It may come as a surprise but the Army has designed and built youth centers for quite some time, and they have very specific standards of what should be included in such a center. With years of experience, they can provide helpful guidance regarding youth centers. Here is a list of areas they require: Lobby/Central Counter/Reception Desk, Patron/Visitor Waiting Area, Director’s Office, Administrative Office Space, Copy File Room, Staff Lounge and Training Room, Staff/Visitors Restrooms, Technology Lab, Homework Center, Activity Room(s) – General and Specific, Commons/Gathering Area, Snack Bar / Culinary Arts Area, Multi-Purpose Room, Storage Rooms, Sports Director’s Office, Laundry Room, Teen Room Lounge, Patio, Male/Female Toilets for Youth, Janitorial Closet, Vision Panels, Intercom System, Video Monitoring System/CIosed Circuit Television (CCTV), Video Monitoring Equipment Room, Outdoor Activity Area, Parking, Exterior Lighting, Service Road/Drive, Controlled Entry Access, HVAC, Mechanical [Electrical Room, CATV (Cable Television), Communication Room, and Drinking Fountains.
Needless to say, the size and cost of such a facility are prohibitive for most churches and small towns. Let’s do what we do best: boil it down to the essentials and simplify.
- A central Multi-Purpose Room can include all of the following:
- Lobby/Central Counter/Reception at the front door.
- Commons/Gathering Area.
- Homework Center (Set aside specific days and times when no other activities are taking place).
- Teen Room Lounge.
- Activity Room (Limited to non-sport events).
- Technology Lab (Limit to specific days and times).
- Patron/Visitor Waiting Area (They can wait inside the door, near the check-in table).
- Controlled Entry Access (All other doors have emergency alarms).
- Communication Room (Every multi-purpose room should have a stage).
- Administrative Office Space
- Director’s Office
- Sports Director’s Office (Generally, in a small youth center, sports will fall under the Director’s umbrella).
- Video Monitoring System
- Snack Bar
- Culinary Arts Area
- Building Exterior
- Exterior Lighting
- Patio (Optional).
- Outdoor Activity Area (Optional).
- Drinking fountain (Optional. Always have drinks available in the café).
- Sound System
- Intercom System
- Sports Activity Room
- Activity Room (Limit to sports and movement activities).
- Storage Room (Centrally located)
- Janitorial Closet
- Mechanical/Electrical Room
- These rooms/features/facilities are unnecessary:
- Copy File Room (Everything is now cloud-based).
- Staff Lounge and Training Room (Have staff meetings and training events outside of youth center hours).
- Staff/Visitors Restrooms (Everyone can use the same restrooms).
- Laundry Room (An unnecessary luxury).
- Vision Panels (Unnecessary with open design and security cameras throughout the building).
- CIosed Circuit Television/ Cable TV (Wi-Fi makes this unnecessary).
- HVAC (Simple and economical options are addressed in the “Save on Heating and Cooling with Smart Design blog).
- Service Road/Drive (Exterior access can be simplified).
In short, the setup of a small to medium size youth center can be simplified with multiple uses of space and flexible scheduling. By making these changes to the basic Army design you can offer all of the same activities while being a better steward of your resources and creating a smaller ecological footprint.
In service to Christ,