Summer Sessions 2023

Saturday, July 22, 2023 - 12:00pm to Thursday, July 27, 2023 - 12:00pm


Dear Friends,

Please come to Oakwood Friends School for NYYM's 328th Summer Sessions. We'll be exploring the theme Re-Building Faith in Changing Times.


Though the most visible change for us initially will be the new venue, other new things are likely to mean more to us: we have shortened our time by a day and incorporated two weekend days at the beginning of our "week," in hopes that makes it easier for working folks to come; we will have intergenerational programs and activities several afternoons; we will be creating new activities for JYM because we are in a new place; we will have fewer meetings for business; and mostly, we are prioritizing time together for worship, fellowship, play, and rest, finding out what is important to do together in person, and why we gather.


Opening to one another and to Spirit, as always, we will seek guidance for our rebuilding. We will have queries and proposals to discern together and spending time in worship and fun helps ground us for that. Of course, there will be Bible Study and worship-sharing, plenary speakers, singing, meals together, and more (where will the jigsaw puzzle be?).


Please come - your help is needed to create a new way to do Summer Sessions - a way that holds much that we love from the past, rebuilds our faith as we try new things, and renews our pleasure in being together.


I am hoping I will see you there.




Elaine Learnard, Clerk of New York Yearly Meeting


Summer Sessions 2023

A New Location

For the first time in many decades, New York Yearly Meeting is gathering for Summer Sessions in a new physical location. Due to a number of factors the Sessions Committee and other NYYM officers were unable to negotiate a workable contract with Silver Bay this year. Many people who have experienced Summer Sessions at Silver Bay are upset and disappointed. The planning team, which tried hard to avoid this outcome, shares these feelings. Additionally, the planning team apologizes that the initial announcement was made in a form and language that some found hurtful.


This year, NYYM will be meeting at Oakwood Friends School for Summer Sessions. Oakwood School, which is a part of NYYM, is excited to host us, and is offering their creativity, energy, flexibility, and help. NYYM will be the only group on campus, so we can use all the available spaces and fully immerse ourselves in our Quaker community. There will be new experiences, and new traditions will be formed. At the same time, many of Friends' favorite Summer Sessions events will still be happening, like daily after-dinner singing, the intergenerational Fun(d) Fair and tag sale, the Café Night talent show, and the contra dance. Like last year, many Summer Sessions events will be hybrid—available on campus or online via Zoom—such as worship sharing, bible study, meetings for worship and for business, and meetings for discernment. Check out the "Week-at-a-glance" schedule, subject to change.


What is Summer Sessions?

Summer Sessions is a week-long gathering of Friends where we can worship, play, discern, learn, and simply BE with each other. Friends from the New York Yearly Meeting area (NY state, northern NJ, western CT) and beyond get together for about a week every year to hold meetings, both business and worship, and to create a temporary Quaker community. Summer Sessions is “Pay as Led.”


What is Pay as Led?

Pay as Led is designed to enable newcomers and Friends of differing financial situations to attend Sessions together. After registering you will receive a follow-up email or letter with your Pay as Led rate options. The three options are: the standard rate, which covers the costs NYYM owes to Oakwood; the full rate, which helps others attend; and the minimum rate, which is the lowest suggested amount. The Pay as Led plan relies on generosity from those who can afford to pay more. 


Activities and Events

Sunday Night Plenary - Quakers and the Indian Boarding Schools

Paula Palmer will be the Sunday night plenary speaker, giving a presentation on Quakers and the Indian Boarding Schools. The presentation will begin with a video, followed by a time for small and large group reflection, both in person and online.

Paula Palmer is a member of Boulder Monthly Meeting, part of Intermountain Yearly Meeting. Her ministry, Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples, is a program of Friends Peace Teams. Throughout her adult life, Paula has collaborated with Indigenous peoples as an ally. In Costa Rica, where she lived for 20 years, she helped the Bribri Indigenous people write and publish their own histories. For 17 years as executive director of the environmental organization Global Response, she organized more than 70 international campaigns to help Indigenous communities defend their rights and prevent environmental destruction on their lands. Eleven years ago she experienced a leading to join with Native Americans in their efforts to educate North Americans about the ongoing impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, colonization, and the forced assimilation of Indigenous people. Through the Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program, Native and non-Native people come together to build relationships based on truth, respect, justice, and our shared humanity.


To prepare for Sunday's plenary, please read the presentation Buffy Curtis made at Spring Sessions, which gives a visceral account of the Quaker Indigenous Boarding Schools.


Tuesday Afternoon Plenary - Building a Just and Peaceful Democracy: A Ministry of Friends

The second plenary, held on Tuesday afternoon from 2:00-4:00 p.m., will feature Peter Murchison, Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator of NYYM, and Bridget Moix, General Secretary of FCNL.

