Toddlerography

If you need a new idea for youth programs, try Toddlerography! On The Late Late Show with James Corden, he had Justin Bieber on to help. A great idea to have your kids take the lead during assembly time. Kids are creative, and this gives them an outlet to let them shine. A simple practical way to create this is to have them on stage and everyone in assembly (large group) does exactly what the child does. All you need is music! As you can see from this video, make sure you stretch!

I have included this on my website. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas to make your program 1 percent better. Happy Wednesday!

Staff Makes Your Program. Recruitment Strategies Are Key!

Camp

Recruiting and finding the right staff is key to a quality program. When you have this in place, your enrollment will continue to grow, and retention of campers will be strong. As a parent, I love to know that my child knows someone at camp. Besides the friends she makes, nothing makes you happier to hear how much she loves the teacher, counselor, or instructor. It is not easy finding great staff to work with children. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, this isn’t a joke job. These staff are learning serious professional job and life skills each day. We are also living in a world, where these teens are connected to their cell phone or computer all the time. Many forms of communication are not done in person, they are done through texting. The face to face communication and learning to work together is a huge skill that you will have to teach this new group of staff coming up. So how do you find the best staff besides just posting the job online? Make sure you mention the true value of working as a counselor and at the YMCA. What are the benefits besides getting paid?

I have listed a few things that I have done or stolen from other people. The key thing is to remember what it is like to be 16 or young again. Give them time to apply, get the position out there early, and this will also give you time to do some of these ideas below!

  1. Get away from your desk/computer, and go talk to them in person. Visit local schools. Talk to the career counselor and get them your information, student council/clubs, table in parking lot at Lunch if they leave school to eat or outside cafeteria if they stay on campus, and any other teacher/current staff you can talk to that will help promote the job.
  2. Visit local church youth groups or Young Life if you have a chapter in your area. These have great teens, and also keep in mind that not all teens go to public schools.
  3. If you have a YMCA facility, advertise to your membership. Many parents have neighbors or teens of their own looking for jobs. Put up flyers, have a recruitment table in your lobby like you would do at a school.
  4. Talk to your staff. Give them flyers, have them talk to their friends. Some of your staff are in college, even though it is not close to your YMCA, they may reach someone that lives in your area. If you don’t communicate the job, they will not know it is an option.
  5. Use your personal and program social media platforms. Advertise to your networks, it takes one time for someone to scroll and share the post with someone. When you are using social media, try and use a picture of your actual camp like I did in this post. Let the applicant see the fun that is actually happening.
  6. Try and setup group interviews. Many times in jobs, you may never hear back or get an interview. With group interviews, everyone gets a chance to be interviewed. Even if they don’t get the job, you are using your platform to train them and get them ready for their next step.
  7. Have an incentive plan. If we hire 1-2 of your friends, you can earn swag or something fun. I would have never worked at the YMCA if my friend didn’t tell me about it.

Parents choose and return to camp because of the staff. If they have a great experience, they are likely to come back. Many of the surveys I see are parents shouting out specific staff members they really loved. You can spend all the money you want on supplies, but if you don’t have the right people executing those games/programs, you just have a camp that looks good. That will get old very quickly for your parents and especially your campers.

I often hear or have seen from other colleagues that I don’t have enough time in my day to do these recruiting ideas. Many of these are not executed during your After School program time, they are done early or in the middle of the day. You can make time, and more importantly you need to make time. As you have seen in this post, staff is key to everything. I have also heard, how do you hire young high school staff? They seem to be too young or immature for the role. Actually, I have seen the opposite. It is all in how you hire, and then train that staff member. Just because you are in college/older, doesn’t always guarantee that they will be more mature or a better staff member.

Feel free to email and share any of your ideas to me around recruitment and finding the best staff. I will post this on my website in the Resource Zone. I will do a post in a few weeks on why an enrollment/marketing plan is important, and then also how to lead the best staff trainings since you have hired these new all stars. Summer 2020 is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Take it one step at a time, and make sure you are getting prepared early!

