When I was in 3rd grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Dean who had an awesome door decoration that said “Welcome To The Dean Dome”, and it had my name on one of the basketballs. I was nervous going in that morning, because I switched schools that year. My Mom said “Look, there is your name! She loves UNC too.” Little things like that mean a lot to a young child like myself. I still remember that moment if that says anything too! I also remember the incentive of a homework pass. If you behaved well, or completed a certain amount of assignments, you could earn a homework pass on any assignment. I loved this! It motivated me to stay on task. I could play Nintendo or play basketball in my driveway some more.
As I became a Director with the YMCA, I thought about fun incentives I could do for my participants! I loved doing a marble challenge for the different age groups or huddles as we called them. I would take a tennis ball canister, and take the label off. I used a sharpie to make 3 different lines around the canister. One at the top, middle, and bottom. If your group had a clean snack spot, you could earn a marble. If your huddle had good sportsmanship in a game they would get a marble. Basically awarding the participants along the way! If they hit the bottom line with marbles, the huddle earned free play in the gym for an activity. If the huddle hit the middle line they would be in charge of a week of after school. They could determine how long snack, pick all activities, and setup their week. If they hit the top of the canister they won a pizza party, and they would all receive tickets to win some cool prizes. I love the marble challenge because it was a good way to give the participants a visual, and something to work towards for good behavior and teamwork. I will list some more incentives in the Resource Zone! Incentives are not just for kids, they can be for staff too!
Randi a colleague of mine from the Finley YMCA, shared with a me a fun challenge she does for her Directors. I attached the picture to the post. It is a Bingo board, and they are all posted up so everyone can see the progress. Staff love fun challenges. They are trying to complete 5 challenges in a row, and if they get all of them completed they will win BIG! I will list some more incentives in the Resource Zone you can do with Directors and Counselors. One of my favorites is “Retiring The Jersey aka Staff Shirt!” Celebrating working for a year in front of kids and staff! If you worked for 3 or more years you would get your shirt retired, and pinned up on the staff office wall. Taking it back to my 3rd grade Dean Dome experience, and applying it to my program. It is important to never forget the power of doing something small. It can impact someone, and we all need some motivation!