This page contains general information about the annual gatherings (or “Sessions”) of Pacific Yearly Meeting. All members and attenders of Friends meetings, as well as anyone interested in Friends’ ways, are invited to attend these week-long summer gatherings which combine worship, fellowship and business and many other activities. There are activities for youth organized by interest and age as well as all-ages portions of the agenda.
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General Information about Annual Sessions
You can choose to come for all or part of the Annual Session. We are continuing the new schedule format piloted in 2016: Annual Session will begin on Friday and run until Wednesday. Meeting for Memorials will be on Sunday. We hope that this will be an easier configuration for work and family schedules.
In recent years Annual Session has been held at Walker Creek Ranch, a lovely and rustic nature camp near Petaluma, California. We are regularly visited by deer, foxes, and other wildlife! The primary areas (Plenary tent and dining hall) are centrally located and the site is relatively flat.
New to Annual Session?
Please feel free to contact Sharon Gates, Assistant to the Clerk, with any questions.
Email Sharon at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Program & Activities
Schedule of Activities
- To get the flavor of what goes on at an annual session, see the 2018 Annual Session Schedule and the accompanying The 2018 Schedule Explained.
Business Meetings & Plenaries
Open to all ages.
To get an idea of the type of business we conduct at annual sessions, see the 2017 Annual Session Plenary Agendas. Committee reports feeding in to the business sessions and the minutes from the plenaries of 2017 can be found via the Documents for Annual Sessions past and present page.
In addition to all-ages activities, there are programs for children and teens, and an affinity group of young adults (ages 18-35+). Please see their web pages for details, including contacts and parental permission forms and medical release forms:
- Children’s Program
- Teens (Junior Yearly Meeting, aka JYM)
- Young Adult Friends (aka YAFs)
- Volunteer positions are available for adults to work with youth. Friends who are chosen to serve as Children’s Program Teachers or JYM Friendly Responsible Adult Presences receive a full registration fee waiver for camping or group dorm accommodations.
All activities on the PYM event schedule are open to all ages unless otherwise specified. During times when Friends ages 17 and under (i.e., minors) are not participating in the Children’s Program or JYM (such as at meal times), their parents/guardians or adult sponsors are responsible for supervision. Signed release forms are required for participation. Thank you for your help in making these programs go smoothly!
Interest Groups are generally 90-minutes presentations or discussions sponsored by PYM committees. We have time blocks spread throughout the week, usually with 4-5 offerings to choose from per time slot. For examples of the kinds of interest groups that are offered, see the 2017 Interest Groups listing.
If you wish to offer an interest group yourself, work with one of the PYM committees to submit a proposal well in advance of Annual Session (in fact, by early March). See How to Schedule an Interest Group at Annual Session for details.
Affinity groups are informal gatherings of Friends around a common concern or a common identity. These groups create safe spaces for sharing among themselves. Affinity groups have included 12-Step, Friends of Color, Friends of European Descent, Friends Changing Jobs or Careers, among others.
Affinity groups do not need to be planned ahead of annual session, but can be organized on the spot. A particular group might meet just once or twice or it might meet daily, generally in the late evening or at a meal time.
Bible study is “come as you are.” Bring your doubts, discomforts, questions, familiarity, love, and anything in between, as we read passages together and reflect on what the Spirit may be saying to us through these words at this particular place and time.
Different leaders and formats will be on offer, to be described at the first session. Worship-sharing, Friendly Bible Study queries, and general discussion are all likely options. One group may have a particular focus on the gospels.
Bring a Bible if you have one, in any translation. If not, there are usually some available to borrow or share.
Worship Sharing gathers Friends into groups of approximately 8 people, who will gather in silence to consider a set of prepared queries. For many, Worship Sharing is a deeply enriching experience and an important highlight of Annual Session. It allows for deep connections with others, a grounding base from which to explore all that is offered, and a source of personal strength and support.
The sign up for Worship Sharing groups will be available onsite at Walker Creek at registration. There will be both indoor and outdoor locations to choose from, as well as a choice of mixed groups, couples groups, and drop-in groups. A sense of spiritual community builds during the week, so participants not able to attend Worship Sharing each day are asked to select a drop-in group.
What to Bring to Annual Session
We can expect temperatures at Walker Creek during Annual Session to be in the mid-70’s during the day, going down to the high 40’s at night. Chilly morning fog is common, usually burning off during the day.
Bed linens or sleeping bag plus pillow and pillow case (if you did not sign up for linens when you registered) *Linens will only be provided to those who signed up for these in advance
Towel(s) (if you did not sign up for linens when you registered)
Comfortable, appropriate clothing for a largely outdoor site with some uneven terrain – bring layers! Evenings will be quite cool.
