PENNSYLVANIA STATE CONFERENCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
Frequently Asked Questions
Alcoholism recognizes no barriers – age included. The first Young People’s Groups (YPG’s) in Alcoholics Anonymous appeared in 1945 in Los Angeles, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1957, a meeting of young AA’s from across the U.S. and Canada started what is now the International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (ICYPAA) – affectionately known as “icky-pa”.
At the 1960 AA Convention, Bill W. noted that the age of new members was much lower than when he and Dr. Bob founded AA 25 years earlier. A 1975 ICYPAA pamphlet described the people in YPG’s as in their twenties and thirties, with some teenagers. The trend has continued. A 1989 AA survey reported that 30% of the respondents were less than 40 years of age and that 3% were less than 21 years of age. The number of young people suffering from alcoholism who turn to AA for help is growing and the purpose of YPG’s, just as it has been for many years, is to carry AA’s message of recovery to alcoholics, NO MATTER WHAT THEIR AGE. Through the ICYPAA experience, the Pennsylvania State Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (PENNSCYPAA) was created. PENNSCYPAA provides the young newcomer with a meeting where they can see and share the experience of sobriety with other young people.
What happens at the Conference? There are meetings, often around the clock, a banquet on Saturday night, and a dance, and other educational and social activities. The conference is a chance to meet sober people throughout the area and to make friends and engage in fellowship. The conference is made up of one hundred percent enthusiasm surrounded by unconditional love.
What are the meetings like? There are Step, Tradition, Topic, and Speaker meetings, as well as open discussion meetings. There are workshops in which more experienced members give their views on specific issues of sobriety. After the Saturday night banquet, a speaker tells his or her story. All meeting are open to any registrant who wants to attend.
Are the meetings the main purpose of the conference?Not exactly. Although the meetings are important, the fellowship is important too. Yet another reason for the conference is to promote unity in the host city. The conference itself lasts only three days, but planning takes a whole year and involves dozens of people. By hosting a conference in your city, you can create a sense of unity among individuals and among groups. This unity is the real purpose and unity is one of AA’s three legacies. This unity will also live on long after the conclusion of the conference. The presiding spirit of the conference is found in these words from chapters nine and two of the Big Book “…we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy of fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” “There exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.” And that feeling doesn’t go away “as we go our separate ways.” It’s called a young people’s conference.
Are there any age restrictions? No. Everyone is welcome. This is an AA conference for sobriety, and an event that is for all AA members, regardless of age. We define “Young People” as anyone who still has room to grow. Although PENNSCYPAA is often said to be for “the young and the young at heart,” the suggested age for serving PENNSCYPAA is “under forty.” In the past, we’ve had attendees in their teens and in their seventies. These conferences would not be possible were it not for the experience, strength, and hope of the long time AA members.