 

Qubits

Qubits

Qubits is a STEM/STEAM style building set created by Lisa and Mark Burginger. This toy is produced in North Carolina and is a great addition to any youth program. Qubits are fantastic building tools for Preschool/Elementary/Middle/High School aged students. This is also a great staff training tool to build teamwork and communication. STEM/STEAM building kits like Qubits can teach simple lessons like cause and effect, and help students develop skills that will support them in their future studies and careers, both in STEM and other fields. Through STEM and STEAM, students can learn to solve problems through teamwork, data collection and analysis, and their own curiosity. Qubits has been part of 160 Donors Choose projects that have added up to over $120,000! They have won several awards and even been on Shark Tank. To learn more about Qubits, visit their website at www.qubitstoy.com. Their products are also available on Amazon www.amazon.com/qubits. 

I will add Qubits to the Vendor section on my website. I also have a Resource Zone if you need more fun ideas to help your program 1 percent better!

 

Bread And Butter Monday!

Bread And Butter Monday!

I always love a good camp song! Have you heard of Bread and Butter Monday? Check this video out and add to any program with staff or kids! You can freestyle and create any verse you want for each day of the week. Check the lyrics below.

Repeat a After Me Song...
Today Is Monday
Bread And Butter Monday’
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today Is Tuesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread and Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today Is Wednesday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today Is Thursday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today is Friday
Payday Friday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today is Saturday
Netflix Saturday
Payday Friday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today is Sunday
Hallelujah Sunday
Netflix Saturday
Payday Friday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread and Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

I will upload this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out for more great songs and ideas to make your program fire!

Feel The Love Week!

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

One of my favorite times of the year is approaching! It is time for “Feel The Love Week”. It’s time to show appreciation to all the people in your programs and ways to think about the people behind the scenes. One of my favorites is “Carnations for Moms/Dads/Caregivers” during youth sports. The parents drive them to every practice and game, and are definitely their biggest fan. We like to do the carnations so the kids can make them smile, and teach them to love on their parent/caregiver just a little more that week. Kids love this, and the it is so cool to see how happy they get to show a little love during youth sports.

I love my custodians, and now with a YMCA facility operating 7 days a week, you really see how hard it is to keep a building clean and organized. We do many of our programs inside schools and churches. It is important to take the time to say thank you and do something nice for these staff. We have done YMCA swag, coffee, food, and even a simple handwritten thank you card works too. It’s taking the TIME to show these staff you genuinely care and are appreciative of the many things they do behind the scenes to help your program out. School administration/Church leadership are the same. Show some support to them as they have to handle problems every day and just need to know that you are appreciative of them and their support.

Love on your staff! They are the people that make the magic happen day in and day out. Find ways to show appreciation, and sometimes it is just telling them in person or a hand written note. Put away the emails or text messages this month. Tell people you appreciate them. The week of February 10th-14th is a great time to do “Feel The Love” week, but honestly anytime during this month is great. Take time to plan it out and continue to think of fun ways besides food. Listed below are a few ideas I posted last year….

  1. Hand written thank you cards to all of your staff with a small box of chocolates.
  2. Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner out with your Site Coordinators or key staff member(s) that help you plan the program behind the scenes.
  3. Hot Chocolate/Coffee at Rides In (Morning Program Drop Off for Parents/Teachers)
  4. Work with school, and see if you can push a snack cart through the school with Water, Drinks, and Snacks to deliver to classrooms.
  5. Doughnuts for Dads (Invite Dad’s In!)
  6. Muffins for Moms (Invite Mom’s In!)
  7. Granola for Grandparents (Invite Grandparents In!)
  8. Kids pick all the activities for the week. They are in charge.
  9. Kids write thank you cards to janitors and school administration.
  10. Flower for all the parents.
  11. Theme gifts for staff. Find out their favorite candy or snack.
  12. YMCA or your company/church logo swag. Coffee cup, T-Shirt, Hat, Water Bottle, etc..
  13. Pie In The Face Drawing each day for the kids. Invite the principal to pie in the face a staff member.
  14. Contract with a car detailer, and have all of your staff car’s cleaned during work.
  15. Food truck come out to your program and serve your staff/school!
  16. Surprise staff meeting. Instead of meeting, do something fun like laser tag, putt putt, dodge ball game, escape room, etc…

