Advice for New Youth Development Professionals

A new school year means many afterschool sites are onboarding new staff! I recently asked Boys & Girls Club staff in the BGCA Youth Development Facebook Group what advice they would give to new YDPs, and here are some of their responses:

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Learn Names

Learn names! Might seem small but trust me it goes a long way. – D’André, Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana

Learn everybody’s names, no kid is going to listen to you if you cannot call them by their name. – Jesse, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley

Greet members by their name! – Jeff, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield

Make and Maintain Positive Connections

Take time to bond with the kids. They probably won’t remember all the “activities” we do with them but they will remember those people that put the time into them. – Jessica, Boys & Girls Clubs of Saline County

Connections before corrections! Building those relationships will be more beneficial than blindly following rules. – Monica, Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County

Get to know the parents with positive news about their kids. – Nora, Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area

It’s not just important to develop great relationships with the kids but also with your supervisors so you feel comfortable talking to them. – Tessa, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula

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Active Engagement is KEY

Interact with members, play games with them. It’s the best feeling ever when you hear them having fun and then they come back the next day to ask you to play again! My members’ favorite is trying to beat me in pool for a toy or extra time on the games. 😉 – Diamond, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston

Actively engage with the kids, this will really create a bond between you guys. Find activities for them to do constantly, especially the younger ones. It’ll keep them busy and they’ll have a lot of fun! – Alexis, Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club

Meet kids where they are and be willing to engage their world! – Nicole, Boys & Girls Club of Troy

Be Patient and Understanding

The best advice I ever got was “nurture your fondness for each child.” There’s always going to be one or two kids that make(s) you crazy, find just one thing you like about them and focus on it. They might make you crazy but be *the best* artist. Take time to acknowledge that skill, let them teach you more about it. It will ease the relationship in a way that actually feels genuine! – Evyn, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver

Engage with kindness, yet be firm! Every member (and staff for that matter) comes through the door with a different outlook on life! – Greg, BGCA

Allowing each kid the knowledge that as they walk through the “Blue” doors, they get to start their day over. As a YDP, we don’t know what their day was like before they came to Club. That small bit of knowledge is huge and as been very usefully through the years. – Jenna, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley

Take time to get to know the kids, be patient and give them grace when they need it. – Lynn, Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County

Take Care of YOURSELF, too

Don’t bring your work load home with you because sometimes the kids may open up to you about certain things and it’ll stick in your brain for a good minute. Definitely try to do more self care to take your mind off it. – Katora, Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester

Have fun! If you’re not having fun, more than likely the youth and other staff aren’t either. – Rebecca, Boys & Girls Clubs of South San Luis Obispo County

Don’t forget to take your lunch. – David, Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley

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See all the GREAT advice plus connect with your colleagues across the Movement in the BGCA Youth Development Facebook Group.

What is your best advice for new YDPs? How does your Club onboard new staff? We want to know! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email to share.

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