By Corbett and Connie Pool, F140306, Co-Chairmen
The Youth Activities Committee is responsible for planning and overseeing the youth programs that take place at FMCA’s international conventions; planning the advertisements for these programs that appear in Family Motor Coaching prior to each event; and recruiting volunteers to help with the activities. During the summer convention the committee also oversees the election of TATS (Teen-Age Travelers) officers.
The committee receives its guidance from FMCA’s Policy and Procedure 2032, Youth Program. The procedural requirements are the same whether 50 or 500 youth are registered for a convention.
It has become customary for the chairman of the Youth Activities Committee to also be on the Convention Committee to facilitate the planning for the youth centers; estimate expenses for the program; and determine support requirements from communications, transportation, parking, and show decorators. Corbett currently serves on this committee.
On the last day of each convention, the Youth Activities Committee meets to review how the program functioned and to talk about improvements that can be made for future conventions. We also start planning for the next convention. Estimates must be made of the number of youngsters expected to be involved, the number of youth centers that will be needed, and the activities available at the next convention site that will need to be scheduled.
Committee members come up with ideas for activities geared toward four age groups: TOTS (ages 2 to 5), TWEENS (ages 6 to 9), PRE-TEENS (ages 10 to 12), and TATS (ages 13 to 18).
As committee members begin planning activities for the various age groups, we try to take advantage of the local sights and attractions of the area, as well as the scheduled activities at the convention. We look for things that are fun and interesting to kids in each age group. Past offerings have included horseback riding, white-water rafting, rock climbing, a skills confidence course, bowling, miniature golf, skating (both in-line and ice), and visits to zoos, water parks, amusement parks, and a variety of museums.
The first priority is safety, so each activity is checked to ensure a safe environment, plenty of supervision, and control of entrances and exits. Initially each facility is contacted by phone or e-mail to check on the cost per child, availability, and to learn about any other activities offered at the site, such as food, gift shops, video games, etc. Contracts are then issued, if required, and we continue to follow up to ensure the activities go as planned. Committee members visit each of the scheduled activity sites prior to the start of the convention to make sure our contracts are in place and to verify the best transportation route.
The number of youth expected determines the number of off-site activities that are scheduled and the type of transportation needed. If we are scheduling for more than 100, we try to have a different activity for each age group each day. Activities such as bowling cannot handle large numbers of children at one time, so such limits must be considered.
If the off-site activities are in the general vicinity of the convention, rented school buses are used for transportation. For long distances, over-the-road buses are preferred. When a small number of kids are involved, 15-passenger vans can be used.
The committee also plans activities offered at the youth centers “” areas where kids gather during the convention according to their age group. FMCA provides pizza parties, ice cream socials, card and board games, outdoor sports equipment, toys, age-appropriate movies, video games, crafts, scavenger hunts, coloring contests, and other activities, as necessary, for the number of youth involved.
Since 1996 Flakey the Magic Clown, a.k.a. Henry Gartner, F197563, has been performing for the youth at every convention. The children also have enjoyed performances by puppeteers, storytellers, face painters, DJs, and mimes, and dance instruction by Howard Cowles, L18517.
After activities have been scheduled, descriptions and the schedule must be provided to the FMCA Convention Department for the convention program, and activity signup sheets for the four age groups must be prepared. Equipment and food is ordered through the FMCA Convention Department, and transportation requirements are provided to the tram captain and the convention director.
As committee chairmen, we prepare a logistics support document that lists points of contact, agreements made, and deposit or down-payment requirements. Copies are provided to the Convention Department, Youth Activities Committee members, and youth volunteer captains. Then determinations are made as to how many youth volunteers are required for that convention.
At FMCA’s Oklahoma City convention in April 2001, temporary workers were hired to supervise the four youth centers for four days, while FMCA youth volunteers chaperoned field trips and special events. After that convention, the cost of the insurance required for temporary-hire personnel working with children was determined to be cost-prohibitive. To continue providing a youth activities program and youth centers at the conventions since then, the committee has had to rely solely on FMCA volunteers. All FMCA family member volunteers are covered by FMCA’s insurance. The majority of FMCA youth volunteers currently come from the Friends of Children chapter; supplemented by volunteers from the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity® and the 100%ers chapter.
Youth Activities Committee members work alongside the volunteers at youth registration, in the various youth centers, and at scheduled activities. Other duties include opening the centers each day; securing the centers at the end of the day; briefing and training the volunteers; unpacking and organizing the four centers and the registration area; ensuring that sufficient supplies are available; accounting for monies collected for trips and events; preparing attendance rosters for scheduled events; and inventorying and packing the youth center supplies and equipment at the end of the convention for shipping back to the national office in Cincinnati.
We serve on the 2003-2004 Youth Activities Committee with Paul and Mary Dammers, F135857; Tom and Carol Januski, F266041; John and Mary Juarez, F264001; and John and Jerri Morrow, F64569.
The Youth Activities Committee