Group visitation is often overlooked, but it can be an enjoyable and informal way of developing ties. A skiing trip or camping trip can be planned to include two or more groups of Friends. A gathering at a central location for isolated Friends and small worship groups has proved exciting. Potlucks or work parties can bring Friends together from different groups. Meetings can take the initiative to specifically invite one or more other worship groups for a Sunday or an event. We urge Friends to think of these kinds of visits.
Casual visits by individuals or families can be carried out in many ways. Friends often provide hospitality for one another. A relationship begun, perhaps at quarterly or yearly meeting, may be extended by visiting in other homes. Or a request for hospitality may be channeled to a clerk or contact person. A conference of interest to many Friends, a large demonstration, a yearly meeting or AFSC committee meeting may draw Friends to an area. This can provide the opportunity for visitation outside Quaker events.
When offering or requesting hospitality, it is useful if visitors and hosts are clear on expectations and are open with each other. Are there special sensitivities or aversions, such as pets, noise, need for privacy? Are children involved and is care needed?
Is a home suitable to special needs; e.g. excessive stairs or not “childproof”? If host or visitor is uncomfortable with an arrangement, or cannot meet needs, either should feel free to say so. For example, some Friends are happy to provide hospitality, but not transportation or “guide service”. They do not feel able to entertain visitors, but are happy to provide “bed and breakfast”. Other hosts prefer to devote a significant amount of time with visitors and feel deprived if visitors have their own agendas and go their own ways. Sometimes the timing is poor for receiving visitors. If the visiting family is large, or if the visit is extended, a contribution to the larder is always appropriate.
In either group or individual visits, children deserve special consideration. Families with children of similar ages have much to share and may enjoy individual visits in homes. There needs to be sensitivity to the wide range of ways in which we raise our children, especially when families share a home. The exponential increase in excitement and stimulation when families with young children are together needs to be recognized. In group visits, plans for the inclusion of young people and/or special events for them deserve attention.