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 Camp Swatara 
  Caln Quarter Family Weekend

Camp Swatara, a Friends family weekend retreat sponsored by Caln Quarterly Meeting and held on the first weekend of May, offers fellowship, learning, worship and simply a chance to commune with nature in the scenic setting of Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pennsylvania. Caln Quarter has held these residential retreats for over 40 years at the foot of Blue Mountain and the Appalachian Trail.

If you haven’t gone to Camp Swatara before, then imagine a weekend with friendly people eager to listen, learn and connect. The retreats attract a wide variety of people with common understandings–some with insights into Quaker history and some with modern leanings. The organizers encourage Young Adult Friends, ages 18 to 32, to attend. Meetings for Worship, held on Sunday morning outdoors under the trees, are large yet personal.

The Quarter plans programs for both adults and children. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting staff coordinates the programs for the Middle School and Young Friends. Plus, you’ll find many many intergenerational sessions where young and old can interact.

Campfires, workshops, opportunities for worship, yoga and hymn singing are all part of the varied program. The Quarter holds its Meeting for Business on Saturday morning and afterwards many attend workshops during the afternoon. On Saturday evening, contra and square dancing once again bring young and old together for fun.

A book, entitled Practicing Peace, being read by study groups in Lancaster Meeting and the national gathering of historic peace churches held in Philadelphia in January inspired the retreat’s theme for 2009.

The Plenary Session, held on Saturday afternoon, addressed what Friends can do to bring peace into our world. The session summarized "Heeding God's Call--A Gathering on Peace," the January 2009 Gathering which took place at the Arch Street Meetinghouse in Philadelphia.

A member of Lancaster Friends Meeting, who attended this Gathering as the delegate from Caln Quarter, led a discussion describing the Gathering and helped participants identify ways that they can bring peace into their, and the wider world, community. This historic Gathering called on all to understand the work of justice, non-violence and peace as being rooted in the gospel. The Gathering drew upon the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and others who fostered contemplation and activism to make the world a better place for all.

This year’s Intergenerational Presentation, "Show Me the Franklins!", focused on the Black Franklins, the enslaved men and women of the Franklin household and the Africans who came into contact with Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, London and Paris. Set in the context of a contemporary lecture, the play's action moved from an entertaining and informative lecture to a showdown between Scholar, an African American professor who is committed to the biased documentary record, and Jemima, an ancestor formerly enslaved by Franklin. A mixture of poetry, ritual, and song, this play offers a fresh take on slavery by asking us: What are the ancestors calling on us to do today?

Learn more about Camp Swatara, itself.

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