On the weekend of September 29 – October 1, 2006, the Southern Appalachian Young Friends gathered at Chapel Hill Meeting House for a retreat. This is our epistle:

Epistles were opened with the query: How would you like to see the community grow?

In response to the Query: “How would you like to see this community grow?”. I’d rather not think of SAYF as a growing thing. A flower grows, is pretty for awhile, and then it dies. SAYF on the other hand, is constantly flowing and dynamic. Like a river, SAYF is a habitat for living, growing things as they flow down it’s current. None of it is a permanent part of SAYF, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a permanent effect. Just as we should protect our real rivers and natural habitats, so should we preserve SAYF for generations of SAYFers to come and live between its banks. A flower would die within a season, but as long as we protect it and keep it clean, SAYF will be here forever.

-    Austin



This SAYF retreat has gone by so quickly, but what a filled and busy weekend it has been! This retreat is exactly what I needed; a place to come to where I can get away from the stress and distress that I have in my life. It was also a place where I can forget my insecurities, and not have to notice my faults, because I feel loved here even with those faults and insecurities.

I love you all dearly, but at the moment I am very tired, and I fear anything I write in this epistle will be negative. Not negative about you, more probably me being negative about myself. So, I’m really not going to write anything else.

                        All my love,




Okay...coming here was awesome! As you know...this is my first retreat ever! The people here are so sweet, caring, crazy, funny, and very fun to lay on! I love it here! The game of wink was amazing! Everyone jumping all over the place and sitting o your head....not cool Sam!...lol! and when they The group talk circle things were amazing! Everyone here has their own problems and when they tell us about them ..... we do everything in our power to help them! The scavenger hunt was soooooo funny! Me’n’ Emily tripped sooooo many times! But it was fun! On the way up here SUCKED! We sat in the car for two hours because of a car accident! But hopefully they are okay! Like I said.....everyone will always be there for each other! I hope to see you all soon!

                       XOXOXOXO Chrissy

PS Santa Panda’s



Okay Chrissy, I did not sit on your head. That was your back!

                        ♣ ya, Samantha



Time melds together. One day is the next.

Smiles line up in my mind forming

strings of Christmas lights.

Hands that I held are too many

            to count.

Love that I felt is too much to know.

Bodies tumble over one another

Pushing, fighting, kicking, laughing,

            all in the name of wink.

Kids sit in silence

            pouring their hearts out into blackness.

3 legs run, gather, hunt, and


Music plays and so we dance, a dance

            of never ending community,

            of care and will to continue,

            of connection and wonder of this life.

I am in awe of you all.

                        ♣ always,

                                    Sara G!

PS 919-636-1747



So this was my second SAYF retreat and it was just as awesome as my first. I loved it and everyone was just as nice, loving, and accepting of me as they were last time. I think I gave massages on 5 different occasions so my only complaint is that I didn’t get a single one back. I’m joking of course, I enjoyed giving these massages and I hope those people got some stress removed and gained even the slightest bit of comfort.



This weekend was definitely different than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be a huge group of people doing a bunch of group building stuff. I didn’t expect to make any close friendships, but I did. It was just one of the best experiences I ever had. Just the people that came and the things we did. But it wasn’t just all the fun. I thought the healing circle was extremely hard for me. It was more to handle than I expected. I had never done anything with the high school before SAYF. It was just hard listening to what people said and wondering how I could help them. But in the long run, it was something I needed to do. SAYF was something I needed to do. And I loved every second of it. Along with everybody. Thanks for everything!!!

                        Emily A.




On this trip I had a great time but I did miss Ayesha because she had a football game. It was sad without her here. ♣ Lamont


The SAYF retreat is a beautiful experience. It gave me a chance to see another side of humanity that, though is always there, is hidden a lot of the time. I saw it unleashed in various activities, worships, games. Community has a really broad definition at times, but I got to see everything it stands for. Love you all.





