Youth Programs Committee Interchange Reports
Youth Programs Welcome Jossie Dowling
The 2014-15 school year is about to begin! I am excited for another year of Youth Conferences, each an opportunity for Middle or High Schoolers to live with each other in a Quaker Community for a weekend. ‘Friendly Adult Presences’ run the program for Junior Young Friends (6th-8th graders), and are available as resources for Young Friends (9th-12th graders). The JYFs have chosen the theme Sense of Self this year. Young Friends take responsibility for their community - the shopping and cooking, program, inclusion of new friends, and Spirit of the weekend. In doing so, they learn self-reliance and how to take care of others.
BYM is happy to announce that Jossie Dowling is the first Junior Young Friends Program Assistant. Jossie has a long history with BYM. She was a camper at Catoctin, counselor at Shiloh and Teen Adventure, active in the Young Friends Program, and attender at Adelphi Meeting. She went to Guilford College where she majored in Sociology and Anthropology and was a Member of the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program. After graduating, Jossie worked for the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, then participated in the Quaker Voluntary Service Program in Philadelphia. Jossie’s experience with the diversity of Friends and playful demeanor will serve her as she attends all JYF conferences along with Alison to accommodate increased attendance.
Please save the dates for the following weekends:
- PARENTS: There will be two events in the Baltimore area to choose from for parents on the weekend of October 18-19: 1) Co-leading First Day School and 2) How to fight with your Teen. Email Marsha Holliday (firstname.lastname@example.org ) to register for #1 and Alison (email@example.com) to register for #2. Childcare provided on site for children 10 and younger. These are intentionally co-scheduled with the first JYF con, so parents can drop their child off at the JYF con, and attend either event for themselves.
- JYFs: October 20-21 at Homewood Friends Meeting, December 6-7 at Patuxent Friends Meeting, March 14-15 at Richmond Friends Meeting, and May 8-10 at Opequon Quaker Camp.
- YFs: September 19-21 at Langley Hill Friends Meeting, November 28-30 (Thanksgiving), February 13-15, April 17-19 OR 24-26, and May 22-24 (Memorial Day weekend). Please bring your school calendar with you to the September conference, so we can pick the April date, avoiding any major conflicts.
For each conference, Junior Young Friends should arrive at 10 am on Saturday, while Young Friends should arrive after 7pm on Friday night. All events end at 12 noon (or at the rise of Meeting) on Sunday morning. For each conference, youth need their Registration form, Medical form, and payment if not already submitted. Participants are also encouraged to bring a sleeping bag, pad, pillow, clothes, toiletries, and anything they think will help build community: games, music, or sports equipment. For the first conference of the new school year, everyone must submit a Medical form, which we will keep for the whole school year. After that, youth who have already turned in a Medical form only need Registration forms.
Pre-registration is required one week in advance of each JYF con, and TWO weeks in advance of each YF con. After that, participants will be placed on a waiting list, and registered as space permits. JYF Cons cost $40; YF Cons cost $50 for participants who have pre-registered and $60 for participants who have not. Financial aid is available upon request. To register for a ‘Con’ mail a Registration form, a Medical form, and a check made out to BYM to the office or register online at the Yearly Meeting website. More info can be found at the Young Friends website, yf.bym-rsf.net, and Junior Young Friends website, bym-rsf.org/what_we_do/jyfs.
Young Friends Share Experience of Trans Inclusion
Alison Duncan, Youth Programs Manager
Last summer, the Young Friends Coordinator from Pacific Yearly Meeting wrote to all the North American Yearly Meetings, asking what they do for trans* identified Young Friends in regard to sleeping areas at conferences. Pacific Yearly Meeting’s specific questions were:
- How did you include parents/adults in your process?
- Did you discuss potential teens who may not conform to EITHER gender? How was this addressed?
- Did you consider adopting a non-gendered approach to sleeping spaces? (one giant sleeping space for example?)
- What are your current registration and sleeping arrangements for teens?
- Please describe, if possible, the conclusions you have come away with and how your current arrangements are working during your transition thus far.
BYM Young Friends decided to answer all of them in a generalized letter format. They used the word cisgendered, which is someone who identifies as the gender/sex they were assigned at birth. This is as opposed to transgender when a person’s biology and gender identity are not the same. Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum.
Greetings to the Young Friends of PYM,
We are the BYM Young Friends, and we would love to share our experiences with gender and gendering issues in the hopes that it speaks to your condition and aids your Way in opening.
