One hundred youth participated in FGC’s Junior Gathering and High School Program in Grinnell this summer. Acorns (ages 0-4 years) enjoyed blowing bubbles, wading in pools, and playing with toy trucks. The Sprouts (grades K-2) read books relating to Gathering’s theme, Peace in our Hearts, Justice in the World, and continued their annual service tradition of making ants on a log for FGC office staff. Everyone was delighted by this nourishing treat! The Pinetrees (grades 3-5) loved running through the sprinklers each evening, playing cooperative games, and making tie-dyed bandanas together. Four Pinetree youth were invited onstage with John McCutcheon for his Wednesday night concert! The Oaks (grades 6-9) explored botany and edible plants of Iowa, meditated and walked labyrinths, juggled and cooked brownies and pizza together.
We were thrilled to have a robust high school program this year, with many newcomers. High Schoolers spent their mornings in workshops, along with adult participants. In the words of one High School participant: “My workshop really helped me grow as a Quaker and helped me connect with my spirituality.”
High schoolers also found their afternoon support groups to be deeply grounding and important spaces to connect to their peers. Free time was spent with games of wink, visits to Grinnell’s Fireworks display, chalk art, and an out trip to the water park. A particular highlight of 2019’s program was the growth of the HS clerks during their two business meetings. A staff member described the business meetings, “nothing short of a Quaker miracle.”
FGC’s youth programs strive to provide a spiritual foundation for young people’s development within the context of a playful, supportive, and loving community. We extend immense gratitude to all 53 staff members who made these youth programs possible! Mark your calendar for Gathering 2020: Way Will Open, happening June 28 to July 4, 2020 in Radford, VA.