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

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In preparing our proposals for recommendations to the UUA Board, each member of the Committee drafted an individual proposal that was circulated to all members of the Committee. (These proposals are available in the proceedings of the Committee.) Viewpoints varied considerably (what else could be expected from UUs?); proposals ranged from recomendations for the continuation of the status quo in funding and programs to total discontinuation of funding for LRY and the establishment of UUA progrpmming for youth.

Through three days of meetings, the Committee examined each individual proposal, combining, adapting, adding and eliminating, in the process of preparing these proposals for presentation to the UUA Board.

I. OFFICE OF YOUTH PROGRAMS (concern for both Junior High and Senior High).

We recommend that an office of youth programs be established, with the following functions, staff, and budget.

A. Functions

  1. To develop and sponsor in cooperation with UUA Districts training seminars and workshops for adults working with youth. Such advisor workshops and seminars could include:

    • a. Role of adults working with UU Youth groups

    • b. Needs of adolescent youth (particularly as they relate to groups and to adults)

    • c. Relationship of youth groups to church or fellowship

    • d. Possible youth program development and examples

    • e. Ways to help youth and adults identify competent adults who can work with youth

    • f. Relationship of youth group to federation and wider UU organization

  2. To stimulate the development and production of printed resource material for youth groups and adult advisors and to conduct and sponsor workshops on resources for youth groups at district, religious education, and summer conferences.

  3. To develop a relationship to theological schools and the Independent Study Committee for religious education and min4.sterial candidates in order to provide background and training in youth programs for individuals entering fields of professional religious leadership within the UUA.

  4. To serve as denominational staff liaison to and with the LRY.

  5. To work with and serve as the Executive Secretary for the UUA Youth Adult Advisory Comittee.

  6. To provide consultation where possible with and for individual churches on youth programming.

B. Staff

  1. Position of Associate Director for Youth Programming to be within the Departnent of Ministerial and Congregational Services -- the Education Section.

  2. Full-time secretarial support.

C. Proposed Budget

1. Salary of Associate Director for Youth Program and Benefits $21,000
2. Secretarial and Benefits 9,000
3. Travel5,500
4. Office expenses, publication and program workshop expenses 5,000
Total: $40,500


The SCOYP reconized that the present Youth / Adult Committee of the UUA Board has responsibility for demoninational contact with both high school and college age programs.

We recommend that the focus of the Youth /Adult Committee be narrowed in its concept to youth generally of high school age and that the UUA Board establish another means for denominational contact with and for college age persons.

This recommendation represents a significant change in the nature of the Youth/Adult Committee, a change that we believe is critical to the support of youth programs for the denomination.

A. Functions of Continental Youth/Adult Committee

  1. To be advisory to the Associate Director for Youth Programs.

  2. To serve as program and training resource to youth group advisors (for example, G.A. Workshops)

  3. To be responsible for recommending to the UUA Board of Trustees, on an annual basis, action on an itemized budget for youth programs (youth to be generally of high school age). The total amount should be no greater than the amount recommended to the. Board by the Finance Committee.

  4. To be responsible for evaluating the existing denominational youth programs (high school) so that the Association's money is spent wisely and effectively.

  5. To be advisory to youth programs (for those generally of high school age), activities and organizations within the UUA.

  6. To gather and disseminate information on youth progrnmming when necessary and/or appropriate.

  7. To contract with LRY following LRY's decision-making process regarding the expectations of closer interaction between adult UUs, the UUA, and LRY members and groups.

  8. To provide a model for District Youth Activities Committees.

  9. To be in contact with and support of UUA District Youth Activities Committees.

  10. To meet a minimum of three times a year.

B. Membership

Membership on the Committee shall be made up of eight members--four adults and four youth-with consideration given to the following qualifications and categories:

  • adults who have demonstrated expertise in adolescent development and youth work

  • commitment to denominational youth activities

  • participation in LRY at the local and federation levels

  • a UUA Board of Trustees member

  • professional religious leadership presence

  • broad geographic representation shall be taken into account when appointing the members of the Committee

    C. Budget

    Meetings $7,000
    Publications$ 500
    $ 7,500


    The Committee's recommendations regarding denominational financial support for the Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) evolved from the following observations and perspective:

    The history of Unitarian and Universalist youth movements spans many decades of growth and change. The current youth organization, Liberal Religious Youth, is the product of a merger of groups that preceded merger in the adult denominations by seven years. LRY and its predecessors have been the vehicle for personal growth for many young people, and they have provided a starting point for many of our denominational leaders. In the face of this, it comes as a blow that LRY is currently held in disfavor or ignored by a majority of our churches and fellowships, that it does not represent anything approaching a majority of UU teenagers, and that many locals have little progrpmmatic or guiding philosophy that can be called Unitarian Universalist in intent, even though the continental LRY charter does have such.

