Middle School Youth Group (MSYG) plays a very important role in the middle school RE program, by serving as an opportunity for socialization among UU youth.
Socialization among this age group is an important part of youth’s growth. According to S. D. Powell, author of Introduction to Middle School, not allowing time for socialization deprives our youth of growth opportunities. Powell maintains that youth have a very strong need to be part of a social group, and that this is particularly important for youth who are shy, or who feel like targets of bullying.
A strong MSYG can also play an important role in retaining youth as UUs. It is widely recognized that middle school is a time when we are vulnerable to losing youth in the congregation – and often, this includes losing their parents as congregants, as well. A strong MSYG allows for UU friendships to flourish and helps to retain youth as they transition to the high school youth group, YRUU, and further bridge to become UU young adults.
The MSYG Playbook is intended to complement RE middle school curricula, specifically to provide the opportunity for youth socialization. In addition, youth will have the opportunity to give back to the church community, and to give back to the larger community, during the year.
The MSYG Playbook includes a year of great youth group meeting ideas. Both offsite and onsite alternatives are discussed, with ideas for every budget. Also included are links to several resources, including a digital MSYG Playbook that can be edited for your use and shared with advisors.
The MSYG Playbook passes on many years of experience developing a strong MSYG in our congregation. Last year, with 24 kids registered, we averaged an 85% attendance rate, with attendance ranging from 70-110% of our youth! And, we have almost no problem in recruiting advisors!
If you would like to start a new MSYG program - or amp up an existing program - check out the ideas in The MSYG Playbook.
The MSYG Playbook offers suggestions for purely social activities that are intended to complement a Sunday morning RE curriculum. If you are searching for a curriculum for RE class or youth group use, Imagine-RE has several middle school curricula available: