Be A Mr. Jensen

I was at a meeting yesterday and a colleague of mine shared this video. In this crazy time we are living in, please take a look at this. It will definitely give you something positive to reflect on and make you smile today. This message is great for anyone working with kids, staff, or just people. If you don’t start your meetings or trainings with an ice breaker or mission moment, please start. It is important to get people focused and reflecting in this busy world. It is just a few minutes, but it can help your team’s productivity.

My Key Takeaways and Questions To Ask Your Team From This Video…

  1. We all struggle with something. How do you help someone find their confidence?
  2. Instead of always saying no, or finding the negative, how do you see the opportunity?
  3. People all learn in different ways? How can you change the way you teach or lead?
  4. Hopefully everyone that works with children, sees that everyone is unique. That’s the challenge. Working with children/people isn’t easy. They don’t always get it the first time. How do you show up when you lead?
  5. When has someone showed you patience? How did that make you feel?
  6. Do you remember someone teaching you something? It may not be like the video where you became a professional drummer, but do you remember that moment of someone taking the TIME to help you?
  7. What does this quote mean to you “There is a difference in being the best in the world and being the best for the world!”?

“A single moment of time can change a person’s life. This was one of those moments for me that I will never forget.”

Feel free to steal this video and devotion to share with your team. These are just my takeaways, feel free to add your own questions or style. I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check out ClintPulver.com to learn more about his journey he is on right now.

 

 

Family Involvement/Committees

I did a post last year about getting families into programs and how this makes your program 1 percent better. As you continue to learn and see new ideas, I decided to do an update to my post from a year ago. I recently came across this picture from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The simple name change makes this more inclusive for all kids and no one is left out. For example, I have said “Donuts with Dad” and not all children have a Dad in their life. So change it up to be “Donuts With Grownups”. Continue to create that safe place in your programs and also continue to invite parents into your programs. They need to meet you and learn about your program and other staff. We need their feedback, and also their support. Kids love to introduce their family members to their friends too!

Parent Committees

Another fun way to get parent or family involvement is to creat parent committees. Once you start developing a relationship with that person, setup a few times during the year or Summer to see how they can deliver feedback to you and also help your program as a volunteer. Surveys are good, but nationally they say success is when about 23-25 percent fill it out. I think you can get more feedback if you talk to people, just takes more time. Same goes with emails, face to face conversation gets you more to work off of. One Summer I had great success, and had parents feed our staff during staff training. Besides no money being spent, the parents wanted to meet the staff that are working with their teen. They also wanted to express gratitude for giving their teen a job. Give the parent that opportunity! They will learn about you and the programs you are providing. We are seeing trends change, and enrollment moving up and down in different programs. Find out why, ask them what they want, and ask the kids too. You don’t have all the answers! I repeat you don’t have all the answers.

I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out for more fun ideas!

To Save The World, Send A Kid To Summer Camp!

I came across this video the other day, and thought I would share with you! As we are getting into planning and promoting Summer Camp, this is a great message for everyone to hear. One of my favorite parts of this message…”When kids tell me that they love camp, they tell me that they feel that they can be themselves. At camp, kids navigate the world.” This is a great video to share with your staff leadership team and counselors. Camp is powerful, let them know that they are part of something special. Enjoy!

New Devotion – What Is Your Style?

This week I have seemed to found a theme of toddlers. Maybe it is because my 1 year old has almost figured out how to walk and he is everywhere right now. Check this video out of toddlers racing on a track and trying to figure out the hurdles. This is a great devotion or mission moment to share in a youth program or staff meeting/training. The video is only about 14 seconds long, but you have to watch it tons of times to see how many different ways the toddlers approached the hurdle!

What Is Your Style?

We all have our own style. Sometimes we forget this as leaders. We try to teach a certain way and think that everyone understands. Not everyone hears the directions the same way. I am a visual learner, so sometimes when someone is talking, I need to see it. When you plan your youth program, how do you create the environment to be a space that everyone can learn and grow. It sounds simple, but often we rush through and think that everyone knows what to do. Another fun example is playing games. Don’t play the same game over and over. Add a variation to it. You may see kids understand the game better because it has a new twist to it. In this hurdle video, everyone wants to do their own thing. You can’t just let kids go wild in your program, but how can you give them choices for their activities sometimes during the day. You will see creativity and behavior soar! Here are some questions to ask your group…

  1. What is your style?
  2. How do you like to learn? What makes things easier for you?
  3. Who did you first see in the hurdles the first time you watched?
  4. What is a game that we should add a variation to?
  5. How is our day to day schedule working? What can we improve?
  6. What is your favorite activity? Why?

Since I am a visual learner, I used a video clip for my devotion. This is one way to reach your group instead of just talking at them. Try to add visuals into your devotion time. I have included this devotion on my website and added to the Resource Zone. Check this out for more fun ideas to make your program 1 percent better.

