2024 Gathering & Annual Sessions
March 27 – 31, 2024
In-person, with opportunities for online participation
Dayspring Camp & Conference Center
8411 25th Street East
Parrish, FL 34219
Join Friends from all over the SEYM region and beyond for retreats, workshops, worship-sharing, the Walton Retreats and Lecture, intergenerational fun, a full Youth Program, and our Yearly Business Meeting Sessions.
Some sessions will also be offered online: business meetings and the Walton Lecture.
Agenda and Documents in Advance
Registration for virtual Gathering is open.
the theme of our Gathering and the J. Barnard Walton Lecture & Retreats
Deepening at the Root:
Tending the Source of Our Worship & Witness
will be presented by
The problems facing us today, climate disruption, resource depletion, species extinction, white supremacy and endemic racism, to name but a few, are vast, multifaceted, and complex. We cannot live in the midst of them, do nothing, and be fully spiritually alive. And our own best ideas alone will not be adequate to address them. If we are to have a meaningful impact, and not burn ourselves out, we need to be clearly and powerfully led.
Central to our spiritual understanding as Friends is the reality that we each carry the Light, a small piece of the Divine within. This is not mere metaphor. How we tend this most precious dimension of ourselves directly impacts the spiritual force, or lack of it, that we bring to our worship and our witness. When we are aligned with it, this Divine Spark empowers, guides and sustains us.
In living questions on how I can better connect my spirituality and my activism- my experience of living more fully in the Divine Center and concerns I carry for the world- I kept hearing we need to go to the root which underlies them both. How do we do that? What does that look like?
Speaking out of the Silence, I will be sharing what I have learned about opening to and following this tender and vulnerable dimension of ourselves, how it empowers our worship and our witness, and questions I still carry about how to better make room for the power of the Divine to work through us.
Christopher Sammond loves facilitating the creation of a safe space that invites all Friends to open in heart and spirit, to re-member their wholeness, to share in a sense of rich community, and to touch the Divine Source. He has led scores of interactive workshops and retreats for Friends over many years, including ones at Powell House, Woolman Hill, Pendle Hill, Earlham School of Religion, the Friends United Meeting Triennial, the Friends World Committee for Consultation World Gathering, and the Friends General Conference Gathering. Christopher brings years of experience working with meetings on their worship life when serving New York Yearly Meeting as their General Secretary. Many of his workshops over the past 15 years have focused on deepening the experience of worship for monthly, quarterly, and regional meetings. In addition to facilitating workshops and retreats, he currently serves as a core teacher in the School of the Spirit program, Participating in God’s Power.
Christopher also treasures the opportunity to listen for a message for a gathered community at a given time and has done so for the FGC Gathering, Illinois YM, ESR, Powell House, and many regional and monthly meetings. He lives in upstate NY with his wife Barbara, their dog and two cats.
Our new site: Dayspring Camp & Conference Center
Our new site is just beautiful. Dayspring is located on the Manatee River, near Sarasota and St. Petersburg. Its many different native ecosystems — with forests, mangroves, and wetlands — provide a very peaceful setting. The camp has nature trails and other opportunities to be outdoors. We encourage Friends to visit their website to learn more.
We can look forward to good food and lodging. Dayspring has two chefs on site, and special diets can be accommodated. On-site lodging is in welcoming cabins, houses and dorms. Another housing option is to stay at a nearby hotel just 5 minutes from the camp; we are reserving a block of rooms for a discount rate. The camp is about 30 minutes from Sarasota and St. Petersburg and 50 minutes from Tampa, so more Friends will be able to commute from home.
Registration for virtual Gathering is open.
All the Details
Our schedule is looks a bit different this year: there will more time to enjoy nature, interest groups, and fellowship and we are planning for more intergenerational activities. Wednesday afternoon will be open for check-in, setting up, and touring the camp. Committees are being asked to meet virtually prior to the Gathering, though they may also meet again in person at the camp during interest group time if they wish.
Retreat 1: Opening to the Source Thursday, April 6, 10am
The experience of deeper worship, discernment, vocal ministry, and leadings for action all arise from the same Source, and we can learn practices which help us to open to that wellspring within. We do this through building a trusting community, being more intentional in how we live our lives and prepare for worship, and through learning experientially to open our hearts more to each other and to the Divine. Most of us know this place. But we tend to have differing degrees, person to person and within a given person on different days, in our ability or choice in accessing the Source of depth and spiritual connection. In this retreat we will explore ways of entering into and sustaining ourselves in those depths.
