Junior Young Friends
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Sometimes referred to as Warwickshire JYF, events take place in a Quaker Meeting House, usually in the Birmingham area. It is, strictly speaking, responsible to Warwickshire Monthly Meeting, though it attracts participants from across the United Kingdom.
The appendage of the word 'Junior' to the name is in order to distinguish from Young Friends usually used to describe Quakers aged 18–30 (as in Young Friends General Meeting).
The weekends have a theme, often related to Quaker ideals, which is contemplated through Base Group discussions, Committee-run sessions and sometimes guest speakers. There is also a significant amount of free time allocated to allow participants to explore the city where the event is held. The tradition of staying up into the early hours of the morning, or not even sleeping at all, is embraced by the majority of the participants. JYF has evolved a number of in-jokes and other traditions (including the love of Milk & Toast and peppermint tea) which appear quite odd to those who have little experience of the young Quaker culture.
There are also a number of JYF groups worldwide.
Historically, there were JYF groups throughout Britain, but a number of circumstances led to their closure, to the point that the Warwickshire Junior Young Friends is the last surviving one. Many Quaker youth groups are now known as Link Groups, but differ from Junior Young Friends because they are organised partly or in whole by adults. JYF is solely organised by "The Committee" who are all 18 or under. To fulfill legal requirements, there are Responsible Adult supervisors (RA's) on site throughout the weekend.
In recent years, JYF's have been held at Friend's Meeting Houses in the following locations:
- Bournville, Birmingham
- Cotteridge, Birmingham
- Edgbaston, Birmingham
- Northfield, Birmingham
- Selly Oak, Birmingham
Over the weekend, attenders are allocated a Base Group of about 6 people (though this can vary depending on the overall number of participants in a weekend), in which they discuss issues and carry out the jobs allocated by the jobs rota. Base Groups allow people to associate on a smaller, more manageable scale and make discussions easier and fairer.
The weekends are planned and executed by "The Committee", comprising several of the more senior members of the group, which is a self-appointing oligarchy. There are rumours surrounding "The Committee's" origins, with some reports suggesting it was formerly part of the USSR. However, it is known that the body contains one Daily Mail reader, and as such, claims of a Communist past seem unlikely. The identity of Committee members is a closely guarded secret. They have been subject to several attempts to overthrow their rule from the revolutionary group known only as the ACC (Anti-Committee Committee). In response "The Committee" meets in undesignated locations to plan JYF gatherings, and during a JYF weekend frequently exiles itself to a sealed command room, from where it can oversee events in relative safety from rebel insurgents. Unfortunately in recent JYF's, the ACC have been losing the support of rogue JYFers, who choose to fight the establishment solo in games such as 'wink ministry'. Several of the core ACC members have also recently defected to the Committee, and have thus been subject to more than usual revolutionary attacks (of a suitably quakerly nature).
Appointment of new members to "The Committee" is a highly secretive process, with much politicking and intrigue. During the decision making process toast is burnt, signalling the end of a round of unsuccessful deliberations. When a decision has been reached (there is some uncertainty over whether the correct Quaker decision making method is used) the toast to be burnt is soaked in milk, then set alight, producing distinct lactoast fumes, at which the assembled attenders at the JYF gathering break out in seemingly spontaneous, though actually well choreographed applause. The new Committee member is then announced to the gathering, at which the ACC traditionally attempts to assassinate (or for reasons of pacifism, degrade, deride or kidnap) the newly appointed member, usually with limited success.
There are a variety of games played during JYF weekends, including:
- The Mars Game
- Ratchet Screwdriver
- Honey If You Love Me...
- Lovers On A Park Bench
- The Jug Game
- Wink Ministry
One of the major features of the weekend is Drastic Drama (DD), which usually takes place on the Saturday evening. Participants are sorted into groups of about five or six people (a different composition to their Base Groups) and each group is assigned a different scenario (by the DD Committee, a subsidiary of "The Committee") to rehearse and act out later in the evening. The scenarios are usually very vague and highly amusing, sometimes bearing a tentative link to the theme for the weekend. The ensuing performances are extremely comical and are judged by the DD Committee who then gives an award, atypical of Quaker ideals, for the best performance.
On the final day, usually during lunch, "The Committee" hands out awards to participants. Many are associated with the in-jokes and popular themes which have evolved throughout the weekend, but there are a some recurring awards, including:
- The Sex-God Award
- The Sex-Goddess Award
- The Martha Award
- The Free Spirit Award
- The Sean Award
- The Paul and Fran Award
In addition to the above awards, some participants have achieved degrees from the University of Lailah.
At the moment, only two JYF'ers hold degrees from this institution:
- Sam was the first to graduate in December 2004 with a Mb Chb. At present, degrees from the University of Lailah are not GMC recognised. Sam specialises in Accident and Emergency Medicine at JYF.
- Lorna has a BA in Snow Appreciation. Most of this work was completed at Selly Oak in March 2005.
At the end of the weekend, as a lasting memento, Cosy or Rosy Glows are written. The whole group sits in a circle and each participant writes their name on a piece of paper. It is then passed around the circle and each person writes a positive comment on each person's paper. They are so called because of the 'rosy' or 'cosy' glow they give you when read. They are a way of remembering and reminiscing over the weekend.