Junior Gathering

This really depends on both the ages of the children and how far apart in age they are. Infants and toddlers are often grouped together – if there are not too many of them. Rising Kindergarten through sixth graders are divided into groups of equal numbers based on both age and their school grade, with activities tailored for their ages. The rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders are together in a middle school group.

Every child and youth at Gathering needs a sponsor. A sponsor is a parent/guardian, family member or other conscientious person 25 or older who knows the child or youth well. If the sponsor is not the parent, the sponsor should be someone who is actively concerned with the young person’s activities and well-being. We request that a sponsor be responsible for no more than two young people. In Junior Gathering, both the participant and sponsor must be full time Gathering attendees residing on campus (this includes on-campus camping). If a High School participant’s sponsor is commuting to the Gathering, the participant’s parent or regular sponsor must designate a secondary, overnight sponsor who is staying on campus, in case of emergency.

Children and youth may not arrive before sponsors or remain at the Gathering after sponsors have departed. Please make travel plans accordingly. The sponsor (or designated alternate) must be on campus (or with the sponsee) at all times during Gathering. Alternate sponsors are designated in writing in advance. Complete sponsor guidelines may be viewed at our website in June, and will be explained in detail at the High School Program sponsor orientation on Sunday evening. All participants, even those already 18, must identify their sponsor when registering for Gathering and submit a parental release form.

If your travel plans require you to arrive late Sunday evening or Monday morning, please be sure to let us know so the Group leader can make sure your child feels a warm welcome upon arrival! We encourage all families to stay for the full week; however, if your travel plans require you to leave on Friday afternoon, be sure to let your child’s group leader know this, so your child will receive a proper goodbye.

Please indicate your child’s rising grade level, the one your child will be in when school starts again in the fall. 

The Junior Gathering Times, and other communications during the month of June, will share all of the specifics.  There is also some information on the webpage for your child’s age group.

Yes, but you must have a helmet for each rider, no matter what age. 

If your child has an IEP or 504 plan, please attach it to your parental release form so we have this additional information about your child and do our best to support them during Junior Gathering.

Some Junior Gathering group coordinators may send a letter in June introducing themselves to you and your child. Junior Gathering Open House and Oaks Orientation on the first day of the Gathering are an opportunity for you and your child to meet their group leaders together before the program begins.

For infants, our goal is one-on-one care, and for toddlers, two-to-one. Older children typically have a child:staff ratio no higher than 4 children per adult.

The number of children in your child’s group will depend upon a variety of factors, but we generally like to keep our numbers small, with plenty of adult staff to support the group. 

Snacks will be provided for each group during the morning session. Depending on the facilities and volunteer capacity, these snacks may be very simple. We ask that you use the meals provided in the dining hall, as well as any snacks you may bring from home, to make sure the children are well fueled for their play and learning with us. A hearty breakfast goes a long way toward a successful morning and a solid supper helps children thrive during evening program time.  Our simple snack will help bridge the time between meals.

Please plan to send a water bottle clearly marked with your child’s name so we can avoid using disposable cups and still make sure our children are getting plenty of water to drink, especially on hot days.

This depends on the particular campus, child’s age, and your preference. On some campuses, children under a certain age have the option of sleeping on the floor in your room. (No bedding or pillows provided!)

Generally, older children or younger ones who don’t want to sleep on the floor will share a room with a family member or, if your family’s room(s) are full, with another child of similar age and gender. That room will likely be next to your room.

For the 2024 Gathering at Haverford, all on-campus housing is in single rooms. One child per room may bedroll on the floor of another family member’s single room rather than paying for their own bed. Any children in their own rooms will be housed next door to or in a suite with their parent/sponsor. As much as possible, we attempt to house families with similarly aged children close to one another.

All High School participants live in the High School dorm, supported by a team of counselors. More information on the High School Program.

There won’t be any roommates on the Haverford campus, but we are happy to receive requests to house friends or extended family close to one another. Look for the optional question on the registration form about who you would like to be housed near. You might also ask your child to double check to see if the friend’s family is choosing the same “Housing Cluster” (General, FLBGTQC, etc.)

The Oaks program sometimes includes a variety of week-long workshop options for participants to choose among. If workshops are being offered, the rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders indicate their preference at the mandatory Oak Group parent and participant meeting on Sunday evening. The Junior Gathering staff then assign the participants to workshops based on the participant’s preference AND group size.

Junior Gathering programming runs until 9 to give parents the opportunity to attend evening program. For younger children, the evening program session may include quiet activities like story time or soft music. It is your decision whether or not your child attends evening group time, especially if bedtime is an issue. A well-rested child will be better able to focus and reap the benefits of morning group. However, for school age children, our experience has shown that the more time they spend together the more friends they make! For rising 7th through 9th graders, our expectation is that all the participants will attend each evening. However, if your older child must miss one evening, it is important to notify the leaders – so they won’t come looking for you!

We encourage parents to do cooperative babysitting. You can meet other parents at the Junior Gathering Open House on Sunday. You will likely be housed near families with similarly aged children.

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