Camp NeeKauNis 2011

“Camp NeeKauNis sits on the shore of Sturgeon Bay, near Waubaushene, Ontario, welcoming people of all ages and from all walks of life. As a camp founded and run by Canadian Quakers, we strive to build a community that nurtures values such as compassion, co-operation, respect, and fellowship. Our camp sessions are 7 to 10 days long, and our groups are small and close-knit, with an average of 40 to 50 participants. Campers and staff alike leave camp reluctantly, and count the days to next summer. Once you have been a part of Camp NeeKauNis, it becomes a part of you. (taken from the website)”

Since Camp has a youth focus and is the only Quaker camp in Canada, I visited as many of the camp sessions this summer as I could. The opportunities to witness the fabulous staff, meet the inter-generational communities, be part of the programming and just be present in the natural beauty of the property was a special gift. Camp is doing the best job it can to provide great programming and facilities using a completely volunteer structure, but is seriously looking at how to better do this work. It was inspirational to be present during some consultation and meetings where members of the Camp committee are starting this work.

Each camp session offers something slightly different for the age specific group that is there. But, there are some aspects that remain the same across sessions. New campers are welcomed into the community with a button at their first meal and staff and campers alike share in singing the “announcements” song. Dish teams are a major community building piece, where everyone shares in the set up and dish washing from meals. Each day there is Meeting for Worship, swim period and a work period and usually there are theme meals, maybe a dance and on the last night TALENT NIGHT, with a special guest appearance from the local wildlife as the last act.

Camp may seem far away for Friends not in Ontario (and even then!), but the geographic distance is worth the trek. It can also feel financially daunting to have to fly to camp as well as cover fees, however there are bursaries and scholarships which can offset the expenses and you should contact the Camp Committee or speak with your local Monthly Meeting.

It was wonderful to meet new friends, reacquaint with other friends, share my excitement for the Youth Secretary position and get ideas, suggestions and feedback from a wider group of folks. A wonderful place to spend a few days, and camp session or the entire summer, I strongly recommend Camp NeeKauNis.

Friends General Conference Gathering 2011

Even though it isn’t part of the Youth Secretary position, I thought it important to mention my time at Friends General Conference Gathering 2011 in Grinnell, Iowa.

Friends General Conference Gathering is an annual event that brings together Quakers of all ages from across North America (and other places!). A number of Friends from Canada attend FGC Gathering and quite a few of them are Young Adult Friends who serve in the FGC Gathering by working in their High School, K group (Jr. High) or younger Youth Programs.

I have the opportunity to work with the High School (HS) program. This year we had a smaller group (the whole FGC Gathering was smaller) of 85 participants and 16 staff. It was a packed week, with staff training and orientations for parents and participants, workshops for participants and staff meetings in the mornings, free time (full of activities, sports and relaxing) in the afternoons with smaller “support” groups to facilitate getting to know a smaller group of people better, and then evening activities.

Special high lights were the out-trip to Rock Creek State Park where we spent an afternoon as the High School community, playing games, chilling, swimming and eating our lunches. There was an epic group sit (see photo) and a lot of laughter. There were also two dances (one inter-generational and one HS-YAF only), water play, capture the flag, two business meetings, closing meeting for worship and an (optional) all-night celebration on the last night. oh- and wink. did I mention wink?!

(For those of you that don’t know, Wink is a game that many Quaker groups I know play- check out the Wikipedia site on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wink_%28game%29)

For families or Younger Friends who are in more isolated situations, whether geographically or because you are the only ones with children or in your age group, consider making the effort to get to FGC Gathering or Camp NeeKauNis because there is something incredible about having a critical mass of Quakers in your own (or your children’s) peer group together with the opportunities to worship, play and work together.

There are many opportunities for volunteering with FGC Gathering, which provides opportunities to off-set costs, follow a leading or ministry and to gain experience in servant leadership. If you’re interested in the Gathering or other programs that FGC provides, check out their website: http://www.fgcquaker.org/

FGC Gathering moves around. Next year 2012- it will be in Kingston, Rhode Island and in 2013 it will be in Greenly, Colorado.

Canadian Yearly Meeting- Annual Session 2011

It was with great joy and gratitude that I started this post while in Windsor, Nova Scotia, where Canadian Yearly Meeting annual sessions were held. The weather has been cool and wet, but that has not damped the spirit or interfered with the coming together of Friends from across the country.

We have guests from further afield, representing a call to various ministries, organizations and leadings to be present with us. We are a small but energetic bunch, participating in Quaker Study every morning before starting our Meeting For Worship with a Concern for Business. Our afternoons are busy, with options for worship, nap time,  and special interest groups. There are many Special Interest Groups, all interesting and engaging, dividing our attentions and making it difficult to pick which one we should attend.

The Youth Program is smaller than usual but is not lacking in delightful participants with fabulous program leaders. There were out trips for swimming, great programming including hearing about the history of Young Friends with Keith J., and fishbowl (method of discussing topics where active listening is key), AVP workshops, preparing for talent night and many other fabulous activities.

The Young Friends Yearly Meeting met 3 times to complete the business at hand, including the appointing of Youth Representatives (as full memebers) of various committees. [Should YOU be interested in serving as a member of a committee, you should contact your local Monthly Meeting and complete the nominations process with them.]

The Youth Secretary and the Quaker Education Program Coordinator had the opportunities to meet, collaborate and work together. It was a rich opportunity to connect with Friends from all over Canada and to share the important work through Special Interest Groups, Business Meeting sessions, evening activities and many conversations over tea.

The food has been fabulous and the food co-op has been resilient to the attempts of the rain to water down our food. It has been an exciting, full of opportunity week for connecting, learning and sharing with parts of our community and I hope that next year there will be even more people gathering together in Camrose, AB!

You can check out a more detailed account of Yearly Meeting 2011 complete with fabulous photos from Vince Zelazny’s blog: http://cym2011.wordpress.com/