Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WyldLife Wednesday: Sample Script for Calling Parents About Camp

Getting kids to WyldLife camp means calling their parents. Not sure what to say? Try this sample script:

May I please speak to Mr./Mrs. Smith?

Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a WyldLife leader at East Middle School.

I’ve enjoyed meeting your daughter, Ashley and getting to see her at WyldLife this year. I wanted to call and let you know about our WyldLife camp trip this summer.

We are going to Camp Buckner in Burnet, Texas for WyldLife camp July 3-7 and I would love for Ashley to be on that trip with us. Have you heard anything about the trip?

If they haven’t heard about the trip, say:

We will leave Dallas on Saturday, July 3 and return on Thursday, July 7. The cost is $500 and includes transportation, food, housing and all camp activities. We’re taking 50 kids from East Middle School and North Middle School to camp, and it is going to be an amazing week. We’ll be traveling on a charter bus – the camp is about a 4-hour drive from Dallas down in the Texas Hill Country.

We’ll join other WyldLife groups from all over Texas at Camp Buckner – there will be a total of about 300 middle school kids and leaders. The camp has a great pool and lake with some awesome water activities. There’s also a ropes course, basketball, volleyball, Frisbee golf and all kinds of WyldLife fun. Every year, kids come back saying that camp was one of the best weeks of their lives.

Do you know if Ashley is interested in coming with us?

If a parent says his/her child does not want to go, find out why.

If it’s financial, say:

I know $500 is a lot of money, and we’ll work with you to help raise that money. We don’t want money to be the reason Ashley doesn’t come to camp. We can set up a monthly payment plan, and Ashley can participate in some of our camp fundraisers. We can figure out the money part.

If it’s because his/her child’s friends aren’t going, say:

We’d love for Ashley to come and bring a couple of her friends. Who do you think she’d be excited about going to camp with? I’d be happy to call their parents and tell them about camp too.

If it’s because his/her child has a schedule conflict, say:

I’m sorry to hear that she won’t be able to join us. If anything changes with your summer schedule, let me know. We really would love for Ashley to come with us.

If answer is “yes”, his/her child wants to go to camp, say:

We are so excited that Ashley wants to come with us! I’d be happy to stop by and pick up her registration form and deposit. Or you can register Ashley online – let me give you that website. We only have 5 spots left, so I hope you’ll sign her up soon. I don’t want her to miss out!

Do you have any other questions about camp? It is going to be an amazing week, and I’m so excited that Ashley will be there with me.

Bring your entire WyldLife team together and spend an evening calling parents (and eating pizza!) And pray that God will give you the courage and diligence to invite kids to camp this summer by calling their parents – and that parents will say “Yes!”

Written by Julie Clapp.

If you'd like more help getting kids to sign up for camp, check out this series of posts: "How to Get Kids to Camp."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Fun Insta-Prom Idea

A fun idea from the Buckeye Valley Young Life team. Before your "Tacky Prom Club"or on the weekend of your school's prom, post throwback pics of your YL team members from their prom days! Now with Instagram you can post up to 10 pics on 1 post. 

You can see how @_BVYL did it here.

Find more ideas about "Promposals" and the YL Leader's Guide to Prom Season here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Questions To Help Your YL Team Evaluate & Celebrate The Year

One of the most valuable, but often neglected, activities we can do as a Young Life team is to regularly evaluate and celebrate.

It's tempting to measure success with numbers. To feel good about the year if you’ve had had big clubs and an epic camp sign-up. To feel bad about the semester if Campaigners never picked up momentum. To think wider is better than deeper.

Tempting and misleading. In the Psalms, we see the psalmists consistently reminding their souls of God's truth. We must do the same.

Before we evaluate and celebrate, let's remember the One who gives and takes away. If we trust God to be in control... when things go well, He gets the glory. And when our ministry seems to languish, we can say with open hands, "Sovereign God, in your timing, your will be done."

Below are some questions to help your team evaluate and celebrate the past year.

