Backyard to the Universe
Balanced Youth Program
Youth Programming Manual
This document was developed while I was working with youth in Maine from 1986-2007, and the original document has been turned over to the new district of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Also refer to Ethics and Safety Guidelines, which are on line at www.nhvt.uua.org and on the UUA web site. Helen Zidowecki
The focus is on providing safe and welcoming Unitarian Universalist environment for youth activities that promote lifespan faith development. While not all sections specifically mention safety, they providing information for a smoothly running conference/event. Items preceded by > include considerations specifically related to safety.
While this was written for use on a district level, the information is applicable to youth programming in congregations.
After the introduction, the items are in essentially in alphabetical order, as follows:
*All applicable state, federal laws regarding personal and site safety are applied coming to, during, and returning an event.
*Everyone is responsible for creating and maintaining safe community for themselves and others.
*We may not have specific answers to every possible scenario, but need to have a plan on how to handle a difficult situation. (Problem Resolution Process)
*Policies, procedures and practices are developed for ‘proactive safety’ or prevention.
* The consideration of safety needs to be intentional, with involvement and education of participants.
*Leadership (ministers, religious educators, advisors, congregational and district leaders) need to be in Right Relationship, with trust, respect, and understanding of the role of each.
Personal safety is everyone’s responsibility, including:
*Having respect for self and others.
*Setting boundaries for self and respecting the boundaries of others.
*Keeping self safe through own behaviors, not putting self in situations that feel unsafe, and seeking help when a situation feels unsafe.
*Making sure that at least one other person who knows where you are.
Personal Safety means:
Listening, being heard
Making people feel welcome
Trying to create comfortable environment
Not safe with the unknown
Not safe being different—that is why some people hangout in groups and follow the crowd
Safety begins before the conference:
*Information on the conference includes what is needed, what will be happening, what to bring.
*Congregations are encouraged to hold a pre-conference meeting to go over the conference information and arrangements for travel and advisors.
*Participants need to make their needs known on the registration form, specifically food issues, things that would prevent you from fully participating in the con (mobility, etc.).
*Site requirements, boundaries and unique considerations will be posted at the registration area.
If you find yourself in an unsafe situation,
*Review the rules that are in place at each conference.
*Be mindful and safe while playing games.
*Feel comfortable to take action if something is “bad” or going wrong. Say “NO” and/or discontinue the interaction or discussion.
*Respect the leaders.
*Integrate people into an event. This is everyone’s responsibility. Do not rely on conference leadership to do it. Integration and feeling part of a community is a safety concern.
Orientation sets the stage for safety and comfort.
*Develop a group covenant at every con—different from the rules, this is a promise of how we are going to “be” together.
*Use a basic covenant that is reviewed and added to for each con/youth meeting, or start new covenant at each event—process is critical.
Include respect personal space
Confidentiality, unless there is danger to self or others
Each participant sign and post
‘Open space’ is the norm at conferences:
*Youth and adults, youth and youth, or adults and adults do not meet alone (except youth with their own parents).
*Meetings occur in an open area or with open doors.
The community has responsibility for protecting the personal identity of its participants. This includes:
*Not including identifying information on pictures that are in public areas, such as web sites.
*Limiting information in directories and published lists, such as not giving addresses.
*Congregations are responsible for the selection of the adults that participate in an event with their youth, based on their own Safe Congregation/Right Relations policies.
*Endorsement of the adult must be noted on the registration form, such as from the religious educator, minister or congregational leader.
*Background information at the minimal should include references, specifically around to relations with youth, and verification of participation in the congregation for a period of time (at least 6 months). In addition to safety considerations, this confirms connection to Unitarian Universalism.
*Adults on YAC may need additional background checks if they are representing the district.
*Concepts in the Code of Ethics have been folded into the general conference code that is signed by everyone.
Adult Coverage for a conference:
*At least one adult (23 years or older) is needed/10 youth from a church for accountability/responsibility, and connection and support for youth between church and district events.
*Congregations are encouraged to pay at least the registration fees for the adults attending as advisors.
*While it is preferable for the same adults to be at the entire event for continuity, adults may job-share. The youth and their parents need to know the arrangements prior to the conference, one adult needs to stay until the other arrives, and the Adult Coordinators or Conference Leader must be aware when the change actually occurs. The two adults will be placed in the same Touch Group. One registration fee is charged for both adults.
*Adults may cover youth who are not from their congregation. The parents and youth need to communicate, the plan must be known and agreed to by the churches involved, and the arrangement must be noted on the registration form.
*Adults need to be aware of special considerations of the youth for whom they are responsible. They will have access to the registration forms that contain this information and special considerations may be discussed at the Adult meetings.
At the conferences, adults:
*Participate in conference activities.
*Are resources for youth, and need to be available and visible to interact with youth.
*Adults have list of youth for whom they are responsible, noting any concerns, medical conditions/medications, etc.
