Q: What other things should I consider when starting a youth group?
A: We recently discussed a few things to consider when starting a youth group from scratch. They were your standard ‘grown up’ things to think about, like safety and volunteers. We’re now going to suggest four more creative things to consider once you have the important youth work foundation laid.
I’ll preface this by saying that all of these ideas can (and should) be discussed with youth throughout the planning stages. Most of it can even be delegated to the young people to give them ownership, which will always help a new program thrive.
Mission and Vision
Organizations often have mission and vision statements, but there isn’t anything wrong with having a mission and vision for your individual programs too. ‘Why are you starting the youth group in the first place?’ and ‘What do you hope to accomplish?’ are good questions to answer in your mission and vision statements.
While everything can morph and change over time, it’s a good idea to know where you want to start. Do you want to work with young offenders by supporting their re-entry into society? Would you prefer to start a youth work program for teen mothers? Or provide mentoring for foster care youth? Maybe start a youth club or cafe?
Figuring out the answers to the two ‘Why’ and ‘What’ questions above will ultimately inform the next few areas for consideration and help you structure the youth group.
Activities and Frequency
How often you’re planning to meet might be informed by your availability or that of your venue, but it may also be affected by the youth you’re planning to serve and reach. Teen parents might only be available once a month, while foster care mentors may want to meet weekly.
Once you know how often you hope to meet, you’ll be able to better figure out what kind of activities you’re planning to provide. In the example of a teen parents group, you may want to start meeting once a month for 3 hours – one hour for information and two hours for socializing and a knitting group. On the other hand, mentors meeting with teens once a week might only meet for an hour at a time, play games, talk or learn about things that matter to them in a group setting.
Overview and Plan
So you know who you’re going to work with and how often you plan to meet with them, plus you have a basic idea of some of the activities you’d like to provide. Now it’s time to create a plan for at least the first few months, but possibly up to a year.
If you’re new to session planning, you can discover the 5 steps to planning a youth work session here.
You’ll also want to create the following things with as much awesomeness as you can muster:
- Group Name
- Group Logo
- Facebook Page, Twitter Handle, Instagram/Vine Accounts and other new social media tools
These don’t have to be perfect and you may want to get some youth in your program before you choose a name, logo, etc, but it’s a good thing to think about in the early stages of group creation.
Question: There are many other things to think about when starting a youth group from scratch – what are your suggestions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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