Written by Kevin Chao: Area Director in Greenwich, CT and WyldLife Coordinator for the Metro North Region.
During a recent WyldLife event at a sportsplex in town, I was walking between the trampoline dodgeball area and the gymnastics room. As I looked down into the gymnastics area my eyes met with one of the middle school guys.
“CHAOOOOOOOO!!!!” he yelled at the top of his lungs, waving his arms frantically towards me just to say hi. His buddies looked at him, smiled, and then looked up at me to see me waving back and yelling back to him, “Andrew!! You da man!”
Before that night I’d only met Andrew three times. We’d probably hung out less than 2 hours total, but those 2 hours of “contact work” allowed him to feel comfortable enough to scream my name out loud in front of a tons of his friends. Andrew and his friends are now pumped about WyldLife and excited about almost anything we do.
WyldLife contact work doesn’t need to be a crazy event or something we dread. One of my favorite ways to hang out with kids is to just play ultimate Frisbee. We play almost every Friday. The kids at the middle school walk to a deli where I meet them and we play at the park nearby. I’ve not been questioned once about what I am doing or who I am. The kids don’t care at all.
What does contact work look like for you during this next month? Below are some questions that have helped me know where to start:
- Think of your town. Where do your town’s middle school kids hang out after school? Where’s a routine place kids go?
- Do you have one middle school student you connect with? Start with them and then meet their friends
- How can you make this consistent and show up at the same time and same place every week?
- What are some middle school volunteer opportunities in your town?
- Do you know anyone on the PTA that could help connect you in the school?
- Are there places to meet before school, like a coffee shop or quick restaurant?
- What do you already enjoy doing that could happen with middle school students? (Ex: Ultimate frisbee, video games, etc…)
Take some time as a team to answer these questions. Don’t compare your situation to other teams/areas because contact work may look different depending on where you are. Figure out the best strategy for YOUR area and YOUR team and have fun doing contact work. It’s the best! -Kevin Chao