Intentional Friendships: Using our Programs to Help Children Make Friends


Staff training resources are important to building quality programs and staff. I have included a staff training around this topic. Friendships at youth programs are very important, and how you create these moments are special to parents and the people you serve. I have broken down this into a staff training for you to steal and use in your program. This is also located in the Resource Zone under Staff Trainings.

The Not So Secret To Success

Within our youth programs, we all use different measurements to determine if we’re successful. All our programs are at capacity! Did we meet the budget? Are our programs growing? If we want to answer “Yes!” to these questions, there’s one thing that our programs must focus on. One “not-so-secret” ingredient that we must fall into all of our programs. The “not-so-secret” ingredient is FRIENDSHIPS! Kids go to camp to have fun. Kids come back to camp because of their friends!

Creating “Friend-Filled” Programs

Most of the time, we design on youth programs, we do it with the mentality of creating “fun-filled” programs, which is not necessarily a bad thing. (It sure beats “I’m bored filled programs or “I-want-to-go-home” filled programs!)

But if we want to increase the chances of our programs being successful, we should make sure that we are creating “friend-filled” programs! To do this, We need to be intentional in three main areas.

Three main areas of focus are:

Our staff!

Our programs!

Our facilities!

Our Staff

If we want to make sure our participants are making friends, we’ve got to make sure that our staff are prepared to guide them through this process. We can do this by focusing on three simple, yet important questions.

  1. Do we help our staff make friends?
  2. Do our staff model friend behaviors?
  3. Are our staff prepared to help the kids make friends?

If we can answer yes to all three of these questions, then we are well on our way to success!

Our Programs

Brainstorm Time! In 2 minutes write down all the programs you provide at camp or at your youth program.

A simple yet honest question we need to ask ourselves is…

“Do our programs provide the participants with the opportunity to build healthy, meaningful, lasting relationships?”

  1. Where are they looking? Do have have opportunity to engage in face to face conversations?
  2. Do they have enough time to make friends? Is your schedule full of large group games?

Our Facilities

If we are going to focus on “friend filled” programs, we need to make sure that our facilities encourage friendships. Are our facilities like a dessert, barren, and void of comfortable places that encourage friendships?

Does your facility encourage “friend filled” programs?

What has happened accidentally?

What can we do intentionally?

Notes: Many thoughts will come to the participants. Make sure you leave room for them to write notes on the handout!



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