“Throughout the week we… formed new committees to attend to the evolving needs of YF business…”
This quote from the Young Friends epistle of this summer’s Camp Onas gathering refers to a new development in the Young Friends community, a concept with which the average Quaker reader may be familiar – committees! In recent years, the Young Friends community has operated with a volunteer leadership structure that included one committee – the Nurturing Committee, which has several standing youth members and is open to all Young Friends– as well as clerks for business and one or more clerks for the Nurturing Committee. Other needs were met in the Young Friends Working Group (now largely dissolved into the Young Friends business meetings that happen at gatherings) or in the rare ad-hoc committee.
Now the Young Friends community is embarking on an experiment in youth leadership and participation, engaging in the work of the community through committees. At Camp Onas we piloted this project, having the following 4 committees meet during a time of day set aside for service:
- Program Committee – comes up with proposed themes for future gatherings and workshops ideas that would be of interest to Young Friends related to that theme
- Outreach Committee – focuses on ways to bring in more Young Friends and encourage those who have attended to return
- Graduation / Afghans Committee – coordinates the creation of the afghans that the Young Friends community gives its graduating members
- Nurturing Committee – cares for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the community at gatherings
Friends who did not wish to participate in one of the above committees enjoyed service to our host, taping, priming, and painting some rooms that needed re-touching in one Onas building.
Young Friends’ committee service during Onas has already resulted in many exciting changes, like a new Facebook group (so that members can post to the wall and share pictures), exploration of a new Young Friends logo for t-shirts and fun and successful execution of the first gathering conceived by the Program Committee, the fall gathering on sustainability, which took place November 1st through 3rd. Many Friends felt the rewards of committee work, experiencing a different sense of empowerment and investment in the community that they were helping to shape. Others were frustrated that committee meetings all happened at the same time, such that they could not contribute in multiple areas of interest. All in all, Young Friends decided to keep the experiment going, having official meeting times at our longer gatherings during the year and allowing committees to check-in casually at weekend gatherings as needed during free times or meals at gatherings. We look forward to continuing to experience the fruits of the community’s combined efforts!