*Are responsible for the youth from their churches, need to be aware if youth are having problems at the conference, and will be alerted in case of injury or illness. When there is a change in adults, such as a job-sharing at a conference, or the adult has a leadership role that diverts attention from youth in his/her own church, the youth for whom they are responsible know the name of the adult to whom they can go.
*Trust, respect, and support youth who are leading the conference.
*"New" adults will be placedwith "experienced" adults in various activities.
*May be asked to assist in oversight of overnight night activities. (See Sleeping)
* Connect with the Adult Coordinators and conference leadership when they have concerns.
Adults meet together, with the Adult Coordinators, early in the conference (Friday evening), mid-way through a conference (Saturday afternoon), and at the end of a conference (like for Breakfast Sunday morning).
ADULT COORDINATOR(S) There are usually two Adult Coordinators at a conference or event, preferably one male and one female, selected by YAC. These are adults who have been to several conferences.
Adult Coordinators have defined their role as "helping adults who help the youth in leadership roles." The Adult Coordinators
*Orient adults to the rules and structure of the conference, and provide a contact, along with the Conference Coordinator, for adults when they have concerns.
*Check in with Deans and Conference Coordinator.
*Are aware of and alert Deans to participants who may need additional attention in order to feel included in conference activities.
*Are available in emergencies
*Facilitate 2-3 adult meetings during the conference.
*Assist the Conference Coordinator, such as by posting schedules, possibly be a designated "go-fer", and making sure that are where they need to be.
AGE CONSIDERATIONS The applicable age range for an event must be clear and will influence the type of programming.
*The age range for events in the Northeast District has been grades 6-12, although within that, some events have specific ages. For example, the Fall Conference is grades 7-12, and there is a specific Junior Youth Conference for grades 6-8 to introduce younger youth to conferences.
*Adults must be at least 23 years old.
*Post high school participants may attend with consent from YAC/conference coordinator and if there is a reason for their attendance (leading a workshop, for example).
Periodically there have been discussions about having separate Junior Youth and Senior Youth conferences. The total range has been retained based on the following considerations:
*Planning needed if there were additional conferences;
*Number of adults available
*Leadership skill development as early as possible;
*Learning that occurs along the age spectrum.
There is usually at least one discussion period for which groups are assigned by ages, such as grades 6-8, 9-10, 11-12, Adults.
BRIDGING The ceremony marking the transition from Youth to Young Adult occurs at the end of the Spring Conference. This is a ‘public’ ceremony, and youth adults, parents, religious educators, ministers are invited. Congregations are invited to have youth participate in or be named at the ceremony, even if they have not been involved in district youth activities.
The focus of the ceremony is twofold:
*The process of leaving for the youth, and of saying good-bye from the youth community; and
*Introduction to the broader Young Adult programming within the UUA.
The ceremony traditionally includes:
*Youth walk through row of participants, arranged from youngest to the oldest, symbolic of transitioning.
*Youth are presented with Books containing remembrances and wishes, and have an opportunity to tell what the youth programming has meant to them and to share their plans. (Books are made during the conference.)
*The total group of remaining youth have an opportunity to speak to the Bridgers.
*Young adults have an opportunity to speak to the Bridgers and to the total group.
BUILDING COMMUNITY The Five Steps to Building Community, as described by the Youth Office, is an intentional process that is integrated into the conferences, realizing that not all levels will be included in a conference. The summary of the Steps follows.
Step One: Bonding: Participants begin to identify as part of the team, with cooperation as the goal.
*Break down cliques and barriers
*Establish a relationship of trust within the group
*Work together on problem-solving tasks/activities
*Accept and welcome each person’s input
Step Two: Opening Up: Participants realize personal imperfections and uniqueness, knowing that the group loves them.
*Show genuine interest in others, leads to trust
*Listen sympathetically in the group.
*Allow sharing to the degree that people are comfortable.
*Feel enthusiastic about deepening friendships.
Step Three: Affirming: Participants are affirming of each other.
*Share appreciation of each other.
*Leave with warm and fuzzy feeling.
Step Four: Stretching: Participants realize their importance to entire group.
*Go beyond normal comfort level, actively care for each other.
*Share more of self, and still feel cared for and affirmed.
Step Five: Deeper Sharing
*Share deeply, set goals and visions.
*Group sharing of problems.
*Help individuals work through problems, but still holds person accountable.
*Not all sharing is appropriate for the group, especially if it makes others uncomfortable
The youth chaplains, one male and one female, are present for participants as someone to talk with. Chaplains are elected by YAC and will have no other responsibilities at a conference.
Criteria for selection of a chaplain include:
*Knows and is willing to work within boundaries
*Level-headed, takes things in stride
*Approachable, good listener
*Have received training that includes setting and knowing boundaries, when action is needed, self-protection, resources, and listening and interpersonal skills.
Chaplains work with the conference minister: (See Minister)
*Minister and chaplains meet as soon as they arrive at the conference so that they know who each other are.
*Establish several times to connect throughout the conference, to see how things are going.
*Discussions between the chaplains and chaplains and minister are confidential, unless there is a danger to a youth or adult or to the conference community.
