|Family Youth Night|
By Nancy Tilford, Lincoln, California
Our adventure began two years ago when the Lord moved us from the Bay Area to Placer County. Upon arriving, we found that the homeschooled teens were a bit spread out and not so easy to find. It seems that many families in our area homeschool for the early years and then send their kids to school for high school. This was not our plan, so we began seeking more homeschooled teens in order to develop, for our children, a community of like-minded young adults who could grow together and enjoy each other’s company. Traditional youth groups could not provide what we were looking for as they typically address the issues that institutionalized school teens deal with on a day-to-day basis.
I developed a vision of what we call Family Youth Night. It would include teens, of course, and a study time for them. In addition, families would be encouraged to stay so that parents and siblings could build friendships and in turn begin to network together as we seek to home educate and eventually send our grown birds from the nest. Our young adults would have a group from which to relate to each other and enjoy each other’s company in a wholesome setting. We want them to form relationships without the pressure of dating. This way they will develop skills and maturity in preparation for the time when they are ready to seek a mate—and hopefully avoid the wounds and scars that immature dating can cause. Our first study series made use of cutting-edge material, was youth friendly, and we learned a lot.
Our Family Youth Nights have a style all their own and will change over time as our kids mature. We realize the need to increasingly challenge them spiritually. Our main focus, however, has been fellowship, as our youths need this time to develop friendships. Twice a month we meet at our home at 7 p.m. During the summer months, we begin with games outside. Sometimes they are formally organized, like kick ball or badminton, and sometimes we play a “throw together” game. The younger children play on our property—by the pond or on the trampoline, or some hang out in the garage watching a group of dads play ping-pong. We start our lesson around 7:45 and spend thirty to forty-five minutes in study, with one of the dads leading the study.
After the lesson time we eat, because it wouldn’t be a get-together without food! Usually people bring a snack to share. Occasionally we focus on a theme, such as Mexican food or s’mores. Then, after we eat, we might do some get-to-know-you type games or just some more throw together games like Capture the Flag.
Throughout the evening all attendees, from moms and dads down to toddlers, enjoy connecting with old friends or making new ones. One family even reports that their little boy constantly asks, “When is teen group?” We have been immensely blessed to see how God has used our family and our home to help foster real friendships among like-minded families.
By telling our story I hope that I have encouraged some of you to start a Family Youth Night at your house. You’d be surprised to learn how many families are looking for just such a thing. We found the saying to be true: “Build it, and they will come!”
Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The
Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Fall 2009.
Used with permission. Content provided by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC.
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