Retreat 2: Keeping the Watch Friday, April 7, 10am
A core dimension of Friends practice is seeking to be guided and led. We do that through accessing and staying connected to the Source. Early Friends called maintaining that connection “keeping the watch.” In this retreat we will focus on key practices which enhance our capacity to stay spiritually grounded and open, thus being receptive to being led. We will also work to become more conscious of our individual internal blocks to maintaining that state of connection.
This year, we have 14 workshops in 5 sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday:
AFSC-Miami • Finding our way back to our peaceful self • Friendly Bible Study • Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse • Extended Worship • Racial Wealth Gap Simulation • F/friends in Unlikely Places: Engaging with Those Who Don’t Agree with You • Friendly Bible Study 2 • Connecting in Spiritual Community • The Divine Conversation (Parts 1 & 2) • Towards a Non-racist future • Welcome As You Are • From Witness to Action
The theme for our 2023 Youth Program is
The Natural World We All Live In
The Youth Committee is busy planning our Youth Program; the schedule will be posted soon!
Youth activities we are planning include: Ropes Course for teens (14 and older), nature trails, workshops, worship sharing, arts and crafts, outdoor games, swimming, and canoeing. There will also be intergenerational workshops and two evenings of all-ages fun.
Youth Program leaders, volunteer staff, and parents work together to create a community where all young Friends feel included.
All youth are expected to participate in the youth program during their stay.
- Youth must attend with a parent, guardian, or a designated adult sponsor.
- Youth need a parent/guardian signed Parental Consent Form> in order to participate. Please bring completed forms with you.
- Parents/sponsors are responsible for signing youth in and out of all sessions. Afternoon activities are optional. Parent/sponsors are responsible for youth any time they are not signed in for a youth program session.
Please carefully read and consider the housing options and charges, which are different from what we have had in past years. Housing on site is limited; please consider whether you can share a room or commute from home or nearby hotel.
Dayspring offers both semi-private and private accomodations in cabins, houses, and dorms. There are also larger bedrooms for families of 3 or more. The spaces are clean and cozy.
Cabins and houses have common areas including living areas, kitchens, and porches. Kitchens provide small refrigerators and coffee makers; no cooking is permitted. Coffee, filters, creamers and sugar are provided, but you may bring your own.
Dorms are located next to the Lounge and Dining Room. They have bunk bed cubicles (we will only use bottom bunks), which allow some degree of privacy. There are separate he/they and she/they dorm areas, each with bunk rooms, bath, and shower rooms connected by a covered porch. Beds are rather firm; bring a comfy topper if you need it.
Meals are included in your lodging fees. 3 meals/day are included ($40/day), beginning with dinner on your arrival day and ending with lunch on your departure day. You may add lunch for arrival day on the registration form.
- Couple/Family with Youth, sharing a room = $101/day/Adult, $61/day/Youth ages 4-18, Youth 3 or under are free. You may bring a travel crib.
- Private Room (includes linen & towels) = $137/day. The number of private rooms will be limited so we can house more people on site.
- Semi-Private (includes linen and towels) = $101/day/person
- Dorms (bring your own linens & towels) = $72/day/person This is a real bargain, considering the rate includes meals ($40/day)!
Note: Youth attending with families receive meals for free!
Friends may commute from home or a nearby hotel. The camp is about 30 minutes away from Sarasota and St. Petersburg.
Hotel: SEYM has reserved a block of 20 rooms at discount rates at the Super 8 Ellenton, 5218 17th St E, Ellenton, FL. It is about 7 minutes from the camp. Rooms include the usual amenities, plus continental breakfast. This may be a good option if you prefer more privacy, or if you have a roommate and would prefer a larger room to share, desk, etc.
The rate is $124/night plus tax. (The rate is the same whether for 1 or 2 adults, with or without children.) You can choose rooms with either 2 Queen beds or 1 king bed. Reservations can be cancelled up to 24 hours before check-in.
To get the SEYM discount, reservations must be made by March 22, using this link>
You must also register with SEYM to attend the Gathering, using the Commuter section in the site use option.
Commuter Charges: $25/day/adult, and $12/day/youth, which includes lunch on the days you attend. You can sign up for additional meals on the Registration Form.