*Each should feel able to refer youth and to one another.
*Minister and chaplains need to be visible to the conference participants.
Regular Religious Education mailings are sent to Religious Education Directors/Contacts, the YAC and congregational Youth Contacts, Ministers of congregations, and the Board of Trustees. Churches are responsible for:
*making sure that the District Office has current names, mailing and e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of the Religious Education and youth contacts;
*distributing the information to the youth and advisors in a timely fashion.
*deciding is attending an event from the church.
It is also the responsibility of the youth and their parents to seek the information on an upcoming event and to complete the registrations on time and as directed within the specific congregation.
Conference information is usually available in the district publications and web sites.
Conferences, either those run by the district or those sponsored by local churches (called Mini Cons), differ from the youth activities in a local congregation in several significant ways:
*The number of participants may be larger and is usually more diverse related to geography and possibly age span, requiring more structured planning for the conference.
*The adults know youth from their own church, but not all of the youth at the conference.
*The adults at a conference may not be the ones who are the advisors on a regular basis, so may not be as familiar with youth activities.
*The site rules for the specific conference vary from those in the local setting, and must be respected.
>CONFERENCE CODE: (YOUTH and ADULTS) was developed in 1986 and revised several times by the Youth Adult Committee, and reviewed by the District Religious Education Committee and Board. The code is included on the conference flier/registration:
To come to a Youth event, you must follow the code and will be asked to sign the code on the registration/at the conference.
In order to hold a safe and effective conference, I, the conference participant (youth or adult), promise to:
*Above all, respect others and not engage in behavior that constitutes verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuses to self or others. No Harshing.
*Take responsibility for my actions. My actions affect the people around me.
*Not engage in sexual activity or violence and not have weapons or drugs at the conference. (No tobacco, alcoholic or unauthorized medications).
*Stay on the premises unless I receive specific permission from the conference coordinator to leave.
*Keep the leadership informed of my whereabouts at all times.
*Participate in all conference activities.
*Sleep in designated areas at the specified time and remain in supervised areas during gender-mixed activities.
*Abide by all conference rules, with the knowledge that infringement of these rules may result in my expulsion from activities at the conference leaders' discretion and my own expense.
*Abide by the UU Principles to covenant and affirm
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice equity, and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and Justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Ways the code is implemented include:
*The code is on the registration form and youth and adults must sign on the registration or as a ‘sign in’ at the conference. The code is also reviewed as part of orientation.
*Participants are responsible for themselves, to the adults who are covering them, and to their own congregations .
*Participants must preregister and register/check in on arrival. Only those preregistered may attend a con.
--Sleeping arrangements are noted in the conference flier, as determined conference length and activities.
--The Honor Code is in place at all NED youth activities. This applies to treatment of the possessions of others, payment for registration and other conference expenses, and complying with the conference rules.
>CONFERENCE LEADERSHIP The Youth Adult Committee appoints the leadership for District conferences. The planning committees determine the leadership for Mini-cons and other events. Following are primary leadership roles that are needed for conferences:
<>*Conference Coordinator, either District Staff or designated to represent the district, is legally responsible for the event, and supports and works with the other leaders of the conference.
<>*Deans (separate section)
<>*Chaplains (separate section)
<>*Adult Coordinators (separate section)
<>*Medical person (separate section)
<>*Site Coordinators (separate section)
<>*Touch Group Leaders and Coordinators, if there are Touch Groups (separate section)
Additional leadership positions may depend on conference plans:
*Buddy Coordinator (separate section)
*Worship Leaders and Coordinator (separate section)
*Workshop or Discussion Leaders and Coordinator (separate section)
>CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS are the responsibility of the congregation with which they are affiliated. Guidelines for determining who should attend an event:
*Is within the age specifications of YRUU events or an adult advisors over 23 years of age. The ages (grades) for participation are designated on the conference flier.
*Has connection with/participates in the church activities, such as being a part of the youth group or active in other parts of the church community;
*Able/willing to be responsible for own behavior;
*Able/willing to participate in conference activities;
*Has an understanding of what happens at the activity;
*Special needs can be met during the event.
*Adult advisor(s) are comfortable/willing to sponsor for the youth;
Questions of participation are discussed with the Conference Coordinator prior to the conference. This includes problems at prior events.
People from outside the district may participate if:
*There is enough space to accommodate the district participants who have registered by the due date;
*They meet conditions for participants, like having an adult connection at the conference and agreeing to conference codes/rules.
The local congregation is strongly urged to hold a meeting prior to the conference for the youth, their parents, and the adults attending a conference to discuss:
*Details of the conference itself, including special items for the specific conference;
*Expectations that each participant will follow and uphold the Codes and Honor System of the conference;
*Local arrangements and considerations.
*Date/time, Location, Name of the event
*Who may attend, such as ages or grades
*An emergency number at the location to leave for family
*What to bring, including bedding, clothing, snacks, flashlight, special things related to the conference activities
*Directions to the location of the event
*Cost and to whom to write a check
*Registration to be sent to whom by when; cancellation policy
*Codes that apply to the events.
