This year our focus for youth group is about building the beloved community –building the youth group community, and building stronger connections to our Fellowship community and greater community.
This is a year of experimentation in the youth group – we’re trying a new way of doing youth group that may not look familiar to some of our youth who have been in youth group for a few years. But we Unitarian Universalists believe in the power of lifelong learning and the power of innovation – and we’re trying it out in youth group this year. During the year, we will have regular meetings with youth and parents to talk about what we’re learning and need to adjust as a result of our youth group experiment this year.
Each week of the month will focus on a different type of community. Unlike in years past, this year most youth group Sundays will run from 9 to 10:30 and start off in the service for the Time for All Ages. We will make sure the schedule is made clear in our weekly parent emails and on Sunday mornings. We will aim to have a consistent monthly schedule but we also want to have flexibility so youth are attending the worship services most likely to be engaging for them.
Youth Group Sunday Mornings:
Support Sunday: One week a month the youth will volunteer in the Religious Education to support our 3 year old through 6th Grade classes. We will have youth sign up for which class they want to help with throughout the year, and will assist once a month. We will aim to have teams of two youth in each class.
Worship Sunday: One week a month the youth will attend the full worship service downstairs together and then go upstairs and have a discussion about the service with one of the worship leaders or staff members.
Small Group Sunday: One week a month the youth will have a discussion upstairs similar to a covenant group or small group ministry, led by Tim Atkins and one of our youth advisors.
Service/Mentoring Sunday: One week a month the youth will meet at the Fellowship and then go off site on Sunday morning, either for an informal mentoring session over breakfast at Panera, or for a volunteer project.
Youth Group: Beyond Sunday Mornings
Youth Group Activities
Once a month we will also have an outside Sunday morning activity – our hope is that these will be co-planned by both youth and our advisors and have both a social component and a community building component. The first of these will occur during the month of October – we will make sure you know as these are scheduled and developed.
This year we are going to continue with a program we began last year – developing mentoring relationships between the youth and our group of volunteer advisors. For our youth who have been a part of our Coming of Age program, this is something similar to our Coming of Age mentorship program, but a little less formal. During our early weeks of youth group, we will have a sign up period for these youth-advisor mentor relationships. Mentors will check in with our youth periodically to talk about how life is going and to check in.
Building Youth Leadership
One of our biggest hopes this year is to work on building up youth leadership. We will occasionally have Sunday morning leadership opportunities and training for our youth. We are going to develop a youth adult committee that meets with a regular schedule this year so our youth have the opportunity to discuss the health of and help plan future youth group events. We are going to work on publicizing or even hosting different district wide youth leadership training events and conferences. We are committed to building up and facilitating youth leadership.