Starting a Youth Group

Starting a youth group can seem like a daunting process: perhaps the thought of standing up and speaking in front of a group of teenagers puts some people off!

It's worth remembering that a youth group needs more than confident speakers. A youth group depends on organised people to make sure that a venue is booked, that a notice has been put in the parish bulletin or that parents know when to pick up their young people. In fact, a youth group relies on the support of lots of different people: whether that is somebody who can bake cakes, to sell and raise money or somebody who can referee a competitive five-a-side tournament! It's a good idea to see what different gifts people have in your parish and see how these might be shared with the youth of your parish.

Of course, the young people themselves might have a few ideas about what they would like to do in their youth group.

The following simulation game is a creative way of getting young people to think about what could be included in their youth group's programme:

1. Split young people into groups of 4 or 5 and ask them to imagine that they are in charge of the youth group. The group is looking to decide on it's next ten activities and there are a number of different objectives they must fulfil.

2. The young people need to manage their budget to make sure they have a full and enjoyable programme. It's also a chance for them to think about activities with broad appeal: Some of the group might be happy to play Xbox for hours on end, but this certainly won't please everyone.

3. Your role is to sell resources and to be the banker (you can get wads of Monopoly money from eBay for a couple of pounds, or you could design and print your own.) Encourage young people to think outside the box by buying resources or doing activties that aren't on the list, but be consistent with the prices: the young people should have to think carefully and compromise to find a programme that suits everyone, without breaking the bank. Some of the group might be happy to play Xbox for hours on end, but this certainly won't appeal to everyone who may come along.

4. The group can buy cutouts of resources from you and glue them to their 'noticeboards'. (If you haven't got time to cut out a resource sheet for each group, they can just write down the things they have bought). The group also need to decide on a motto which says something about their group's values. Each group needs a pen, a copy of the session notes, a notice board, and a price-list. If you want the group to stick the resource pictures down, they will also need gluesticks, and you will need to have a resources sheet for each group, cut into squares.

This is also a chance to introduce your group to the YOUCAT. We still have plenty of YOUCATs to give away to parishes and Trek is a mixture of activities that allows young people to explore the YOUCAT in an engaging way.