General
  • What motivated you to keep going this year when things got hard?
  • What was something you experienced that was frustrating or disappointing?
  • What God-given gifts were you excited to use this year as you served in YL?
  • What gifts do you wish you would've developed?

Christ
  • What did the Lord teach you this year? How did you grow in your relationship with Him?
  • Where did Jesus surprise, interrupt, shake you up or delight you this year?
  • In addition to your role as a leader, what helped you grow in your faith?
Contact Work
  • Tell us a story that happened this year with one of your middle or high school friends.
  • Share contact work highlights. What worked well? What would you like to improve?
  • What new kids did you meet this semester?
  • What kids did you see grasp the Gospel for the first time?
  • What kids are heavy on your heart right now?

Club
  • Share the highlights you remember from club this year.
  • What worked well at club this year? What should we keep doing next year?
  • What should we do differently? What is one way to improve club in the fall?
  • Were kids given ownership of Club?
  • How could we 'spread the word' about club better starting in August?
  • What went well with your club talks?
  • What is one way you can grow in becoming a better communicator of the Gospel?
  • As far as you were able, did you welcome new kids at club?
  • Did we remember names well?
  • Did we meet parents before and after club?
  • Did we leave the club room cleaned up, better than we found it?
Campaigners
  • Share a highlight or two from Campaigners this year.
  • How could Campaigners improve for next fall?
  • Who are 3 of your closest high school friends and how have you seen them grow?
  • What kids are you most excited about going deeper with next year?
  • Were kids given ownership of Campaigners this year? Did you position kids to lead?
Camp/Summer
  • How have you felt about summer “camp sell“?
  • What have we done well as a team to get kids signed up?
  • What could we do differently next year to help get kids to camp?
  • What is your contact work plan for the summer?
  • If you will be out of town, how will you stay in touch with kids?
  • What are you looking forward to this summer?
  • What are you dreading?
  • Where do you sense God leading you this summer? Where are you excited to see God at work in your life this summer?
Community
  • Share a time when you watched a teammate demonstrate Jesus' love.
  • If our team could improve on one aspect of ministry next year, what would it be?
  • What one thing would you like to improve on in your personal ministry next year?
  • What is one thing we can be accountable for…to help you grow personally and in your ministry? How can we as a team support you?
  • What sacrifices did you make this year to do YL? Were those wise sacrifices to make?
  • (If the team leader is leading this time...) What is something I as team leader did well?
  • What is something I as team leader can improve on in the fall?
  • How do you feel about our team dynamics? Did we love each other well? Pray for one another consistently? Serve and help one another? How can we grow in that next year?
  • Make a list of potential leaders to be praying for to join our team.
Download these questions to print here.

You may also want to refer to the Young Life 'Back to the Basics' Inventory.

Now, go out and celebrate! Remember that He who began a good work in you (and your ministry) promises to continue and complete it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Darth Vader Scavenger Hunt: May the 4th Be With You

Originally posted in 2015.
Written by Jason Talley.

Last year around the end of the year we decided to do a “Ninja Scavenger Hunt.” A slew of awesome adults dressed up as ninjas around town and the kids went off to find them. Two years ago, during our planning meeting our scavenger hunt landed on Monday, May 4th. Immediately one of our leaders said, “May the 4th be with you!” and we all started freaking out about how cool it would be to have everyone dress up as Darth Vaders instead of ninjas.

HOW TO DO A DARTH (or ninja) HUNT

Contact The Police

The first step in this process is to call your local police department. For us, this was to initially let them know what we were doing. Having a bunch of random people standing around town in business and on street corners dressed as ninjas (or Darths) might seem a bit suspicious. However, that call ended up being way better than I could have hoped. After being transferred several times I spoke directly to the chief of police who was probably more excited about the event than I was. He offered to open up any public facility that I wanted to place a ninja at. So, we have Darths this year at City Hall, the Police Station, Fire Department, and Public Transportation stations. In addition, they raised the amount of patrol during the time of our event to make sure all the locations and kids were safe. So so cool!