This weekend has been really wonderful. I loved the trust games and wink. I loved watching people dance to Indian music and eating pepperoni and cheerios for breakfast. I loved meeting all these new people who were weird, amazing and loved. SAYF has been a really great experience for me, and you guys made it so wonderful. One of my favorite parts was the healing circle that we had. It was so great that people felt comfortable sharing really personal things with people they had known for 24 hours. Everyone helped make this weekend what it was – fun, trusting, wonderful. Thank you so much. I love you guys!



Dear SAYF’ers –

One year now – since I first got ‘roped in’ to help drive a few of you and two graduated ones from Asheville to Chapel Hill. Now I am a full-fledged FAP. Whoopie.

Each time I have joined a SAYF retreat I return home with memories – almost always positive ones. Some little vignettes or incidences I can tell a friend about, and then say “this is why I have hope for the future”.

For my species, for other creatures, for the planet. Each time I get to know a few of you better, or meet some new people. At first, on Friday nights, it might seem all random high energy and a lot of goofiness. But by Sunday, I have discovered also that there is a lot of depth to each of you who have shared more of what’s going on and who you are with me or a group. You have a lot of joy, a lot of concerns, and some of you have a lot of pain. Me Siento. I wish I could help with that. It is not an easy world out there, not an easy culture.

In finding SAYF, I have added to my very short list of micro-communities where people really try to hear each other. Where there is a generous measure of acceptance of differences. Where it is truly OK to be your full self. My wish for the world is that little “communities” like SAYF proliferate until the whole world is swallowed up in understanding, acceptance, appreciation, and love. What a wonderful world that would be. Just imagine.




I was initially debating whether or not to come to this weekend. This was my first SAYF retreat, and it certainly made me want to come back. I’m so glad that I came, because the love & acceptance in this group of people is simply amazing. It isn’t just a bunch of teens; it is a bunch of teens who really do care. About the world, each other, and in result, learn to deeply care about themselves, an important thing that most people never really accomplish.

PS That was one INTENSE game of wink J

-    Madeline



Ice Cream Cake

1 layer crumbled cookies (chocolate animal crackers or mint cookies)

1 layer vanilla ice cream

1 layer crumbled cookies (whatever kind not used above)

1 layer cool whip (optional)

1 layer chocolate chips

Best cake ever!!! TRUE DAT! ....double true!




Every year there is a cycle that takes place which starts at the September retreat and ends with the graduation of the seniors at the retreat at SAYMA in June. Every year that I have been in SAYF, the September retreat is a difficult retreat for many people. There have always been comments about the lack of the old leadership, and complaints about the immaturity, or lack of spirituality among the newbies.

This year has been remarkably different in that regard. This retreat the leadership has proven themselves to be excellent leaders, the planning committee worked together smoothly and efficiently in both the planning and leading of this retreat (I hardly had to do anything) and the newbies....well, this is the most mature and spiritually in tune group of newbies ever.

I am so impressed with all of you, and thank each one of you for contributing to a fantastic first retreat of the new SAYF year. I can’t wait to see how this group grows together throughout the rest of the year.

I truly hope to see everyone of you in October for the W. Knoxville retreat.

            Much love,





It’s great to be back with the SAYF community. I’ve missed all of you for a long time. I wasn’t able to come to very many retreats last year, but I plan on coming to more this year. It’s weird after being away from the community for so long and coming back. The community has changed and grown so much. Half the people I didn’t even really know at the beginning of the retreat. But SAYF did its wonderful magic and I feel like I’ve known everybody for years. This retreat went really well, I know I had fun watching the scavenger hunts. The meetings with attention to laughter and healing were both really good. This was a good retreat to start off the new year.




Wow! Well....this is my first retreat that I’ve gone to and it was AMAZING! The people here are so loving and caring at all times! I thought that it was gonna be awkward coming and not knowing NE one...but I made friends quick!....WINK! Wow....that is officially the best game ever! I love it! Well.....I hope that I am able to come to a lot more retreats and stuff cause it’s awesome! Yea....that’s about it!