*Space/number limitations, if there are any
*Arrangements for adults, such as number needed/youth
<>Conference registration includes:
*Name, address, phone number of participant (E-mail is optional.)
*Birth date, grade in school, or Adult status
*Late arrival or early departure. Preference will be given to those who are attending the entire event
*Special considerations, such as dietary and mobility, medical conditions and medications
*Emergency information for the time of the event
* *Signatures of all youth and adults regarding following the Codes and Guidelines of the event
*The cost of the conference, how to make out checks
*Signature of parents of youth under 18 years of age for permission to obtain care emergency medical care, such as:
1) I permit my dependent named to the left to attend the Youth Conference sponsored by the District Youth Adult Committee. 2) I authorize the conference adult leaders to administer or approve emergency care until I can be contacted. I will pay for all medical services. 3) I understand that all youth and adults at the conference must sign the Behavior Code above. 4) I agree and hold harmless the District and the host site and adult supervisors for the activity, unless there is proven neglect, from any and all liability which may arise from damages, loss or injuries to person or property, which my dependent (or myself) may sustain while engaged in the activity.
*I agree to assume responsibility for any liability which may arise from damages, loss or injuries, which may be caused or contributed to by my dependent (or myself) to the person or property of others.
Registration limits are set by the capacity of the conference site or the decision of the planning group. Registrations received after either 1) the capacity has been reached or 2) the registration due date may be placed on a waiting list. People on the waiting list may be called up to 24 hours before the start of the conference. Guidelines for attendance and drawing from the Waiting List are:
*If youth from a congregation have sent registrations on time, adult(s) from that congregation will be counted before the limit is reached. Only 2 adults per church will be allowed, unless there is room and/or a reason for additional adults.
*Conference Leadership when the registrations are received/mailed by due date.
*General registrations received -- hard copy by due date, up to designated limit, especially when money accompanies the registration.
*Registrations received via e-mail by due date, up to designated limit, and signed copy and money brought to the event.
*Forms that are postmarked by the due date, even if received after the date.
*E-mail and forms sent after due date, if there is room.
*Out of District registrations, if there is room after the due date.
Other considerations in determining permission to attend include:
*How soon there will be a conference for a person's age group
*Senior, for whom this would be the last year.
*Whether a participant is coming to the full conference or to only part of the conference.
Cancellation Policy for partial or total refunds is noted on the Registration form, usually at least 24 hours before the start of the conference. Registration fee for people who cancel after that time may or may not be returned and those who did not pay with the registration may be asked to do so.
Conference Costs At non-church sites, such as Ferry Beach, the District is billed for the number of people who we say are coming to an event, at a specific cost. The conference fee is charged to cover the costs. There is no mechanism for covering the cost of people who come only part time or fail to come after registering. The conference fees for Mini-Cons, or church sponsored activities, are set by the church.
If assistance is needed, call on A.Nony Mouse! This is a special fund that was established in 1996 through a donation from a trust fund to form A.Nony Mouse, matched by youth and churches in the District, to assist with funding for youth and to attend conferences. Conferences to which the scholarship can be applied -- namely District-sponsored events -- are included by a note on the conference fliers.
To apply, a letter must be submitted with the Conference Registration, stating why the sponsorship is needed. At least 25% of the registration fee must accompany the application/registration. The applicant must be active in a local UU church, in some way, realizing that not all churches have active youth groups. The application letter must be signed by someone from the church, such as the Youth Advisor, Director of Religious Education, or Minister. This verifies the connection with the church and that the sponsorship is needed. In addition to the merits of the applications themselves, consideration may be given to order in which requests are received, geographic distribution of sponsorships and previous requests from the applicants. Applicants will be informed of the decision at least three days before the start of the conference.
Youth programming starts on the congregational level. However, conferences and other events that involve youth beyond their own congregation
*give a broader Unitarian Universalist connection.
*provide a network for youth, including electronic connections, that go beyond the conferences or events.
*provide resources, additional insights, and sharing of ideas into how Unitarian Universalism, and youth programming, ‘works’, that can be brought back to the home congregation for discussion and consideration.
Youth and adults attending conferences represent, informally or officially, the congregation from which they come. Therefore, it is critical that the congregation be aware of and support their participation. This is noted in various sections of this document.
Congregations are responsible for:
*posting and distributing the information on events.
*having a designated person (frequently the Director of Religious Education) to coordinate the registrations and planning for participation in a conference, and to be a contact for conference coordinator.
*communicating suggestions and concerns regarding conferences to the district coordinator, and working with the district to enhance district programming.
DEANS (2-3 Deans at a conference) are selected to allow for age distribution and experience. At least one dean should have been a dean previously, and, if possible, one should be a junior youth. Deans:
*Are members of or have been selected by YAC, and attend the YAC meeting at which conference is planned.