Contact Businesses

We also will have Darths at several local businesses. I contacted, Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box, and Taco Bell. They were all down to help us. They also donated some things for kids to use as challenges. – We’ll get to that in a moment.

Contact Awesome Adults

I mean, who wouldn’t want to dress up as a ninja or Darth Vader and have some fun with high school kids for a couple of hours on a Monday night?! Haha. I got some volunteers from my church, our committee, and kids parents. This year we have a total of 12 Darth’s all over the city. I gave them detailed instructions on how the night will go (email me if you’d like a copy of these documents.) I also provided them with a simple Darth mask from Party City and asked them to dress in all black. Last year I had everyone make a t-shirt into a ninja mask. You can find out how here.

Set-up

You will want all your locations to be within 2-3 miles from the club room or from one-another if your club location isn’t close to a lot of places. Map out how the kids will flow from one location to the next. I made a huge circle from one location to another on a map and the kids went in that order from location to location.

How The Night Works

The goal here is not so much for the kids to find the Darth’s. It’s for them to get to as many as possible before their time is expired. Kids meet at the Club Room at 7:02. I have them divide into teams of 4-5 with a leader or approved driver in each team. We give the kids intense instructions on not speeding if they are driving or they will be disqualified. I give them a score sheet and the location of their first Darth in a sealed envelope. They are to open the envelope all at once on the count of three and then they can leave.

Once they arrive at their first Darth, they are given a challenge – also in a sealed envelope. Here’s a list of some of the challenges:
  • Each team member eat an order of cinnamon twists (donated by Taco Bell)
  • Each team member eat a kids ice cream cone (donated by DQ)
  • Run around the entire school (our HS is right by our club room.)
  • Play a quick game to two points of sand volleyball (Park close by club room)
  • Form a human primed.
  • Sing the theme song to “Sponge Bob Square Pants”
  • Recite the ABC’s forwards and backwards
  • Run around your car five times (Chinese Fire Drill – done at the fire station)
  • Name the Mayer of our city and how long he has been in office (City Hall)
  • Do 20 Jumping Jacks and 5 Pushups

Once they complete their challenge they give the score sheet to the Darth who signs off on it and gives them a random amount of points between 100 and 500. I’ve told the Darth’s these points are not based off merit, but just random.
After signing off on their challenge, the Darth gives the kids their next location in a sealed envelope.

They have until 8:45 to get to as many Darth’s as possible.

At that time they must all meet at Taco Bell for a giant group picture and to tally the points. For every minute they are late they loose 100 points.

Once the picture is taken and the winning team is decided, each team member of the winning team gets a $5 gift card to Chipotle and a small Darth Vader Lego keychain.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Summer Movies 2017: Opening Dates & Trailers

The summer movie season begins in just 15 days. Our job as YL leaders is to lead our middle and high school friends into the adventure of following Christ. Part of that means helping them discover different ways to use their time than just settling for the big screen. But another part of our role is to meet them right where they are, and this summer they're likely to be at the movie theaters.

We can take advantage of this by planning well. Last summer I wrote in my calendar the opening nights of the blockbuster movies. A couple weeks before one I wanted to see came out, I started talking it up with kids. We went to see a couple midnight showings and they thought it was cool that their YL leader was willing to drive them around in the wee hours of the morning.

One night we met at a field around 10pm to play "Glow in the Dark Ultimate Frisbee" before the movie. Another night we hit up Waffle House after the film. Great bonding memories!

Disclaimer

I haven't seen any of these movies below and would highly recommend you checking out reviews on kids-in-mind.com before taking kids to see a movie you might regret. When in doubt, talk to your Area Director. Also, be sure to communicate well with parents, especially if you're keeping their kids out late at night. Don't just settle for "my mom said it was cool." Go ahead and make that phone call to a parent.

