From our friends in Youth Ministry
thESource petitioned you, our community members, for your favorite summer MustDo activities. Here's what y'all had to say (to add ideas of your own, please visit our FORUM!)
Extreme Make Over
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. Feel free to use this logo
Doug Widger, DCE
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Fort Worth, TX
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 A. Helmrichs, DCE
St. Luke's Lutheran Church
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
Christ Lutheran Church
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
Shepherd of the Hills
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.
The Great American Cheese Race
My favorite activity for the summer (and it really works any time of year) is the American cheese race. To have this race, each person sticks a slice of American cheese on his or her forehead and races to see who can get it into his or her mouth first. Be sure to have a trashcan ready, and explain that you don't want the youth to actually EAT the cheese. Who wants to eat cheese that's been stuck on your forehead? (Or that has hit the floor 40 times?)
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
Grace Lutheran Church
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
St. Paul's Lutheran Church