Youth programs vary drastically when it comes to summer involvement. For some youth groups, summer is a time for growth and renewal after a busy school year, for others it can be a time when to hang it up for the season. No matter which end of the spectrum you are on, be encouraged by your fellow youth workers. Here’s what some of you had to say about summer programming.
Over the summer we move to weekly meetings that are pretty laid back–more of a chance to get together, and we use the summer months to start "breaking in" the new group of freshmen. We also have a weekly Bible study, and we send three different groups out on mission trips throughout the summer! It’s a great time for the kids to get used to what the "new" make-up of the group is and get to know each other! –Bev Carlton, Gahanna, Ohio
Ask your kids. Find out what they want to do. Ask what they can do. See if they have the time for extra stuff or if they want to keep it on par.
Ask your parents. Find out what they expect you to do. This is also a great opportunity to see if you can get one or two of them to help you with a few extra summer fun project-type things.
In the churches I have served, we did both more and less. We didn’t get into our heavy thinking programming as much as we did in the fall. We still had meetings but not as often. At the same time, we did more supervised trips. Middle high kids can’t borrow the keys and head to a favorite restaurant. With the youth group, they could.
We changed our times as little as possible. Continuity lets people know that you are there to schedule around. If you try to please everyone, you can schedule everyone right out of the program.
Some attendance fell off for us. We were able to see more of some of the kids. It depends upon the schedules that they planned for the summer. For example, I saw a lot more of the school athletes for the majority of the summer. Their Saturday practices being over, they were able to do homework then and show up on Sunday night. –Rev. Joey Reed, Pleasant Grove, Kentucky
Our group gets more active in the summer. In the winter we try for one special activity per month plus regular meetings every Sunday night. In the summer we have a regular meeting now and then but are much more physically active. We still have a "message" built into every activity but are less sedentary. For example, we've gone camping in June, on a week-long mission trip in August, helped with vacation Bible school in July, and then we plan biking, picnics, a swim party or two, a bonfire or two, and so on.
We fill in the rest of our time with volleyball and softball, and for each meeting no matter where we are we have some kind of a five-to-ten minute devotional on an appropriate topic. The kids get really close in the summer and for the most part are glad to have regular meetings. The only ones they generally miss are when it hits their vacation weekend. Our summer is great. And our attendance is no different than it is during the school year–just more fun. –Jan Adair, Hollywood Maryland
I use the summertime to be almost a more active time than the winter. The kids suddenly have extra time that they don’t know what to do with, so I try to get an early start on summer programming. This year we had a local radio personality from one of the popular, youth-accepted radio stations come in and speak on how religion and his beliefs determined what he did and didn’t do on the air. It went over great! We even picked up some extra kids that came just to see the radio guy! –Mark Harvard, Leeds, Alabama
My kids enjoy video scavenger hunts. They are relatively inexpensive and a lot of fun. Just borrow a couple of video cameras and send the kids out in teams to videotape a list of things. Give them a time limit and when everyone returns, have a small party while you watch the videos. It makes for a great time, and everyone will get a kick of the videos. Some things I had my kids tape were:
- A member singing his or her favorite hymn
- A stranger saying his or her favorite Bible verse
- The group singing in front of a popular retail store
- A guy in the group getting a makeover
There are many things you can do, and it can be focused on getting to know members of the church better, or can just be a night of crazy, safe fun. –Shelley Moor, Falkville, Alabama