Operating On All Cylinders

A Rock Solid Teen Center can get by with a minimum number of staff. But there is nothing better than a fully staffed center that is “running on all cylinders.”

A Rock Solid Teen Center can get by with a minimum number of staff. But there is nothing better than a fully staffed center that is “running on all cylinders.” You need at least two people to open, provided you have security cameras throughout the building that save to a hard drive. You can probably monitor a group of up to 25 young people and provide limited programming.

If you have a third person, someone at the Welcome Desk to monitor check-in and check-out is invaluable. Suddenly, requiring youths to register becomes much more attainable. Registrations are critical so that you have emergency contact information, income level data for procuring grants, an agreement that the youths know and understand the rules, approval to take photos, and background check information for parents who would like to volunteer. Combined with a finger or other biometric scanner, check-in and check-out can be simple and accurate.

Adding a fourth person to head up tutoring would add significant value to your center. Due to the COVID shutdown, many students and schools are playing catchup, and many schools are under pressure to lower their standards. For more information on tutoring, check out this blog post.

Many, if not most, children come from broken homes.  Offering mentoring can help fill the void of a missing parent. Mentors are encouraged to spend time together with students, including involvement in activities and eating together.

Having someone in charge of food preparation can help you expand your food options and free up other volunteers to focus on relationships with the kids. Rock Solid Teen Center provides a basic menu of tasty and easy-to-prepare food items that can be stored in a freezer for a significant amount of time. A Food Coordinator who can expand food options and prepare healthier foods will make both the kids and parents or guardians happier.

An Activities Coordinator can focus on sports and other organized games for both fun and structure. Activities can also include having special speakers or presenters come in and provide active learning possibilities. If volunteers have something unique to offer, they may be able to use their talent to engage and provide educational opportunities for students. Possibilities range from cooking classes to science experiments. The possibilities are endless.

Esports is gaining popularity at a rapid rate. My article on Esports addresses some of the benefits of an Esports program. Having someone with the necessary skills can be a real attraction for your center.

It’s important every evening to spend at least ten minutes in a group event, which may include singing, a brief video, drama, or a short message that addresses character-building and faith issues. For adults who have a special interest or talent, sharing it with the group could benefit all. Possibilities could range from teaching the playing of an instrument to dancing lessons.

A very important task is to take photos to capture moments when youths are enjoying themselves, volunteering, participating in a service project, or being tutored. The challenge is to make certain that everyone in the photo is registered and has the approval of their parents/guardians to have their photo taken. People like to see pictures of real people, and not just graphics or photos of places.

Setting up and taking down may not be very exciting, but maybe someone you know has an aptitude for building cleanup, care, and maintenance. Having someone handling these responsibilities frees up others to focus on kids and programming.

Finally, every youth center is as good as its leadership. People who serve on the Board who have leadership abilities and connections to the community can be the difference between an average center and one that makes a powerful impact on the community.

These are just some of the possibilities for a teen center. But I hope you get the idea: Having more quality adult leaders will result in a higher quality of teen center programming.

In service to Christ,

Mark Eastway

Board President, Rock Solid Teen Center

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