When planning for Saturday, March 28 and youth programs at Spring Continuing Sessions took an unexpected turn with COVID-19, it didn’t take long for staff to shift gears and think about what is important when we gather in our youth communities, and how to recreate that same energy in a virtual setting. Both Middle School Friends and Young Friends gathered virtually during the weekend of March 28-29 using Zoom. MSF brought the positive middle school energy and their typical warm welcome to a gathering with both new staff members and new faces among the youth participants. Young Friends used two meetings to do much of what they usually engage in at gatherings: fun and fellowship, committee work, meeting for business, worship, and loving one another in community.
The talented Youth Programs staff will continue to find times and spaces to gather virtually in coming weeks, and you can read more on their program event pages: Children and Families, Middle School Friends, Young Friends, where “what’s next” will be posted. Of note: April 1 is the first weekly Children’s Worship Group hosted by Children and Families staff Kimani Keaton and Crystal Hershey. Register for the Children’s Worship Group and join any Wednesday at 7:30pm for stories, yoga, waiting worship, and kids’ meeting for business. “We can continue to experience the joys of participating in PYM Children’s Programs and the long-standing tradition of fostering community with fun and spiritually deepening activities.” As demonstrated by programs last weekend!
Young Friends successfully held two days of programming on Zoom in lieu of gathering in person for Continuing Sessions. On Saturday, after a period of sharing life updates and a lengthy break for some games, five committees had productive meetings and attended to shifting community needs. On Sunday, we held an engaging Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, and clerks transitioned seamlessly from in-person facilitation to doing so on a digital platform. We then broke into worship sharing groups and Friends shared powerful messages about how their lives have changed over the past few weeks, and the importance of community as we move forward. After closing worship, several Friends participated in a virtual “movie party” to end the day.
Young Friends and program staff Olivia Chalkley and Aeryn Luminkith are excited about gathering on Zoom more frequently over the coming weeks for fun and fellowship as well as business, and are hopeful that this new accessible format will be an opportunity to bring more high school-aged Friends into our community!
Middle School Friends came together to spend time in community on the Saturday of our Spring Continuing Sessions. It was great to see past participants in the MSF program and to welcome new Middle School participants! We used the time to share a quick check-in about what we love and don’t love about physical distancing during this time, and also to introduce Kristin Simmons and Alix Vallery as new staff to the Middle School Friends team, joining Elizabeth Croce. The middle schoolers had time to get to know Alix and Kristin and ask them their own questions as well. We were all glad to learn that we could use Zoom for fun and community building instead of homework!
Moving forward, we will host a bi-weekly Zoom call for Middle School Friends. Our themes and activities will range from movie nights and dance parties to worship sharing, and will continue to evolve based on the interests of program participants. Our next Zoom call will be Saturday, April 18th. Check the event page for time and how to connect in. We will have a get-to-know-you scavenger hunt as well as some unstructured time to talk, hangout, and use a conversation card game. You’re more than welcome to join us whenever you are able. We hope to see f/Friends in Grades 6-8 again soon!