New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

New Young Friends

Welcome to Young Friends! As you probably know, 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 4-day retreat over winter break. Below is some information about our program and what to expect. If you have any questions, want more information, or just want to chat, give me a call at (617) 945-0373 or send me an e-mail at [email protected]. I am looking forward to meeting you soon!

-NiaDwynwen Thomas
Young Friends/Young Adult Friends Coordinator

Questions Answered

What is a retreat like?

Each retreat has its own theme or topic, chosen by the Young Friends at Yearly Meeting. Most retreats start at 7:30 pm on Friday nights and end around noon on Sunday. Friday nights we play games, get to know each other a bit and meet in small groups called "affinity groups." Saturday morning there is singing, worship, and a program about the topic. 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 topic in greater depth. After dinner, there is more singing, evening program and affinity groups meet again. Sunday morning is busy with cleaning up the Meetinghouse, 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?

Retreats cost $0 – $70 per person, with a $5 discount for each sibling from a family attending. We ask everyone to pay what they can. PLEASE DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR A SCHOLARSHIP. You pay when you get to the retreat, checks can be made out to “NEYM”.

What wil​l 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 (e.g., smooching, etc.). We also ask that all YFs stay on the property and 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 21 to 60-something and love to share their experiences, interests, talents, and learn about yours. We usually have 10–12 RP’s at each retreat. Each RP has completed an application, 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.

Do we really have to go to bed at 11:30 pm? YES! 11:30 pm is when we usually go to bed — this means each person is in her/his own sleeping bag and everywhere is quiet enough for people to sleep. It is really important that we all get enough sleep so we can have the energy to be together during the retreat.

What should I bring to a retreat?

We'll send you this list along with directions just before each retreat. 1. Sleeping bag and pillow (and sleeping pad if you want — we sleep on the floor) 2. Washcloth and soap 3. Mug w/ your name on it 4. Toiletries and any medicines 5. Comfy clothing — Meetinghouses range in temperature, so bring layers to peel off or on 6. Night clothes you don’t mind being seen in 7. Musical instruments, journal, camera, games, cards, frisbee, etc. 8. If you are someone who falls asleep better listening to music, it is OK to bring a iPod/Discman/MP3, 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. 9. Cell phones — if you carry a cell phone, please do not plan on using it during the retreat. It is great 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 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 registration form. 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 the Yearly Meeting and is overseen by Youth Programs 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 bit. Breakfast might be cereal and muffins, with soup and make-your-own sandwiches for lunch, and then spaghetti and salad for dinner. Often we have a simple meal of beans and rice for lunch or dinner as a fundraiser. 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.


New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]