Mission Mondays

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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.

Creating A Safe and Inclusive Environment

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I just came back from the YMCA Campfire Conference in Black Mountain and went to a workshop called “Camp For All” lead by Eli Cochran from Camp Ernst. One of the key takeaways I saw was something simple called a GigaTent Portable Pop Up Changing room. In any youth program, as you look to create more safe and inclusive spaces, this is an easy win. These portable pop ups are only $18.69 on Amazon. Kids need privacy, and the more spaces you can have for them to change clothes, the safer your program becomes. This also speeds up your changing time too! Staff will appreciate the efficiency. One of the participants in the room said he had great experience with this. He partnered with his local Bass Pro Shops, and they donated several of these to his camp. This is a great idea! Work closely with your local community, and see who would be willing to help make your programs even more safe and inclusive.

Three of my other favorite things to help build a safe and inclusive environment are Headphones for Assembly, Fidgets, and Picture Schedules. These are all simple and cheap additions you can add to your program.

1.Headphones for Assembly (Large Group Gathering) – When your camp and staff all come together, it can be very loud and overwhelming.  Buy some headphones and have available for the kids that need it. You can encourage parents to bring them as well, but sometimes it is easiest for them to grab them right at camp especially during busy transition times from activity to assembly. These headphones are under $10, and are called Dr. Meter.

2. Fidgets – Kids have trouble keeping their hands to themselves. Sometimes new, crowded, or loud places can give kids anxiety or make them nervous. A great way to help is to have fidgets and a quiet space at your program for them. This is a good one that is inexpensive from Fabquality.

3. Picture Schedules – Sometimes moving from space to space can be overwhelming and make the child feel uneasy. A picture schedule is something that you can do to show the child what is next. Having the visual and saying this more than once helps ease that anxiety and nervousness. Find out from the child what their favorite thing is. If the like Pokemon, use their favorite character on the schedule. For example, they can move their Pikachu from the bathroom to the gym or gym to the field. This is a sample picture schedule to give you an idea off of Etsy. You can make your own as well!

There are many ideas to help with creating safe and inclusive environments. These are just a few that I enjoy using and have been effective. Always partner with the parent, talk to the teacher, and anyone else that can be helpful. You are not alone, and need their help. See if you have local community partners that can help guide you and find out how to connect the parent to that resource.

Check out the resource zone on my website for more fun ideas. I will be highlighting some more YMCA Campfire Conference Ideas in the next few posts. I want to share these awesome things with you!



It’s the NFL Playoffs, and if you are looking for a fun football game, check this out! I love finding new ideas and came across QB54! Michael and Frank Silva are from New Jersey and invented this cool game. It actually started when they were 9 and 12 years old using 2 garbage cans. They called it the “QB Thanksgiving Classic”. So recently when these two got together for Thanksgiving, they decided to to take this game to another level. Frank decided to incorporate the chair into this game for a dual purpose. The 54 in this game is for the first team that scores 54 wins. There is no specific reason for 54, it just felt right to them, and most games end in 54 when they have played. They started this officially in 2016 and haven’t looked back yet.

So how do you play QB54?

1) Set Chairs in Game Mode

2) Set Chairs approximately 40 feet apart, or adjust according to skill level

3) Game can be played one vs one or 2 vs. 2

– When one vs. one – players are playing from opposite sides

– When 2 vs. 2 – teammates are on opposite sides

4) Players Alternate Throws.

5) Hit the Chair on a Fly – Player/Team gets 3 points

6) Player throws ball into basket (touchdown) – Player/Team gets 6 points

7) Score touchdown, kick for extra point. Earn an Extra Point by kicking through goal posts. Win game if your kick goes into the hole/basket.

8) If the ball bounces on the ground from the throw and lands in the basket, the offensive team gets 2 points.

9) Defending team can earn 3 points if they catch a rebound from the chair before it hits the ground. Defending team must allow the ball to hit the chair first.

10) Switch sides when the leading team reaches 12 pts, 24 pts, 36 pts, 48 pts

11) First team to reach 54 wins ! (Gotta win by 2). Losing team gets last licks, one throw.

This is a great game to use in any youth program, physical education class, or just having fun with your staff. You can purchase this game from multiple retailers including Amazon for $99.99. Check out qb54.com for more information! I will include this game in my vendor section on my website. I also have tons of ideas in the Resource Zone to make your program 1 percent better!


OnTop Ball Toss!

I came across another awesome game on Instagram called OnTop Ball Toss. This game is a great balance between a fun recreational activity, and a friendly competitive environment. You can play indoors and outdoors! I definitely see this being a great game to play in any youth program. The rules are not overwhelming and very easy to setup and takedown. There are 20 different scoring methods and ways to play as well! Bob Schirmer the founder of this game wanted to create a truly all inclusive, family friendly game. His motto is “It’s how you finish”. This game is $129.99 and can be customized with your own engravings.

So what is OnTop Ball Toss? Each team consists of 1 or 2 players. They will be given 3 like colored balls. Points are awarded at the end of each round only to the player on top. The first team to 15 points wins. In order to win, a team cannot to beyond the point total (Plus 1 Rule). Check out their website ontopballtoss.com and you can learn a little more about how this is played and more about this product and mission and vision!

I will add this to the Vendor page on my website! There are more fun and innovative ideas here. Check it out and get excited for an awesome 2020.

An Incredible 2019! Top 10 Posts!

Thank you for visiting and sharing my website with your friends this year! YouthProgramFire.com has reached 88 countries and had over 2,900 visitors in 2019! It has been viewed over 5,900 times! A huge jump from 2018 and when I first started in Summer of 2017.

Listed below is the breakdown of the top viewed countries for 2019.

My Top 10 favorite stories of the year, you can find them by entering in the search bar!

1. Disneyland

2. Buzz Ball

3. Neil Pasricha

4. Criss Cross – Most viewed for 2019

5. Hat Tricked

6. Ramp Shot

7. Bottle Bulls Eye

8. Go Noodle

9. Cosmic Dodgeball – College in Ireland used this!

10. Design Your Own Shoe

Thank you again for all your support! This website is just a fun hobby of mine and I have enjoyed bringing ideas to people all over the world! See you in 2020!

DELU Games

I recently came across this game on Instagram a few days ago! DELU is a brand new tailgate-type game! Their mission statement is to create a fun game that brings friends and families together! JT started this game from boredom and turned this into a business. He combined elements of skee ball, washers, beam bag toss, and golf all into one game. He added the automatic win component into his game from his own experience of playing games where every throw didn’t really matter.

Check out delugames.com to learn more about this product and how to purchase. The game is $49.95 and a great game to add to any youth program! This game would be great to use at Before School, After School, Track Out, Camps, and Youth Groups. Add something new to your program for 2020!

I have added this product to my vendor list on my website. Check this out for more awesome ideas.