Over the summer I normally try to post a couple things that I learned over the previous school year. These are a little late, but I really wanted to pass them along anyway. Also if you have anything you learned from last year that you would like to tell me about, send it my way smcgever (at) pv dot younglife dot org
I have been a leader for over 15 years now in YL. In the first half of my experience I rarely saw high school students have much of a role in the leadership and execution of the club. I realize this is different across the country and some areas have been doing this for decades. Then about 6 years ago I recognized that the strongest club in our area always had students as a part of their leadership team. I would train them and encourage them but I thought that was nice and kept on doing things the way I was used to doing in my club. Then other clubs in my area started adding junior leaders and they were having stronger campaigners, stronger clubs, camp, everything.
So what did I do? Well I finally got smart and in the past two years junior leaders have been an indispensable part of our club. In fact, in the 9 clubs in our area, all of them have a junior leader team, even our Wyldlife clubs. Our junior leaders do pretty much everything our traditional leaders do in YL: music, skits, talks, lead campaigners, help planning, contact work, area leadership meetings, etc. We have also seen more graduated students stick around to be leaders after high school.
At one school this year we had over 20 qualified and leader-recommended kids who wanted to be leaders the following school year. So we arranged using a classroom once a week for 6 weeks and I did junior leader training at lunch time in the high school. We are doing more and more of this and it is going great.