This weekend rocked. The Chapel Hillians who got here early spent an hour rushing up to any car that pulled into the lot, a few had no quakers on board and those riding in them, may have been a bit weirded out by the small group of sayfers hovering nearby watching their car. The 3 legged scavenger hunt was a blast, but not as good as having a designated nap area. All in all good times, good people, good food.




This retreat was reli interesting. I brought my older sister along and I hope she enjoyed it....i have a notebook on my head.....

It feels weird. OK so far the first retreat of the year it was reli fun. The scavenger hunt me and Ellen cheated, and Max got on to us. Wink was interesting. I stayed in the same place the whole time while my sister plays wink better than me, from which I regret. I thought Nashville was going to come but I guess not. The ride up here sucked! Yah I am tired and don’t feel like writing anymore. I ♣ you all very much.

            ♣ always,




Precious Friends,

How would I like this community to grow? Last night in a Meeting for healing, I felt there was a great need for this type of activity. There are several ways this can be done and I feel it would benefit our community to give ourselves this chance to share our deepest concerns often. This might be added as a vital part of every retreat, sometimes a Meeting for Healing, others as a Worship sharing. I remember a retreat where the opening query was, “How are you?”. There was such a wonderful feeling of community last night and concern for each other. The worship ended but Friends stayed bonded in that silence for awhile, not wanting to leave that cocoon of safety that we had created. That was an awesome experience.

I feel so refreshed spiritually from this weekend. Congratulations to the planning committee for a marvelous retreat. Food was plentiful & delicious also. Activities were so creative and fun. As a FAP & driver I also appreciate doing the epistles earlier.

Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me. I will continue holding you in the LIGHT after returning home.

             In the loving Spirit,




This is my first SAYF. It was harder than I thought it was going to be seeing all these different people and learning good and bad things about their lives was a lot to handle. It makes me really think hard about lots of things. Everyone is just so different in a great way. I learn so many new things. I love seeing the love so many people have for others. I’ve made friendships I’ll never forget about and met people who will always have a place in my heart and have also made an impact on the person I will become.

           Emily Ashley


TRISTAN NEEDS TO READ THIS (&sing mad world at the end)

This retreat has definitely been a learning experience for me. I don’t think that there’s anywhere else where I would learn to free my hands from a cheetah print sheet. And I’ve had mad world stuck in my head all morning. That song must have been the theme song of this retreat. Although I’m sure that I’ll never come to a Chapel Hill retreat EVER again (ten hours=too much) the retreat itself was good. Although I would still love to spit in the faces of the planning committee, Casey, you’re my hero! I think that I may well have spent the entire retreat chasing Ivy around so I could pet her peach fuzz though. Yeah...First game of wink EVER and I wound up stuck with Tristan. People, NEVER PLAY WINK WITH TRISTAN! Unless you’re big & strong and I am neither. Oh yeah, Sam, that picture is way awesome. Wren should put it into the worship journals. Chapel Hill, what’s up with the screaming noise that comes from the kitchen? It scares me.

And I find it kinda funny

I find it kinda sad,

The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had

I find it hard to tell you,

I find it hard to take

When people run in circles

 It’s a very very mad world, mad world, mad world


I still have that song in my head,




I’m a newbie, and I don’t usually like to be around people a lot older than me, so I was afraid I wouldn’t like it here. But everyone wanted me and was happy that I came. This has been a place that I can be who I am and be loved for it. I am so happy that SAYF is how it is. I’m also happy that I won the Lance Bass bobble head.

-    Leah

PS John the Quaker, you’re going down. Next time you tell me to go hide in the kitchen, I’m NOT LISTENING! There is no way I’m hiding in a closet for 20 minutes and missing cake.



Greetings from John the Quaker!