Read more about this plenary here.


Bible Study

The Bible is a collection of stories, poetry, prophecies, and pithy sayings covering more than 1,000 years of the history of a faith community, and their experiences of God. Some aspects of their culture are foreign to us, but the basic problems of everyday life are universal. Join Friends for Bible Study after dinner, nightly from Sunday through Wednesday. This year's Bible Study Leader is Rene Lape. Read more about Rene here.


Worship Sharing Groups

Groups will meet either online or in person (not hybrid). At worship sharing, participants are given a query and a chance to explore the query in a sacred, worshipful space with a small group of Friends. Friends attend the same worship group all week. 


Worship at Summer Sessions

NYYM Summer Sessions provides many opportunities to worship and share with the Peaceable Community. Everyone is invited to attend opening worship on Saturday evening, meeting for discernment on Sunday, meetings for worship before business, and closing worship on Thursday, all of which will take place in person at Oakwood; the planning team intends to livestream or hold these as hybrid events as circumstances allow. In addition, your worship and your discernment are needed at hybrid meetings for worship with a concern for business. The more Friends who participate, the better. 


Meetings for Discernment

Meetings for Discernment are periods of extended, waiting worship and deep listening to discern leadings and strengthen connections in our yearly meeting. The Summer 2023 Meeting for Discernment will be held in three sessions in-person at Oakwood Friends School and simultaneously online via Zoom on Sunday, July 23rd. There will be a Zoom meeting on the evening of Wednesday, July 19 beginning at 7 pm for anyone new to the Meeting for Discernment or interested in holding space as an elder.
Query for Sunday morning and early afternoon sessions:

  • How has way opened for your worship community to work through a conflict, currently or in the past
  • What was that moment of opening like?

Read this document for the schedule and further details here


Business Meetings

At business meetings our Quaker practice is put into action. Everyone present is part of the decision-making body and goes through discernment and the finding of the way forward together. Reports on the recent activities of committees and individuals are also heard. Business meeting is a great way to find out how Spirit is moving around the New York Yearly Meeting. Business meetings will be hybrid, both in person and online via Zoom. 


Whisper Buddies

Whisper Buddies is a joyful way to meet and connect with Friends who have a different amount of Quaker decision-making experience than you do. Through this program, Friends who are new to Quaker business meetings (or new to how New York Yearly Meeting does them) can pair up with Friends who are more experienced and are willing to answer questions as they arise – by whispering, passing notes, or talking informally together after a committee meeting or Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. Click here to read more.


Special Events

On Tuesday evening, the senior high school group produces Café Night, an all-ages talent show during which hats are passed to collect donations. Café Night will be streamed online, and it may be possible to have online performers participate again. Bring your instruments and props and join the fun! On Wednesday afternoon, on Oakwood’s campus, the Junior Yearly Meeting presents the Fun(d) Fair, a fundraising fair that includes games, crafts, and refreshments. At the same time, there is the "Tagless" Tag Sale, at which you can “pay what you wish” for items donated by Friends. Please consider bringing used items in good condition to Oakwood so they may be sold at the tag sale. All of these events raise money for the NYYM Sharing Fund and Powell House. In addition, there will be a live-called and lively contra dance for all ages on Monday evening. 


Off-Campus Attractions

The Poughkeepsie area has much to offer, and local Friends have some suggestions! Click here for a PDF of these recommendations, descriptions, and details.

Attending Online

Like last Summer Sessions, meetings for worship, business, and discernment will take place online as well as in person, and online participants will be able to see and hear and speak at these events. The plenary and other events will be available online as well. There will be online-only worship sharing groups.


Attending In Person

COVID Concerns

Sessions Committee agreed to the following suggestions about COVID safety: Masks will be optional. Friends are encouraged to take a COVID test at home before coming to Oakwood. If you feel unwell, please stay home, regardless of COVID test results. If you feel ill at Oakwood, there will be test kits available and you will be asked to take a test.


Intergenerational Community Events

Friends are planning opportunities to create and play together during Summer Sessions. Possibilities include playing with water with sprinklers, a kiddie pool, or a slip-n-slide; an art-creation space full of supplies and activities; a "library" with games and puzzles to borrow; movies and karaoke in the evening; and active group games and sports in the gymnasium and on the lawns. As a form of welcoming on the opening afternoon of Saturday, July 22, and on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, there will be time for Friends to offer intergenerational community-building activities. Can you help build our community by sharing your gifts with Friends? Many hands and hearts are needed. For ideas, and to volunteer, click on the Community-Building Activity description

In addition, off-campus field trips in the afternoons are possible. These will be self-organized, with sign-up sheets to help Friends arrange carpools. Local options include nature trails around the Locust Grove Estate, the Walkway Across the Hudson, swimming and hiking at Minnewaska State Park, or a visit to the FDR National Historic Site at Hyde Park. Families with children may want to coordinate an afternoon visit to the Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum, or Splashdown Water Park (additional ticket prices apply).