When it comes to gendered spaces for sleeping, our community has no set spaces for each gender, allowing anyone to sleep where they wish. There is a [Friendly Adult Presence (or “FAP”)] in each room where Young Friends are sleeping, but Friends of any gender can sleep in any room. When we discussed as a community how we felt about gendered sleeping spaces, many Friends shared feelings of discomfort with the idea of gendered spaces for sleeping. As a community of Friends, we feel uncomfortable with gendered sleeping spaces for a variety of reasons.
Some Young Friends expressed discomfort because we would feel distrusted by older Friends and parents if we were made to sleep in gendered spaces. The motivation for gendered spaces for sleeping is usually to prevent sexual activity. However, in our Statement on Sexual Activity (included after this letter), which was written and approved by Young Friends, we all agree and affirm as a community that we will not partake in sexual activity while at Young Friends conferences. We feel that when Young Friends say “no sex” we mean “no sex” and we do not need to take any further measure than our word. As Friends, we feel that gendered sleeping spaces do not do justice to our commitment to integrity.
Additionally, Young Friends recognizes the innate heterosexism that exists in gendered sleeping spaces. Gendered sleeping spaces carry the assumption that females sleeping in the same room as other females will not be sexually attracted to others in the room, and similarly with males. This is simply contrary to the reality of human identity. How can we claim to love and accept every Friend if we implement a policy that ignores their identity? We strive to not only accept but also love and honor the diverse identities, sexual or otherwise, that exist in our community. Gendered sleeping spaces are rooted in ideas of heterosexism and heteronormativity, and therefore Friends feel that they disregard our commitment to equality.
Friends are aware of the diverse gender identities and expressions that exist within our community. By having gendered sleeping spaces, we feel that we would not be inclusive to our trans* and gender non-conforming Young Friends, and therefore excluding those Friends who are not cisgendered. We recognize that some peoples' preferences and self-expression fall outside commonly understood gender norms. To be a completely equal and welcoming community, it is essential to respect gender diversity as a normal part of human expression. We love and embrace our trans* and gender non-conforming Friends, and we strive to create an environment in which everyone feels included and accepted.
In an effort to create a community that is safe and nurturing to all identities, we have implemented the following policies, in addition to non-gendered sleeping spaces:
At the beginning of our first Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business (or “Business Meeting”), we share our names along with our preferred gender pronouns. We engage in this practice because we realize as a community that someone’s outward appearance is not always enough to infer their gender identity. For example, a Friend might introduce themselves as “Alex, she/her.” Now, Friends will know to use “she” when talking about Alex in order to best respect her gender identity.
In our Young Friends Handbook, we use the gender-neutral pronoun “they/them.” We find this both more efficient and more inclusive than writing “he/him” or “she/her.”
In an effort to respect and love all Friends, we have moved forward with a commitment to implementing only policies that speak to the unique Light in each person.
Our community seeks to empower people to be true to themselves and their leading. Since we strive to be welcoming to all people, we aim to foster an environment in which all can pursue their spiritual journeys.
Love and Light,
BYM Young Friends
Alison Duncan, Youth Programs Manager
Baltimore Yearly Meeting offers a series of weekend retreats for middle and high school youth. Themes include leadership, loving community, and personal growth. A parent of a Young Friend said, “I think that [my daughter’s] high school years would have been more difficult without the abilities developed at con: sense of independence, ability to express her feelings and convictions, sense of belonging”.
October 12-13 at Annapolis Friends Meeting
December 7-8 at Goose Creek Friends Meeting
March 8-9 at Charlottesville Friends Meeting
May 9-11 at Catoctin Quaker Camp
One night conferences begin at 10 am Saturday and end at noon Sunday. The May conference begins Friday night at 7pm, and ends at noon Sunday. They all cost $40. Registration is open until the 35 attendee maximum is met.
September 27-29 at Adelphi Friends Meeting
November 29-December 1 (Thanksgiving)
May 23-25 (Memorial Day)
These conferences all begin at 7pm on Friday and end at 12 noon on Sunday. Pre-registration is required two weeks in advance of the conference to pay $50. After that, YFs will be placed on a waiting list, registered as space permits, and charged $60 to attend the conference.
There are three ways to register for a ‘Con’; confirmations are sent within a week of receipt:
- Mail a Registration form, a Medical Form, and a check made out to BYM to the office: 17100 Quaker Lane, Sandy Spring, MD 20860.
- Fax the same forms to 301-774-7087, and pay online.
- Send Alison an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, telling her that you plan to go, and bring your paperwork and payment with you.