One of the beautiful things that I experienced this weekend was the worshipful way in that activities were organized by the planning committee and engaged in by the entire body of us. Sitting still, holding each other in the light, even 10-15 minutes after closing of Meeting for Worship with Attention to Healing was a heart warming experience. Even the meeting with attention to laughter was done on a calm thoughtful and yet hilarious way. I appreciate those who gave of their time to come lead workshops. Good choices! I also appreciate that people make a good effort to check their egos at the door to make concerted efforts to welcome newbies, to not make distracting jokes and sidebar conversations during worship activities and to attempt to join in all activities as a community....otherwise, what is the point, eh?

Take this Spirit and way of being beyond these walls...please!

I have a lot of love for all of you.             Thank you, John the Quaker


Three days have gone by so fast. It’s like you get here, and just a few minutes later, you’re already headed out the door. J

Seriously, I still feel like its 8:30 on Friday night. It probably didn’t help that I was out cold for over 3 hours on Saturday.

As I was saying, another retreat has come and gone. This retreat was very fun and interesting (seriously). I had a lot of fun.

I was happy with getting cake and ice cream at a retreat. These two foods, along with soda, should be retreat staples. Recently, cake and ice cream have not been available at retreats because they are so-called ‘bad’ and gives consumers cancer! These accusations are clearly not true. I eat cake all the time yet have no cancer.

This retreat should be a test case of having wink back on the schedule. Before this retreat, SAYF had not had a decent game of wink in over a year. But just putting wink on the schedule nearly doubled wink attendance, making the game so much more fun .

Well, this retreat was a blast. I felt more in touch with the community, than ever before. I actually connected with you people this time.

See you in Knoxville. I might just bring cake.




When you ________ I feel _____; please _______or I’ll punch you in YO’ FACE!

Post script ~ Jimmy Wuz HEAR!

Post-postscript ~ Jake, you a fox.

Post-post-postscript ~ Conrad, bestiality’s not okay!


Jimmy writes things that are APPROPIATE! GRRR! Don’t bite!




So, to follow Jimmy’s brilliantly inspirational addition to the epistles; this weekend has been amazing. It seems vaguely that the word “amazing” doesn’t do you all justice, but that’s about as intense as my wording gets. Trying to get here from Berea was somewhat stressful (GBR! Will. What the hell????) but I can’t explain how happy I am that I made it. You guys are wonderful and the planning committee did an excellent job with this retreat. The worship sharing/healing session was pretty intense, but I felt so good afterwards. As always, I love you all, and I hope all is/shall be well with your lives outside of this place.

-    Brittany Steffey

PS I never get any mail, and a few of you promised to send letters (YAY!). My address is, for those who want to send me notes (letters are AWESOME!) (and for those who lost the mailing list because they’re lame * cough Conrad cough *

Brittany Steffey

CPO Box 1436

Berea KY 40404



This weekend has been FAB_U_LUS! It was my 2nd SAYF experience and everyone treated me like I was an important part of the group! It was kinda hard because my cuz Matthias left and went to college. I don’t know what to put next!Well.....I food was good! HaHA. I have made many new friends and WILL come back to see everyone again. I plan to be here till I am too old to come back!

I wish the retreats were longer!



This was my first SAYF retreat, and I was worried at first. Lots of people would be older than me, and that can be scary sometimes. I was having second thoughts about coming, but I’m really glad I did. All of the group building activities and so much togetherness is exactly the kind of community that I know and love. Thanks to all of you for making this a great experience for me.



I’m sure that when I first took the notepad for epistles, I had something in mind to say, but now its gone & I’m sitting here drawing circles on my thumb. This weekend has been really great. All kinds of fun things happened, several of them included leopard print cloth. I am, of course, meaning the scavenger hunt? But seriously, SAYF is like my escape from real life, thanks you guys.