*Have personal qualifications, such as patience and ability to work with other Deans and the Conference Coordinator
*Want to be Dean
*Can keep things going smoothly, including monitoring and maintaining the schedule
*Have a sense of how things are going over-all, and the conference "mood".
*Must be visible, conduct orientation, set the tone of the conference and know the schedule.
*act as role models (follow the rules). Have zest and confidence and spark.
*Play an impartial, unbiased judicial role in the politics of the con (don't be one-sided).
*Deal with infractions of the NED guidelines with a kind and open heart/mind, but know where to draw the line. Be district guidelines scholars (know rules and how to enforce effectively.
*Be available and approachable. Don't be too intimidating. Put forth an accepting, open-minded, not snobbish attitude.
DIALOGUES: During dialogues, we are willing to learning from the ideas of others, as well as willingness to share our own ideas. There is not a need or intent of convincing others of our ideas, but rather in gaining new insights.
Saturday morning dialogues at District conferences are frequently arranged by age groups (Grades 6-8, Grades 9-10, and Grade 11-12), for dialogue about a topic or theme.
*Evaluations by participants are usually done as part of the last Touch Group Session and can be individually or by group.
*Evaluations include how welcome people felt, what went well, what did not go well, suggestions for future conferences, and volunteering to participate in conference planning or roles.
*Evaluations are reviewed by the District Youth Adult Committee for inclusion of ideas in planning future events or in dealing with situations that might have come up at the conference.
FUNDRAISERS: The registration fees may not cover the cost of the conference, especially at non-church sites. FUNdraising is critical to bridge the gap. The money goes toward conference expenses and the A.Nony Mous scholarship Fund. The FUNdraiser is announced on the conference flier, and participants may be asked to bring items, such as for an auction or acts for a carnival. The expense of FUNraiser items need to be kept reasonable (economic justice issue!)
>HEALTHY PRESENCE In order to fully participate in a healthy way at a conference:
*If you are sick, stay home. We appreciate your not being generous with colds, etc.
*Get sleep each night. This is a protection against illness from being over tired. This is also essential for full participation and for driving safely.
*Control your sugar and caffeine intake.
*Wear appropriate clothes for the weather.
LOST AND FOUND: Participants are responsible for their own things. There will be a designated place to put found items and to put notes regarding lost items. Things left will be disposed of by Conference/Site Coordinators (like at a future auction!).
MAIL BAGS. Each person is encouraged to decorate a brown sandwich bag with his/her name on it. The focus is on writing positive notes and giving creative gifts (small and inexpensive items, or treasures found at conference) to others, especially a Secret Buddy.
MEALS. Meal arrangements depend on the site, usually catered or provided by the congregation (with reimbursement). The Touch Groups may be responsible for setting up, serving food, and cleaning up for meals. Meals need to consider the needs of the participants, as mentioned on the registration form.
*The designated medical person is responsible for first aid and his/her whereabouts must be known throughout the conference.
*The designated medical person should have expertise/training in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
*Location of basic first aid supplies will be made known to the conference participants. These supplies should be checked before each event. (Need a supply list developed.)
*Medical information is included on the registration forms, which are kept in a designated place on the site, along with information on whom/where to call for emergency services.
*Medications (over the counter and prescription) at the conference. Participants will administer their own medications, or the adult advisor is responsible.
*Universal precautions are to be used when dealing with body fluids. Gloves are available in the first aid supplies. (This needs to be discussed more.)
>MINISTER for a conference is invited from among the ministers in the District. With the increasing complexity of issues facing youth and the depth of discussions at conference, a minister needs to be available for talking with participants (youth and adults), someone who is not connected with the administration of the conference, per se, and preferably not the advisor for youth from his/her church. The minister is a resource to the Chaplains. The minister participates in the conference activities. In addition, the presence of a minister at a conference is a way of modeling minister-youth relations.
*Parents need to be an active part of the planning for youth to attend conferences, including connecting with the coordinator within the congregation, ensuring that the registration is complete (see Registration).
*Parents are frequently the advisors who attend conferences. There are many ways to provide ‘distance’ so that both youth and the adults can participate in the cons.
*Parents are responsible for getting youth to/from the event and in a timely manner.
>PROBLEM RESOLUTION PROCESS Issues are brought to the attention of the Leaders of the conference or activity from any participant. Confidentiality will be protected as far as possible. It is the responsibility of the Deans to verify that there is a problem. Action will be taken by the Conference Leadership and the Coordinator has ultimate responsible.
*The Deans will convene the YAC to inform them of what action has been taken and/or to decide the action to be taken. YAC is empowered to recommend action (consequences) up to and including expulsion from activity(ies).
*Focus is on the specific incident, although history of behavior at this or previous activities may be a factor.
*The need for and the implications of actions are discussed with the individual(s) involved.
*Deans ensure that actions are carried out.
*The Deans are responsible for distributing information about an incidence to participants, as appropriate.
If you are uncomfortable at a conference, please talk immediately with your adult advisor, your touch group leader, a chaplain, the minister, or conference coordinator.
