Hold a post-VBS session each day for your teen volunteers --
Yes, I know this adds on time to your day after a busy morning with the kids,
and could cost some money to offer lunch (or dessert, if lunch is part of VBS) for your teens to stay around for a discussion -- but consider that this can provide some opportunities for the components of community life, prayer/worship, catechesis and evangelization time for the teens, and only take a little extra effort from you (or other youth ministry leaders.)
Suggestions for the gathering --
1. Grace before lunch (or over dessert)
2. Ask highs and lows of the morning
Option A: Scripture sharing
- You can utilize the readings of the day (http://usccb.org/calendar/index.cfm?showLit=1&action=month)
(Do simplified Lectio Divina style of proclaiming the reading, asking each person to share a word or phrase that speaks to them, ask if they are willing to share why that word or phrase, re-read the Scripture),
Option B: go deeper into the VBS theme of the day.....utilize The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth or the Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. Spontaneous prayers of petition and thanksgiving
5. Go in peace, until the next morning!
Voila! You just did children’s ministry and youth ministry in about a half a day
If you decide to do this, please let me (Cindee) know how is went and if would do it again!
Of course, you could also do this with ALL your volunteers, which would provide some Adult Faith Formation as well...
As I read Heidi Schlumf's column in the National Catholic Reporter, "Why More Catholic Parishes Should Offer Vacation Bible School," I found myself not only agreeing with what she wrote, which you can read online at:
but also with how it can be such a great outreach to older kids. I know that many parishes already have been utilizing the energies and ideas of teens for VBS, but I'd like to see EVERY parish do so! SO I would like to list just a few reasons why more parishes should offer VBS and invite teens to assist:
> It helps connect the teens to the parish community in a different wa.
> It gives the teens a way to contribute to the larger community and live out their Baptismal Call
> It lets teens try out some skills that they may want to build upon for future vocational or hobby choices. For instance, if they are considering majoring in elementary education, child care, parish ministry, recreation or even parenting, they will get to try out working with children to see if they like it (before tuition dollars are spent!)
> It allows the teens to share gifts such as music, story-telling, crafting, food preparation, or office duties (if they assist with attendance check lists, making copies, etc.)
> It gives YOU more help and this help has more energy than the lovely grandmas and mothers that may already be part of the program!
> It gives smaller children the chance to see older kids staying involved at Church, which may help them desire to stay involved as they age.
> It provides something useful for the teens to do for a few days of summer break, so perhaps the parents can have a few hours of relief from hearing: I'm bored!
> It provides Service Hours for teens who need them for school or National Honor Society, and it can be done within a faith context which can enrich the volunteering experience.
> It is just fun to see the teens get into the music, stories, crafts and other activities of VBS!
> It is youth ministry as you are providing an opportunity for the teens to be involved (but it doesn't take another evening or weekend out of your schedule!) Consider the 8 components of Comprehensive youth Ministry.... The teens learn with the children (or perhaps learn more when they prepare to teach a lesson for the VBS). IF YOU CHOSE to have the teens stay over lunch for a discussion on how the morning went, you could then dig deeper into the topic/theme of the day on the adolescent level which would then bring catechesis into the session. Asking them how they saw Christ that morning allows for evangelization. Praying for the blessings of the day and the VBS kids incorporates prayer. The teens working with the younger kids and serving with older adults builds community life. Plus, they are offering service which is part of Justice and Service. Trying out new skills and helping them prepare to lead sessions are elements of leadership development, and their mere presence is a source of advocacy to those who see how they contribute to the community.
For those of you that do incorporate teens into your VBS, what other reasons might you add?
Just a reminder that teens should not be left solely responsible for minors, in complying with our Diocesan Child Protection Policy, a back-ground checked adult should be supervising. However, smaller groups can have teen facilitators that are supervised by an adult! Teens, with guidance and preparation can be great at leading music, crafts, discussions, and helping teach lessons, serve snacks, and organize games.
I was asked again recently, "What do I have to do for diocesan Child Protection certification or whatever it is called?"
So, I thought I'd post here what I shared (so you can share it with others who ask you!)
Our DCPP (Diocesan Child Protection Policy) compliance
begins with a 4 step process
to be done through one's parish/Catholic institution.
1. Read the Diocesan Child Protection Policy booklet (these are free and available through your parish/institution coordinator)
2. Sign and submit the booklet Authorization and Verification form to your parish/institution coordinator
3. Participate in a two-hour "Treasured Gifts from God" in-service
(dates and location are often listed in the monthly "Communique'" email (http://www.doy.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=100 )
4. Have your fingerprints done via webcheck at any Ohio location having the report sent to your parish/institution. (If you are new to Ohio, an FBI check will need to be done.)
After these 4 steps, and a "clean" fingerprinting report is received by the parish/institution, the DCPP administrator submits a checklist to the Office of the Chancellor. Once the individual is entered into the diocesan data-base, that adult is found to be in compliance and can chaperon/drive/volunteer with/serve youth.
Furthermore, for those serving in youth ministries, your parish/institution coordinator should be providing ongoing education in this area, perhaps more on recognizing signs of abuse, or how to create a safe environment, etc.
So long as you stay in continuous service at the same institution, there is currently no need for re-fingerprinting. However, should you change locations or go inactive more than one year, then you are required to start the process over again.
Our diocesan Chancellor is always available to assist as needed, just contact the diocese at 330-744-8451.
One of the biggest questions that seems to follow a "Treasured Gifts from God" or other Child Protection Policy related session is in regards to "Well, then what CAN we do besides seal ourselves off from kids?"
While we adults working with youth MUST be cautious and sincere about providing safe environments for the kids, we can still be pastoral and caring....we just have to think! We also need to help teens understand 'appropriate touch' as well for use not only with adults, but their peers and when they assist with smaller children.
Here is a basic list that we use for guidelines for diocesan youth events:
+ behaviors are generally* considered appropriate at youth events and activities:
- behaviors are generally considered inappropriate at youth events and activities:
* These are generalizations as each individual varies in comfort in regards to 'personal space' and we must do our best to read the signs/behaviors s/he displays.
Remember, the point of our restrictions is to help provide safe environments for youth. But the point of our ministry is to help pass on the faith and help youth know, love and serve our Triune God. That means there are times and reasons were appropriate touch are necessary! God realized that people need to engage our human senses, and this he sent Jesus as a real person -- one who we've heard touched people:
Matthew 8:1-4/ Mark 1:40-42, Luke 5:12-13 --The leper
Matthew 9:20-22 -- The hemmoraging woman
Matthew 20:29-34 -- The blind man
Luke 22:50-51 -- The high priest's servant
Matthew 9:23-26 -- The young dead girl
just to name a few. So, touch can be healing, comforting, and loving.
In our ministry settings, it should never forceful, scary, or intimidating.
Be the gentle hand of God...appropriately!
Today was the Center for Ministry Development Spring workshop, "Mobilizing Volunteers" at St. Joseph in Austintown, led by Ann Marie Eckert. While many of the participants walked out with many new ideas, planning tools, and inspiration, I think that one of the core ideas was that WE (as parish leaders, ministers, or facilitators) must invite our fellow Catholics to live their Baptismal Call by sharing their gifts with the community.
This means that we are NOT just recruiting new catechists, retreat cooks, dance chaperones, parent drivers, service project leaders and so on.....we are giving people the opportunity to share their talents....perhaps to utilize their professional expertise or to try something new....So we should not feel bad or shy about asking people to volunteer. We just may need to rethink HOW we ask and to what they are asked......
If you were at the workshop, what key insights did you appreciate?
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.