Below are the opening dates for some 2017 summer movies you might want to see with your middle/high school friends. You can view the trailer for each movie by clicking the movie title below.

May 5 - Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2
May 12 - King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
May 19 - Everything, Everything
May 26 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Jun 2 - Wonder Woman
Jun 2 - Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Jun 9 - The Mummy
Jun 16 - Cars 3
Jun 23 - Transformers: The Last Knight
Jun 30 - Despicable Me 3
Jul 7 - Spider-Man: Homecoming
Jul 14 - War for the Planet of the Apes
Jul 21 - Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Jul 28 - The Emoji Movie
Aug 18 - Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Aug 30 - Leap

What movies are missing from this list? Any "movie contact work ideas" you can share? Shoot us an email.

Read more about how we as leaders can help kids engage with movies in this post, Jesus Goes to the Movies.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Powerful Way To Honor Your Graduating Seniors

Before you know it the seniors in your Young Life club will be graduating. One special way to honor and celebrate them is with a "Blessing Service." I've seen this done in very different, yet meaningful ways.

Blessing Service Options
  • Area-wide ceremonies done with YL leaders speaking over senior leaders.
  • Co-ed ceremonies done with seniors from one high school where both male and female YL leaders share about each senior.
  • Campaigner groups where only dads are invited to share about their sons.
  • Campaigner groups where both parents are invited to speak over their son or daughter.
My personal preference is the last option, with a Campaigners group of only guys or only gals and both parents speaking over their child. In our culture, it's becoming less common for both parents to be in the picture, so this allows at least one parent to be there to speak.

Rule Of Thumb: 12 Max
If you want each senior to get a chance to be spoken to and about, you need an average of 5 mins/senior. 12 seniors= 1 hour. Anything over 12 seniors will probably take too long and should be divided into a smaller group.

Although I wrote the letter below to the parents of the guys in my Campaigners group last year, it can be adapted for a group of gals as well.

How To Give A Meaningful Blessing
If you choose to do something like this in your area, I would coach whoever is giving the blessings to prepare well by choosing a few specific things to share. I have watched ceremonies happen where one senior gets spoken about for 10 minutes with well prepared and meaningful blessings. The next senior gets only one minute of poorly prepared thoughts.

Help your leaders/parents prepare by giving them a loose structure:
  • A story that is either funny and memorable or meaningful. It can be about a shared experience with the speaker and senior or one that happened in the senior's life that describes their character.
  • 2-4 Character traits that you have seen exhibited in the senior's life (ex: honesty, courage, integrity, unselfishness, leadership, perseverance, etc...)
  • A Bible verse that describes their life or that is your prayer for them. A thoughtful prayer for them.
  • Specific things you are actually praying for God to do in and through them.
  • Hugs, hands on their shoulders, looking into their eyes as you speak are all a very valuable part of this experience.
Make sure to snap a pic of each parent while they're speaking over their child. Email the parents copies of the picture!

It's also a great chance to take a group photo of your seniors and give them an empty 8x10 frame with a mat they each can sign. Then get photos printed the next day and pass them out at your last Campaigners group for folks to put in their frames. Makes a great dorm room decoration.

Below is an email I wrote to parents. You can also download it here. Feel free to adapt it and use it if that saves you time. -Drew

---
Parents of the NWYL Senior Guys,

It has been a high privilege to get to know your sons and be involved in their lives throughout high school. I love these guys so much and desire to send them off well as they become men and head into this next season of life.
I would love to invite you to a cookout and a “blessing service” for your sons on Sunday night, May 22nd, at 6pm at the Smith’s home, 1000 Rocky Rd. The Smiths are providing burgers and hot dogs and I’m asking everyone else to bring drinks, sides, or desserts. Would you please reply to this email and let me know how many in your family can come and what you would like to bring? Siblings are invited as well.
Working with teenagers over the last 20 years, and being both a father and a son, I can tell you how valuable a parent’s blessing can be and how hurtful it is when it’s absent. I still keep a note in my Bible from my dad that he wrote me many years ago, simply saying these 12 words “Drew, I’m thankful you’re my son. I’m proud of you. Love, Dad.”

