From our friends in Youth Ministry
youthESource petitioned you, our community members, for your favorite summer Must-Do activities. Here’s what y’all had to say. (Feel free to add more ideas in the comments!)
Do some major redecorating in your student area! If it’s been more than four years since you redecorated, you need to do it just to give your current students a feeling of ownership over their space. If you have a dedicated youth space, you might consider putting in a coffee bar and blender to make smoothies. Add some fun items, like kid magnets, old gaming systems, anything retro (e.g. lava lamps). After you complete the renovations, host a Lutherbuck’s KaffeeHaus. Invite some local musicians to come and serve up a good time.
Doug Widger, DCE
Vacation Bible School
Utilize lots of youth (middle school and senior high) volunteers during Vacation Bible School. Have the student volunteers meet in the morning prior to the children arriving and treat them to a quick game, morning snack (Krispy Kreme and Egg McMuffins were both big hits), and a devotion. This morning meeting also gives you the chance to give announcements and reminders regarding the day’s activities.
Most teenagers keep later hours during the summer months. How about having a movie night? Meet every Wednesday night for a movie and a brief discussion. This is a low impact event that works no matter what your numbers are.
Ending a Summer Trip
We have found that taking a day or two to come down from the high of a Servant Event or Gathering experience builds stronger bonds among the kids. We try to plan a big, fun event like white water rafting, followed by something that involves lots of rest, like floating down the river in inner tubes or hanging out at a camp ground. This fun time has given the kids a chance to process a lot of their experiences and the opportunity to begin talking about what will happen when they go back to their “real” lives.
Leah Abel, DCE
Our youth program is putting together a “club” idea for this summer. The idea is to provide several different club options for youth to join. The clubs meet 3-4 times per month. Each club has a different focus and each meets at different times, making it possible for the youth to sign up for as few or as many as they want. Nearby schools are letting us advertise on their campuses. When we passed out a prelim sign up sheet (to get an idea of people’s interests) we got a huge response (over 100). The clubs focus on many different things. Some clubs were so popular we had to split them into different sections. I hope this helps others out there!
Michael Matson, DCE
Shaking Up the VBS Closing Program
For years we were in a rut where we always had our VBS closing program on Friday evening. The number of children in attendance was about half of what we saw during the week. Last year, we had the closing program (abbreviated) at noon followed by a picnic, featuring grilled hot dogs, chips, beverages and ice cream cones. We were blown away by the attendance. Needless to say we will do it again this summer.
Steve Endicott, DCE
For me the best thing about summer is simply being with the kids. I don’t have much time to just hang out with youth during the school year, when their schedules (and my schedule) are crazy. Summer brings extra time to evaluate programs and to block out time to hang out with youth individually by shooting pool, going out for coffee or ice cream, or doing a project in the church or youth room. I look forward to a little bit of a Sabbath as well.
Saying Hello AND Goodbye
This summer, to welcome our new members and say goodbye to our seniors, we are planning a weekend adventure to the Passion Play in Spearfish, S.D. We are camping overnight following the play, having fun at a water park and go-cart park the next day and then heading back home. Past welcoming/goodbye parties have included water skiing, swimming, and barbecues at the local recreational lake.
Tammy Dean, Adult Sponsor
Water Balloon Volleyball
This game is a lot like sand volleyball, only you use a water balloon instead of a ball. To play this game, everyone needs to find a partner. Each person gets one towel to use to catch the water balloon. Throw the water balloon across a volleyball net without it breaking it. If the balloon breaks on your side, the other team gains a point. Be sure to have lots of water balloons at the ready. It’s additionally fun to provide spectators with big buckets of water and cups to use to throw water from the sidelines on the players.
Eric Oswald, DCE
Everyone’s Birthday Party
Have one huge birthday party in the summer to celebrate everyone’s birthday throughout the year. You could draw names for a gift exchange like is often done at Christmas. If you do exchange gifts at the birthday party, set money guidelines. Ask each youth to write down some small items he or she would like to receive so whoever gets that youths name knows what to buy.
Jaclyn Gronbach, DCE
Skating Party with a Smile
Everyone enjoys dusting off those roller skates, blades, or ice skates and hitting the rink. Whatever type of rink that you may go to, it can be a fun time with your youth as you scoot around holding the walls while the youth whip past you. You might even try a little limbo! But how about adding a twist? Call this activity “Skating Party with a Smile.” Wouldn’t you naturally smile or laugh at the goofy things that happen when someone is on a pair of skates?
But how about putting a smile on someone else’s face for a different reason? Why not contact one of the children’s homes in your area and inquire about “adopting” a sister or brother for the day so your youth group can take them skating! It can make such a difference to a child. Giving them the opportunity to spend time with a youth shows them that they are important and that you care about them. If it is hard to find a children’s home to do this with, why not “adopt” the younger kids in your church or Sunday school and partner up with them for the afternoon on the rink? It’s all about building relationships and letting the younger ones see Jesus in your youth!
Rest Stop Refresher
How many of you have traveled along the highway for your vacations and used one of those convenient rest areas. Well, if you have a rest area such as this located not to far from where you live, you may want to try this activity/service project. Our youth loved it.
First, contacted the local highway department to make sure that it would be all right to provide free refreshments for travelers. You could serve a variety of items. We made ours a morning event and served coffee, donuts and juice. We also had tracts and Bibles available for those who wanted them. Don’t forget to make signs and banners advertising the free items and the name of your youth group. Our group enjoyed meeting another youth group, a man who barely had any money and felt God was calling him to Spain, and another man who had to play his guitar for money. This was a great witnessing opportunities for the youth to share their faith!
Youth & Parent Softball & BBQ
Some of the best community building ideas or games for warm weather is to have a youth vs. parents softball game & BBQ! No matter how you organize something like this, it is a great time! Be sure to videotape the game and show it to the congregation at a convenient time (and be sure your pastor is in the video)!
John Hagge, DCE
First published on youthESource in November 2005