    An important guiding principle for a denominational youth movement should be a strong connectedness to Unitarian Universalism. The Comittee believes that a denominational youth organization should examine, espouse, and live the ideals of our religion. A strong argument could be made for complete withdrawal of denominational funding for LRY, and for funding a new group with a clearer denominational identity (i.e., Unitarian Universalist Youth). Such a change might clear the way for renewed interest and support from ministers and church or fellowship leaders who view the name "LRY" as a red flag.

    Such an action, however, would be a withdrawal of commitment to those young people who struggle to make LRY a productive organization. The Committee feels these young people need to be encouraged and supported, and, while not recomending a name change, urges that it be considered.

    Peter Drucker, in The Age of Discontinuity, noted:

      "Young people in the society of organizations (today's society) need systematic information on how to make organizations serve their own purposes, values, and aspirations. They will have to learn organization as their forefathers learned farming." (pp. 259-260)

    An effective youth group helps its members to face organizational and institutional realities, to assume full and responsible participation in denominational affairs, and to develop the idea of accountability for one's actions. This implies the nurturing of decision making abilities.

    The Committee recommends that our denomination adopt strategies for the development of a youth organization with the characteristics defined in . .the position papers and noted above. The Committee makes no specific suggestions, since such changes will have to come through a joint effort of youth and adults.

    The Committee has specific recommendations relating to denominational financial support of LRY. Our study indicates that the continental executive committee, as presently constituted, is not entirely representative of LRY local interests, is frequently out of contact with locals, and is frequently in itself a discouraging experience for the exec officers. The Committee recommends that financial support for the LRY officers in Boston be discontinued and that funds allocated to LRY be designated as support for continental LRY Board meetings, leadership and program planning workshops (including travel), dues to international organizations, and/or other purposes that LRY may designate.

    The Committee further recommends that LRY develop expenditure guidelines for presentation to the Youth/Adult Comittee before funds are allocated. The Committee urges LRY to consider maintaining its continental executive officers in various locales, and that these individuals promote much closer contact between themselves and the federations.

    The Committee reminds all congregations that LRY itself initiated the formation of the Special Committee on Youth Programs, and strongly urges that all congregational leaders take an active role in making denominational action on youth affairs a top priority.


    Allocation to the Liberal Religious Youth for programs listed above$ 20,000


    We recommend that all Districts establish a District Youth Activities Committee (with equal number of youth and adults and with appropriate budget). The purpose of the Committee would be:

    1. Sponsorship of advisor training workshops

    2. Support for and advice to districts/area youth activities, including LRY federations

    3. To help as resources for local churches in development of youth programs at the local level

    4. To be familiar with program resources and leadership available for youth progrqmming

    5. To serve as trouble shooters where and when called upon

    6. To be responsible for extending and strengthening existing youth programs

    7. To aid in the recruitment, train:ing, and confirmation of LRY federation advisors

    8. To participate with and support inter-district field work teams, and actively to encourage their use


    We recommend that a resource bank of people with demonstrated skill in working with youth and adults be appointed. These people would be appointed by the Interdistrict Council with the assistance of the I.D.R. and would have the support and resource skills of the Continental Youth Adult Committee available to them.

    A. Functions:

    1. To train people interested in making a serious commitment to youth activities within our denomination. Areas of investigation could include:

      • a. essentials of adolescent growth and development

      • b. basics of counseling and advising teenagers

      • c. adolescent sexuality

      • d. communication skills

      • e. goal setting and problem solving

      • f. values clarification

      • g. successful group progrqmming

    2. To provide an intensive training workshop at an interdistrict level for selected youth workers from each district. These people could then return to their districts and act as resources for local societies and area councils.

    3. To be available to districts for the conducting of workshops focused on youth concerns and the needs of adults working with youth, at the request of the District Board of Trustees.

      • a. To provide an opportunity for youth leadership and adult youth workers to experience learning and working together in a process-focused setting.

