Time to plan your event!
Firstly you need to decide what sort of event you can successfully host and the most suitable date and time. Make sure you use the research you carried out with Year 6’s (see Talk section) to inform your choices where possible.
In order to make sure that the event is successful you need to consider various issues:
Choose your venue carefully, with the maximum potential number of young people in mind. Think of potential hazards to avoid, perform a risk assessment, and ensure there is a minimum possibility of damage to property eg if you decide to use your church building, ensure precious, easily breakable items are put away.
It is perhaps obvious but simple questions need to be asked such as, do you have facilities such as water and toilets?
The way a room is laid out can make a huge difference to the dynamics of a group, so think about seating, tables and general layout. 10/11 year olds will usually “spread to fill the space” if a room is too big and they are over-excited, so think about partitioning a big space, keeping them a little more confined and controllable.
A café style lay-out, with some board games on tables, or beanbags/comfy chairs/sofas would facilitate an ideal laid back chatty feel, if your venue will allow it. Try to add some colourful touches such as plain bright table cloths, if the tables are ugly.
If you have no suitable venue, or the option/budget to hire one, think about a suitable outdoor space – weather depending, of course! If it’s a public space there are other issues around safeguarding and permissions so a private space is preferable.
Ensure that you have a team of suitable leaders/helpers to run your event. As a one-off event (potentially) you should hopefully find it easier to get volunteers and helpers. You will need someone to lead the session, people to perhaps run games or a disco, people to provide and serve refreshments and others to help with “crowd control”. Whilst a party for a group of 30 young people could be successfully run by 2 or 3 experienced youth workers, the bigger the team, the easier it will be. Just remember everybody will need to be DBS checked. The Diocese will pay for these and it can be organised through your Parish Safeguarding Officer. Ideally they should attend a Safeguarding Training Day. Any questions, contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Officers, Bev Huff and Sam Suddery on 01733 887041. Make sure you allow plenty of time for the checks to go through, so start your recruiting early. As with any youth and children’s work volunteering, it’s not advisable to put out a general plea for help, but approach people who you think would be good and who you know something about, or who come recommended from a trusted person. There will be different levels of skill and experience needed; baking cakes and serving them with a friendly face and listening ear, is a different skill to running a set of games with lively 10/11 year olds, so you will need a mix of people to help out.
Your Archdeaconry Children and Youth Missioners, Becky and Chad may be available to help out.
Contact James Yates, Church Youth Group Co-ordinator at NAYC. He is always happy to come out and meet new contacts in churches across Northants and explain what he can offer to support you. We have worked closely with James on a number of Golden Ticket events and resulting youth work, going forward. Affiliation to NAYC is a small annual fee and you will receive brilliant practical help and support.
Time and Date
Depending on your Church calendar, holidays and other local issues, it may be good to set a date before the young people have gone to their new schools – perhaps early September or late August, when they are bored of the long holiday and perhaps haven’t seen each other for a while. Alternatively you could let them get a few weeks under their belt in their new schools and they might be very keen to share their new experiences, especially if they go to a number of different schools. Gathering them together may be harder, the longer you leave it, however. The excitement of new friends and new experiences may render their old school friends obsolete for a while. When you are doing market research with the Year 6’s earlier in the year it may be worth asking them which they think might be better, though the parents would be more useful to ask, as young people tend to only think a day ahead if you’re lucky!
Listen to what your Year 6’s suggest, but you can’t go wrong with pizzas, hot dogs, crisps, cakes, doughnuts, sweets – basically anything very bad for you!!
Word of warning: If you are going to fill them full of sugar, fizzy drinks and energy, it’s better to do that near the end of the session, so that you don’t have to deal with the resulting hyper-activity… Maybe a few small treats at the beginning as they arrive, but not too much sugar all at once!
Do have some alternatives for those with allergies, or some healthier options just in case someone can’t eat too much sugar/fat, but it’s a one off party and your main aim is to be appealing and fun, so don’t worry too much about their balanced diets!
There will be a cost to this event and I suggest you don’t at this stage pass that on to the young people. The event is a gift from the Church to the Young People and as such I feel it should be free. If funds are stretched, maybe some of the young people or children from your congregation could do a fundraising activity especially for the event.
The main costs of the whole Golden Ticket programme will be your Leaver’s Gifts, printing tickets, posters etc and refreshments. You may have to pay to hire a venue if you don’t have a suitable one belonging to the Church. You may need to buy some games or sound equipment, or even some beanbags/comfy seating but these would be an investment for long term youth work. If you think you might be setting up a new youth group coming out of this event, it would be worth contacting Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs (NAYC) who have may access to small grants for new groups who affiliate with them, and who certainly have lots of equipment that you can borrow for free to affiliated groups.
What are the young people going to do?!
As this is a reunion party/event – most of the time can be given over to simply letting the young people chat.
Having board games around gives the awkward ones something to do and gives leaders an easier way to engage with those on the fringes. A selection of suitable games for this setting is listed on our Games page.
Have some background music; there are very cheap, often tiny but effective wireless speaker systems that connect to smart phones. If you have a young person to consult/borrow from that’s the best. Make sure you research the Year 6’s music taste and download a selection of songs (having vetted them for explicit/racist/misogynist lyrics!). The young people may want to plug their own phones in to play their favourites. It is worth being aware of the possibility beforehand and having a pre-decided policy on it. If you do allow them, keep an ear out for content and be prepared to unplug if necessary!
If they are happy chatting you don’t need to force them into organised games or activities, but it is worth have a series of games up your sleeve in case they get restless, bored or too exuberant!
The Games page has a selection of group games plus some icebreakers appropriate for this age group, if you need some ideas.
You might choose to do something completely different with your young people, if something came from your market research that suits your space and leadership team – maybe a barbeque or picnic in an outdoor space, or a sports session might work just as well. You might have someone in your church who can run a disco. Whatever activity you choose, it needs to have opportunities for the young people to talk and build on relationships, with you and your team, and each other, and it needs to be manageable and most importantly fun!