Young Friends and Middle School Friends gathered last weekend for an online version of our traditional Camp Swatara gathering. In addition to staples of our usual programs — worship sharing, business meeting, and committee time — we got creative and reinvented some of the most treasured parts of the Swatara gathering for this digital platform.
In lieu of the usual Saturday morning hike up the Appalachian Trail to the rock pile, we gathered in the morning for a group “hiking” game that we could all do from the comfort of our backyards and living rooms. Saturday night, the two youth programs came together again for a talent show and campfire song circle where musician Simon Purchase James led us in song.
On Sunday, we gathered for a virtual graduation, as Middle School Friends move on to the Young Friends program and current Young Friends look to move into the Young Adult Friends community. We took a moment to appreciate and thank the graduating 8th and 12th graders for their contributions to PYM Youth Programs.
While we missed being with Caln Quarter Friends at the camp (where we join their annual retreat), our virtual version allowed us to gather with friends across the Yearly Meeting and beyond. MSF and Young Friends staff were joined by loyal Friendly Presences and beloved former staff members throughout the weekend. While we’re apart, we can be authentically together in beloved community!
We had a wonderful time gathering together and look forward to being in virtual community again at Annual Sessions, July 29-August 2, as well as for Middle School Friends Hangouts and Young Friends Friday Check-ins before then!
- Olivia Chalkley, Young Friends Facilitator
- Elizabeth Croce, Middle School Friends Co-Facilitator
- Aeryn Luminkith, Young Friends Assistant
- Kristin Simmons, Middle School Friends Co-Facilitator
- Alix Vallery, Middle School Friends Assistant