I will include this in the Resource Zone under Youth Programming on my website. Feel free to comment or share any ideas you have. I bet this list could be even longer!

 

Every Life Has A Story

When I was at the YMCA Campfire Conference a few weeks ago, Jude Dooley one of the speakers referenced this video. It has been out for a long time, I have never seen it, and wanted to share this with you. This is a great resource to use for a devotion or community builder with your staff or volunteers so they can reflect on their day to day job working alongside people.Chick-fil-A created this video to remind us that everyone we interact with has a chance to create a remarkable experience. Think about your own story and how has this impacted who you are.

“Every life has a story.. if we only bother to read it” – Dan Cathy. A video we created to remind us that everyone we interact with is a chance to create a remarkable experience.

I will add this to the Devotions list in the Resource Zone. If you follow this blog, or have been seeing posts related to YMCA Campfire Conference, this is the last one I have. I wanted to be able to share some of the great things I heard and saw. The 2021 conference will be in early January and will be in Black Mountain, NC at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly again. If you work with youth, you should definitely go! A great way to connect with other youth professionals and gain new ideas for your program.

Mission Mondays

Image result for missionmonday.com

It is not Monday, but these guys have a mission for you each week to help improve your school, company, or YOUTH PROGRAM! I heard these two speak at the YMCA Campfire Conference last week, and heard some awesome key takeaways to make your program 1 percent better. Mark Johnson and Sam Stecher created MissionMonday.com and have some helpful resources for you to use. The Mission will appear every Monday!

One of my favorite things I heard them say is the quote in the picture above, “It Happens In The Hallway.” Everyday we pass people in our youth programs. They are our participants, staff, parents of the participants, and if you work offsite at a school they are your teachers, custodians, and principals. We should be greeting them with a smile, a hello, and asking them how they are doing. It is free to do. It can change their day. So that’s a simple challenge from this post, how are you walking down your hallway?

A few weekly missions they talked about the YMCA Campfire Conference that I loved  were It’s Our Trash, Thank You Chef, and Drinking Fountains.

  1. It’s Our Trash – They had a motto at their school that if they ever saw trash on the ground, you would throw it away. They trained their staff on this and told their kids that this is their school and this is the place that they reside everyday for 8 hours. So if you are working in a youth program, train your staff and kids to do this. Set aside time each day and play the Mission Impossible theme song over the speakers of your school or camp.
  2. Thank You Chef – When students ask for food, they say “May I please have some more?” or “Thank you for my food” when going through the line. Always taking the time to thank the staff that are preparing the food each day.  So if you are working in a youth program, you can have different age groups/huddles assigned to thanking someone at your program. Custodians, Lifeguards, etc…
  3. Drinking Fountain – For that week, he would ask the kids “May I offer you in a free tasty beverage. It is totally free, paid by the lovely taxpayers of this community.” The kids would look at him like he was crazy, but this simple gesture of holding the water fountain for anyone to take a drink took off! Kids didn’t know what to do with their hands and lines formed. This simple gesture and making something fun, changed the outlook of those students that day. So if you are working in a youth program, you can think of ways to better serve your participants. Do the water fountain, take their stuff to their car for them, something to show that you really care and watch the conversations/relationships improve.

There are tons of others, but this is how Mission Mondays work. You have a focus for the week, and you can help change the culture of your program. Have a plan, take action! This doesn’t happen overnight, you have to invest into the participants and staff. Check them out on their website. They have a podcast as well. I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website.