After we eat I'd love to spend an hour honoring these senior guys. They don't know I'm asking you to do this so I'd like to keep it a surprise. I'm asking one or both parents of each guy to spend around 5 minutes sharing about your son. With 10 guys, at 5 minutes each, it will take us close to an hour for the sharing time, so please be aware of how long you’re speaking, it’s easy to get long winded when sharing a story. On the other hand, don’t rush. This is a valuable time and it’s important for your child to feel the weight of this moment.
When you share, I would love for you to do 2 things:


  1. Tell them how proud you are of them and how much you love them.
    • Share character traits you've seen him exhibit (honesty, courage, integrity, unselfishness, leadership, perseverance, etc...).
    • Feel free to share a brief story about how you’ve seen those traits be a blessing to you and to others.
  2. Speak vision over them about their future.
    • Recognize how God has uniquely gifted them.
    • Share how you’ve seen them grow and mature.
    • Share who you envision them becoming in the future.
    • If you want to pick a Bible verse to read or a specific prayer you are praying over them, that's great as well.
    • The principle of “speaking vision” is for your son to hear you say ‘I love you, I believe in you, and I’m in this with you.
I know this may be difficult for some for a number of reasons. If you’ve never had a blessing from your parents, it is sometimes difficult to give it to another. You may feel regret, wishing you had more time with your son as they’re about to leave home. You may feel too timid to do this in public in front of other parents. Whatever the case, I promise you it is worth it to take the risk and bless your son. Your words hold immeasurable power!

You may even want to write out your words to read. This could be an emotional time, so having it written down will help you say all you want to say and it will also preserve it for them in the future.

If you are unable to be present, but your son is able to come, would you write down a blessing and email it to me so I can read it over him on Sunday night. You could also perhaps send a grandfather, a close uncle, or close family friend to step in on your behalf.

When you share about your son, I suggest putting your hands on their shoulders and looking them in the eye as you speak to them and not just about them.

Instead of saying, “John has always had a kind heart for people who need a friend.” Look at John and say “My son, you have always had a kind heart for people who need a friend.”

I really believe this will be such a special night that they’ll remember forever. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Would you email me back by Thursday at noon and let me know how many in your family can come and what food you can bring?

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, the apostle Paul writes, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” Your sons have become so dear to me and I’m thankful for the blessing it’s been to share life with them for these 4 years.

Drew Hill


If you’d like to read more about this concept of giving a blessing, I’ve attached a chapter from the book “The Blessing” by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

If you have another creative way to celebrate this rite of passage with seniors, email me here and I'll add it to the post.

Special thanks to Ken Tankersly, my former regional director, for instilling in me a value to celebrate people well. And another shoutout to my current area director, David Page, for passing along his insights on this blessing service tradition he's done for years.

Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Say Goodbye: Thoughts on Young Life Leaders Leaving Well

Some of your Young Life teammates might be entering a season of transition. Maybe they're graduating, moving, burned out or called to another ministry.

Their absence will be noticed. Not just by you or your team, but by their middle and high school friends. Change is hard. Trust is expensive. Abandonment issues are real.

Would you consider sharing this post with any of your teammates who are transitioning out of being a YL leader? Hopefully it can help them and the middle and high school friends they'll leave behind.

How to Say Goodbye to our Middle and High School Friends?

Years ago I worked at The Dale House Project in Colorado Springs, a residential care facility that was started in partnership with Young Life. It's a home for at-risk teenagers with no place to go.

During my one year internship, our house counselor, Jim Sheffer, spent time training us how to say goodbye. He was firm in urging us to not make promises we couldn't keep. The specific population of kids we were working with had been repeatedly abandoned and rejected by their families and friends. Now we'd come into their lives for a short time, loved them in a way they had never experienced before, and soon we'd be leaving them as well. Leaving hurt deeply, both us and the kids.

