Programming for Young Friends in Summer 2021

December 2020

A letter from the Young Friends Events Organizer about what this summer will look like for high-school-age Quaker youth in New England:

Dear Young Friends,

Love from the Young Friends Program will continue to radiate out to all of you throughout the spring and into the summer. It will continue to come in different forms, including how we spend our summer together. For many Young Friends, attending either or both Friends Camp and New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions (a.k.a. "Yearly") in July and August is a meaningful and beloved part of what makes each summer special. These are often our longest times to be together and deepen our community, and remain important fixtures of what Quakers in New England have to offer teens. While our youth programs have required some adjustment in order to be possible this summer, we look forward to continuing both of these traditions in future summers.

As many of you may already have heard, Friends Camp is planning in-person sessions this summer after much consideration by the Camp Committee and Camp Director Anna Hopkins. This is incredible news! One of the things that will need to be different in order to keep the camp community safe is to have fewer, longer sessions. This means there was no way to plan teen camp sessions without overlapping with NEYM Annual Sessions. At this time, it is not yet possible to know if NEYM Sessions will be in person, online, or a hybrid model. I felt strongly, as did other NEYM staff, that Young Friends should not be forced to choose between attending Friends Camp and attending the Young Friends program at Sessions and that gathering in person safely is vitally important for Young Friends. For these reasons, a formal Young Friends program will not be part of NEYM Sessions this summer. Though there are many of you who typically attend only one of these, it felt important to not put two important NEYM youth programs at odds with each other, and to not split our community in two. This feels like the decision that best serves the spiritual and emotional well-being of Young Friends as a whole, as well as the needs of families. Teens who do wish to attend NEYM Sessions and not Friends Camp this summer will receive support and care in order to have a meaningful Sessions experience in other ways beyond our typical program.

I am aware that this solution will not work for all Young Friends and families, and it pains me to know this. This summer’s programming will only be one piece out of the many ways the Young Friends Program will support Quaker teens in New England this year, and it is my hope that the sum of all these parts will serve all teens and families as best we can. I am also aware that since campers can only attend Friends Camp until age 17, our graduating seniors may feel left out. I’m thinking of you, and we will have creative solutions for you to have a meaningful summer and end of Young Friends.

I will share one last exciting detail about this summer, which will be that I will be at the Rustin/Fell teen session at Friends Camp! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy it makes me to know that I will be with many of you in person on China Lake. It will be my job to provide all campers, including Young Friends, with opportunities to deepen their relationship with Quakerism and to share in spiritual exploration with each other. There are lots of details that are fuzzy about this summer, but you can be sure that there will be space at camp for Young Friends and other teens to seek their truths and find belonging together like we do in Young Friends.

With all of this in mind, I want to encourage each and every one of you who is able to register for Friends Camp this summer to do so when it opens January 16th. As always, and with special emphasis this year, Friends Camp and NEYM are able to support any Young Friend who wants to attend Friends Camp but cannot afford it. Please reach out to me and/or Anna Hopkins if you are unsure if camp is possible for you. Click here to learn more about what camp will be like this summer and click here for camp session dates. I appreciate hearing your questions and concerns.