Every summer Linda and I look forward to a great week-long vacation. Our annual vacation is a great true vacation; getting away from all of the pressures and anxieties of modern life with a great combination of relaxation combined with pleasant intellectual and spiritual stimulation. A happy bonus is that this week of vacation is of a modest cost with lodging, three quality meals per day, and a carefully planed program balanced with activities and time to one’s self — all for a cost that is from half to a quarter of the cost of a similar commercial convention. For more than 30 years this great vacation has not failed us.
For 20 of those years we took our children on this vacation with great success. This vacation opportunity also had a great program for children of every age, and best of all they absolutely loved it. They looked forward to going back each year as much as we did and came away each year with new friends.
I suppose that it is no secret that I am talking about the Friends General Conference annual Gathering. This is the annual event that refreshes the whole family and we return to our home meeting with new insights and enthusiasm about being Quakers. And this is the event which, in my opinion, is of seminal importance in cementing a connection to Quakerism for young Friends. So often we see children growing up in our meetings who after high school drift away and are rarely seen at meeting again. But it has not escaped me that the kids (especially the teens) who attend the FGC Gathering are disproportionately the ones who return to meeting as young adults. It is at FGC that they somehow “get” the message at a meaningful level.
So do yourself a favor. See if you can arrange to get to the Gathering this summer. It is within driving distance in southern Pennsylvania. And remember, there is also financial aid available for those who can not afford the fees –from your meeting, from PFF, and from FGC itself. Registration is now open -it is time to sign up and make the commitment to go. You’ll be glad you did!