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Developing a Youth Program
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YOUTH RESOURCES REPORT
By George and Rena Everett
May

Our last article dealt with Junior groups in clubs that already have interested children. But what about those whose membership is older, but who would like to begin a Junior program to liven things up a bit? 

Although our experience has been with the last article's kind of club, we have had some thoughts for developing a Junior program from scratch. 

First of all, contact with kids (and parents) seems to be the key. Go where the kids are. Volunteer to talk to school classes. The kids and teachers love it when .outsiders" come to talk to their classes, especially if they bring along some specimens to give away. Scout leaders are always looking for programs - a program on rocks, minerals, and fossils would be right down their alley. The Boy Scouts of America has a Geology Merit Badge, and the Girl Scouts should have one (The Jackson, Mississippi club has developed a three-part Girl Scout patch to be earned with their annual show). Advertise in the paper. Have a wiener roast (with maybe a rock swap or mineral ID) in the park for prospective members. Talk to people in clubs that have successful Junior programs and get hints from them about things to do. Enlist the help of your own neighbors, children and grandchildren. Encourage them to invite their friends. Children are born with a love for rocks and fossils; so convincing them to come to a club where they can learn about them and begin to build a collection should not be a problem. If your town has a parade or two during the year, you could fix up a float advertising the club and enter it in the parade. Children love a parade; there is no better place to advertise. There are probably lots of folks out there who don't even know that gem and mineral clubs exist. Put an exhibit at the local library and volunteer to give a program there. Put an exhibit in the school library; maybe you could even work that into a monthly thing. Contact the network of parents who home school their children. If you have a gem and mineral show, specifically invite schools and Scouts to the show - maybe even offer them a discounted entry fee. 

Once you have snagged these youngsters, the real work begins. You have to keep their interest up - have really interesting programs, field trips, lessons on how to use the club's lapidary equipment so that they can make something with the specimens that they find, etc. Encourage them to take part in the annual show (There was even an 18-year-old show chairman in a Midwest club several years ago.) and write for the newsletter. Those clubs that have active Junior programs find that the whole club benefits in many more ways than one. 

NOTE: For an interesting site on the Web, check out the Memphis club's web page at http://earthlink.net/~rockciub/meetings.htm 

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Last Revised on October 17, 2011
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