Note: For conferences at which Deans have not been selected, disciplinary action is at the discretion Conference Leader of the host site.
SCHEDULING DISTRICT YOUTH ACTIVITIES follows guidelines developed by YAC/approved by the NED Religious Education Committee, April 1998.
*Schedule conferences with the NED Religious Education Consultant, preferably by June for the following year. This allows the conference to be placed on the District Calendar and advertised.
*Schedule only one conference for each age group (Junior Youth--grades 6-8; Senior Youth--grades 9-12) in a month (4 week period).
*Allow at least 2 weeks between events in the District that focus on youth, including District YAC meetings.
*Send notices at least a month before the conference.
*Use the District YRUU Codes, which are followed by all participants. District registration forms and fliers can be samples for church mini-cons.
*If there are multiple requests to hold conferences, priority will be given to churches which have not had a conference in the current year.
SECRET BUDDIES. Participants are invited to be Secret Buddies. Names are drawn, and throughout the conference, participants leave messages in the Secret Buddy mailbag. The identities may be revealed at the end of the conference.
*There must be a way to receive and send communications for emergency purposes. This means that phones on site must accessible/usable, or there must be a cell phone available for that purpose—and the number must be noted on the conference flier.
*Site rules and unique hazards need to be noted as people arrive.
* Exits must be discussed, marked and kept clear.
*Occupancy or space must not exceed the safe number, informally or set by an official.
*Space and furnishings must be clean and in good repair.
*Activities must be done safely within the site limitations.
*How to access emergency services, including contact with a key person related to the site, must be posted.
Site Coordinator(s): There must be coordinators designated to make sure that there is clear understanding of:
*Site boundaries, usable areas, restricted areas
*Clear understanding of who is on the site (such as other groups), why and where and when.
*Compliance at the beginning and end of event of all of the items noted under site safety, and with whom site issues are discussed.
*Sleeping is required the first night and encouraged and recommended the second night.
*When the sleeping areas are rooms or cabins, such as the first night of the conference, sleeping areas are gender-specific. Open areas may be gender-mixed. Adults will be sleeping in all of these areas.
*The expectation is that participants, including adults, will be quiet by midnight the first night.
*The second night of a conference there may be awake areas. Participants are expected to stay in one location for the night, and location must be known on a master list.
*These awake/mixed areas will be monitored by deans and adults on a schedule determined at the conference.
SWAFLLY: A BALANCED YOUTH PROGRAM:
This is the way to remember the components of a Balanced Youth Program, as defined by the Unitarian Universalist Youth Office. As much as possible, these components are built into conferences.
Social Action --Do we really understand the reason for projects, and the benefits to the recipients of the services.
Worship -- What are the parts of a worship service? How do youth take part in worship? There will be worship services.
Activities and Fellowship-- for Building Community.
Learning -- Curriculum as a resource, a reference, what we learn and how we learn in a religious setting
Leadership -- How can Youth participate in leadership within the church?
Youth/Adult Relations—Good relationships that enhance the role of each are needed at conferences.
TOUCH-IN (or just Touch) GROUPS are groups of 8-10 youth, several adults, and Leaders, who are youth. Touch Groups allow participants to know a small group better, to have fun, and to help each other with the conference experience. The groups meet several times during a conference for games, special activities, small group dialogues, and assigned jobs.
Guidelines for selection:
*By age/grade: mixed, with a broad distribution
*No siblings or parents together
*Leaders are not with adults from their own church, if possible.
*Balance churches/genders as much as possible.
*Put new adults with experienced adults, when possible
*Switching is discouraged and done only with the agreement of the respective Touch Group Leaders and Touch Group Coordinator, and when it does not upset (like over-load or deplete) a group.
TOUCH GROUP LEADERS are selected by YAC. Co-leaders provide a way of introducing youth to being Touch Group leaders by pairing "new" and "experienced" leaders. Touch Group Leaders:
*Are expected to be at the YAC meeting or special planning/orientation session before the conference.
*Have good game knowledge
*Get to know everyone in their group.
*Should know what's going on--have a schedule. Make sure everyone knows what they need to do and where they should be. Discuss importance of activities and traditions, especially worship.
*Make members of their group feel welcome, especially newcomers.
*Keep track of their group; make sure everyone is there when the group meets. Plan activities before hand. Have a plan of what to do.
*Be outgoing and friendly towards newcomers.
*Be able to explain things.
*Be friendly to everyone outside of Touch Groups.
*Be flexible. Be understanding.
*Be available for questions.
*Be respectful. Be aware.
*Check in with Touch Group members frequently. Know where the group is even when not together, such as if someone needs help with something
*Follow directions of Touch Group Coordinator.
*Make sure that group members are present for jobs, like meals and clean-up.
*Attend the YAC/Touch Group meetings during a conference.
TOUCH GROUP COORDINATOR(S) are available to Touch Group leaders to address problems, issues. The 2 Touch Group Coordinators:
*Need to have led a Touch Group at least once.
