Jef and I developed this chart to help junior youth group animators and their supporters reflect on their stages of growth and the path forward. I thought I would share so that other communities could us it too!

Cluster Junior Youth Group Development Chart

It looks at the various stages in the growth of a junior youth group: an idea, a new group, a group that has been in existence for 1 year, a group that has been in existence for two years, a group that is transitioning into a study circle, and a group that is now engaged in animator training. (Yes, these latter two are study circles, and the first might involve a children’s class, but the focus here is on growing the junior youth spiritual empowerment program.)

A given cluster might have groups in some or all of these stages, so there’s a place to track this.

Each stage of growth has unique needs and challenges that are learned about through experience. Animators can share these challenges and note them, as a group, in the challenges section.

Growing through these challenges requires certain actions to be taken. What are they?

And taking these actions requires certain skills of the animators. What are they?

For example, a challenge of boredom/repetitiveness at Year 1 might be addressed by engaging in service projects of increasing complexity (beyond very simple actions initially taken by a group, such as picking up litter). This plan of action might require the animator to have the ability to:

  • consult effectively with the junior youth
  • connect and partner with other groups, businesses, or institutions in the community
  • organize multiple aspects of projects simultaneously
  • ensure legality and safety

A junior youth group that’s transitioning to a study circle might encounter a challenge of attrition. A special period of home visits to youth and their families might be an appropriate action. Helpful skills include the ability to:

  • contact families to arrange a visit
  • speak well and logically
  • clearly and succinctly explain the institute process
  • observe conventions of courtesy as a visitor
  • assist youth to define their own paths of service
  • place junior youth groups in the wider context of community-building

Obviously, these aren’t the only skills needed for these particular stages of development. They might not even BE challenges with any given group in any given cluster. But they’re examples

Once we’ve identified the skills, we can get to the meat of the matter: how can we help our current animators develop these skills? And how can we ensure that our junior youth begin to develop these skills now, so that they will be prepared to animate when they are ready?

Anyhow, here’s the file again:

(Yes, it’s an Excel file, but not as ugly as most Excel files! It was designed to be printed out for participants to write on, while the coordinator can type notes directly into the file, if desired.)

Cluster Junior Youth Group Development Chart

I hope it’s helpful for others!