Toddlerography

If you need a new idea for youth programs, try Toddlerography! On The Late Late Show with James Corden, he had Justin Bieber on to help. A great idea to have your kids take the lead during assembly time. Kids are creative, and this gives them an outlet to let them shine. A simple practical way to create this is to have them on stage and everyone in assembly (large group) does exactly what the child does. All you need is music! As you can see from this video, make sure you stretch!

I have included this on my website. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas to make your program 1 percent better. Happy Wednesday!

Staff Makes Your Program. Recruitment Strategies Are Key!

Camp

Recruiting and finding the right staff is key to a quality program. When you have this in place, your enrollment will continue to grow, and retention of campers will be strong. As a parent, I love to know that my child knows someone at camp. Besides the friends she makes, nothing makes you happier to hear how much she loves the teacher, counselor, or instructor. It is not easy finding great staff to work with children. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, this isn’t a joke job. These staff are learning serious professional job and life skills each day. We are also living in a world, where these teens are connected to their cell phone or computer all the time. Many forms of communication are not done in person, they are done through texting. The face to face communication and learning to work together is a huge skill that you will have to teach this new group of staff coming up. So how do you find the best staff besides just posting the job online? Make sure you mention the true value of working as a counselor and at the YMCA. What are the benefits besides getting paid?

I have listed a few things that I have done or stolen from other people. The key thing is to remember what it is like to be 16 or young again. Give them time to apply, get the position out there early, and this will also give you time to do some of these ideas below!

  1. Get away from your desk/computer, and go talk to them in person. Visit local schools. Talk to the career counselor and get them your information, student council/clubs, table in parking lot at Lunch if they leave school to eat or outside cafeteria if they stay on campus, and any other teacher/current staff you can talk to that will help promote the job.
  2. Visit local church youth groups or Young Life if you have a chapter in your area. These have great teens, and also keep in mind that not all teens go to public schools.
  3. If you have a YMCA facility, advertise to your membership. Many parents have neighbors or teens of their own looking for jobs. Put up flyers, have a recruitment table in your lobby like you would do at a school.
  4. Talk to your staff. Give them flyers, have them talk to their friends. Some of your staff are in college, even though it is not close to your YMCA, they may reach someone that lives in your area. If you don’t communicate the job, they will not know it is an option.
  5. Use your personal and program social media platforms. Advertise to your networks, it takes one time for someone to scroll and share the post with someone. When you are using social media, try and use a picture of your actual camp like I did in this post. Let the applicant see the fun that is actually happening.
  6. Try and setup group interviews. Many times in jobs, you may never hear back or get an interview. With group interviews, everyone gets a chance to be interviewed. Even if they don’t get the job, you are using your platform to train them and get them ready for their next step.
  7. Have an incentive plan. If we hire 1-2 of your friends, you can earn swag or something fun. I would have never worked at the YMCA if my friend didn’t tell me about it.

Parents choose and return to camp because of the staff. If they have a great experience, they are likely to come back. Many of the surveys I see are parents shouting out specific staff members they really loved. You can spend all the money you want on supplies, but if you don’t have the right people executing those games/programs, you just have a camp that looks good. That will get old very quickly for your parents and especially your campers.

I often hear or have seen from other colleagues that I don’t have enough time in my day to do these recruiting ideas. Many of these are not executed during your After School program time, they are done early or in the middle of the day. You can make time, and more importantly you need to make time. As you have seen in this post, staff is key to everything. I have also heard, how do you hire young high school staff? They seem to be too young or immature for the role. Actually, I have seen the opposite. It is all in how you hire, and then train that staff member. Just because you are in college/older, doesn’t always guarantee that they will be more mature or a better staff member.

Feel free to email and share any of your ideas to me around recruitment and finding the best staff. I will post this on my website in the Resource Zone. I will do a post in a few weeks on why an enrollment/marketing plan is important, and then also how to lead the best staff trainings since you have hired these new all stars. Summer 2020 is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Take it one step at a time, and make sure you are getting prepared early!

 

Qubits

Qubits

Qubits is a STEM/STEAM style building set created by Lisa and Mark Burginger. This toy is produced in North Carolina and is a great addition to any youth program. Qubits are fantastic building tools for Preschool/Elementary/Middle/High School aged students. This is also a great staff training tool to build teamwork and communication. STEM/STEAM building kits like Qubits can teach simple lessons like cause and effect, and help students develop skills that will support them in their future studies and careers, both in STEM and other fields. Through STEM and STEAM, students can learn to solve problems through teamwork, data collection and analysis, and their own curiosity. Qubits has been part of 160 Donors Choose projects that have added up to over $120,000! They have won several awards and even been on Shark Tank. To learn more about Qubits, visit their website at www.qubitstoy.com. Their products are also available on Amazon www.amazon.com/qubits. 