Jim encouraged us to speak to the kids in a language that was honest, loving, and leaving. He prompted us to say things like:

  • I'm so thankful for the time we've shared together and so sad to have it end.
  • Sadly, our relationship is likely never going to be the same that it's been this year.
  • I want to keep in touch with you, but I also know that life and distance will not make that as easy as it has been.
  • I will pray for you when I think of you.
  • I will miss you when I'm gone.

In this digital age we have the tendency to make false promises. We think because we're Facebook friends or follow one another on SnapChat, we can be real friends, when in reality its much more difficult when your paths aren't regularly crossing in person. In our busy lives, the old adage is typically true: "Out of sight, out of mind."


Dunbar's number asserts that we all have a relational capacity of around 150 people. Yet when I became a Young Life leader Mal McSwain told me to "make friends like you're going to know them for the rest of your life." That year alone I became friends with over 150 high schoolers, and now, almost 20 years later, those numbers have continued to grow.

I think I missed one key word during that YL Leader training. "Make friends LIKE you are going to know them for the rest of your life." As leaders, we are to befriend kids with the mentality that we would love to be a groomsmen or bridesmaid in their wedding one day, to be roasting them at their 40th birthday party, to be old friends on that "Young Life 100th Birthday Caribbean Cruise" in 2041."

We must also not be so arrogant to think that without us in their lives, they'll never know Christ or have others love them and influence them in the way of Jesus. God calls people in and out of our lives for specific seasons.

The reality is that we're not going to know all of our middle and high school friends for the rest of our lives. So...we must learn how to say goodbye.

If you are leaving...

You'll Be Missed More Than You Know

Do not assume kids won't notice that you're gone. Whether you realize it our not, you are one of the only "adult friends" these teenagers have. They most likely feel closer to you than you feel to them. Even though they sometimes act like they don't even know you when you show up in the cafeteria or to a game, they'll notice when you are gone. It will be a loss for them, and a big loss for many of them.

Give An Explanation

When leaving, we must be intentional to actually say goodbye. It is easier to just leave without the hoopla, but kids need to know the truth. They need to hear it from you, not someone else. If you asked them to trust you and to be your friend, you at least owe them the time to tell them goodbye. In some cases, it may be complicated as to why you are leaving, but it's important for you to give kids an honest, clear, and well thought through explanation. You don't owe them all the details, but you at least owe them a reason for why you are leaving them.

Leave With Grace

Maybe you are leaving under not so great circumstances. Maybe you had a fall out with a teammate or a staff person. Maybe you're not a fan of the way things are being run. Even if you are leaving with tension, don't tear down others or verbally attack the ministry. Revenge doesn't mean that you win, it means that everyone loses. Choose your words carefully. Be truthful, but speak with grace.

Be A Cheerleader

When a kid calls and tells you that "Young Life sucks since you left," encourage them to step up and be a leader instead of a critic. Be positive and support the leadership that is in place. Your voice still carries weight and influences the direction of the ministry.

Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

  • It hurts less initially if you say, "I'm not going to be a leader, but we can still hang out all the time." But it hurts way more down the road when you aren't at all their games like you were last season.
  • It hurts less initially when you say, "I'm moving, but we'll still talk all the time, that's what phones are for." But it hurts way more down the road when you don't make those phone calls they were expecting.
  • It hurts less initially when you say, "I'll come back and visit all the time." But it hurts way more down the road when they see pics on Instagram revealing that you were back in town and didn't call.

Tell them that you are sad that your relationship will never again be the same. Acknowledge the loss and hurt that comes with goodbyes.

Expect Anger

Not from many kids, but probably from the ones you are closest too. They have a right to be angry. You've chosen something else instead of them. But choices are part of life. Jesus chose only twelve disciples. He chose to spend more time with only three of them. Our choices affect others. Many kids have been wounded by one day coming home to find out their mom or dad has moved out. Many of them have experienced real abandonment and they will be angry with you, and maybe even God. As I have moved I have had kids say to me, "You're leaving me just like everyone else in my life leaves me." We've got to trust that God is in control and if we are being obedient to Him, then His plan is for ultimate good, even when it results in anger and hurt.

