Young Friends is for any high-school-aged person interested in experiencing Quaker community. You do not have to be a Quaker or attend a meeting to come! Young Friends is an LGBTQ+ affirming community, and it welcomes those from all backgrounds and walks of life. Before becoming a Young Friend you can be a Middle School Friend, and afterward, you can be a Young Adult Friend. To help distinguish Young Friends from other stages we have laid out the following explanation for how entry into and graduation from the program works in Young Friends.
How entry and graduation works
Generally, young people are expected to attend Young Friends for no more than the 4 years between the July before they enter high school (9th grade, or the academic year in which a child turns 15 for homeschoolers) and the August after they graduate high school (or the equivalent for homeschoolers). The Young Friends Program offers two summer gatherings (Annual Sessions in July and Camp Onas in August), and both of these gatherings welcome those who are just entering high school and those who have just graduated from high school. When a new Young Friend attends their first gathering it is very important that they attend the full event, arriving on time for opening games and explanations the first night! This is a vital orientation to the community for newcomers.
There are some cases in which a Young Friend may be able to spend a 5th year in the Young Friends program, like if they have repeated a year in high school. Young people who would like to continue in Young Friends after their 4 years and feel they have this or a comparable situation should alert the Young Friends Facilitator – decisions will be made on a case by case basis. Factors include but are not limited to: the individual’s behavior in and contribution to the Young Friends program in the past and the degree to which the individual has an adult life and adult privileges that might clash with the requirements of the Young Friends program.
The Young Adult Friends Program welcomes all those 18 and older who are no longer in high school (or the equivalent homeschooling experience) with open arms! Generally, the Young Adult Friends Program expects to see new attendees after Annual Sessions – those who have just graduated from high school should attend Annual Sessions as Young Friends rather than Young Adult Friends. Those who are 18 and would like to attend Annual Sessions (or an earlier Young Adult Friends event) may be in touch with the Young Adult Friends Coordinator to explore this option. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Anyone who does attend a Young Adult Friends event may not attend any further Young Friends gatherings. Once you decide you would like to join the Young Adult Friends community at an upcoming event or retreat (whether it’s a short evening event or a full weekend or longer event), it’s time to say goodbye to Young Friends.
Young Friends have a tradition of sending off graduates with a handmade afghan, crocheted and knitted together by the community (an effort headed up by the Graduation Committee). Those who are graduating and attending the Swatara gathering in May, Annual Sessions in July, or Camp Onas in August are automatically included in the plans for afghans. A Young Friend who will not be able to attend these gatherings may still receive an afghan (perhaps at an earlier gathering, or perhaps by picking it up at another point) if they are in touch with the Graduation Committee about that intention in advance. Those who have already received an afghan may still attend later Young Friends gatherings if their plans change.
As Young Friends graduate they or their parents may want to change the email notifications they are receiving from the Young Friends program. Anyone can do this by visiting pym.org and scrolling down to the section titled “Subscribe to Online Newsletters.” Next, type the email address in question in the blank and hit “submit,” and it is possible to see all the PYM email lists that apply to that address, as well as modify them. To remove oneself from the email list that sends notifications about Young Friends events, look for the “PYM Young Friends Notifications” list, and to subscribe to the list announcing events and opportunities of interest to Young Adult Friends, look for “PYM Young Adult Friends Program Notices.”