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Frequently Asked Questions About Young Friends Retreats
What is a retreat like? Each retreat has its own theme or topic, chosen by the Young Friends at Yearly Meeting in August. Most retreats start at 7:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday night and end around noon on Sunday. On the first night we play games, get to know each other a bit, and meet in small groups called "affinity groups." The next morning there is singing, worship, and a program about the retreat theme. After lunch there is a large chunk of free time for games, napping, reading, and hanging out. Late afternoon, there are usually interest groups—a chance to explore some aspect of the theme in greater depth. After dinner, there is an evening program of full group activities and affinity groups meet again. Sunday morning is busy with cleaning up the meeting house, doing some final closing and evaluation as a group, and worshiping with the host Meeting.
What if I don't know anybody else? Come anyway! Young Friends are incredibly welcoming and friendly. You will make friends quickly, people will talk to you, and you will have fun. This is not like high school, really.
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 participate in all programs and worship - being there and sharing as much or as little as you want. 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 also ask that that no one uses their car during the retreat. 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 from throughout New England who really like teenagers and Young Friends. 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 our staff are people who should be working with young people and are awesome.
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: 1. Sleeping bag and pillow—we sleep on the floor (except for the December retreat when we bring sheets and sleep in a bed) 3. Toiletries and any medicines 3. Comfy clothing—meeting houses range in temperature, so bring layers to peel off or on 4. P.J.s you don’t mind being seen in 5. 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/discman/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 just like e-music, it is a barrier to you being part of the community during the rest of the weekend.
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 Ministry & Counsel that helps guide the group, helps people follow the commitments, and looks after the spiritual life of the group. Young Friends also has a coordinator, Nia Thomas, 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. Breakfast might be cereal, fruit, and eggs, with soup and make your own sandwiches for lunch, and then spaghetti and salad for dinner. We always have vegetarian and vegan options (make sure to tell us that you are vegan/vegetarian on the health form so we can have enough food), as well as lots of peanut butter and jelly, milk, and snacks. Most of the food is pretty simple, healthy, and yummy.
What are the clothing expectations at Young Friends events?
Everyone (youth and adults) must cover the areas that an old-fashioned men's 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? Fill out the short registration form found at neym.org/young-friends/register. Registration typically opens about a month before a given retreat. If you have any questions about registration, contact Nia Thomas at [email protected]