How to Manage a Youth Group
There is a tendency among people to underestimate the amount of effort it takes to manage a group of people, all with different aims, ambitions and desires. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a youth group situation, where the children do not even necessarily know what they want from life. Thus, to manage a youth group arguably takes even more effort and skill than you might think. This article will explore some of the ways you can make the job more bearable and more enjoyable.
Managing YourselfOne cannot overemphasise the importance of being organised in your management. Firstly and most importantly, know the limitations of your own time and space, and ensure that you are using the resources you have to the full. That means organising your time by scheduling, planning and communicating well in advance, while simultaneously ensuring that no relationship falls by the wayside. This is much easier said than done, but with hard work and a realistic schedule, it is certainly possible.
Similarly, you need to ensure that whatever space you have dedicated to the youth group, whether in your office or in your home, remains organised, with forms and paperwork easy to find and well filed. In these days of data protection and identity fraud, the importance of retaining information securely and neatly is paramount.
Managing the Youth GroupAny youth group needs direction, and this is what you should be aiming to produce early on in the group’s life. It is always good to give children firm boundaries so that they know where they stand from a disciplinary point of view. This may mean creating a ‘Constitution’ or ‘Charter’ with the values and aims of the youth group stated clearly for everyone involved to read and to follow.
Likewise, it is a good idea to provide a clear program for the group, so that you can manage the different requirements for different activities. For example, if you are planning to lead a trip to the swimming pool later on in the term, if you have managed the youth group calendar well, you’ll be able to ask for parental consent with plenty of time to spare – and that avoids the inevitable failure of some children to take the letter home or to get it signed on time!
Another thing to manage carefully is the youth group’s finances. This may require different actions depending on where the money is coming from; for example, if funding is primarily from governmental institutions or associations, you may have to provide a précis of the group’s activities from time to time. It is important to budget carefully, and to ensure that if the finances are in danger of dwindling, the youth group has enough saved to maintain itself.
Finally you should ensure that you manage events and activities carefully. This will mean organising venues or equipment in good time, ensuring that the group is covered in terms of liability insurance, and perhaps most importantly, organising events that are for a purpose. While it can be tempting to give kids what they want to keep them happy, try to make sure there is a learning process they buy into by participating.
Managing Your TeamA youth group is only as good as its leaders, and this is one of the most important elements of management. You will need to appoint a team of people who are able to work together for the good of the group, while simultaneously committed to finding ways of improving the way it runs.
Another important element of management is to put long-term structures in place so that when the current batch of leaders decides they’re too old to cope with rowdy children, more leaders are ready to step in. You may wish to consider appointing trainees to help with the more practical side of the group who can learn by observing the more experienced leaders, so that they can gradually take on more responsibility
Another great element of a team is the opportunity to delegate jobs. This will mean that the difficulties of paperwork and administration can be shared, and thus made much easier. Do ensure that the right safeguards are in place: your team should all be aware of the Child Protection Policy protecting your group, and they should all be checked thoroughly through the Criminal Records Bureau before being appointed.
Managing a youth group is a real challenge, but with the right organisation and help, it can just as easily be a breeze! Make sure you have the right people around you and things will fall into place.