Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Planning Events They'll Love

This past weekend our youth group went on their Third Annual Mystery Trip. We had a blast! It constantly amazes me how much fun we have on an event that we weren’t even sure would work the first time we did it. The secret…get the students involved. I feel this is why we have so many successful events.

In the fall we have our Back to School Retreat. During this retreat we play games, have fun, do worship, fellowship, eat lots of junk food, and sit down and plan out the schedule for the entire school year. Yep! We do it all from August to May in one to two days. Then we crash the day after because our brains are so exhausted!
No matter what age, if you get your target audience involved in the planning then they will love it. I have found this to be true for two reasons:

#1 They know what to expect.
#2 It gives them a sense of ownership and pride in the events because they helped come up with them and they are more likely to invite their friends.

Take Mystery Trip for example…
After we all loaded up on junk food (Jimmy would say it is vital to creativity) we sat down as a group for a brainstorming session. We have one person who writes all of the ideas down on paper and only one rule—no idea is stupid or bad or out-of-bounds. So everyone started throwing out ideas and someone said a mystery trip. We wrote it down. Once we were finished brainstorming we all pulled out the calendars that we printed for them and flipped to the first month. Someone picks a number from 1 to whatever number of ideas we come up with (usually around 150). *FYI: We keep the brainstorming lists from year to year so if we are having trouble getting started or coming up with more ideas we can always draw upon events that we originally shelved for one reason or another.*

When they chose “a mystery trip” we talked about a few things…
What would this event be?
What would we do during this event?
Can we afford to do an event like this?
Would your friends come to an event like this?

Once all of these things are considered we decide whether or not the event makes the calendar cut. If it does then we decide where on the calendar to schedule it and an assistant event director (one of our student leaders) is assigned to help with the planning and organization of the event.

Kevin, one of our college students, has been the assistant director of Mystery Trip since it was born in 2008. Every year he helps Jimmy decide where we are going to go, what we are going to do, and he keeps it a secret from everyone else…it’s a mystery after all! Some events are so popular that they become a tradition and occur in the same month every year (such as Mystery Trip)! And that’s how you plan an event that you know they’ll love!

Share your ideas for events of all ages. What has worked for you? What didn’t work for you? Do you have ideas for how an event could be done better? Share them in the comments! Everyone is welcome to participate. No idea is a stupid idea!

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