Why Set Up a Youth Group?
The children of today are growing up in a very different world to the one in which their parents grew up. More and more, kids are faced with uncertainty, both in their own family situations and in the wider world. It’s no surprise, then, to see teen delinquency on the increase, and politicians debating the right course of action on educating children who can be both fearful and aggressive.
One of the most frequent ways that communities have attempted to combat this rising feeling of listlessness and isolation amongst teens has been through youth groups. This is not surprising, given the excellent track record that such groups have. Youth groups can literally be life-savers for some children who crave a sense of family, friendship or simply an opportunity to use their creativity and energy constructively. Some might say that’s motivation enough to start a youth group, but there are other reasons to do so.
ExperienceSetting up and leading a youth group is a great way to gain valuable life experience, as well as skills which will stay with you throughout your life. The ability to empathise with a group of kids who often have very different needs will be a huge help in the future, whether in the workplace or in the home. Likewise, the necessity of maintaining discipline in the midst of what can often seem to be chaos will stand anyone in good stead, especially if they plan to follow a career path that involves teaching or managing people. Finally, the administration involved in organising and running a club will be most useful for roles requiring strict time management and the ability to keep tabs on large amounts of paperwork.
FulfilmentThe ability of children to challenge your perceptions of life, the universe and everything is never-ending. To spend time with them and to see their changing attitudes about themselves and their environment is an education in itself. Moreover, the regular meetings and activities a youth club provides can often help to build trust between a child and a leader. This can often provide opportunities for the youth to ask questions that are important, which they may not have had the chance to ask at home or at school due to the constant flux of life. As a leader, you’ll have the immense privilege of helping to shape that youngster’s worldview – if only to a small extent. That is a really fulfilling experience and one which is well worth pursuing.
HealthThis is an often underrated benefit of running a youth club. Kids, whatever age they are, will find any chinks in your armour when it comes to health! After an hour playing hectic games, you may well find yourself gasping for breath – as well as being the subject of (hopefully good-natured) banter from your young charges. But give it a few weeks, and assuming you continue with good, active games, you’ll reap the rewards of regular exercise.
It may even be that through running the youth club, you’re able to establish links with other clubs devoted to specific sports or activities, so that anyone wishing to follow a particular hobby or play a particular game can join up through your own club. What’s more, you yourself might benefit from these links – perhaps being able to borrow equipment, or use a sports hall or other facilities for special events or activity days.
Whatever you decide to do with your youth group, running it will be an experience not to be forgotten for many good reasons. The skills you learn, and the privilege of spending time with vivacious kids from varied backgrounds, will be well worth the effort and time you expend in setting up the group. Here’s hoping that your youth group will be a great success!