YRUU A Five-Year Review of Programs for Youth 1989 - Age Range Findings

YRUU Five Year Review

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YRUU 5 Year Review - III - Findings and Recommendations

B. Age range Findings

Our committee was asked by both the Youth Council and the Religious Education Advisory Committee (REAC) to study the question of the YRUU age range. Our surveys also indicate widespread concern about this issue.

The current 12-to-22-year-old age range dates from the first Common Ground conference, which recommended that "the UUA establish a youth organization that serves youth 12 to 22 years." YRUU was originally envisioned as an umbrella organization with " separate programs for junior high, Senior high and post-high school." (Footnote 7) The second Common Ground conference, which adopted the original YRUU bylaws, defined "Members of Young Religious Unitarian Universalists" as "youth 12 years through 22 years of age." The reference to "separate programs" was lost. (Footnote 8)

This result was a product more of compromise than of shared vision. Some foresaw an integrated youth community encompassing a broad age range; others expected YRUU to work mainly at the continental level, providing services through the UUA Youth Staff to age-separate local and district programs, with different programs tailored for different age ranges; still others supported the board age range as a temporary response to the lack of UUA services for junior high and post-high youth.

The concept of membership is ambiguous in the YRUU bylaws. Membership now includes "youth from 12 to 22," (Footnote 9) but no provision is made for joining, dues, or an official membership list. We have found confusion and disagreement as to whether the 12-to-22-year-old age group should be served by a single program or by separate programs for junior-. senior-, and post-high youth, and about what age ranges should apply to local, district, and continental youth programs.

The 1987 Youth Council received a proposal from one of its "working groups" that would have reduced the age range from 12 to 20 years old with the provision that Youth Staff positions would be open to 20-year-old applicants. After considerable discussion, action was postponed until this committee could report.

Our recommendations on this issue are guided by the following additional findings:

  • 1. Our survey shows that most local congregations large enough to do so provide separate programs for junior-, senior-, and post-high youth.

  • 2. Our reading of current literature on the developmental tasks of youth and youth ministry, as well as our interviews with youth, ministers, directors of religious education, and other leaders, confirms the need for and value of age-appropriate programs.

  • 3. We found the great majority of those who attend YRUU continental events to be of high-school age and older, with a small minority of junior highers. While some junior higher had had a good experience with continental events, most had felt overwhelmed.

  • 4. We believe that one factor that limits junior highers' participation in YRUU conferences is their parents' reluctance to let them attend a conference that includes much older youth.

  • 5. We found that most district conferences which tried to serve the 12-to-22-year-old age range experienced difficulties because of the different interests of youth. Their different levels of social development made it especially difficult for the youth to abide by one set of behavior guidelines.

  • 6. We found little junior-high programming in most districts and clusters. We believe junior higher would benefit from separate conferences, camps, and rallies to introduce them to the larger world of junior-high UU youth. Some districts have already separated their programs for junior and senior higher with success.


We have arrived at the following recommendations after consideration of the above findings and after much thought and consultation:

  • 1. We recommend that it be the primary mission of YRUU to provide programs appropriate for high school aged youth.

  • 2. We recommend that all young people between the ages of 14 and 20 years who attend local, district, or continental YRUU activities. or who are in sympathy with YRUU principles and purposes, be invited to consider themselves members of YRUU.

  • 3. We believe that since the "primary function of the continental level of YRUU [is to] assist District and local member groups," (Footnote 10) formal or legal membership by individuals is neither appropriate nor necessary.

  • 4. We recommend that the maximum age for youth at the time of election to local, district, and continental YRUU offices, including Youth Staff positions, be 20 years.

  • 5. We recommend that the positions of at-large youth representatives to the Youth Council be eliminated, and that the REAC representative be made a voting member of the Youth Council. This would restore the three-to-one ratio of youth to adults (24 to 8) on the Youth Council.

  • 6. We recommend that the Youth Representatives to the Steering Committee be elected from the proposed 14-to-20-year-old age range.

  • 7. We recommend that the current in practice minimum age of 25 years for youth advisors be continued, and that the YRUU bylaws be amended to reflect this policy. (For bylaw amendments to carry out Recommendations 1 through 5, see under "Implementation" below)

  • 8. We see a need for more groups and programs for post-high youth. We urge local congregations, metropolitan areas, camps and conferences, and campus ministries (with support from the proposed UUA Office on Young Adults) to provide such programs. We affirm the importance of the UU Young Adults Network and urge it to include the immediate post-high age group in its plans and programs. We encourage YRUU to assist its older members in their transition from YRUU to the above-mentioned groups and activities.

  • 9. We recommend that major attention be given by the UUA as well as by local congregations, clusters, and districts, to providing programs for junior highers, ages 12 to 14 years, with emphasis on:
    • a. Articulating models of balanced and age-appropriate programming,
    • b. Training teachers and advisors in appropriate leadership styles for junior high,
    • c. Formulating guidelines for cluster and district programs for junior highers,
    • d. Forming district structures to support and conduct junior-high rallies and conferences, and
    • e. Providing training for persons working with junior-high groups, at rallies, camps, and conferences
    • f. Preparing junior highers for the transition into YRUU.

  • 10. To implement the above goals, we recommend that the UUA add a Junior-High Program Director to the religious education staff, and provide program and travel funds for this position. This would also free the Youth Programs Director to concentrate on serving high-school youth.

  • 11. While we have recommended that the YRUU age range be reduced, we think interaction across age boundaries can be valuable. We recommend that the Youth Office collect and promote successful models of mentoring and leadership in which older youth work with younger youth in local groups, district programs, and summer camps and conferences. As separate programs for junior-high, senior-high, and post-high youth are established, we encourage the Youth Office to explore and share appropriate modes of interaction.

7. Common Ground Report 1981, p. 13. (See Online!) Emphasis added. [BACK]

8. Common Ground Report 1982, p. 15. (See Online!) The original YRUU bylaws were ambiguous about membership. They define "Members" as individual youth (Article III, section 1), but elsewhere refer to "members and member groups" (II, 1), "affiliated groups," and "individual participants" (III,2). This ambiguity has not been eliminated by subsequent amendments. [BACK]

9. YRUU Bylaws, Article III [BACK]

10. YRUU Bylaws, Article II. [BACK]


Translated from the original text document to htm by Lorne Tyndale, YRUU Programmes Specialist September 1993 - August 1994. The document was on lryer.org. I have placed the document on this site as I've been notified that lryer.org appears to be down.

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