Re-visioning “Club”

Last week, I was with nearly 40 experienced and diverse YL staff from across the country. I hijacked our meeting to conduct a bit of a survey.

My instinct is that prior to COVID, many people were moving away from traditional club plans. Since our return from COVID my sense was that few clubs returned to traditional club plans.

When I use the term “traditional club plans,” I’m thinking of something like this:

Traditional Club Plans

  • 1-3 upbeat song(s)
  • Mixer or game
  • 1-3 upbeat song(s)
  • Game
  • Skit
  • 1 “transition” song
  • 1-2 Christian content song(s)

Now, I know this plan isn’t “traditional” for everyone but since YL summer camps use this plan almost exclusively, I think most of us know this is the default plan our mission thinks of when we think of “club.”

But, my instinct is that most of us departed from the “default” plan.

So, I surveyed the 40 experienced staff and this is how it went:

  • Q: Raise your hand if all of the clubs in your area use the “traditional” club plan.
  • A: Only 1 in 40 of the staff raised their hand.
  • Q: Raise your hand if at least one of the clubs in your areas uses the “traditional” club plan.
  • A: About 10 of the 40 staff raised their hands.
  • Q: How many of you have zero clubs in your area that use the “traditional” club plan?
  • A: About 30 of the 40 staff raised their hands.
  • Q: How many of you have to prepare your club kids and leaders about what club will look like at camp because it will be brand new to them?
  • A: About 30-35 staff raised their hands.

What I learned is that most people don’t do club the way many of us did it years ago.

In order to know what they actually do for club, I asked them – to confirm – that every club shares Christ in one way or another as part of their “club” plan. Everyone agreed. So, I asked them, a few more questions:

  • Q: What do you do at the beginning of your club?

A: Almost all of them said they have food and/or unstructured events. I wanted specifics, so I asked them what food they provided. Only one said they provide pizza. A few said they make pasta. Others said they have church small groups rotate bringing meals. Others said they just have light snacks. The unstructured time included various sports, card games, crafts, talking, playing music together, among other things.

My sense by the end of the discussion was that most of the clubs these staff people represented, which was probably about 200 clubs, for an average “club” night do the following:

  • First: 30-45min of food and low-key optional opportunities to play sports, games, crafts or just talking
  • Next: 1-2 group games
  • Then: A talk about Jesus

I wasn’t all that surprised, but, I’ll be honest, I was surprised that: (1) this new approach to club is so pervasive and the new “default, and (2) no one seems to be talking about this. I would love to know what you think, what you do for “club,” and any way we can learn from each other how to adjust the less-important details of club to create the best possible platform to proclaim Christ. Shoot me a message. If there is enough interest, I might pull some folks together to create a survey or host a short Zoom or call for those interested.