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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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3 reasons why taking young people to events could be the best thing you do…for them and for you!

Wednesday 21st August 2019

Can I be honest for a moment? Sometimes, when I am stuck in another hot minibus with music blaring in my ears and Haribo being thrown around my head like confetti I’ve wondered whether the effort I put into taking young people to events stacks up higher than whatever they get out of it.

However, I have to say that attending Life 2 the Max 2019 has given me a much-needed fresh perspective and washed away any jaded feelings I might have had.

Here are three reasons why activity days are more than worth the character-building minibus ride:

1. They give young people opportunities they wouldn’t typically experience

As I drove into Felden Lodge, I was met with a sea of white vans (minibuses) and instantly knew I’d arrived in the right place! I hadn’t really known what to expect from the day, but I had to agree with one young lad’s thoughts as he ran to the field “Ohhhhh my word!”.

I’m always a little sceptical when I hear people say “It gives young people opportunities that wouldn’t normally have” but to be completely honest, even I hadn’t done the majority of the activities on offer! From the fairground rides to the bungee trampolines, there was a climbing wall, zorbing, nerf ranges, roller races, sumo suits, crafts and games – the selection was unreal. One leader from 1st Slough explained that he loves bringing his group here because of the range of activities; “Take the falconry show for example – that’s amazing! It really exposes them to opportunities they would never normally get”. 14-year-old Stephen from 3rd Enfield enthusiastically agrees; “I do things here I’ve never done before”.

I know from experience that exposing young people to new opportunities fosters some of those vital life skills; confidence, resilience and teamwork.

2. They expose young people to their peers

I spoke to several BB leaders who told me they love bringing their Companies to events like Life to the Max because it allows their young people to meet like-minded people. The 2nd Uxbridge leaders explained that “bringing our young people here shows them that BB is bigger than just our Company”. 9-year-old James Williams from the same Company agreed; “There are so many people here that I can play and make new friends with!”. The more leaders I spoke to, the more the same message kept pouring out; “It’s so important to bring young people here so they can see that BB is bigger than just our group” – Leaders from 5th London. Perhaps I had underestimated the power of exposing our young people to wider groups of people. Yes, it’s certainly beneficial for them to mix with other young people from all paths of life and grow in their social skills – but watching the young people interact with others really highlighted to me the sense of purpose it creates. Knowing there are other young people out there with similar interests is incredibly validating and can only encourage our youth to continue with their passions and be proud of their memberships.

3. It helps leaders to feel part of a community

Probably my most surprising and significant realisation through attending Life to the Max was that events like this do not just benefit the young people but their leaders as well. Ever heard the term ‘happy mum, happy baby’? Well, how about ‘happy youth leader, happy youth group ’! Vera Willaims from 2nd Hornchurch explained in more depth; “You can feel very isolated in your BB group, so it’s so nice to come here and meet others”. Vera’s comment has been such an eye-opener to me, and as I’ve reflected on her views, I feel increasingly passionate about the importance of self-care for youth leaders. We can get so caught up in catering for the needs of our young people that we can often neglect our own (often depleting) fuel tank. If I’m being real, sometimes, youth work can feel exceptionally lonely, so I wholeheartedly see the benefits of joining up with other workers who are in the same boat. You can’t feed someone from an empty fridge – so you need to make sure yours stays stocked!

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