Children are an important part of Olympia Friends Meeting.
The Meeting welcomes children of all ages to participate in the Children’s Program while adults are in Meeting for Worship. Organized instruction for children ages five years and up is organized by the Children’s Committee, with childcare provided for younger attenders. Children typically spend the first 15 minutes with the adults in silent worship – or 30 minutes on Query Sundays (3rd Sundays).
Children are then led out of Meeting and to their programs in the First Day School rooms. They return to their parents in the Meeting room at the end of the worship hour.
See a transcript and discussion questions for this video by QuakerSpeak here .
Quakers (or Friends) believe that there is that of God (or the Divine) in everyone. Because Quakerism offers no doctrine about exactly what God is, you will find that Quakers hold many different ideas about God. You will often hear them refer to the Light, inner teacher, or the Inner Light. Each year, children and youth in their programs focus on a specific theme that serves as an on-going focal point in the curriculum. Themes are chosen by the Children’s Committee in consultation with children, youth and Children’s Program staff. Previous years’ themes have included:
- The Inner Light and exploring it through sensing, thinking, feeling, intuiting and doing
- How to Be a Friend, through listening, acceptance, commitment with boundaries, speaking truth and forgiveness of self and others
- SPICES, or the six Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship
Early Elementary Program
Childcare for infants through age five years is offered each week by paid staff and volunteers. Kindergarteners may participate in the elementary program or remain with the “youngers.” Children in both programs stay with adults in the Meeting room for the first 15 minutes and then go to their respective programs, with two adults present in each class. Occasionally, a child chooses to remain with their parents the whole time, and, of course, babies usually do.
Our Goal for Children and Youth
We hope that each child and youth discover something they can do that brings them a sense of peace, joy, connectedness or whatever it is that will let them know that God is within them and available to them always. Some of the practices we may explore (often presented by Meeting members or attenders who are experienced with them) include meditation, devotional reading, centering prayer, yoga, music and singing, time in nature (in beautiful Priest Point Park, adjacent to the Meeting House), and service activities in the larger community.
Children age five years (or kindergarten) through 5th grade are provided curriculum and programming of stories, crafts, Quaker stories in history and provided by two caring adult volunteers. Children in both programs stay with adults in the Meeting room for the first 15 minutes and then go to their respective programs, with two adults present in each class.
Regional and Summer Gatherings of Children, Youth and Young Adults
OMM’s youth program, there are many regional and national activities for youth. Our Quarterly Meeting (weekend gatherings for Quakers from Washington and Idaho that takes place in Ellensburg, Washington twice a year) has strong youth programs. Our larger North Pacific Yearly meeting has two youth outings a year – a week-long summer camping trip and long weekend winter trip. They also organize an international service trip every few years for youth over age 16. In summer, our Olympia Monthly Meeting combine the Children’s programs and youth interview members of the Meeting with questions youth developed as a way to get to know the “elders” and learn their stories.
Feel free to call Olympia Friends Meeting, (360) 561-7067, for more information about our programs.