Just like that, Summer is over, and kids are back to school. No need to cry, I have some fun ideas to make your youth program fun, and different for 2018/2019. For those wondering who that is in the picture, google Dawson’s Creek, a classic TV show filmed at my Alma mater UNC Wilmington!
With Summer ending and school programs beginning days later, its important to get re-energized and try some new things. It has been a while since I was in school, but I do remember how excited I was to break open the Trapper Keeper, Five Star notebook, and fresh pencils, colored pencils, and crayons. I loved some new school supplies! So using that analogy, go into your youth program with a fresh start. Kids need a change, especially if this is year 3 or 4 in a row with you and your program. Allowing the kids and staff to have a voice and be heard is important. It is 2018, things are changing, and you never know what you may hear to make your program better.
Don’t forget traditions though. Establishing culture, and having kids and staff buy into this is also great. Is there a cool area they get to sit now, do they have extra responsibilities for being in that group, or do they get to lead the program with you?One of my favorite traditions is every December you do a Hawaiian Luau and have beach music playing, and the kids plan out “Summer in December!” Kids and parents love consistency too. They will ask if you are doing “Summer in December” next year, and this will encourage parents and kids to come back.
Another thing as you think about your program is giving kids a sense of belonging. Do they feel safe, comfortable, and have a chance to learn new skills and build friendships. With a fast pace world, let the kids be kids. Don’t over program something, let them be creative, and let your staff lead the way. Watch innovation take over as you take off your micro managing hat, and see where they decide to go.
My staff and I worked together on a fun list to grow enrollment and excitement into the programs. Feel free to steal and share. The three best things about ideas are, they are free, you can change them to fit your style, and its fun to do something new. Check out the resource zone, and look under Youth Programming for Back To School – Grow Enrollment for 25 fresh ideas! Good luck this year, and come back as new ideas are added weekly to the Resource Zone.