Over the weekend of February 20-21, our Middle School Friends (Grades 6-8) and Young Friends (high school) program communities were busy gathering for fellowship, worship, learning, and laughing. We welcomed new participants and re-connected with friends we’re hoping to see in person again soon. [Read more…] about Youth Hangouts & Summits
Middle School Friends
Providence Meeting’s Middle School Friends led a highly successful vigil for immigrant rights at the Delaware County Courthouse on October 3, 2020. The event was to focus attention on the treatment of immigrants on the U.S. border and a call for action to address this issue. Supporting our middle school Friends were a large contingent from the Movement of Immigrant Leaders of Pennsylvania (MILPA) and local elected officials. [Read more…] about Providence Young Friends Host Immigration Vigil At Delaware County Courthouse
October 18th – 20th, Middle School Friends joined together in community and autumnal fun at West Chester Friends Meeting. We are grateful to the meeting community for hosting us, and their warm welcome after worship on Sunday morning.
We had a busy weekend playing next-level hide and go seek with the lights off, having a birthday party for a newly minted 13 year-old, as well as cooking and sharing meals together. We visited a local orchard to pick apples, enjoy cider and cider donuts, and explore the orchards in the last moments of warmth in the season. We were also visited by a friend of the MSF program, Tara Rubinstein, who heeded our call that MSF was interested to learn more about the complexities of gender. Within this workshop, we learned about pronouns, the gender unicorn, and even explored within our gender affinity groups about what we value and what challenges us within these affinity groups. On Sunday morning, some participants attended worship with the meeting, and others joined with their Young People’s Group for an exploration of ”The Questions We Ask,” a lesson created for teens to explore the creation story in Genesis laid alongside the Big Bang Theory. The approach is addressed to “Quaker skeptics,” the young Friends who are questioning stories and information in our religious faith and wider culture.
The weekend was filled with community, learning, and fun! We hope to see everyone on November 2nd for Continuing Sessions!
Dear Friends everywhere, we are the Middle School Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
This week, new friendships were formed, old friendships were tested and we are here today having learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We got to know each other through games, worship sharing groups and workshops. We watched a movie at a time when we really needed a break and some down time. We had a book making workshop with Spiral Q, and some of us went to share what we learned about book making and helped facilitate in a second workshop that afternoon. Others of us stayed to have a workshop on Environmental activism and lobbying with Emily Wirzba from FCNL. We feel really excited about lobbying on behalf of our planet and all of life. We liked that there were lots of times we got to be with Young Friends and the Children.
This week had some serious challenges. Our bus didn’t come for the rafting field trip to the Delaware water gap, and so Middle School Friends and Young Friends were wondering whether we’d get to go at all. We waited and waited. Luckily, a bunch of awesome OAFs AKA Older Adult Friends volunteered to drive us! We want to give a big shout out to all of those volunteers who drove, came rafting with us, and even bought us pizza for us! We are so grateful for your support. Each raft held about 8 people and we laughed together, sang songs loudly, and swam in the water. The field trip was a special time to bond in a new way. We didn’t get back until about 9:00, so another thank you to our families and the people who bought us more pizza back here at campus because we were still very hungry.
On Saturday night we invited the whole community to our space in Business Lounge for Vespers. We used the theme of the Love Wolf and the Fear Wolf to create three stations. One station had a mad lib that we created using the Love Wolf and Fear Wolf story but with silly fill-in-the-blanks. The next station did improv theater games using the story and invited audience members to participate. The last station made prayer flags with our messages of hope for ourselves and others. We had a great time working in our teams for each station. Thank you to everyone who came to join us!
Over the course of the week, we worked with the Love Wolf and Fear Wolf story. We really learned from it and know we’ll all keep thinking about it after Sessions is over. In our small groups, we explored themes of trust, community, friendship and rebuilding trust after conflict. We had some ups and downs as individuals and as a group, but we always managed to come back together and try again. We know this is what adult Quakers are also learning and doing and we are too. We are not perfect, but we are resilient and we are growing.
In closing, we want to share a funny line from one of our mad libs: The grandmother said, “You haven’t heard of the ecstasy elephant and the exasperation centipede?” And the little ball said, “no.” The grandmother replied: “There are centipedes and elephants that we download every day. You feed the elephant with your starlight and your embrace. So make sure to swim your elephant every day!”
From the MSF community to the wider Sessions community, we remind you to feed your Love Wolf (or elephant!) every day, and so will we!
The pricing of Young Friends and Middle School Friends gatherings are intended to cover the basic costs of running the event – some of which are food and other supplies, paying workshop leaders, transportation of supplies and volunteers there and back, transportation of participants while we’re together (sometimes relevant) as well as any costs associated with using the space itself. (Staff time at the event or preparing for the event is not covered by gathering fees). In 2012 after years of consistently bringing in more than was used, Young Friends program staff decided to lower the base price of a weekend from $85 to $65. Shortly after, the cost was lowered again to $60 to be consistent with the Middle School Friends program.
A lot has changed since 2012! Many of our regular costs have increased, leading to slightly overdrawn program budgets. Additionally, staff have determined that it would be helpful to have more of a cushion so that when unexpected opportunities arise, the programs can consider engaging them with less cost-consciousness. With these considerations in mind, Young Friends and Middle School Friends staff have decided to change the cost of events to $75 for a weekend event and $95 for the 3-night Christmas gathering.