Make The Hand-off

It's your responsibility to do your best to set up the kids you're leaving with another YL leader or someone else who can invest in their life. While it's easier to just roll out, it's worth the extra effort to introduce the new leaders to kids and even create hang out events where the new leader can be set up well to begin to earn the right to be heard. Also, be strategic in introducing new leaders to school faculty and parents of kids that you know. A true sign of good leadership is the success of an organization after a leader leaves.

By Drew Hill.

Click here to download a PDF of this article to share.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Meet Next Year's Freshmen: How to Get 8th Graders to Club

As you near the end of the school year, it's a perfect time to invite 8th graders to one of your last clubs! In just a few months they'll be freshmen. Let's give them a taste now so they know what they have to look forward to as high school begins.

5 WAYS TO GET 8TH GRADERS TO CLUB

WyldLife

If you have WyldLife in your area, this makes the transition much easier. Send high schoolers to the WyldLife club to invite 8th graders to join them the following week.

Motivate With Vision

Talk to your Campaigners and Senior Leaders. Ask them to think about the people they know who are seniors who never got plugged into YL. Ask them to think about how different those folks' high school paths might've been had someone invited them to Young Life when they were in 8th grade.

Motivate With Money

This morning at our team leader meeting I said out loud, "I wish I had a $50 gift card to offer as a prize to motivate high schoolers to invite 8th graders." As I walked out of Panera after the meeting I had a friend hand me a $50 Visa gift card. True story.

Ask a parent, a donor, a friend if they would donate $50 to help change the lives of a bunch of middle schoolers. We're telling kids that if they bring an 8th grader to club on Monday they'll be entered to win the $50 Visa card. We'll put all the names of the 8th graders in a hat. If the 8th graders name is drawn, they get a YL shirt and the person who brought them wins the $50!

Siblings

Text all your high school friends and ask them who has a brother or sister in 8th grade. Make a list. Make sure they get their sibling to club.

Connections

Between your church, YL parents, and friends in town, odds are that you already know a teacher or administrator at the middle school. Ask them if they would spread the word at school. If they won't, find a parent who will be a champion on your behalf.

WHAT TO DO WITH 8TH GRADERS AT CLUB

Info

Make sure you get them to fill out a club card with legible handwriting. Put a box on there and ask if they would like to be contacted about doing YL events this summer.

Hero Vs. Chump

Be extra careful if you bring 8th graders on stage. It's fun with the right kid, but get the wrong one and they'll be embarrassed and never return. An easy way to do this is to play a game with siblings. Make the 8th graders heroes instead of chumps.

Meet the Parents

If 8th graders get dropped off, be sure to be out front before and after club meeting parents. Be confident. Ask them to roll down the car window. Introduce yourself. Thank them for coming. Give them a handout with info about Young Life. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine dropping your child off with an adult you don't know. Make them feel at ease by explaining what YL is and what happens at club.

Next Step

Ask the 8th graders to follow your YL club on social media. Explain to them what the next event is that they can come to and how they will find out more info. Give them a "next step."

What have you done to help get 8th graders plugged in? Email us here with ideas.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What To Do When Club Isn't Working

