Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Junior Gathering Frequently Asked Questions 2020

NOTE:  These are revised answers for 2020.  Additional questions will be answered as they arise. Please come back again!

Questions and answers from previous years:

Can both of my children attend the same group even though they are different ages?

The answer to this question can be a little complicated. It really depends on both the ages of the children and how far apart in age they are. Infants and young toddlers are often grouped together - if there are not too many of them. Other preschoolers are grouped together. Rising Kindergarten through sixth graders are divided into groups of equal numbers based on both age and their school grade, with activities tailor made for their ages. The rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders are together in a middle school group.

Can we register for Half Gathering?

No. Part-time attendance is not allowed for Junior Gathering participants, because it is not conducive to the community-building that is such a great part of Junior Gathering.

Can a child attend Gathering without their parent?

Every child and youth at Gathering needs a sponsor. A sponsor is a parent, family member or other conscientious person 25 or older who knows the child or youth well. If the sponsor is not the parent, the sponsor should be someone who is actively concerned with the young person's activities and well-being. We request that a sponsor be responsible for no more than two young people. Both the participant and sponsor must be full time Gathering attendees residing on campus (this includes on-campus camping).

Children and youth may not arrive before sponsors or remain at the Gathering after sponsors have departed. Please make travel plans accordingly. The sponsor (or designated alternate) must be on campus (or with the sponsee) at all times during Gathering. Alternate sponsors are designated in writing in advance. Complete sponsor guidelines may be viewed at our website in June, and will be explained in detail at the High School Program sponsor orientation on Sunday evening. All participants, even those already 18, must identify their sponsor when registering for Gathering and submit a parental release form.

Can we arrive late or leave early?

If your travel plans require you to arrive late Sunday evening or Monday morning, please be sure to let us know so the Group leader can make sure your child feels a warm welcome upon arrival! We encourage all families to stay for the full week; however, if your travel plans require you to leave on Friday afternoon, be sure to let your child's group leader know this, so your child will receive a proper goodbye.

May we bring scooters, skateboards, or bicycles?

Yes, but you must have a helmet for each rider, no matter what age. 

What happens in the afternoon?

We are currently considering adding an afternoon Junior Gathering session for elementary-school children. More information to come. - 11/5/19

There are a variety of activities for children and their parents (grandparents, sponsors, etc.) to participate in, including multi-generational activities (like Capture the Flag), fieldtrips, swimming (for a fee), and opportunities for rest and reflection. This is a great time for informal outdoor play.

How can I get childcare if I want to go to a contra dance or other activity after 9:00 p.m?

We encourage parents to do cooperative babysitting. You can sign up for this at the Junior Gathering Office (You will likely be housed near families with similarly aged children.)

My child goes to bed at 7:30. Why does the children's program last until 9:00 p.m? What should I do?

Junior Gathering programming runs until 9:00 to give parents the opportunity to attend evening plenary. For our youngest Friends the program is very informal. It is totally your call as to whether or not your infant, toddler, or preschooler attends evening group time, especially if bedtime is an issue. A well rested child will be better able to focus and reap the benefits of morning group. However, for school age children, our experience has shown that the more time they spend together the more friends they make! For rising 7th through 9th graders, our expectation is that all the participants will attend each evening - since this is when they have their support groups. However, if your older child must miss one evening, it is important to notify the leaders - so they won't come looking for you!

When filling out the registration form, what grade level should I list?

Please indicate your child's rising grade level, the one your child will be in when school starts again in the fall. 

How are the groups formed?

See the answer to Can both of my children attend the same group even though they are different ages?

How many children will be in a class?

For the very youngest, our goal is one-on-one care.

The number of children in your child's group will depend upon a variety of factors, but we generally like to keep our numbers small with adequate adult staff to support the group.  Rising 7th through 9th graders (Oaks)  have workshops in the morning, usually fewer than 15 people in each. In the evening they have small support groups of 5 - 8 for the beginning time, followed by large group activities. For the groups from age 3 to 6th graders we aim for 15 - 20 per group with one adult for every three to four children.

How will I know what my child needs to bring?

You will receive an email message from your child's group coordinator in mid-June with all of the specifics.  There is also some information on the webpage for your child's age group.

Will snack be provided in the group?

In 2018 we began serving a simple snack in each group, such as graham crackers, popcorn, pretzels, and rice cakes.

A simple snack allows Junior Gathering to act as better stewards of our funds. It eliminates the need for the two snack coordinator positions, as all snack can be delivered to the classrooms at the beginning of the week instead of each morning. This allows us to conserve funds for programming and rely more heavily on the dining hall and mealtimes to fill the tummies of the children in our care with healthy, sustaining food. Though we have loved serving fresh, organic produce and juice to the children, these groceries cannot be bought in bulk and are significantly more costly than dry goods. We appreciate the care that went into this decision and trust that as you make plans for coming to Gathering, you will plan to use the robust offering at the dining services to make sure the children are well fueled for their play and learning with us. A hearty breakfast goes a long way toward a successful morning and a solid supper helps children thrive during evening program time.  Our simple snack will help bridge the time between meals.

Please plan to send a water bottle clearly marked with your child's name so we can avoid using disposable cups and still make sure our children are getting plenty of water to drink, especially on hot days.

When will I find out who my child's leaders are?

The coordinators of your child's group will be composing email messages to introduce themselves to you and your child. These messages will be sent from FGC in mid-June.

There are no Oak workshops on the website. When do the rising 7th - 9th graders choose these?

The rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders indicate their preference at the mandatory Oak Group parent and participant meeting on Sunday evening. The Junior Gathering staff then assign the participants to workshops based on the participant's preference AND group size.

My son will be in the Oak Group (rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders). He wants to be in the same workshop as his best friend. How can I make sure that happens?

The two friends should be sure they indicate the same workshop preference at the Orientation on Sunday evening.  Of course there is no guarantee.  Middle Schoolers choose their own groups in the evening. The Gathering and particularly morning workshops are a great time to make new friends.

Where do children sleep?

This depends on the particular campus, child's age and your preference. Children under 11 years of age have the option of sleeping on the floor in your room IF the other bed is occupied. (No bedding or pillows provided!)

Older children or younger ones who don't want to sleep on the floor will share a room with you or, if your room is full, with another child of similar age and same gender. That room will likely be next to your room, or in a suite across the hall with the parent of the other child.

If I only have one child who can't sleep on the floor, where will she go?

The Housing Team will choose another family in the same situation and put your child with another one in the room between yours and the other child's parent's room. If they can't find a good match for your child, your child may be in a room by themselves -- but you will still be charged the price for a double (shared-room).

There are no other current 6th, 7th, or 8th graders in my Meeting (rising 7th, 8th, or 9th graders). My daughter wants to room with her friend from another Meeting. What do I do?

In the housing section of the registration form, indicate the friend as your child's desired roommate. You might also ask your child to double check to see if the friend's family is choosing the same type housing (A/C or not) and "Housing Cluster" (General, FLBGTQC, etc.)

What are all the group names and ages?

Junior Gathering Groups

Group Name


Grade  2019-2020 school year

“Traditional Names”


Birth - 4+ years






5-7 years, must be ready for Kindergarten

Rising K to 2nd graders

Primary I


8-10 years

Rising 3rd-6th graders

Elementary I


11-14 years

Rising 7th, 8th & 9th graders

Middle School

Updated 11-15-19

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