It remains a priority of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to make these gatherings accessible to everyone who is interested in attending. That’s why our full and partial financial aid options are there – for anyone who needs them to have access! This financial flexibility is made possible in part by the Sergei Thomas fund and the Haley Yarmark fund, which both memorialize Young Friends who died before their time (1948 and 2007 respectively). Making use of this financial aid commemorates these Friends, so please continue to draw on this resource as it is useful to you!
Some gatherings will not follow the above pricing model. The cost of Young Friends and Middle School Friends gatherings at Camp Swatara is arranged by Caln Quarter, which organizes the larger Camp Swatara Quaker weekend. Annual Sessions’ costs are also particular to that event, and the Young Friends Camp Onas Gathering price is staying consistent at $320, as it has continued to create small surplus at that rate. For any further questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
MSF is so awesome!
Last weekend was our first overnight of the school year. Even though it was a short gathering – just one night – we packed in all the things that makes MSF such a wonderful community. We:
- Welcomed several new Friends, and saw Friends from past gatherings
- Spontaneously started a fun new game of sharing random facts. As a result, we learned things about the world, family history, animals, books and all sorts of other interests
- Had a great workshop! More about that below
- Really liked being in the Green Street space! We slept in the meeting room, played on the playground (including brand new play structure) and got to explore the cool nooks and crannies around the building
- Strengthened our connections through small worship sharing groups
- Made pancakes for breakfast, and enjoyed the cute aprons
- New clerks ran the meeting for business, and we talked about hopes and plans for next gathering in November
Our Workshop: How DO you pick your friends?
The workshops we do at MSF are part of what makes our community uniquely meaningful. This month, as everyone starts a new school year and we welcome many awesome sixth graders for the first time, it seemed like a good opportunity to think about how we create meaningful friendships. Most of us are taught to form connections based on what we have in common with each other. We look for ways that we share life experience, hobbies and interests. There are good things about this approach. BUT. The problem is that we learn to seek out similarities and avoid differences. Most cliques in school are formed around this trend, and it has big implications. How are we really supposed to create “safe” and “inclusive” community if we are not addressing the ways we are different, and learning to love and celebrate those differences? In particular, we noted that race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity can result in big differences in life experience that we don’t address openly or directly.
In our workshop, we shared things about our own experiences that make us feel different. We practiced listening to each other, and even asking questions about how those differences have shaped our lives. As the facilitator, I was deeply moved by the bravery and vulnerability the MSFers displayed in their sharing. The adults who were supporting the gathering (several parents, plus myself and the wonderful Elizabeth Croce, our MSF assistant) had modeled the activity fishbowl-style, and we all noted how as adults, we also struggle with the skill of sharing and asking questions that acknowledge and make visible the differences between ourselves and others. And yet, I think we all saw how much deeper our connections can go when we risk our hearts and go there.
My very favorite part of the weekend was our closing appreciation/gratitude circle, where several MSFers and Friendly Adults closed by saying “thank you for having that awkward conversation with me!” I’ll tell you. I cried a little when I heard that. I’m going to take that simple, important, phrase into my life as a reminder that I can share, ask, and thank people for creating bridges between our differences.
Our next gathering is November 4th – 6th at Westtown. We’ll be doing a ropes course, more workshops, worship sharing, fellowship and, by popular demand, a talent show! Hope to see you there!
(Playing games and drawing in the library! Making pancakes for breakfast!)
Hello we are the Middle School Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
First of all, we welcomed new MSF members, made new friends, and got to hang out with Friends we only see at MSF. We also liked seeing some of our Quaker Friends who aren’t in MSF. We checked the scrolling photo wall frequently to see what was happening throughout the community. We also reallllly loved the food here at Muhlenberg.
Everyday we did worship sharing. We liked the opportunity to talk about what is going on with undoing racism, and to be taken seriously by the adults who are here with us. Some friends thought about ways they could go back to their meetings and get involved. In other worship sharing groups, we did walking meditation and explored the grounds and the church here on campus.
The pool was so fun! We formed group called the “noodle squad” that played with pool noodles. We played marco polo, colors and had a good time together. There were some issues with having enough life guards, but in the end, we all got plenty of time in the water
As always, we loved playing foursquare and played it a lot. Many of us even came early in the morning so we could hang together and play a few extra rounds. We were careful to respect the space, and made some new rules to make sure we were being careful.
Friday rained, which threw a wrench in our plans for the annual hike that many of us were looking forward to. But we rallied! And came up with a plan to watch a movie. We voted for Guardians of the Galaxy, and followed it with a discussion on racism, sexism, ableism and classism in movies and TV. It was eye opening for many of us, and we were really happy that we ended up having this discussion.
On Saturday, some MSFers went to the undoing racism work and witness workshop. We learned a lot from that experience, including looking at how PYM evaluates itself. This helps us think about our communities at home, and what we can do to evaluate all the communities we are a part of, not just Quaker community. When we heard about the action that was being planned, we were surprised to see how many people did stand up, and how many people didn’t stand up.
We did a few arts and crafts activities, including making origami butterflies, and a string art activity where we made pictures with nails, board and string. We played Frazzlyram during a break from the rain. We sang.
We did three vespers activities. We liked planning an activity for the whole community. But we were a little bummed that many of the adults who came didn’t volunteer or participate. And our last activity didn’t really go as planned. But! Some things went really well, like Quaker Jeapordy, which was a big hit.
Finally, thoughout the week some of us tried out new leadership roles. This felt really good and allowed us to be part of the group in new ways.