Youth Groups and COVID-19

Conversation | Karen Mitchell Lambert | 22nd June 2020

Yeah!! Our Youth Group can get back together!!! Yeah? – before you get too excited there is a whole bunch of work you need to do!

For every group that meets face to face you need a Covid plan. You can find details about that at the Synod website.

Once you have done the plan you need it approved by Church Council, they are responsible for all plans for any groups. Church Council are your best support, they are a bunch of extra eyes that can help you see things you might have missed.

You need to know this is serious, even though young people are low risk they are still able to be carriers. COVID can stay on surfaces if they are not cleaned properly, putting other members of your community at risk. Just think of the older members of your congregation who have been faithful prayer support, donators to your fundraising, by doing the right thing, you are caring for them.

You also need to know if you get caught breaking the plan, not having a plan or not implementing the plan there are serious fines both for the congregation ($10,000+) and individuals ($1000+). I know it seems like a lot of effort and we haven’t see too many cases in NSW ACT but we can see from Victoria that it doesn’t take much for it to get out of control. What you do matters!

Questions you need to consider when you are organising your plan:

How you are going to track who has been there?

How you will maintain social distancing when you are together (no hugging, no touching, no singing, 1.5m apart)?

How many people you can have in your space, the Church Council will know the answer to this. (what are you going to do if more people turn up)

How do you minimise exposure?

How you will make sure that everything is cleaned both before and after?

What cleaning options you will provide for keeping people safe (hand sanitizers)?

Food prep and planning or will you have food at all?

How will you protect your volunteers? Your volunteers can not over 70 or be people over 60 who are high risk. You still need to maintain safe Church leader numbers and expectations and those leaders are included in the number allowed in the space.

How you will communicate clearly what the plan is and how it is going to work?

What is the plan if someone from your group is infected and has exposed others and the site?

Now that I have scared the world out of you here’s some ideas about what you can do!

Get creative with the group’s favourite games!

How can you adapt the favourite games into a COVID safe option? At one school they have adapted Heads Down Thumbs Up to Heads Down Feet out so rather than touching hands, you are using feet to touch.

Flour Bomb Capture the flag, instead of tips you have to throw the flour bomb at people, if you hit them they end up in gaol if they are caught breaking social distancing, in goal. Gaol could be a series of seats set a wide distance apart.

One youth groups favourite game is Honey if you love me will you give a kiss, Covid adapted the idea is to get down on one knee in front of the other person (about 1.5m ) and sub in something else for the kiss and the proposal that will make them laugh if they laugh they are in and it is their turn.

What problem solving games can you do that requires them to work together without necessarily touching each other?  We would love to hear your ideas.

Social Justice activities!

In coming weeks things are going to get even tougher for people, you could have a beanie/ scarf knitting night, get someone from the congregation to come and teach the group and make something for a homeless person.

One youth group had a shopping night, everyone brought $5 the teams were divided into groups of 4 and they had to go through the supermarket and create as many healthy options as possible out of the money they have. The group who made the most won, food was donated to the local mission. You could ask one of the missions if they could have someone zoom in and talk about the work they are doing.

Card making and letter writing, how could the group support and encourage those people in the congregation who are isolated due to vulnerability and ill health? How has their time in Covid helped them understand more of what it is like for others.

Be outside!

What activities could you do outside? Firepit and toasting marshmallows, each person gets their own collection of marshmallows, sorted beforehand, bring / find their own toasting stick. (Make sure you have thought through all the safety issues and have adequate supervision)

Photo chase where every photo must have everyone appropriate social distancing. (I have the beatles album cover in my head!) Chalk chases would work as well.

LAN parties!

What games could you play together online yet being in the same place? Could you make a Minecraft world together or create a biblical animation? If you want to have a switch night don’t forget to wipe down the handsets between turns.

Food!

Of course hand washing / sanitizing is essential. Food is an important part of building community, it gives us time to sit and be together, making space to really be present together. What are some other ways you could be present?

If you are going to eat together, provide people with individual servings of the snacks and drinks or get people to bring their own.

If you are going to serve something, give everyone their own plate and one person puts things on their plate with a set of tongs or serving spoon or ladle.

Do not forget you have to clean anything you use!

I know this is a lot and it is ok if right now it is too much for you to do, maybe think about other ways you can connect with your young people. We know that COVID is having a massive effect on the Mental Health of young people, they do need your support.

You are not alone in this, rely on your Church Council to help, make them your allies you never know how it could help you into the future. The PULSE team and the Synod COVID team is here to support you too, sing out if we can help.

Thanks for the amazing way you are serving God and supporting young people. You are a legend!



Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.