An Open Letter To Families I Haven’t Met Yet

Children

Dear Families I Haven’t Met,

Hi!  I’m Ben, and I’m the Children’s Religious Life Program Coordinator for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.  I’ve been here for about 3 years now, and I’ve had the joy of running events for Kindergarten to 5th graders, and spending time with those kids’ families.

In my role as Children’s Religious Life Program Coordinator at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting I think a lot  about being inviting.  There’s a practical element for me, because it’s my job to ensure as many families as possible can be involved at whatever level they’re comfortable.  But there’s also a spiritual call to spread a joyful spirit and invite young people and their loved ones together in Friendly community.

In the simplest iteration of being inviting, I avoid assuming monthly meeting members know about our Children’s Program.  Not everyone I’d like to reach knows what the Yearly Meeting is, or what it does.*

I know there are families out there who would be interested in our programs if they knew about them .  Worshipping with 103 member meetings each Sunday so I can meet all of the children who attend is the clear way forward, but comes with certain practical difficulties revolving around space and time.  I mostly rely on that tried and true method of communication- word of mouth.

So here I am, spreading the word.

For families who have maybe heard about Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Children’s Program, but aren’t sure it’s for them, I’d like to just let you know you’re welcome.  You don’t have to come every month to our service oriented Junior Interim Meeting Program, or to the whole Children’s Sessions (a summer-camp like experience concurrent with the Yearly Meeting’s Annual week-long gathering).  You’re more than welcome to come check it out for a day.  And if you have questions, or if you like it and you want to get to know the fantastic people who come regularly, I’ll be happy to help in whatever way I’m able.

A good way to start and make some new friends is the upcoming Winter Family Overnight.  It’s a one night sleepover with hot chocolate, playtime, and stories in front of the fire.  The adults take some time after the young folks hit the sack to talk and get to know each other better.  It’s pretty laid back, and I look forward to it all year.  It’s a great way into the program and community, and you wouldn’t be the only first-timer there.

To the Children of our Yearly Meeting: I would like to officially invite you to a sleepover.  I have some really great games to play, and there are awesome bunk beds.  And for the families already involved, I hope I can make it easier for you to reach out and invite the friends you know that I haven’t met yet.  Person to person is still the best way to share love.

I hope you have a great month, and a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season.  And I hope to see you soon!

-Benjamin Camp, Children’s Religious Life Program Coordinator

*“Philadelphia Yearly Meeting comprises 103 monthly meetings that are located generally in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern half of New Jersey, the state of Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland.   Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has a year round organization of committees and working groups (supplemented by a small paid staff) who conduct the work of the Yearly Meeting between Annual Sessions.”- from Who We Are at pym.org