I will add Qubits to the Vendor section on my website. I also have a Resource Zone if you need more fun ideas to help your program 1 percent better!

 

Bread And Butter Monday!

Bread And Butter Monday!

I always love a good camp song! Have you heard of Bread and Butter Monday? Check this video out and add to any program with staff or kids! You can freestyle and create any verse you want for each day of the week. Check the lyrics below.

Repeat a After Me Song...
Today Is Monday
Bread And Butter Monday’
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today Is Tuesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread and Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today Is Wednesday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today Is Thursday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today is Friday
Payday Friday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today is Saturday
Netflix Saturday
Payday Friday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread And Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

Today is Sunday
Hallelujah Sunday
Netflix Saturday
Payday Friday
Throwback Thursday
Wild Out Wednesday
Taco Tuesday
Bread and Butter Monday’s
Is Everybody Happy?
Well that’s what I say!

I will upload this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out for more great songs and ideas to make your program fire!

Feel The Love Week!

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

One of my favorite times of the year is approaching! It is time for “Feel The Love Week”. It’s time to show appreciation to all the people in your programs and ways to think about the people behind the scenes. One of my favorites is “Carnations for Moms/Dads/Caregivers” during youth sports. The parents drive them to every practice and game, and are definitely their biggest fan. We like to do the carnations so the kids can make them smile, and teach them to love on their parent/caregiver just a little more that week. Kids love this, and the it is so cool to see how happy they get to show a little love during youth sports.

I love my custodians, and now with a YMCA facility operating 7 days a week, you really see how hard it is to keep a building clean and organized. We do many of our programs inside schools and churches. It is important to take the time to say thank you and do something nice for these staff. We have done YMCA swag, coffee, food, and even a simple handwritten thank you card works too. It’s taking the TIME to show these staff you genuinely care and are appreciative of the many things they do behind the scenes to help your program out. School administration/Church leadership are the same. Show some support to them as they have to handle problems every day and just need to know that you are appreciative of them and their support.

Love on your staff! They are the people that make the magic happen day in and day out. Find ways to show appreciation, and sometimes it is just telling them in person or a hand written note. Put away the emails or text messages this month. Tell people you appreciate them. The week of February 10th-14th is a great time to do “Feel The Love” week, but honestly anytime during this month is great. Take time to plan it out and continue to think of fun ways besides food. Listed below are a few ideas I posted last year….

  1. Hand written thank you cards to all of your staff with a small box of chocolates.
  2. Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner out with your Site Coordinators or key staff member(s) that help you plan the program behind the scenes.
  3. Hot Chocolate/Coffee at Rides In (Morning Program Drop Off for Parents/Teachers)
  4. Work with school, and see if you can push a snack cart through the school with Water, Drinks, and Snacks to deliver to classrooms.
  5. Doughnuts for Dads (Invite Dad’s In!)
  6. Muffins for Moms (Invite Mom’s In!)
  7. Granola for Grandparents (Invite Grandparents In!)
  8. Kids pick all the activities for the week. They are in charge.
  9. Kids write thank you cards to janitors and school administration.
  10. Flower for all the parents.
  11. Theme gifts for staff. Find out their favorite candy or snack.
  12. YMCA or your company/church logo swag. Coffee cup, T-Shirt, Hat, Water Bottle, etc..
  13. Pie In The Face Drawing each day for the kids. Invite the principal to pie in the face a staff member.
  14. Contract with a car detailer, and have all of your staff car’s cleaned during work.
  15. Food truck come out to your program and serve your staff/school!
  16. Surprise staff meeting. Instead of meeting, do something fun like laser tag, putt putt, dodge ball game, escape room, etc…

I will include this in the Resource Zone under Youth Programming on my website. Feel free to comment or share any ideas you have. I bet this list could be even longer!

 

Every Life Has A Story

When I was at the YMCA Campfire Conference a few weeks ago, Jude Dooley one of the speakers referenced this video. It has been out for a long time, I have never seen it, and wanted to share this with you. This is a great resource to use for a devotion or community builder with your staff or volunteers so they can reflect on their day to day job working alongside people.Chick-fil-A created this video to remind us that everyone we interact with has a chance to create a remarkable experience. Think about your own story and how has this impacted who you are.

“Every life has a story.. if we only bother to read it” – Dan Cathy. A video we created to remind us that everyone we interact with is a chance to create a remarkable experience.

I will add this to the Devotions list in the Resource Zone. If you follow this blog, or have been seeing posts related to YMCA Campfire Conference, this is the last one I have. I wanted to be able to share some of the great things I heard and saw. The 2021 conference will be in early January and will be in Black Mountain, NC at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly again. If you work with youth, you should definitely go! A great way to connect with other youth professionals and gain new ideas for your program.