you have not been boosted in the last six months because you have been advised to wait due to recently having COVID, that is OK. We will also accept medical exceptions with documentation from your healthcare provider.
- Requiring participants to take a rapid COVID test before or upon arrival.
- Requesting that individuals with COVID symptoms stay home.
- Emails to registrants if any of these protocols change before the retreat.
Because COVID conditions change rapidly, we are waiting until closer to the retreat to determine if indoor masking will be optional or required (except when eating, sleeping, showering). Regardless, we will offer a more socially distanced dining area so that individuals who do not want to be in close contact with others while unmasked for eating have that option.
If you have any specific questions, suggestions, or concerns regarding COVID protocols at the retreat, please feel free to contact the coordinator at [email protected].org.
Ways to contribute
- We are always happy to have YAFs help out during the retreat. If you have excitement and leadings around providing support for the retreat, please let me know! We are looking for a few folks to be small group leaders and would appreciate anyone stepping up to have care of worship, as well as looking for people who want to lead songs, games, or optional interest groups during free time or meals. If you feel called to any of these roles, let me know at [email protected].
Retreat Fees and Payments
This retreat is pay as led (sliding scale, pay what fits your budget contributing as you are able). Please let interest, not finances, determine your attendance. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We offer these suggestions which reflect the cost of food, building usage, materials, & honoraria:
- $150 makes a helpful contribution towards our costs, for those with a limited income
- $230 covers the room & board costs of one participant (thanks to a reduced rate from Woolman Hill)
- $350 covers the direct cost of one participant attending as well as some of the related costs for putting on this event (such as staff time)
For Saturday-only commuters we suggest $75 or $50 if budgets are tight.
We ask for a $35 deposit at the time of registration.
Capacity & Cancellations
If your plans change, please contact us ASAP ([email protected]).
We do offer refunds but ask that anyone canceling within 14 days of the event consider making a contribution to the event if possible.
About the coordinators and teachers
Eva Whittaker (she/her) is the coordinator of this retreat. She feels called to work at the intersection of spirituality and social justice, and is very interested in Quakerism as an embodied, libratory and transformative faith. Eva completed her Quaker Voluntary Service year in Boston this past summer, is currently engaged as Program Fellow at Beacon Hill Friends House, and is a member of the current Nurturing Faithfulness Cohort. She loves living in the messy beauty of community, and is continuing to learn what it takes to cultivate generative and imaginative models of community accountability, responsibility and care. She loves cold water swimming, good coffee, laughing with loved ones, and being in the woods.
Nia Thomas (she/her) is the Program Director of NEYM, striving to foster a thriving, multigenerational Quaker movement. Nia grew up as a Quaker in New England, is a member of Northampton Friends Meeting, and has been participating in Young Adult Friends retreats since 2005. She is the mother to an adorable 4 year old, and you can see pictures of him at the retreat if you ask.
Jen Newman (she/her) will be co-leading workshops around vocational discernment. She is a Quaker, theologian, writer, activist, and currently the Program Director at Beacon Hill Friends House. She is a member of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting and holds a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Before working for BHFH, she spent several years working in advocacy around human rights, the public interest, and the environment.
Greg Woods (he/him) will be co-leading workshops around vocational discernment. He is a disabled Quaker minister, theologian, and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Jenn and child Margaret, along with their puppy Sofie, a cat Tuesday, and four chickens. He currently serves as a Program Consultant with Beacon Hill Friends House. He has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Ready to register? You can do so here. Registration closes February 8th (or when the retreat fills, if that is earlier).