Ideas for low attendance for youth summer ministries.

Any ideas for keeping kids coming to your youth ministries over the summer? When I was a teen the fondest memories of youth group came from the summer ministries. Summer seems to open up a lot of doors for outreach and discipleship. But apparently, out here in Denver, the summer ministries really struggle in attendance and involvement. Our attendance has been MORE THAN CUT IN HALF over the summer. And the teens that do come are different every week. We were pulling 40-50 in the middle of the school year. As soon as summer hit we could be at 25 one week and 10 the next. And the group of 10 will be almost altogether different from the group of 25.

I had hoped that since there is a lot more time on teen's hands during the summer we could get more ministry accomplished. But getting them to come out to meetings, and even our "fun and happenin" activities have been proven very difficult. I never like for attendance to dictate what I do and don't do. In fact, I break the typical mold when it comes to activities. I shy away from too many. My desires is not to fill seats, but to disciples teens. However I have sincerely missed some of our students who have dropped off the face of the earth. I had also hoped to be able to reach some more kids of our community since there summer seems to provide a lot of opportunity for that - perhaps I'm wrong.

Any ideas that you as youth leaders or youth pastors have had for summer ministries? I have heard of some youth ministries even cutting out there regular meetings over the summer all together. Do you change your format over the summer?

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Will Mitchell's picture

hey Brian. I see you haven't gotten too much response yet. The youth forums were always a little slow on the old SI too.

We have the same issue in regards to summer attendance and actually, special events during the year are becoming more difficult too. Our issue with summer is that we have kids that are gone all summer to work at camps and we have others that are gone different weeks w/camp or family vaca and we understand that and try to make things a little more low key (other than missions trips) in the summer.

During the school year, the core kids that we have seem to get busier every year and I would like to know how others are balancing the emphasis on church, YG, Christian Fellowship, etc. with the sports, work, etc. that kids are involved in that are also beneficial too their development.

I don't know if it is a matter of "programming" around the school schedules or what but it's definitely something that has become more of an issue in my last 3 years of minsitry than it was in the first 3. I would love to hear some input.

- Will

DanW's picture

I have been working in one form or another with teens for over twenty years. Summers are shorter now because of school schedules. This causes vacation schedules being compact, Camps trying to fill up the weeks they have now. But the summer can be a great time for outreach to bring in all new youth to your ministry. I do not know if you are a full time youth pastor/director or lay worker. I advice to have a midweek youth group meeting that is geared to addressing topics of interest that tend to bring those who are available to come. I also have quick hour long activity after church on Sunday night after church. These two deal with the ones that are there to keep them engaged. But what I have done and seen done over the years that has brought in new young people was having a hang out day. One day a week I would open up our facilities (gym if you have one, game room, youth room, etc) and just let the teens hang out. No planned games, or activities or devotionals, or any organized schedule. Just let them hang out an talk, play ball, etc. In times past I was at a church that had gym and game room. I would open it up for them and for the most part would be in my office only checking in on them from time to time each day. A list of rules are clearly given and the consequences would be that a violation would cause them not to be able to return for hang out day. You will probably find that most of your teens are just hanging out somewhere during the day, why not at the church. I have seen several youth groups grow in size during the summer just by giving teens a place to hang out. The most recent church I saw do this has seen 15 new teens come around in the last three weeks.

Just an idea.

DJ Lowrance's picture

In my last church we would have that problem for the 1st couple of weeks after school. But what would virtually every year boost the attendance up again, was early camp attendance that summer (last week in June). We would take our kids to Camp Ironwood, yes all the way from Washington, and then use the rest of the summer and our Youth night as a make-shift "accountability and encouragement" night to stick to those decisions so they could stay strong when school would start again.

Obviously this wont work everywhere; but it did for us.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

jcurtis's picture

When I was director in YFC they made a 50gal milk shake and stirred it with an outboard motor. 13 kids got saved that afternoon and the gym floor got a sticky coating.

Outboard motor was a sterilized ELECTRIC outboard.

Jim 'Gramps' Curtis Hillsboro OH USA
Ps 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

MClark's picture

At one point in our ministry when my husband was responsible for the teen ministries, he only ran a "program during the summer." Throughout the school year, a teen Sunday School class was available, but teens were expected and encouraged to be with their families or actively ministering (nursery, Jr. Church, Sunday School, Awana) during the other services. So it was only during the summer that was a designated "Teen Time." Each summer program had a specific teaching focus (one summer was on relationships, another summer was a study in James & 1 Peter with Bible quizzing at the end of the summer, a third summer was on the topic of knowing God's will) as well as a point system that could be redeemed for the privilege of participating in a trip at the end of the summer. The trip always had a ministry & a fun component (i.e., one summer's trip to Chicago included a tour of the Pacific Garden Mission, ministry time in the mission, as well as a visit to Navy Pier and the carnival rides). The attendance was phenomenal every summer, as teens came and brought friends. In fact, my husband always encouraged parents to attend along with their teens, and the attendance in both areas was great!

