I am gathering my notes from the 2019 YMCA Youth Development Summit that I attended last week, and during my workshop I did the exercise of balling up a sheet of paper, writing an idea, and throwing it across the room to someone else. One of my favorites I heard was Hell’s Kitchen and teaching communication/team building. So we probably have seen one episode of Hell’s Kitchen? If not, it is pure chaos in the kitchen and probably something you wouldn’t want to imitate in youth programs? WRONG! You could definitely alter this show/game into an activity for your staff or participants. So how would you do this?
- Definitely clean up the language and focus on how to communicate while trying to make a dish. No yelling, but pick someone that is going to be the main chef that is giving feedback.
- Make cooking fun and easy for the kids and staff. If you are running on a tight budget, don’t let this stop you either. Some simple things I have done before are bringing in griddles. We made a variety of things on here. You can make quesadillas, pancakes, grilled cheese, and a breakfast platter of eggs, bacon, and sausage. I have even gone very basic, and had the kids make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and judged on how neat the sandwich was cut, made, and prepared. This is hilarious to watch!
- Break the participants up in teams, give them all specific tasks, and have a contest. Bring in some judges. If you work at school, invite the principal, teachers, custodians, gym teacher, let the school see your fun after school. If you are at a Y or Church, invite members in to judge.
- When the contest is over, eat the food. Sounds simple, but kids love to eat. Staff do too! Remember food allergies of course and use gloves!
Here are some other ideas that came from the exercise of throwing the idea across the room. These ideas come from YMCA professionals from all over the country. I told them I would submit their ideas that they wrote down!
Ideas for youth programs and working with staff…
- Facilitate more personal development/identity. Workshops for students and adults alike.
- Providing transportation to after school programs.
- Parent/Child events. Daddy/Daughter, Mom/Son, etc…
- Specialty camp programs that travel across the city. One set of staff deliver the program in multiple locations.
- Include youth and board members in club decisions and trainings and events.
- Cook simple meal that a family of another race/religion would eat. Discuss what’s available for them. Understanding culture and each other.
- Shadow peers. See what other programs are doing around you beside your own program.
- Satellite YMCA programming in parts of the state that don’t have access to YMCA’s.
- Meeting rotations. Change up where you meet.
- Making the programs more accessible to all economic backgrounds.
One of the main themes of their ideas, were making programs accessible to ALL. How can you help your community? Partnerships are key and important to helping grow. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas. Remember, about 98 percent of my content is not original. My goal is to help your programs and to make sure I share these cool things that I hear at conferences or find day to day.