“I learned the meaning of Quakerism. To me Quakerism is an attitude that is embodied in the camp, we had lots of silence over the summer and this helped the community to function well. We could ask people who have been Quakers for decades or weeks what it means to them, from this I found that Quakerism is a lifestyle and is based on integrity and kindness, this made me proud of my religion.” ~camper
What does it mean for us to be a Quaker summer camp? How are our values and Quaker traditions experienced at camp?
At Mountain Friends Camp we try to treat each other with love and respect, practice integrity and equality, and value simplicity, community and sustainability. We talk about these “testimonies” or core values and encourage campers and staff to share their own feelings and experiences. Campers are quick to pick up on and share the friendly, supportive culture. On the first day of each session, the full community creates and agrees to follow “camp norms” and campers help remind each other to follow the norms during camp. Several aspects of our daily program will be familiar to Quakers and welcoming to all, these are morning meeting and small groups.
During “morning meeting” each person is free to use the silence for contemplation and worship, to immerse their senses in nature, or simply take time with their own thoughts. From that silence and listening, anyone, camper or staff, might feel led to share a spiritual message, a few words about their thoughts, or even a song! After this “unprogrammed” part of meeting, the facilitator opens up space for anyone to share affirmations, concerns or questions, then announcements are made and groups for the day are decided. The camp director usually leads the first several meetings, after which other staff, counselors in training and even a few campers take turns clerking morning meeting.
Every day we meet in small groups to share or discuss around a chosen topic. Small group time is one where everyone can share from their own experience without the fear of judgment (or gossip!) and the topics can be as silly or profound–or both– as the group decides. Small groups have another means to connect and grow, through a daily “beauty and order” chore around camp.
Our all-camp evening programs take various forms, from skits to singing to rousing games, but often are centered around one of the Quaker testimonies. Problem solving, conflict resolution and decisions at camp are mostly made using the Quaker process of discerning the sense of the meeting. Rather than voting or giving all decision making power to a few people, we listen to everyone and come up with solutions that everyone can agree are best for the group.
We do not: uphold one religion or spiritual path over another, preach or attempt to convert anyone, adhere to a “creed” or doctrine
“What I like best is the sense of community and friendship. The way the Quaker values are integrated into life is great.” ~camper
Visit http://fgcquaker.org/what-are-quakers and http://quakerinfo.org/ for more information about Quakers! We are affiliated with InterMountain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, bringing together unprogrammed Quakers in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Idaho and Texas. Visit our Yearly Meeting on the web at imym.org and explore various Quaker organizations on our links page.