Hello Sponsors! Welcome to General Assembly 2016 – Heart Land: Where Faiths Connect
We are Jessica Laike, Jeremy Ritzmann and Joanne Dingus – Advisors to Youth Caucus 2016 Staff and your Sponsor Coordinators! The first thing we’d like to say is THANK YOU! Large spiritual communities, like General Assembly and Youth Caucus, can be powerful . . . life-changing . . . and deeply meaningful, and they can’t happen without adults sponsors. Whether you’re brand-new or have done this a dozen times, you are vitally important. We’re glad you’re here!
Youth Caucus provides meaningful, relevant programming opportunities that make GA a positive, spiritually engaging, justice-seeking experience for youth.
What YOU Do–What WE Do
You, the Sponsor, are responsible for the safety, health and well-being of the youth you are sponsoring at all times throughout GA. We, the Sponsor Coordinators, will support your efforts by helping you and your youth overcome disagreements, reassure you in your role as sponsor, help connect you with your youth if you have lost contact with one another, field your concerns about youth related programming, and work to make sure you and other adults feel welcome at Youth Caucus programming. In the event of a youth emergency, we will work with you, the staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA) and the appropriate emergency teams to manage the situation.
What to expect from your Sponsor Coordinators
- We support you, the sponsor and are your primary contacts at Youth Caucus.
- We can be reached my phone or text at 617-948-6433 from June 22 – 26th.
- At least one of us will be at every Youth Caucus-sponsored activity.
- Contact us if you need us – we’ll contact you if we need you.
- With the Youth Caucus chaplains and UUA staff, we will support your youth if something happens to you.
What to do to prepare for GA
In order to have the best GA experience possible we recommend that you and your youth get to know each other and develop a plan. Before you come to Columbus, take some time to talk things through so that your expectations of each other are clear. We recommend that youth, sponsors and parents/guardians create and sign their own written “agreement” together with expectations for youth and sponsor roles, responsibilities and limits. Download our Word Doc Sample Agreement. Look it over. Modify it. Make it your own. It is your agreement between yourselves! Everyone benefits when youth, sponsors and parents all agree in advance what they expect from each other. You may want to print this document and formally sign it in each others presence to help you remember the covenant you have made with each other.
As Sponsor Coordinators, our main concern is keeping youth safe and helping them remain engaged in the events at GA. Therefore, we want to make you aware of the “Community Festival” (ComFest) and have written this post that tells you what you need to know taking place about a half mile away from the convention center during GA (June 24-26). ComFest is a free annual event with music, speakers, food and alcohol vendors that has been going on for over 40 years. We strongly recommend that you discuss this event with your youth and their parents/guardians and come to an agreement around their engagement with this outside event. There may be an optional planned Youth Caucus outing to the festival for youth and their sponsors, however as the sponsor you are ultimately responsible for the safety of your youth. More information about the event can be found here.
What to do on the first day of GA
- Come to the mandatory Youth Caucus Orientation on Wednesday from 4:00-5:15! This is where you meet the Youth Caucus staff team and get any last minute questions answered.
- If you arrive at General Assembly after this orientation you will be required to attend the first available make-up orientation. Make-up orientations will happen daily at 8:00 am Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
We are looking forward to making connections in the Heart Land at Columbus, General Assembly 2016! Jessica Laike, Jeremy Ritzmann and Joanne Dingus
*Questions before arriving? Please email email@example.com with any inquiries about Youth Caucus prior to GA.
Here is a sample agreement by and between youth, sponsors and parents.
Download this Word Doc Sample Agreement to make it your own.
Agreements between youth, sponsors and parents should be built on mutual respect and understanding.
The following are some examples of important items for Youth, Parent(s)/Guardian(s) and Sponsors to discuss before leaving for GA.
Youth, Parent/Guardian & Sponsor: We agree that before leaving for GA we will discuss our individual and mutual responsibilities, limits and expectations. Some examples of these may include:
In terms of participation at GA:
- What is the youth hoping for from participation in GA?
- What are the parental/sponsor’s/youth’s own expectations for youth behavior?
- What does the parent/guardian expect from the sponsor? What does the youth expect?
- What do the parent/guardian and sponsor expect from the youth in regard to participation in GA and Youth Caucus events? Please note: Youth Caucus orientation is the only mandatory programming for youth.
- What are the expectations regarding the youth’s participation at ComFest? May the youth attend alone? May the youth attend more than one day? Etc…
- How will you take what you’ve learned back to your home congregation and/or district? In terms of communication and money while at GA:
- How can the parent/guardian be contacted? What are everyone’s expectations in regard to how often and under what circumstances parents are to be contacted?
- How will youth and sponsors arrange meals? How much spending money should the youth bring? In terms of health and safety while at GA:
- How will any medications be monitored and or administered?
- How will sponsors be aware of relevant medical conditions and allergies? Does the sponsor have the permission to treat youth with over the counter medications?
- What are your agreements around safety? What is your plan in case of an emergency?
- Will youth need to travel in groups when outside the convention center, after dark, etc? Please note that the Columbus curfew for minors under 17 years old is
- What are the agreed upon limits/boundaries of where youth are permitted to go, taking into account hotel/housing location, etc?
- What are your agreements around self-care, including sleep, eating, hygiene, etc?
Youth and Sponsor Agreements In terms of spending time together at GA:
We agree to meet at least ___ times per day while at GA, at a time and place that works for both of us. Examples of good times/places to do so: _______We will attend a workshop or worship together. _______We will share a meal.
_______We will check in at an agreed time/place. In terms of communicating with each other during GA:
Examples of good systems of communication include the following: _______ We will carry each other’s cell phone number and hotel room number at all times. _______ The convention center has limited cell phone reception. We will have a back-up plan in case we can’t reach
each other by phone. _______ We will designate a specific Meet Up Spot where we will generally meet up by default, rally as a group, go back
to if we lose each other, etc. _______ We will share our expected schedules so we can find each other in an emergency.
In terms of Individual Responsibilities at GA:
_______ Youth & Sponsor: We agree to attend the mandatory Wednesday afternoon Orientation.
_______ Sponsor: I understand the Adult Sponsor Code of Ethics and I pledge to follow it. I also understand and agree to the expectation that adult sponsors will not drink alcohol while at GA.
_______ Youth: I agree to attend at least ___ events (workshops, Youth Caucus-sponsored events, plenary sessions, and/or worship services) while at GA.
_______ Youth: I agree to the curfews set by my sponsor. I understand that while at GA I am the responsibility of my sponsor. *Please note that Columbus has a city curfew of midnight for all youth age 13-17 years old.
_______ Youth: I agree to the rules as outlined in the “Participant Policy and Covenant,” and will obey all state and local laws, as well as the laws of the hotel or residence where we are staying. I will also abide by the policy on sexuality and community.
_______ Youth, Sponsor & Parent/Guardian: We understand that this agreement is created between us to insure comfort and safety for youth, sponsors and parents/guardians. We further understand that if the youth violates any GA rules, parents/guardians will be notified and the youth will be sent home at the expense of the parent/guardian.