every spring, ys presents a one-day seminar (actually, now, 1/2 day) in 100+ cities. back in the day it was called (for many, many years) The National Resource Seminar for Youth Workers. about four or five years ago we sensed a pretty serious need to reinvent what we offer on that day. so we worked hard to re-invent it as The CORE. the original idea was to create the best three-year cycle of basic youth ministry training, what every volunteer needs to know. i was really proud of that stuff. and the first two years went really well. our third year (spring 04) had what i considered to be fantastic content, but the attendance numbers dropped off significantly. so a handful of our staff took a few weeks to do a pretty extensive study of what happened, including tons of interviews with attendees. one of the many findings was that youth workers really want new content every year, and our plan to repeat the three year cycle was not going to work.
so we re-tooled it again for this past spring, shaved a couple hours off (and lowered the price) to make it even more accessible to volunteers. and we developed what i believe was our best content ever — and the evaluation scores (and attendance) seem to validate that. there were a few key things that seemed to connect this year — but one was that there was a clear thread (not quite a theme) that wove through the three sessions. we’ve had people ask us to bring back this spring’s training to some major cities this fall so they can get some training for new volunteers. we’ve never done this before, but thought it made sense — so we’re launching “fall CORE” in about 15 or so cities in late august and early sept.
the process of developing the content for the CORE is labor intensive — involving the whole team who presents it on the road (15 people). this afternoon, through friday, the whole team will be here in san diego for our annual “debrief”. we’ll talk about what worked and what didn’t this year, and lay the initial ground work for next year. it’s a great time of reconnecting with great friends and peers. and it’s fun (and hard work) wrestling through the question of what will really serve youth workers best.
one of my earliest posts on this blog was about passion, one of my life themes. and i’ve so resonated with kenda dean’s fantastic book, practicing passion. it looks like we’re going to work with kenda (and one of her research assistants from the book, a sharp youth worker named blair, up in canada) to develop at least some of the content for this coming spring. so the theme will likely be around the idea of “passionate youth ministry”.
given the fact that over 20,000 youth workers (mostly volunteers) will likely attend the CORE next spring, these next three days have great significance and the opportunity to shape something that will impacts hundreds of thousands of teenagers.
i’m pumped! (and, i might not get a chance to post until this weekend).