During the school year, participants who have already submitted a Medical form will only need a Registration form, as we keep the Medical forms for the whole school year. For the weekend, participants need a sleeping bag, pad, pillow, clothes, toiletries, and anything they think will help build community: games, music, or sports equipment.
The school year is about to begin! The Youth Programs has several upcoming events this year for children and their parents. Raising Quaker Teens: A Weekend for Parents, RE Teachers, and FAPs will be held on October 20 and 21 at William Penn House. This is intentionally co-scheduled with the first Junior Young Friends conference, so parents can drop their child off at the JYF con, and attend this event for themselves. It costs $75, and pre-registration is due Oct 5th.
The JYFs have chosen the theme 'Trust and Relationships' this year, and will explore trust and breeches of trust in friendships, dating, and marriage. Their first conference will at the weekend of October 20-21 at Alexandria Friends Meeting.
Young Friends take responsibility for their community—the shopping and cooking, program, inclusion of new friends, and Spirit of the weekend. In doing so, they learn self-reliance and how to take care of others. The first Young Friends Conference will be at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting the weekend of September 21-23.
Please save the dates for these conference in the rest of the year. The locations that have yet to be determined will be announced soon.
JYFs: December 1 - 2, March 9 - 10, and May 10 - 12 at Shiloh Quaker Camp.
YFs: November 23 - 25 (Thanksgiving), February 15 - 17, April TBD, and May 24 - 26 (Memorial Day Weekend).
Pre-registration is required one week in advance of each JYF con (or until the 35 person max is reached), and TWO weeks in advance of each YF con. After that, participants will be placed on a waiting list, and registered as space permits. JYF Cons cost $40; YF Cons cost $50 for participants who have pre-registered and $60 for participants who have not. Financial aid is available upon request.
There are three ways to register for a 'Con'
- Mail a Registration Form, a Medical Form, and a check made out to BYM to the office at 17100 Quaker Lane, Sandy Spring, MD 20860;
- fax the same forms to 301-774-7087, and pay online. To pay online, click on the "make a gift" button on the BYM website, then 'click to make a donation now' and follow the directions to register for a BYM conference or retreat;
- send Alison an email, telling her that you plan to attend, and bring your paperwork and payment with you.
Links to the forms (and a whole lot more) can be found at the Young Friends (yf.bym-rsf.net) and Junior Young Friends (jyf.bym-rsf.org) websites. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Alison Duncan.
Youth Programs Nurture Growth
Alison Duncan, Youth Secretary
Junior and Young Friends conferences are an opportunity for teens to live with each other in a Quaker Community. Junior Young Friends explore an idea of their choosing—this year it is Insecurity. Young Friends take responsibility for their community - the shopping and cooking, program, inclusion of new friends, and spirit of the weekend. In doing so, they learn self-reliance and how to take care of others.
Their words speak volumes about how this program affects their understanding of…
Being in a community where Quaker testimonies are lived out in every interaction shows me that they are not just lofty ideas, they are livable.
Who they are
YFs has helped me develop a clear sense of who I am right now. I am socially, emotionally, and spiritually more developed, happier, and more stable because of the community that I experience with Young Friends.
What they can do
My experience in YF has helped me take responsibility for my choices and my actions because I know my thoughts and feelings have value. This has given me the confidence I need to new situations because now I have deep knowledge of my inner-strength.
Friendly Adult Presences are resources for the Junior and Young Friends over the weekend. There will be a ‘FAP’ training November 5th at Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville, VA from 9am to 4pm (bring a bag lunch); email me to register. Please consider attending, and advertise it widely. We hope to have another one in the spring in the northern part of the Yearly Meeting.
This year, pre-registration will be required TWO WEEKS in advance of each conference. After that, Friends will be placed on a waiting list, and registered as space permits. Also new this year, the cost for a pre-registered Young Friend is $50, while the cost for a Young Friend who registers within two weeks of the conference will be $60. Junior Young Friends conferences still cost $40. Financial aid is available upon request.
2011-12 Youth Program Schedule
Sept 23-25 YF at Adelphi Friends Meeting
Oct 15-16 JYF at Frederick Monthly Meeting
Nov 5 FAP training at Tandem Friends School
Nov 25-27 YF at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting
Dec 3-4 JYF at Midlothian Friends Meeting
Feb 10-12 YF at Homewood?
Mar 10-11 JYF at Stony Run
Mar 30-Apr 1 YF Bus Trip
Apr TBD Parent’s weekend
May 11-13 JYF at Opequon
May 25-27 YF at Annapolis