“We … see this community as a safe accepting home where we love and appreciate one another for what each of us brings to the community; however, as a community we are vulnerable and imperfect. We have labored greatly with spiritual struggles in the past to keep our community healthy and whole. Through this we have discovered that the best way to uphold the integrity of our community is to remind one another what exactly this community is to us. We ask that we remember and share openly our understanding of the community, especially at the beginning of gatherings, with newcomers, and with those who need reminding.”
-Young Friends Business Meeting, Onas Gathering 2005
The Young Friends guidelines are all about supporting a safe and accepting community in which everyone is loved and appreciate for what they bring. These guidelines acknowledge that we all may need some help remembering how to be in community such that each of us nurtures the group and is aware and caring for oneself and others. In the Summer of 2015 the Young Friends community finished discerning the following as good guides for creating that safe and accepting community:
1. The Common Sense Guideline
Everyone is required to use common sense and to intervene with others who do not. There is no way that we will be able to enumerate a rule to cover everything that someone can think up to do.
2. No Sexual Activity
No sexual activity of any kind is permitted at gatherings. Additionally:
- One person to a bed / sleeping mattress – during sleeping hours.
- Pizza rule – ask someone you’re romantically interested in at Young Friends out for pizza after the gathering instead of starting a relationship in Young Friends or having your relationship exist only in Young Friends.
- Enthusiastic consent – Sometimes (and for many reasons) people will say “yes” or “okay” when they aren’t actually very happy about consenting. To prevent this, when you are asking consent for any kind of physical touch (hug, massage, etc.) only interpret a verbal affirmation as consent when it’s accompanied by clear enthusiastic body language (like a big smile, running towards you for a hug, etc.). If there is not clear enthusiastic body language, back off, check in, ask again, or match their level of interest.
- Tricycle – When people are acting exclusive or couple-y, (either via physical affection/cuddly-ness or only spending time together, etc.) say “tricycle” to bring it to their attention. If someone calls “tricycle” on you, don’t argue, change your behavior!
3. No Illegal Drugs
This includes everything that is illegal according to Federal law or Pennsylvania state law for minors to possess, consume, or sell (it’s illegal in Young Friends even if you are not a minor!). If a prescription drug is not your prescription then you should not have it and may not use it.
4. No Alcohol
5. Young Friends Smoking and Tobacco Policy
We permit the use of tobacco products at our gatherings, subject to the following guidelines:
- Tobacco use is a solitary activity. Those who are addicted to nicotine may, during unscheduled time, go outside and use tobacco by themselves, then return to the rest of our community.
- There is no bumming, borrowing, renting, buying, or selling of tobacco products at a Young Friends Gatherings. We do not want Young Friends or adults to use tobacco, but we will support them to quit when they are ready, and help them not to use tobacco products at Gatherings. We ask that the Friends who smoke know and abide by state smoking regulations and laws.
6. Limit Technology Use
No earphones, cell phones or personal screens of any kind are permitted during scheduled time. Down time (when there is no work crew, the scheduled free time, or as you are trying to fall asleep) is up to you. Sharing earphones with one other person does not count as participating in community!
7. Sports Bra Rule
Except when changing privately, everyone will have the area that can be covered by a sports bra covered, regardless of gender. (Bathing suits are an exception to this rule.)
8. Rule of Three with FAPs
A FAP and a Young Friend shall never be alone together! Rather there must always be another Young Friend or another FAP with them, which leaves a total minimum of 3 people whenever FAPs and Young Friends are together. Private conversation between one Young Friend and one FAP is allowed, just go to a quiet corner in a room where there are others hanging out – make sure to tell those folks that you’re counting on them to keep Rule of Three! The Rule of 3 is EVERYONE’s responsibility! This guideline is important for youth and adult safety, and helps keep adult-youth interactions in perspective and with appropriate boundaries. Young Friends and FAPs alike should consider using a buddy system when going into spaces where they might find themselves breaking the rule of three accidentally – the bathroom, a cabin, etc.
9. Respect Each Other
Build each other up, don’t tear each other down; listen when others are speaking.
10. Ouch / Oops
Whenever someone says something that feels a bit hurtful or uncomfortable to you, say “ouch” to communicate the experience in a low-key way. The other person can say “oops” to indicate that the harm was accidental. This is a great mechanism for naming triggers and mild hurt or harm without interrupting the flow of a conversation. If a feeling is experienced as needing more attention, approaching the person directly and explicitly is best.