SCOYP -- Report of the Special Committee on Youth Programs to the UUA Board of Trustees

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I. About Local Groups

  • There is wide variety of youth progrgmming going on in our individual societies.
  • There is a feeling on the part of adults for a need of a greater sense of the relationship of youth programming to local societies.
  • There is evidence at the level of the local society of a strong need and desire for program support from the denomination.
  • The Committee notes the lack of youth input at the local level because of the nonexistence of a listing of local youth group contacts.

II. About Districts

  • There is evidence of a need for district organizations to assume responsibility for involvement in and knowledge of youth programming in their districts.
III. About the UUA

  • There is a strong need for a denominationally articulated rationale for youth programs and the disbursal of money to youth programs.
  • There is a strong need to state clearly and forcefully the relationship of youth programs to Unitarian Universalism with an emphasis on the 'religious' core in the program.
  • There is neither program or organization nor support from the demonination at the present time for junior high groups outside of RE, this notwithstanding that there are more junior high groups reported then either high school or LRY.
  • There is a need for strengthening the communication of information on good programming to groups and churches.
  • There is evidence of the need for a sense of continuity that programs and groups can be ongoing rather than engaged in a series of isolated and unrelated events.
  • There is a need to develop some adequate model for youth programming that will include local group programs, advisor training, district youth and adult relations, district youth and adult committees.
  • There are some Religious Education kits adaptable, to and for youth progrnmming, i.e., About Your Sexuality, Employing Your Total Self, Disagreements Which Unite Us, but they do not appear to be widely used.
  • There is a need for the UUA to assume an initiative in support for youth programs, to give evidence of the importance of youth programming in the life of the church and tht denomination. The UUA must take this initiative to demonstrate to the local churches evidence of denominational concern. Giving recognition to a youth caucus or providing m:Lnimal contact at the continental level does not seem to nurture programs or leadership at the local level.

IV. About Adults

  • Where there is evidence of adult interest, concern, involvement, sensitivity and continuity, there is also apt to be strong youth activity. Where there is neglect, noninvolvement, lack of adult concern or continuity, the programs are most apt to be weak or nonexistent.
  • There is little evidence of ministerial involvement in youth progrnmming and almost no evidence of ministerial involvement in youth programming beyond the local level. Ministers should be encouraged to increase involvement with and for youth programming and to help provide the religious/theological ditension to youth progrpmming.
  • There is a need for the identification, support, and training of competent adults to work with youth on both local and area levels and to help them with program ideas, the identification of the nature of an ideal youth program, exchange of experiences and the exploration and definition of the role of adults working with youth.
  • There is such a great need for adults willing to work with youth that many adults are involved for self-serving reasons, which can be unconstructive and manipulative.
V. About Youth Groups

  • 51% of the churches and fellowships responding to the 1977 UUA Annual Questionnaire as of September, 1977 reported having at least one youth group in their society (junior high, high school, or LRY). There were 281 junior high groups, 225 high school groups, and 155 LRY groups, for a total of 661 youth groups in churches and fellowships.
  • There are more programs/groups identified as high school (225) than were identified as LRY (155).
  • There are groups functioning with essentially LRY programs but refusing that label because of stigma attached with the name; likewise, there are groups labeling themselves as LRY groups but do not acknowledge a relationship to the other levels of LRY structure (I.e., federations, continental).
  • The LRY considers itself responsible for relating to LRY'ers (groups and individuals). Since there are a number of groups that are not related to LRY, there are a number of individuals and programs not receiving any denominational support at all.
  • Individual slimmer camps or conferences for youth are being planned and promoted and sponsored without relationship to any other organization, either youth or adult.
VI. About LRY

  • There are a significant number of churches and fellowships with youth programs that have no relationship or tie to continental LRY.
  • If there is only one group in a church, it is more apt to be an LRY group (73) than high school (40) or junior high (65).
  • There seems to be a lack of continuity in LRY continental programming due to an almost annual 100% turnover of LRY continental executive membership, coupled with a need to build on experience gained only by time in the office.
  • Federation leadership has a tendency to end up on the shoulders of a single person, with the consequence of perpetuating a "burned out" leadership syndrome.
  • From the perspective of the majority of adults, continental LRY does not now relate to nor does it seem to be serving the local level in progriamming.
  • There seems to be a weakening of ties between continental LRY, federation and local groups.
  • There remains a residue of hostility and antagonism in some places toward LRY.
VII. Some General Observations

  • There is evidence of a general feeling of aloneness, separation, removal--of being without direction at all levels of youth programming-local, area, federation, district, and continental.
  • There appeared as a result of responses received from districts and churches strong evidence of concern for youth programming (whether there is also strong motivation to help do something remains a question).
  • While there is evidence of a sense of drift and apathy and lack of meaning and vitality, at the same time there is also a sense of tremendous potential and of a hope for new beginnings and a desire to become enthusiastic.
  • If youth programs are to be developed and be significant to both youth and churches, it will not happen by the process of benign neglect.
  • There appears to be an absense of any particular "religious" dimension in youth programming or in many instances any comprehension of the sponsorship or relationship of those programs with a religious institution.
  • It is a need of youth to feel wanted by the adult community and to receive a sense of belongingness.
  • Undergirding our recommendations are-the assumptions that youth:
    • need to be able to think through the questions of meaning and life
    • need to be taken seriously and to be listened to as persons
    • need to have a support system that permits freedom within the group
    • need significant adults who understand how to work with youth, who listen but also retain their own strengths and values
    • need to live in the "real world"
    • need to have a sense of adventure and their own competence and to have their strengths affirmed
    • need to be understood and also to understand adults

VIII. Some Additional Identified Needs

  • There is a need to develop adequate models for youth programming that will include local group programs, advisor training, district youth and adult relations, district youth and adult committees.
  • There is evidence of need for help and support in the training of adults working with youth--to strengthen their skills and develop their understanding of their roles.
  • There is a need to bring continuity in youth activities from adults.
  • There is evidence of a strong desire and need for help and suggestions and support for programming.
  • There is a need for strengthening the comunication of information on good programming to groups and churches.


Translated from the original text document to HTML by Lorne Tyndale, YRUU Programmes Specialist September 1993 - August 1994

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