May and June are so full of many important events and celebrations for youth and families. They may include confirmation, rites of passage for students (including proms, music concerts, sports award night, or graduation), Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, end of the year parties, and let’s not forget finals.
Many of these occur during a weekend. This usually means that my youth and their families are not attending church or youth group much during these months. This can cause a lot of conflict for the families and for us.
I have stopped fighting the craziness. I realize now that inclusion comes in all different forms. So the question is how to stay in touch with the youth when I don't lay eyes on them...
I use snail mail a lot! I tend to stay away from high tech except for invites or reminders of youth events. I like to send cards with a long note from me. Cards, letters, and even a real conversation over the phone mean a lot. I also send hard copies of photos in cards too since these days youth often do not have "real" photos.
If the youth live close by, I will drop off a" finals goody bag." This gives me a chance to check in with the families to see how they are surviving and to let them know that we are praying for all of them. I also ask the parents if they want to meet for coffee of a beer or I ask the youth to join me for ice cream. I am amazed how often they say, "Yes please!"
I really enjoy these one on one times with youth and parents outside of the group. It helps keep them feeling an active part of the youth group/church during this crazy time. When a family of youth does not or cannot fit a visit in, then I keep the cards or calls going. It is often a few months later that I hear how much all of the outreach meant to them. That is inclusion!