- Swimsuit and extra towel for swimming in the pond
Sunscreen + insect repellent
Unscented fragrance-free toiletries and personal care items are preferred. People with chemical sensitivities and the environment thank you in advance for your care.
Reusable water bottle
- Mug, cloth napkin, etc. (optional to reduce disposables and dish washing)
FLASHLIGHT + extra batteries if needed
Musical instruments for evening sing-a-longs
Bible for bible study, other reading material
- Daypack or tote
- Ideas for participatory family night talent show- A skit? Poem? Music?
- Quiet items for your children during meetings for worship, if needed
- JYM (teen program) puts out a packing list that includes additional items such as “shoes and clothes for service project that can get dirty”
- Children’s Program puts out a packing list that includes additional items such as “smock or large t-shirt for messy art projects”
Phones and Internet
There is no cell phone service at Walker Creek, but there are pay phones available.
There is wireless Internet access (WiFi) in the central areas of the site.
Pets and service animals
No pets are allowed at Walker Creek Ranch. Trained service animals are allowed.
If you are staying onsite, you will need to choose either camping or a housing option for each person you register. There are limited semi-private rooms (2 to 5 people per room), some with accessible baths in the same building, but none with private baths. The other housing option is in larger dorm rooms, sharing with 6 to 12 people. Camping is unlimited with many campsites centrally located, and the weather is generally nice; camping is the lowest cost accommodation.
Adults are typically divided into female and male dorms. (Note that the registration form asks you to indicate your gender; the registrars will work to meet the needs of people of all genders). Teens/JYM and Young Adult Friends offer mixed-gender dorms (see below). Younger children are assigned to the same space as their parent/guardian/sponsor.
There will be separate mixed-gender dorm options for Young Adults (18-35ish) and for teens (JYM), or teens may stay with their parent/guardian/sponsor. Young adults may choose from among all of the adult housing options. It is normal in JYM for some teens to sleep with parents/guardians/sponsors and some to sleep in the JYM dorm, for all sorts of reasons. Read more about JYM mixed-gender, trans-and-non-binary-friendly inclusive sleeping arrangements in the JYM report to RepCom 2017. Please indicate your choice when you register or contact us with any questions.
Towels, sheets, blanket, pillow are not included with any housing option, but may be requested for your stay, for a fee. *Linens will only be provided to those who signed up for these in advance.
Please be sure to let us know about any issues or special housing needs, such as
- Wheelchair or accessible bathroom
- Mobility challenges: cannot walk distances or climb stairs
- Sleeping issues: CPAP machine, loud or light sleeper
- Dietary needs not covered in the registration check boxes
As part of our ongoing efforts to encourage attendance at Annual Session, we are pleased to announce that a golf cart will be available at Annual Session to assist Friends with needs for mobility support to get around Walker Creek Ranch. We are grateful for the grant from Friends Foundation for the Aging that initially helped start this.
The site offers vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, gluten-free, dairy-free, and several other options. Please give details on the registration form for any dietary needs not covered in the registration check boxes, including whether you need to bring your own food.
Commuter (daily rate) fee includes supper on Friday and lunch for all other days.
Overnight registrations include three meals, beginning with supper and ending with lunch the next day.
Additional meal needs
Part-timers and commuters may purchase dinners separately – please let us know when you register if you would like to do that.
Financial Assistance Available
There are options to help reduce the cost to attend Annual Session. Our goal is to be able to help make it possible for every Friend who wants to participate to do so, including families.
Camping is the least expensive option for accommodations.
Children, teens, and young adults up to age 25 receive reduced rates in our fee structure, subsidized by the rates for those 26+.
Part-time or commuter attendees are welcome. Some people choose to come just for the weekend days.
Long-Distance Travel Discounts for those coming from 200+ miles and for travel from the Hawai’i and Mexico parts of PYM.
Volunteer positions are available for adults to work with youth. Friends who are chosen to serve as Children’s Program Teachers or JYM Friendly Responsible Adult Presences receive a registration fee waiver.
Apply for Financial Assistance by filling out the form within registration. This will send a notice to your Monthly Meeting / Worship Group, which must decide what portion they are giving and then forward that to the Friends handling PYM’s Financial Assistance by the posted deadline.
Young Adult Friends (YAFs): please apply through the same form as everyone else. If you or a friend you’re bringing is not part of a Meeting or Worship Group and needs financial assistance, contact the PYM Youth Programs Coordinator to explore options <email@example.com>.