In-Person Support 

Accessibility Concerns: All the areas on campus that we will use during Summer Sessions are accessible, including the first floors of the dormitories. Buildings are fairly close together. Golf carts will be available to assist movement around campus. Please help our community by offering assistance to Friends who may need help moving around or getting food in the cafeteria. Friends who indicate special needs on their registration form will be contacted by the NYYM office to gather further information. Mobility-accessible sleeping rooms on campus will be held for those using wheelchairs (and their roommates). Friends who require assistance with personal needs must arrange this assistance on their own, and the person assisting them must stay in the room with them. Please indicate on your registration form if you need help with hearing or movement. Note takers can be provided and accessible locations allocated for worship sharing and committee meetings.


12-Step Meetings: 12-Step Meetings will be held every day in person during Summer Sessions. Meetings will be coordinated by John Scardina. Are you able and willing to facilitate one or more of the meetings? Please contact John at [email protected].


The Healing Center: As in years past, the Healing Center will be a sacred space for Friends during Summer Sessions. The Healing Center operates on a temple model, not on a spa model. That is, seekers cannot expect to come for an appointment as if they were paying for services. Rather, seekers enter a sacred space where everyone present contributes prayerfully to the spiritual energy. Seekers can hold space, receive work, or join a meeting for healing — whatever is offered at the time. Closer to Session time we will announce the location of the Healing Center on the Oakwood campus and the schedule of operation.


Young Adult Friends

Young adult Friends (YAFs) can choose to join a YAF housing cluster if staying on campus—be sure to select that option on your registration form. In addition, young adults will gather on Saturday to get to know each other and make plans for the rest of Summer Sessions. Possibilities include YAF-organized field-trips, learning opportunities, and check-ins about discernment happening at Sessions.

Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM)

Junior Yearly Meeting is the program for children ages 5-18 attending Summer Sessions in person. Groups are arranged according to grade, and meet every morning, Sunday through Wednesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. JYM volunteers plan a community-building week of activities for the children, including games, discussions, art projects, and more. JYM is a time for young people to experience a community based on Friends’ testimonies and practices. Age-appropriate, experiential Quaker content is part of the program, and groups will spend some time in quiet worship or worship sharing every day.

For children under 5 years old: Experienced childcare providers are being hired to care for children under-5s in the morning, to be supervised by JYM coordinators.

High School Group: The High School program will include a housing cluster, a lounge, and special activities throughout the day! Read more at

Can my child go to Summer Sessions without me? Yes! If your child is under 18, they may attend Summer Sessions with an adult chaperone. They must room with the chaperone if possible and appropriate; otherwise they should be in adjoining rooms. The chaperone must be designated by the parent/guardian on their registration forms, and must be at least 10 years older than the young Friend they are chaperoning. The chaperone and the child should know each other reasonably well. The parent/guardian must provide a signed note giving the chaperone the authority to care for their child, to be presented at JYM registration.

Summer Sessions is for Families! Click here to read more.

Pay as Led

There are multiple costs associated with sessions. Direct costs are paid through NYYM for on-campus meals and dormitory housing. Indirect costs include the contribution NYYM makes to Oakwood for hosting, staff time preparing sessions, and making the hybrid meeting format possible. Sessions are funded through a spiritual experiment that relies on each of us to do our part to support the wider community: “Pay as Led.”

With Pay as Led, people who can afford to pay more can do so, enabling those who need to pay less to do so. We trust that Friends will be both generous and honest in their discernment on what they are led to pay. 

After you register, you will be sent three suggested Pay as Led amounts:

Standard rate, which covers your meals (and overnight housing costs if you’re staying at Oakwood), plus general hosting and registration costs.

Minimum rate, which is substantially reduced from the standard rate. Note that monthly meetings often have funds set aside to help Friends attend Sessions.

Full rate, which includes funds for NYYM programming costs and support for those paying less than the standard rate. Any amount above the standard rate will be recognized as a donation to NYYM.

For more details, please click here: Pay As Led 2023 text If you need help paying for your transportation or off campus housing costs, please contact [email protected] or call the NYYM office at 212-257-5750

Supporting Documents and Agenda

The Agenda (below) has links to supporting documents that will help Friends prepare for our time together in Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. The Agenda is not yet finalized, and may change as way opens. Please check back regularly to ensure that you are viewing this up-to-date Agenda.

Agenda with links


Supporting Documents