Additional meals for Commuters:
- Breakfast $10
- Lunch $13 (included in your Commuter fee)
- Dinner $17
There are some key things to note about meals at our new site:
Meals are served buffet-style. Please take only what you need at your first pass through the line to ensure there’s enough for everybody. You can go back for seconds later.
Be prompt. Be in line outside the Dining Room when it opens – we are allowed only 45 minutes for meals. After 45 minutes is up, you can continue your conversations in the adjacent Lounge.
For Dayspring Lodging, all meals are included in the costs of your room, starting with dinner on your arrival day and through lunch of your departure day. You may add lunch on your arrival day on the registration form.
For Commuters, lunch is included for each day of attendance; you may add additional meals on your registration form.
Special Diets: The camp offers these special diets: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy free, and allergies. To request a special diet, you must fill out the ‘Special Diet’ section(s) on the SEYM registration form.
Coffee & tea are available in the lounge 24/7, as well as in the Multi-Purpose Room and Classrooms A and B.
The kitchens in the cabins and houses have small refrigerators and coffee makers. No cooking is allowed. Coffee and filters are provided.
Food off campus: There are several restaurants near the camp.
Pay-As-Led, Scholarships & Discounts
Youth attending with families are not charged a registration fee, and receive a meals for free (a $40/day/youth savings!). Children under 4 attend free.
Pay-As-Led This year, registration will be on a pay-as-led system. This is a way of acknowledging that wealth is not distributed evenly among Quakers, and that we do not wish to exclude anyone from the Gathering based on their ability to pay.
Please help us make this system work financially so we can continue to offer assistance to enable families, young people, and Friends to attend the Gathering. Please consider how much you can contribute!
There are three levels of Pay-As-Led:
- Actual Cost
- Abundant Sharing: Help others attend! Your actual cost plus a donation
- Pay what you can: Please consider carefully what you can afford; every bit helps. Please ask your Meeting or Worship Group to chip in with a Scholarship.
This year, we are starting a new simplified process for Gathering scholarships that fits with our new ‘Pay As Led’ structure for registration fees.
- Meetings and Worship Groups are asked to decide what scholarships they can offer: what percentage, portion, or set amount of any person’s registration costs you can offer as a scholarship. It’s helpful to decide this in advance so you can announce it to your group.
- Friends go ahead and register.
Those who pay the with the ‘Pay what you can’ option are asked to help out by asking their Meeting or Worship Group for a scholarship.
- The Registrant gives a copy of their registration receipt to the Meeting or Worship Group clerk or committee that handles scholarships.
- The Meeting or Worship Group reimburses SEYM for the decided-on portion of the ‘Actual Cost’ registration fees for those who provide you with their receipt. Send a check, with ‘Gathering scholarships’ in the memo line to: SEYM, P.O. Box 1062, St. Petersburg, FL 33731-1062. Please include a list of the Friends receiving scholarships.
Program spaces we will be using:
- Dining is in Curry Hall
- Bishop Haynes Lounge: hang out anytime, coffee available 24/7
- Bishop Haynes Meeting Room: Registrar, Bookstore, SEYM Publications…and a piano.
- Outdoor Chapel: for early worship
- St. Thomas Chapel: for extended worship on Thursday
- Kline Hall: Adult program spaces — Multi-Purpose Room, and Classrooms A and B.
- Tripp Pavilion & Outdoor Pavilion: Youth Program
- Outdoor/Nature Trails: The Canopy Walk is available only as scheduled in the program. Other trails are the Point Trail and Stations of the Cross. And be sure to visit the Labyrinth!
- Pool: open only as scheduled. Pool baths are in back of Kline Hall. You will be asked to sign a waiver to use the pool.
Dayspring Camp & Conference Center
8411 25th Street East
Parrish, Florida 34219
Check in time is 3 pm. We can’t give you your key before 3 pm on your arrival day; but you’re welcome to join us at the camp before then. The housekeeping staff will be getting your room ready.
Check in is at the Registrar’s table in the Bishop Haynes Room adjacent to the Lounge (see map); see the hours posted there. If you will be arriving after dinner, please let the Registrar know ahead of time so you can make arrangements to get your key.
Check out time is 10 am. Please return your keys to the Front Desk by 10am on the day of your departure. We will be charged a $25 fee for keys returned after 10am.