           XOXO, Ivy



I know that there are many things that I have to say about this community. However, I’m not quite sure if I can truly express them. I mean, it’s not solely a concern about semantics but also that there are these myriads of emotions and thoughts all intertwined and jumbled in there somewhere. Alright then, here goes.....During the past few years, the first SAYF retreat of the year (usually centered upon the theme of community) have been somewhat shaky. Yes, they have incorporated the community theme quite well, but these retreats have also lacked the level of spirituality that is so essential to SAYF. I feel that this beginning-of-the-year retreat was different though. I feel that everyone, newbies, twobies, oldbies, anyone in between and FAPs were all greatly aware of the need for spirituality and centeredness here. For instance, the Meeting with attention to Healing was one of the most wonderful activities I have ever been apart of during my time at SAYF. I thank you all for that amazing experience. As some have mentioned, it was genuinely an ideal situation. I love you all so much.

But now onto some confusion and chicanery. In addition to all the love and beauty that I feel and witness here at SAYF, I’ve been in a strange mood as well. It’s definitely not a “oh, what happened to the good ‘ol days” mood, but it’s something that could be comparable in some ways. I guess with all the seniors from last year gone, I feel slightly out of place nit having anyone to look up to really at SAYF. It’s a very strange and controversial transitioning time in senior year even in the beginning...well, at least for me it is. Nevertheless, I am very uplifted and hopeful to see everyone else. I look around and see so many people who will become wonderful leaders of SAYF. Okay, I’m holding everyone up now.....merr. Once again, I love all you guys so much and hope to see you in future retreats.


                 Oriana Filiaci

This is the embodiment of SAYF. This is our community. How can it grow, how will it grow...well, there are some sayfes who were told to come to SAYF but are not here right now. I’m sure there will be a newbie or two every once in awhile, or someone else won’t be able to come. Not to mention the entirety of Nashville is not here. Each one of us FAPs and FADs included, define how this community functions. Therefore, this community is an everlasting Change. This was a fabulous retreat. From Indian dancing to one intense healing circle, we had it all. Really sets a high standard for the rest of retreats to come. I hope Knoxville can do just as well. Anywho, I thought I’d bring attention that there was no conflicts, and by that, I didn’t hear a complaint of “I miss the seniors so much. Whatever shall I do?!” which I’m usually partaking in. This is a great set of people, and I love you all.


                 Conrad (865)963-8611

Post script I do, however miss Sterling. Email her your love. She just turned 14 on the 20th. senordegumpope@yahoo.com



Around whatever time the candle circle was Saturdays night, I found myself able to answer the query. Looking around I realize I’m here for everything: the people, the community, the love, everything. I love each and everyone of you and I’m so glad you’re part of my life.

Chapel Hill once again managed an amazing retreat. The three legged scavenger hunt was....interesting. The food was amazing and all that jazz people usually say.

            Much love, Alise



For as long as I have been coming to SAYF (and before that) there has always been the inevitable issue of people (mostly seniors and juniors) freaking out and making the decision to sever their ties with the community. I always expected that eventually I would get fed up with or tired of SAYF and stop coming because every year I saw it happening around me. But as the time draws near, sort of, to graduation, I find that I have absolutely no desire to stop coming to SAYF this year. I love this community despite its problems and constant changing qualities. That actualyy makes it better and more real. Everyone always told me that senior year in high school rocks and I would have a blast. I hate high school and am not in fact having a blast this year. I don’t think I have ever been more irritable, stressed out, and paranoid in my life. I think this is why I need SAYF more than ever. When the time comes I will be ready to leave b ut for now I just want to enjoy this place with you guys.

OK now I am actually going to talk about the retreat. This was probably the best first retrat of the year. Usually they are disjointed and unorganized, but this year it pulled together nicely and I am impressed. Well done Chapel Hill. The healing circle was moving and emotional which I believe was also greatly needed. Usually, or at least in my experience, they can go very wrong. Thank you for that.

Oriana and Conrad my loves, I love dancing with you like a fat man loves lard cakes. That’s a lot by the by.   Until October then,

Ellie (or Ellen, what you will)

Post script: I have sunk to my depths and gotten a myspace. Jesus Murphy, I am thoroughly ashamed of myself. But you should be my friend anyways. (My last name is Farmer just so you know. Like the cow people).