Before talking with youth about “hot” topics and creating a group covenant, it is essential for Adult Leaders to be united and prepared to respond to the challenges that might arise. Adult Leaders need to be unified in their stance on the topics and know why they have made the decisions. Even if the Adult Leaders are not in 100% agreement on the issue, it is important to present a unified front to the youth. Disagreements between Adult Leaders (which will happen) should happen behind closed doors with no youth present.
In this initial discussion with all of the Adult Leaders, focus on finding out about your team and discovering the common principles you would like to follow, rather than trying to think of every possible scenario. You can “what if…” until the end of time. Think about principles rather than scenarios. Also determine if your congregation already has a set policy in place on any of these issues. Pre-determined policies will make the discussions easier, but it is still important that all adult leaders attending the gathering understand the policy and reasoning.
Example of how to explore a “hot” topic:
Topic: Electronics – usage of personal devices, smart/cell phones, iPod/iPad, Mp3 player, and other electronics
- What are the potential advantages of allowing them?
- Opportunity to build relationships with the youth through finding out what music they listen to, what games they like, etc.
- Ease of communication with cell phones
- Enhancing the experience, as some sessions could be “interactive” with texting, Twitter, etc.
- What are the potential challenges of allowing them?
- Potential for property loss or theft
- Lack of community building because everyone is in their own world
- Interruptions on cell phones / Distractions to others
- Lack of focus on the Gathering because of what is happening at home
- Inappropriate use/posting on social media – confidentiality/privacy of others on what is shared
- What parameters do you want to give both the youth and adults so that community is built and everyone understands the expectations?
- Set times for when the group is allowed to use their devices
- Collect cell phones at specific times during Gathering
- Only Adult Leaders will use their devices
Other topics you might want to explore (but aren’t limited to):
- Expectations of youth and adults pre-Gathering
- Rules and conduct while traveling
- Staying in groups (how many in a group, and when do you need an adult)
- Dress Code
- Appropriate behavior with opposite sex (especially if there are any couples in your group)
- Response to broken rules
- Alcohol and nicotine use by those of legal age
- Spending money (how much and how is it controlled)
- What to do in case of emergency