Things to Bring
- Masks (and COVID test kits, if you can)
- swimsuits and towels if you want to swim
- Water shoes if you’re going to canoe
- Toys for toddlers, children’s supplies (throw pillows, toys to share, soccer balls, etc.), and games for all ages.
- Musicians & Instruments needed for: the Faith & No Practice Band, Jammin’ on the Benches.
- A friend/Friend new to your Meeting. The SEYM Gathering is a great place to experience a welcome to the wider Quaker community and learn more.
- Documents-In-Advance (DIAs) for Annual Sessions. See Business Page>
- If you’re staying in the Dorms: bring your own linens and towels. A comfy mattress topper would be a bonus.
- All Youth under age 18 and/or in high school must have a parent, guardian, or adult sponsor in attendance at the Gathering during their entire stay.
- Youth are expected to participate fully in the Youth Program.
- When there are no scheduled Youth Program sessions, youth are to be supervised by parent, guardian or sponsor, or designated adult.
- Parents must bring completed Consent Forms.
Camp Staff is available throughout your stay, and on call after the front office is closed. If there is an emergency, call 911, then dial “0” as soon as possible. Telephones are located in sleeping quarters, meeting rooms and Bishop Haynes Lounge.
Quiet Time is 10pm – 7am.
Vehicles: Park in designated areas only. The speed limit is 15 MPH. Overnight guests may park their vehicles in the shell area located near their sleeping areas. Please do not park in the circular drive at the entrance of the Administrative Office.
Check out: Return lodging keys to Front Desk personnel by 10 am on the day of your departure. Any person not vacated from their lodging and keys turned in by this time will incur an additional charge of $25. Housekeeping staff begins cleaning at 10:15 am.
Meals: Arrive promptly at mealtime. All meals are served buffet style in the Curry Hall Dining Room. Please take only what you need in your first pass through the buffet so that all have enough food — this is not “all you can eat” dining. Guests are welcome to go back through the line for “seconds”. No food should be removed from the dining room or brought in from outside sources.
Kitchens in cabins and houses are provided for your convenience; no cooking is allowed. Food is not allowed in the bedrooms.
No skateboards, in-line skates, or scooters permitted. Youth on bikes must wear helmets.
Quiet spaces: The outdoor chapel, chapel, and labyrinth are sacred spaces. Please be quiet and respectful.
No alcoholic beverages or recreational drugs are allowed.
The nature trails are provided for your enjoyment. Natural ground coverage and terrain may be uneven. For your safety, please do not feed any animals!
Smoking, vaping, etc., is not permitted in any enclosed area (includes lodging, porches and meeting rooms) or on the Curry Hall deck. Please smoke in designated areas only. Violation of this rule will result in a $200 penalty to the group per incident.
No pets are allowed. ADA recognized service dogs may be permitted, which means: they must perform specific tasks to aid people with disabilities (i.e., guiding the blind, alerting the hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, etc.); emotional support animals are not included. Owners of service animals can be asked if the service animal is needed due to a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Learn more>
Scheduled amenities: The swimming pool, canoes/kayaks, chapels, campfire pit, canopy walk and ropes course may only be used as scheduled and supervised by designated Youth or Gathering program coordinators.
- Use of pool is only allowed during scheduled swim times.
- All children under the age of 18 must have adult supervision at all times while in the pool area.
- NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY – USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Signed Waivers are required for any persons using the pool.
- Pool rules must be followed.
- Pool baths/changing rooms are located facing the pool gate at the back of Kline Hall. Bring your own towels!
- Use of canoes is only allowed as scheduled, with SEYM Canoe Coordinator present. Coordinator must complete the canoe waiver form with a listing all canoeing participants, and must turn it in at the Front Desk at least two hours prior to scheduled session. At that time, wrist bands and baggies will be given out for those participating.
- One person in each canoe must have a cell phone with them (baggies provided at the Front Desk) while boating. This is a safety measure in case someone needs assistance while canoeing.
- Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
- Wear boating shoes: For your protection, all boaters must wear water shoes or old tennis shoes (no flip-flops or sandals). Shoes will get wet as the canoes/kayaks must be carried into the water.
- There are sharp objects in the cove and river that can cause injury to your feet if stepped on. It is suggested that, if choosing to do this activity, participants bring an extra pair of shoes.
- All canoes/kayaks must be out of the water at the designated time.