      • b. To introduce youth leaders and advisors to the various programs within our denomination that are available to youth:

          (1) Youth service projects and summer camps
          (2) UU Service Committee projects
          (3) Dept. of Education multi-media kits

    B. Membership of "Resource Bank"

    1. Team members must be people skilled in areas relating to youth as well as to group organization.

    2. Members should have a proven track record of successful experiences in relating to UU young people within a group setting.

    3. Members should have credibility with the adults as well as with youth.


    It is expected that the services of the Youth Program Field Work Tean members.will be volunteered. Transportation, housing, child-care, or any other expenses incurred by their participation on the Field Work Team would be paid by the fees of the workshop participants or their district or local society.


      "Thank someone for being that one. Walk with them to the center of a place and back again singing a little song. Burn something. "

    The first question that we must ask ourselves -- society, district, or denomination -- is: "Why do we do it?" Decisions about specific youth programs, about what they will be like, about the distribution of money, about staffing and training, cannot really be addressed until we have answered this first question. One clear theme in response to the work of the SCOYP was that we have no real sense of purpose about program for high school people. Folks of all generations within the denomination need to converse and to confront the reality that if it is worth investing money in our youth, it is worth taking the time to invest it wisely and well. We cannot do that until we have resolved same fundamental issues, all of them responsive to the question: "Why do we do it?" We need to determine:

    • if what we offer individually and denominationally is meaningful, useful, and of interest to youth.
    • if we care, don't care, or oppose the notion of a youth program, funded by UUA, that has little or no connection to the larger body.
    • if we want to put energy into a program or structure that is not specifically helpful to youth who are maturing into a difficult and increasingly complex world.
    • if we care whether or not our youth remain in the denomination or leave it.
    • if the adult community is effectively willing to assume a long abdicated responsibility to their youth.
    • if the youth are effectively willing to resume a long abdicated responsibility to the larger body.

    Until we have entered this conversation or dialogue, it is doubtful if anything we fund will be really satisfying. We are concerned about the many questions.raised by youth and adults in every level of the denomination, but only briefly considered within this report. We feel strongly that these more philosophical questions, or ethical questions, should be discussed broadly within the denomination by the largest number possible.

    Therefore, this recommendation of SCOYP to the Board is designed to facilitate the process of dialogue in hopes that purposeful and lasting youth programs will evolve and remain strong.

    In consideration of the above and of the proposal that follows, we wish to stress the importance of the following:

    1. First, we cannot deny the ill-favor that LRY has fallen into. The LRY itself is in disarray; reports from the Federations bear this out. Feds report numbers dropping, scattered leadership, interest diminishing, and organizational decay. Churches express anger, concern, distaste.
    2. Second, we cannot deny the abdication of adult responsibility for youth program. Very few societies report successful youth program of any kind. The greatest wish was to do something, only few societies seemed to have an idea about what it was that should be done. Many wanted the UUA to take the initiative. We believe profoundly that results will come only from dealing with this problem on a large scale. And it is a problem -- deep rooted and not to be resolved by the few.
    3. Third, the creative, great commitment to the future comes from the greatest labor and participation by the greatest number. Interest will come by doing, and that can be an important beginning.
    4. Fourth, it is important to take the time and to spend the money to do what we do well. Thoughtful interaction is essential to the process.
    5. Fifth, and perhaps most important, is that all parts of the denomination must be heard -- youth, adults, and elders. A critical and unmeasurably large part of the DIALOGUE will be hearing each other, and we suspect the effect of that will reach beyond youth program into our societies and our denomination.

    General Outline

    The Dialogue would be entered into three times over a two-year period: first, on the local level; next, on the District level; and finally, on the denominational level.

    A. Local Dialogue

      The local Dialogue would take place between October and May of the first year. It would take place in every fellowship and society possible, several times during the year. Societies would attempt to include every spectrum of age -- junior high, senior high, college age, adults, and elders. It would be open to all who wished to participate; larger churches might choose to move from neighbourhood dialogue to a larger congregational dialogue.

      The conversations would address the general question, "Why do we do it?" in such a way as to give articulation and direction to future youth program. They would explore and begin to define the relationship of UUA youth to the larger body, and vice - versa, considering what youth program frameworks will allow the greatest flexibility and still preserve the integrity of a denominational program.

      Hopefully, the Dialogues will be facilitated by people with experience and expertise in group work, within the congregation. Following the Dialogues, a team of adults and youth would be selected to participate in the District Dialogue.