Below are are a few options if you're looking for activities to do "when club isn't working" or if you have to "punt" when there aren't very many kids that show up at club.
  • Poor Man's Paintball
  • Bigger, Better, Best
  • T-Shirt Rally
    • Similar to Bigger, Better, Best, but with t-shirts instead. Just go knock on doors and try to get the most t-shirts given to you.
      • 1 point = T-shirt
      • 2 points = Long sleeve t-shirt
      • 10 points = A t-shirt from your high school
      • 20 points = Bring back a high school friend who has never been to Young Life
      • 30 points = Bring back a summer camp deposit
  • Instagram Scavenger Hunt
  • Matball
    • Similar to kickball except you have extra large bases for 1st and 3rd and both are switched in opposite places
    • After batting, you will run left to get to first base and proceed clockwise around the bases
    • The large mats can have as many people as you like on them
    • If you leave 1st or 3rd base you can go back with no penalty as long as you don't touch or pass 2nd or home plate. If you do go past those, you must continue to the next mat.
    • After passing home you continue back to first base. However, your run does not count unless you safely make it to first base.
  • Angleball
  • Manhunt
  • Find Your Leader
  • Couch Olympics
  • Cookout/Bonfire
  • Trampoline park
  • Dodgeball
  • Stickball
  • Field Trip To The Pet Store or Animal Shelter
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Go visit folks at a hospital or nursing home

If you have other ideas, email us here and we'll add them to the post.

Monday, April 10, 2017

10 Tips for Senior Club

If you've not already had your final club for this school year, the end is in sight. It’s become a tradition in many Young Life areas to end the year with “Senior Club,” giving the graduating seniors a chance to lead club and share about their experiences. Below are a few tips to help make the night a success. 

Senior Ownership
This could be your highest attendance club of this semester. If the seniors take ownership of it, they will get people there.

Personal Invites
Even if seniors have “checked out” of YL this is a club they will come back for... if personally invited. Not just a mass text, or an Instagram announcement, but a face to face invite or phone call. I’ve watched many kids come to a Senior Club that have never been to YL before. It's an easy invite because it’s the last club of the year and the seniors are speaking. Work hard to get first timers there! Who knows, they might even sign up for camp. It's happened many times!

8th Graders
This is a great club to invite current 8th graders, and give them a taste of what's to come in the fall when they become freshmen. Get parents and middle school teachers help in promoting that this club is open to 8th graders. If there is WyldLife in your area, connect with the WyldLife leaders and get their help in bringing their middle school friends.

Also, offer prizes for the high schoolers who brings the most 8th graders. We typically give away "Lunch With A Leader" or bring kids lunch from their favorite restaurant to school.

Alumni
If scheduled in May, often college students alumni are back home and would love to come back and visit club.

Time
If not carefully monitored, this club could run too long. Consider starting 30 minutes earlier than usual. You could also do a cookout, grill hotdogs, and start at 6:37 instead of 7:37. Check the sports schedule and make sure to not conflict with a big home game.

Content
Will the seniors run music, games, skits? If so, help them prepare. They can do classic YL skits, make fun of leaders, pick their favorite classic songs to sing, and make videos to show at club. It's also fun to play a 'Guess that Senior' game using baby pics.

Videos
It's a fun opportunity for the seniors to film a video together. Check out this video from the seniors at Overton Young Life in Nashville.




Senior Share
Allow enough time for every senior that wants to share to have a turn. Coach the seniors ahead of time on WHAT to share. If they know Christ, ask them to speak clearly of what He has done in their life. If they’ve been to camp or plugged into Campaigners, ask them to share of those experiences. Their words will carry much weight with the underclassmen. Although it is fun as leaders to hear kids tell us how great we are, encourage them to use this time to tell how great Jesus is instead.

Coach the seniors ahead of time on HOW LONG to share. If you have 15 seniors that each talk for 4 minutes, that will take an hour. Consider warning them ahead of time that after a certain predetermined length of time you will raise a sign in the back letting them know to wrap it up. Set the seniors up for success.

Celebration
Think outside the box about ways to make this evening special. Will you have a time when the leaders pray for the seniors? Will you give the seniors any gifts, notes, etc…Will you have a special surprise 24-ft long Gutter Ice Cream Sundae waiting for the kids out back when the night ends? If so, ask some parents to help prepare it so its ready and still frozen when everyone runs outside. Also, prepare to get sticky. Ice Cream fights are inevitable.

What other ideas have you seen work well? Comment below or email us here.