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
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
Learn more about Camp
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