Structure and Clear Limits

One challenge that I see youth programs face is establishing consistent and regular routines. For example program “x” started every morning with an ice breaker/community building activity for the first two weeks of the 8 week summer program. After the first two weeks the morning activity was not conducted because of lack of planning and preparation. No one took ownership of the process and there was little to no input from the youth. Consequently, I began to observe breakdowns in communication and staff/youth relationships as a result. Staff began to report that it was harder to get the youth focused and on-task and that they spend at least 30 – 40 minutes just getting the youth “settled down”.

Another challenge that I see youth programs contend with is consistently reinforcing the structure. According to the method, “All elements of the structure should be reinforced and communicated consistently in order to be successful.” (WCYPQ, 2011) At program “x” the staff was fragmented. Some key staff would reinforce the structure consistently while other staff members were much less consistent and some actively circumvented and undermined the structure. As a result youth were very confused about what to expect from day-to-day and from person to person.

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