Ed Vasicek's picture

We don't have a youth pastor, but our youth group typically BUILDS during the summer. The men who run the group during the year take the summer off, and my wife and I (I am the solo pastor) take the group in the summer. Because our schedules can flex, we schedule an activity during the week.

Here is a copy of this year's summer program:

Sonburst Summer 2010
Summer Youth Group
Surveying the End Times! Bible Prophecy
(going into grade 7 thru just graduated high school)

Join Pastor Ed & Marylu, Sundays, 6-7:30PM! Begins June 6

This summer, we will enjoy some simple but great times, as Pastor Ed will lead us in a Bible study of end time prophecy from the Highland Park Church perspective. We are not out to debate different positions, but rather to teach what we anticipate from our viewpoint. We will deal with prophetic themes, like the Antichrist, the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennium, and the future of Israel. We will look at texts in Daniel, Zechariah, I and II Thessalonians, and Revelation.

Sonburst Summer Activities for Group Fun…
Our "fun" emphasis: Non-electronic ways to make your own good clean fun!
WE ask you to leave behind electronic devices; cell phones allowed for emergency use, but please, no texting or chatting during youth activities or during transportation. Try to be "with" others, not just alongside them. One of our goals is to sharpen social interaction.

June 10, 6:15PM -- 10:30AM to 2PM– Cook out, kite flying, Frisbee and hiking! Meet at Reservoir Park (500 E., just south of Sycamore Road). Free! Bring soda pop and some food to share (chips, cookies, etc.); hamburgers and hot dogs provided. Bring kites, yard games, and plan to hike. Siblings with parents welcome. Free.

June 24, Leave here at 9:30AM – Fort Wayne Zoo. Bring a sack lunch or money for food, sun hat/lotion, and plan to have a great time! Cost: $6 for first person in family, $4 additional; drivers who tote at least two teens get one free ticket! Leave from & return to church parking lot. Return before 5PM. Siblings and parents welcome! ALL HPC PEOPLE ARE WELCOME TO CARAVAN WITH US AND GET THIS GROUP RATE.

June 30, 7PM-8PM or 9PM– Pass out programs at Highland Park for the Park Band Concert (7-8pm) with our “Patriotic Garb.” Give Pastor Ed bragging rights (he is on the Park Band board and sometimes MC). Bring lawn chairs if you want to enjoy the concert from 8-9PM. Everyone welcome; younger children and adults may assist! Free.

July 1, 6:15PM-8PM – Miniature Golf, meet there [Kingsway on W. Boulevard ] at 6:15pm. Cost: $5 per person, $3 each for more than one person in family golfing. Parents & siblings welcome. ALL supervised HPC PEOPLE ARE WELCOME, but the youth will golf in groups of fellow teens. No younger children without parent(s) please!

July 6, 1-3:30 PM -- Urban Walk and Dominoes! We'll meet at the church parking lot and head to Foster Park. Then we'll walk the "Walk of Excellence" eastward to the Fire Station, City Hall, and then back toward the eastern leg of the "Walk of Excellence" to the Chief Kokomo Monument ("Future Park"). From there, back to the church to play "Mexican Train" Dominoes and Fill Or Bust, some easy games to learn. Soda pop and ice cream sandwiches provided. Total walk should be about 2 miles. Invite your friends! Bring hats for the sun. Siblings with parents welcome. Free.

July 11-17 – Senior Camp Emmanuel at Sangralea Valley.* Get Pastor Ed's signature for him to vouch that you are well-behaved, attend church regularly before applying (6 out of 8 Sundays), and memorize the "Romans Road" (Romans 3:10, 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9 &10:13) FREE. Completed grade 7 thru high school. Junior camp July 18-23 for ages 9-12. See

July 29, 2PM-6PM —Swim Party/cookout at Aldridges' at Fred & Towana Aldridge residence, 4314 S. 580 W. (883-5636). Swim till 5 pm; cookout from 5 to 6; leave 6 pm. We provide hot dogs & hamburgers. Guys, bring soda pop; Gals, junk food. Meet and pick up at the Aldridge residence. Siblings with parents welcome. Free.

August 5, 5:30-7:30PM –Semi-Formal Ballroom Dance and Pizza Party with dance lesson by Pastor Ed & Marylu; guys: suits (or tuxes); gals: skirts or dresses. Cost $5 for pizza and pitch-in with soda pop, chips, or desserts, etc. Sorry, no banquet this year. Parents welcome, but no young children, please.

August 13, 4:45PM -- 11:59PM? Indianapolis Indians Baseball Game*; meet at church at 4:45 pm; return around midnight. Cost: $9 first person, $6 for each additional. Bring extra money for food; we will stop for fast food on the way. Drivers transporting at least two youth get a free ticket. Supervised children & HPC PEOPLE ARE WELCOME.

August 15, 7:45-8:45 PM – Scoops after Sunday night meeting; bring money for ice cream as we patronize this unofficial Highland Park Church hangout.

August 20, 6PM – "Heat Wave" Summer Swim Party (Youth & families) at Fred and Towana Aldridge residence. Bring $4 to pitch in for pizza -- and soda pop, snacks to share. Organized by Marsha Santen.

* = Sign-up required

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