WyldLife + COVID= Challenging.
- How will we meet new kids when we can’t actually go to the school
- How do we make middle school kids wear masks for an entire hour-long event?
- How do we please parents who are on opposite ends of the spectrum – those who think we should be having full clubs, and those who think we shouldn’t even be seeing kids right now?
- How can we have events that are safe and in accordance with our local and state guidelines?
For each area it’s going to look a little bit different as to how you approach these challenges, however, below are some creative ideas and tips for leading WyldLife this fall (and hopefully not spring)!
As we think about what we can do in our area for WyldLife, also consider, should we? We have to remember that perception is reality – if it looks like Young Life/WyldLife is a group that is just ignoring COVID, holding these huge, maskless meetings, how will that look to parents, especially those who are hesitant in letting their kids go out of the house? However, we have to balance that with our desire to reach kids and help kids grow in their faith. If we do nothing, how will that impact kids now? And, how will it affect the future of Young Life/WyldLife in our area? There’s truly a balance to strike there, so hopefully, this post helps us all to find that balance.
When we think of contact work, we typically think in 2 main categories:
- Spending time with kids that we know.
- Meeting new kids.
While the former is not too difficult to do and to do safely, the latter can be a big hurdle for us this fall, especially if things like sports aren’t happening.
How are we supposed to reach out to new kids when we have no ways to meet them? A great way to meet them is through the kids we already know. Who are some kids or parents that you do know, who know people that you don’t? This method can be especially helpful for meeting 6th graders. Does one of your 7th , 8th , or even high school friends have a 6th-grade sibling? What’s a way that you can invite their friends to some kind of small get-together to give you a chance to connect with them? You could host a BBQ, movie night, video game night, or something else creative to connect with kids you don’t yet know. If your area still has sports, then coaching is a great opportunity to meet new kids as well. Three, four, or five times a week, you get an opportunity to meet and develop relationships with new friends, as well as with their parents. And even in areas where school sports are not yet allowed, there are typically rec leagues and club sports that are always looking for help. I’ve coached for several years both as a volunteer leader and during my time on Young Life staff and it’s been some of my most memorable moments as a leader.
One of my favorite things I’ve been doing this fall has been what I call “Lunch Break with Drake.” Since the public schools in our area have been all virtual, I’ve been bringing kids lunch during their designated lunch break to their house and eating with them outside. I just set up the time, ask them where they want food from, get their specific order, and make sure I get to their house for the start of their breaks. It’s been such a great time for me to not only hang out with them but also to be able to get to know their parents – a very important and often overlooked aspect of WyldLife.
Some other contact work ideas:
- Drop-in interest night for parent support teams
- Social media giveaway for a free-food delivery
- In-person lunch meet-ups in central outdoor location
- Offer to tutor or host a study hall
- Chalking kids’ sidewalks for their birthdays
- Popsicle drive-thru (or other individually wrapped snacks)
As it is more difficult for us to reach new kids this semester, training up Campaigners kids on how to reach their lost friends is even more vital. And finding inviting, yet safe, meeting spots will be a big priority for these groups. Reach out to parents and find out who has things like a fire pit or a patio – covered outdoor spaces are ideal to avoid rain cancellations. If this is the only corporate event that your area can have this semester, then be sure to do it well. If your area has virtual school, or a “one week in, one week out” schedule, you have some more flexibility as to what days/nights you can hold Campaigners. However, as always, be conscious of church schedules, for example, staying away from Wednesday nights if kids attend a youth group (I’m a Young Life/church partner, so those things are especially important to me!)
Are you allowed to have WyldLife Club in your area? Is it a good idea to have Club in your area? If not, then what are some good ideas to replace Club? Before diving into actual event ideas, ask yourself, what are some things that need to happen to make an event be successful?
- Was the Gospel shared?
- Did new kids feel welcomed and invited?
- Did old kids feel comfortable and confident to invite others?
- Was it fun?
- Did leaders get a chance to connect with kids?
- Did the event comply with your local COVID guidelines for group size, masks, distance, etc…? Make sure that any COVID event guidelines are clearly communicated and modeled well by the leaders. Consider inviting adults to come and sign people in or take temperatures.
- Root beer baseball (like regular baseball, but you hit root beer cans)
- 9-square tournament
- Photo scavenger hunt (in a local area to avoid being in close quarters in cars)
- Pool Olympics
- Tik Tok Dance-off
- If you have more ideas to add to the list, email here!
Here’s a great idea coming out of the Sandhills, NC, as a way to have Virtual Club and pair it with Campaigners.
They get together with their leaders, film the game(s), mixer, music, and talk; editing it together, and posting it to a YouTube channel. The link then goes out to all of their socials, so kids can watch it whenever it goes live every other Tuesday at 6 pm. The videos are no longer than 10 minutes. However, as an alternative to watching it alone, kids can attend their Campaigners’ group “Watch Party.”
At these Watch Parties, kids will get to participate in Club in their safe, smaller groups (adhering to state/local guidelines for group size, outside, masks, hand sanitizer, etc.). After the games are explained, they’ll pause the video and play the game themselves, led by their leader. After playing, they can then watch their leaders play and make fools of themselves. At the end
of Club, they’ll pause the video just short of the club talk, and their leader will give the talk to them instead. These are a great way to get your friends to “attend” Club, while also adding a much more personal touch to it than just watching the videos.
Do you have more WyldLife ideas to help leaders pursue kids through Contact Work, Club, or Campaigners? If so, you can email us here!
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