Monday, December 10, 2012

7 Things: The Adult in the Room

I counted up my number of youth conferences as an adult advisor once, and well, it was a lot.  (Typically in the adult orientation we have a good batch of newbies, and a lot of people with numbers in the twenties.)  So. Having added another one this fall, here's my seven things about that.
1.  The schedule is a guideline.  I often joke about UU time (which can sometimes be like island time or insert your favorite batch of people here time.)  But as anyone who has ever organized anything that combines large groups of volunteers or teenagers might guess, sometimes there is schedule slippage.  (Not always.  Tends to depend on that year's committee.)  This isn't to say that dinner will move from six to midnight, but often schedule slippage is a result of a number of behind the scenes factors, and again, volunteers, so things happen. 
2. Sleep is important. But, only you know how much sleep you need.  And if you like sleeping through the night without interruption, or sleeping until a reasonable hour.  Well, okay, we all like those things.  However, this is not likely to occur here.  Adults and teens will be called on to assist in making sure things are running smoothly, and that includes people staying up in shifts through the night.  The church will likely wish to have their space back and, well, clean, in time for Sunday service, which may be at nine necessitating the group's being up, done with cleaning by say seven thirty.  So, nap if you need to.
3.  We often say that these are youth run events and that really is true.  The adults are there to provide support and assistance. So, while this means the adults are their to help not do, this also means the adults are expected to help with cooking and cleaning, not just make sure the kids in their group do it.  (In other words, be the con participant you wish to see.) 
4. There is often the implication that the rules are there to make sure the teens don't do anything wrong.  And that's partly true.  But the rules are designed to promote a weekend of open community.  Some of the things you can't do during the con are not illegal or wrong, they are just things one shouldn't do at large group events.  And the rules apply equally to adults and teens. 
5. Get to know other adults.  One of the things I found fascinating was the large difference between size of congregational youth groups, number of times they meet, and how many adults and teens they had participating.  Plus, a lot of these adults are super cool.
6.  Don't only hang out with other adults.  When they say adults are part of the community, it's true (or should be).  The adults are mixed into groups with other teens intentionally, and not so they can look after other teens, but so they can talk to them and get to know them too.  Sure, there will be times when the teens just want to hang with other teens, and that's as it should be, but again, the idea is for a melded community to form. 
7.  Listen.  Just like at any community event, sharing goes both ways.  There is so much to learn from workshop leaders, and other participants.  Listen.  And that doesn't mean just sit in a corner with your phone figuring if anyone needs you they'll yell.  Be in the moment.