      Budget: $00.00

    B. District Dialogue

      The District Dialogue would take place between October and May of the second year and would span a two - or three - day time period. It would be held at a central, convenient location in the District where hospitality would be provided to participants. It would include adult and youth representatives from societies within the District. We suggest that this Dialogue replicate the model being developed in the Greenspon proposal funded by the UUA Board and using the Interdistrict Field Teams, should the Board choose to advise them.

      The District Dialogue would be focused on developing and strengthening leaders and leadership skills, effecting communications, ard building communications skills. It would be the Durpose of the Dialogue workshops to train, rather than to converse on topics. It may be that Districts will select representatives to the Cortirnental Dialogue from among the participants of the workshops.

      It will be helpful for Districts to locate and recruit volunteers from their churches and fellowships who will work as trainers for the workshops. High quality trainers will be of great importance, and trainers should be prepared to meet with the Interdistrict Team to work through the training design.

      Every effort would be made for diversity of age among participants. Therefore, accurate information from District to churches would be essential. Every fellowship and church would be contacted and encouraged to participate following their local dialogue. Diversity of experience would be important, as would the ability to articulate ideas and think creatively.

      In addition to communications skills, training in futures would be a desireable component of the Dialogue training. Training for leadership, in both youth and adults, together and separately, would be an important focus -- it was one of the most strongly expressed requests in responses to SCOYP.

      The organizational aspects of the Dialogue would be implemented by District YAC'S.

      Budget: for local churchs and fellowships, transportation expense of participants in Dialogue; for Districts, food expenses of participants and minimal program expenses such as pader, markers, flyers, etc.

    C. Continental Dialogue

      This would take place in June or July of the second year for a five - to seven-day period. It would be held in an outdoor residence setting within the northeast, preferably owned within the denomination. The site use for the duration of the Dialogue would be donated if possible.

      Food services would be provided, the cost to be absorbed by the UUA. Transportation subsidies, provided by the UUA, would be along guidelines recommended for GA.

      Facilitators, in a ratio of ten to one, would be recruited as volunteers if possible, with food and transportation costs provided. Interested clergy would be a valuable resource.

      Each District would send five representatives to the Dialogue. The Dialogue agenda would be built from suggestions from District and local Dialogues; topics might include:

      • use of drugs and alcohol, noting and speaking of double standards for youth and adults.
      • participation, support, and responsibility of adults and YAC's in the efforts of LRY and all youth programs.
      • participation of LRY in developing strategy or praxis to move toward the larger body.
      • how we can get to know and hear each other.
      • explanation of our relationship to each other.

      Continental Dialogue would seek all ages, as in local and District Dialogue.

      Continental Dialogue would hire a Director to administer, help, and train staff for the event.

      The Continental Dialogue's prime purpose would be to develop a position statement from which the broadest range of denominational youth activities could be affirmed or designed and program recommendations made. Specific findings and recommendations would be passed on to the existing structure (staff, YAC, LRY, other youth groups, Districts, and local groups) for implementation. Youth staff and denominational YAC, and the Dialogue Director, will be responsible for planning, promoting, administering, and evaluating the event.

      UUA Budget:

        Transportation Subsidy for Dialogue meeting $12,000
        Food and administrative costs for Dialogue $3,000
        Administrative overhead $2,000
        Program and office supplies $1,200
        Continental Dialogue Director, 2-month salary $1,800
        Total $20,000

      There would also be supportive contributions from individual societies and groups as well as Districts.

      Continental Dialogue Director - Job Description

      Accountability and Responsibility

      Accountable to the UUA YAC through the Youth Staff member, and responsible for all administrative and functional aspects of the Continental Dialogue.

      General Responsibilities:

      1. Assist in planning with YAC and YSM.
      2. Recruit necessary volunteer and paid staff for the event. Supervise staff during the event. Conduct staff meeting.
      3. Assist in promotion of the event and interpretation of it as needed.
      4. Responsible for health, safety, and legal standards during the event.
      5. Evaluation and reports.
      6. Attend YAC meetings as required.
      Job Requirements

      1. Experience in directing camp, including functional services.
      2. Experience in UUA and with youth in UUA.
      3. Experience and capacity to interpret, promote, and organize a new project/event,
      4. Maturity, sound judgment, sense of humor, and good health.
      5. Drivers license and car.
      6. Experience in interviewing and hiring.
      Salary: $1,800 for two - month period, first month for 20 hours per week, second month full time.


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

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