*Address issues of people changing Touch Groups
*Makes sure that things are going smoothly in the Touch Groups, and that Touch Groups have needed supplies and information.
*Are informative and informed. Have a feel for conferences.
*Are visible and available for questions.
*Check in with groups each time they meet. Make sure that people are there when the Touch Groups meet
*Be ready for the job. Be prepared.
*Talk to Touch Group Leaders about leading.
*Deal with conflicts
>Travel to/from an event and within conferences is the responsibility of the families and the church. Guidelines:
*License and insurance coverage of drivers is verified.
*Concerns about driving behavior will be reported to the church coordinator.
*Youth drivers of youth is discouraged. If it is necessary, youth drivers must have had their license for at least a year. The parents of youth traveling with a youth driver must give consent (preferably in writing).
*If the driver is a youth, be aware of current laws regarding new and youth drivers.
*Seatbelts need to be available for all occupants.
*Travel arrangements and destinations of participants are confirmed, especially if the terminal points and travel times differ from general plans.
*Adult advisors and coordinator from the congregation must know the travel plans.
*Drivers should plan to get enough sleep.
Add: Make it clear on the flier/registration form that when travel within the conference is expected, that youth may be traveling with adults other from their congregation, and that youth who have been driving for at least a year may be drivers if there a need (such as lack of available space with adult drivers).
>VisitORS A result of conferences is the establishment of youth networks. This has also created an interest on the part of youth to "visit" at conferences. The District YAC developed guidelines for such visiting:
*Conferences are limited to people who register for the conference, except for designated times that will be announced on the conference flier.
*The times when visitors are welcome may be the Sunday morning events, which are closing ceremonies or church services.
*Visitors are requested to let the conference coordinator/registrar know of their interest in attending, and connect with that person on arrival.
*Visitors are expected to be respectful of conference activities and to abide by the rules of the conference.
WORKSHOPS at conferences are usually about an hour long. Some will be serious, and some focus on lighter activities. These are led by youth and adults, as approved by YAC. If an adult leads a workshop, there should be a youth co-leader.
*Communicate with all workshop leaders before to find out plans. Coordinators need to know before what is going on (should be done at a conference planning meeting)
*Decide site placement for workshops with the conference/site Coordinator.
*Check with workshops in progress. Make sure that they are running smoothly, are well-run and taken seriously (not too chaotic).
*Make sure that the workshop leaders have everything they need.
*Get stragglers to workshops. Make sure people are in the workshops they should be in.
*Be trustworthy, reliable.
*Be present to deal with problems and conflicts.
WORSHIP is planned by Youth, with support of adults, such as the Minister at the conference. Worship gives participants time to reflect on the conference's meaning and life in general, and offers an opportunity to grow spiritually. The services may include periods of silence and opportunities to share thoughts, poems, stories and music. It is a special time when participants feel connected with each other. It is a chance for people to enjoy the diversity the conference gives to people's lives.
*Suggest at least 2 people to help with worship
*Check with worship leaders to make sure that the topic/theme fits with the theme of the Conference and "flows" smoothly.
*Make sure leaders have everything they need.
*Explain the extreme importance of the spiritual part of cons, introduce worship and its importance at orientation and throughout the conference.
*Announce worship times and make sure everyone gets there (Also make sure that people know if they are to bring things, like stones.)
*Make sure that people who are planning worship are aware of site restrictions/limitations (such as not using candles inside, difficulty hearing on the beach)
*Are prepared to fill in if a worship leader needs help or cannot complete a service.
Specific to Maine, July 2007 YOUTH ADULT COMMITTEE (YAC) is responsible for youth programming in the NED, under the District Religious Education Committee. YAC meetings are open, except for the Retreat, which is by invitation due to space and the agenda. YAC is an important way for youth to learn and use leadership skills.
YAC members are expected to:
*Attend YAC meetings (3-4/year), usually Saturday mornings in May or June, August, November or December, and a Fri/Sat./Sun? retreat in January
*Plan/work at conferences
*Have/share ideas, accept ideas of others
*Report activities to own church
*Have/develop skills to work with groups
*Planning Conferences (Fall, Spring, Ski Weekend, Jr. High, Social Justice).
*Addresses youth issues in the District and continentally.
YAC members are selected two ways:
1. A Junior Youth,( Gr.6-8), Senior Youth (Gr.9-12) and Adult are elected from each cluster:
*York County: Sanford, Saco, Kennebunk *PORTLAND AREA: Allen Avenue and First Parish churches in Portland, Westbrook, Yarmouth
*Western : Auburn, Norway, South Paris, West Paris; *Central: Augusta, Brunswick, Edgecomb, Oakland, Rockland, Waterville
*Eastern/NORTHERN: Sangerville, Dexter, Ellsworth, Bangor, Pittsfield, Belfast; Caribou, Houlton. Clusters decide their own method of selection.
2. Nominees not selected by the Clusters may put their names on the list for a member-at large positions.
*Each person at the con has 3 votes.
