Annual Youth Report
This past month, we met as a congregation to discuss CPC’s Annual Report, so it seemed fitting to provide a Youth Program Review in this month’s Chimes.
In June of 2018, Community Presbyterian Church’s youth program transitioned back to a paid Youth Director position after having a dedicated rotation of volunteers for a few years. Fun, faith education and mission were identified as primary objectives for CPC’s youth program. The congregation’s core values: respect, relationship, spirituality, participation, and celebration would be common elements of weekly activities.
As part of my new Youth Director role, I was invited to join Itasca Networks for Youth, a group of out-of-school-time youth providers who aim to provide high quality programming to area youth. With the support of the Blandin Foundation, and staff from the University of Minnesota Extension, this group has access to research-based training, individual evaluation of youth programs, and planning support, all at no cost to individual organizations. Intentional Program Design, a training offered in Summer of 2018, was invaluable in giving me focus for school year planning, and recently, a training on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has encouraged me to incorporate SEL skill building into weekly youth groups. Our area is incredibly lucky to have this unique collaboration of youth partners.
One joy of Wednesday youth group over the past few years, was that youth had the opportunity to develop relationships with a variety of adults. Research tells us supportive relationships between youth and non-family adults help young people to create positive futures. With the return to a singular youth director model, the opportunities for those connections needed to remain a priority.
Now we have arrived at March 2019, and what have we accomplished? CPC’s Wednesday youth group has met 18 times in this school year. We have averaged 8 regular attendees ranging from 5th grade to 9th grade. Fun-focused activities have included games, cooking/baking, holiday celebrations, and a scavenger hunt. Setting up for special church occasions, assembling packages to mail to college students/military personnel, and making Christmas decorations to hang in the church have been some of our mission activities. Our youth have practiced leading a weekly prayer, participated in yoga, rotated through prayer stations, and learned about civil discourse to better our understanding of faith. We visit regularly about how our activities fit with the core values of CPC’s congregation.
Outside of Wednesday youth group, there’s been a summer beach day, and a lock-in. Our high school group meets monthly for food and conversation after church. A youth presence has been infused in many areas of CPC long before I arrived, serving in youth bell choirs, and now in choir and praise band, in the sound booth and in roles of leadership within the church. This year, you may have noticed youth helping in the nursery, at special events, on church committees, or serving cookies after worship. Our middle schoolers have volunteered at the Food Shelf and our high schoolers at Second Harvest’s holiday toy distribution. Overall, 27 different youth, both members and non-members have participated in CPC’s youth programming since August of 2018. True to the priority of keeping youth/non-family adult connections alive, we’ve had 17 adults volunteer with our young people for different activities/events.
It’s exciting to see the ways our youth continue to shape and grow CPC’s youth program. Their ideas and interests are a great guide for planning. There is much gratitude, too, to be shared with all of you, who have said “yes” in many ways to supporting a youth program at CPC. I look forward to seeing what the coming year brings.
Swimming and tubing at the Skaudis home!