*The 15 youth and adults who receive the largest number of votes are on YAC. Other names are kept in order of number of votes, to fill vacancies
The YAC is elected at the Spring Youth Conference for one-year terms, to represent each geographic area (cluster) of the district, and to allow additional representatives. A person who is not present at that Conference may ask someone to present his/her name for election.
*Attend 3-4 YAC meetings per year. (If two meetings are missed in a row, membership on YAC will be in jeopardy, especially if the Coordinator is not notified.)
*Work at conferences in various roles
*Care about the Youth Activities and want to make the conferences successful
*Have and share ideas, and accept ideas from others
*Report activities to own church
*Have and develop group process skills and are able to work in groups
The YOUTH COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE from the District is elected at a Spring Conference for a two year term. Youth between grade 9-11 (starting in the fall) are eligible. The Youth Council Representative:
*Participates in the Continental Youth Council week-long meeting in the summer, with expenses paid by the District.
*Reports continental activities and issues to the YAC and District YRUU.
*Provides the UUA Youth Office with information about the NED YRUU activities on a regular basis.
The YOUTH SOCIAL ACTION Representative is elected on a yearly basis at the Spring Youth Conference. This position is in contact with the Youth Office around social action issues, and contact should be made with the NED Social Action Committee. Social Action is part of the Fall and Spring NED Youth Conferences.
*Are open and non-YAC members may attend, may participate in discussions as appropriate, but may not vote and may be asked to leave the room for selected discussions, such as regarding disciplinary action.
*YAC members are responsible for their own transportation to/from meetings.
*A Moderator is elected to facilitate the meeting. The role of the Moderator is to keep the discussion going along the established agenda, to ensure that participants have an opportunity to speak. If the Moderator wishes to speak to an issue, he/she asks someone to take over while he/she speaks.
*Notes are taken of decisions. Many of the discussions are directly related to conferences and the decisions are part of conference material. (Needs more specific plan for taking and distributing notes.)
Specific to Maine, as of July 2007
BYLAWS FOR NORTHEAST DISTRICT YRUU/YAC (Revised May 2, 1998.
ARTICLE I. NAMES
The name of this organization shall be the Northeast District Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (NED YRUU).
The name of the group that is responsible for the NED YRUU activities is the Northeast District Youth Adult Committee (NED YAC).
ARTICLE II. PURPOSES
The NED YRUU promotes the development and growth of youth activities within the churches and on the District level, incorporating social action, worship, fellowship and social activities, learning and leadership development.
ARTICLE III: AFFILIATION
The NED YRUU is under the authority of the Northeast District Unitarian Universalist Association. The NED YRUU affiliates with, but is not under the authority of, the Unitarian Universalist Association YRUU, a continental organization.
ARTICLE 1V: MEMBERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION
Section 1. Any person in grades 6-12, who resides in the Northeast District, who participates in the programs and activities of local societies of the District, and who supports the purposes expressed above, is eligible to participate as a member.
Section 2. A person 23 years or older, who supports the purposes expressed above and who resides in the Northeast District, is eligible to participate as a member in NED YRUU as an advisor or adult YAC representative.
Section 3. Youth between ages 12 and 22 years and may serve as youth leaders at YAC-sponsored events with the approval of YAC.
Section 4. Neither affiliation with any other organizations nor financial contributions are required for membership in NED YRUU.
ARTICLE V. VOTING ELIGIBILITY
Section 1. Only NED YRUU members are eligible to vote on issues before the entire organization.
Section 2. Voting shall occur at NED YRUU meetings and as part of conferences.
ARTICLE V1. YOUTH ADULT COMMITTEE
Section 1. The governing body of the NED YRUU is the Northeast District Youth Adult Committee (NED YAC). NED YAC is responsible for the conduct of all activities within the NED YRUU. It is empowered to:
Section 2. NED YAC consists of at least 1 junior youth, 1 senior youth and 1 adult chosen from each of the 5 NED UUA clusters. The clusters will be reviewed and determined each year to give representation of churches that have youth programs. At large members may be elected.
Section 3. A member will be elected to serve as NED Religious Education Committee Youth Liaison and will be responsible for communicating NED YRUU concerns to the Committee, and the Committee concerns or requests to NED YAC/YRUU.
Section. 4. The NED YAC shall be elected at the Spring Conference of the NED YRUU for a 1 year term.
Section 5. NED YAC members are expected to:
Section 6. The NED YAC serves as the executive committee of the NED YRUU between organizational meetings, and may fill vacancies on YUC.
Section 7. Procedures of operation include:
ARTICLE VII: YOUTH COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE
Section 1. The Youth Council Representative for the NED YRUU is elected for a 2 year term to represent the NED YRUU at UUA Youth Council meetings and to be a youth liaison between the NED YRUU and the Youth Office.
Section 2. The Youth Council Representative shall give regular reports to the NED YAC and at NED YRUU meetings.
These Bylaws may be changed by a vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the Youth and Adult members present and voting at any official NED YRUU meeting.