Youth Caucus Policies & Supervision: GA Youth Caucus FAQ
What's this about forms?
Registering for General Assembly as a youth is a two-part process:
- Filling out the online registration form and payment;
- Filling out and submitting the youth forms (PDF, 4 pages) with the youth, their parent/guardian, and their sponsor.
What is the Youth Caucus Participant Policies and Covenant?
All youth are required to sign a Participant Covenant (which is a part of the youth forms packet) prior to attending General Assembly (GA). This code serves as a covenant that Youth Caucus members have with each other in order to keep the community, and all members of the community, safe and healthy!
Who Supervises the Youth?
Supervision at GA is different from other conferences at which there is a youth presence. At other conferences, adult advisors share collective responsibility for youth supervision. At GA, the number of youth and the urban setting make this impossible.
At GA, each youth under 18 must have an adult sponsor also registered and present at GA who is responsible for supervision and ensuring the well-being of the youth. A sponsor must:
- be over the age of 25;
- be the sponsor of no more than 3 youth;
- agree to the same Participant Covenant as the youth;
- stay in the same hotel/housing as the youth they are sponsoring.
Sponsors are responsible for checking in frequently—at least twice a day—and providing support (more details on sponsor roles below).
Youth sponsors are ultimately responsible for the behavior and supervision of their respective youth at GA. Youth Caucus staff is responsible for providing youth programming and support at GA, but not supervision. When violations of the Participant Covenant or of law occur, UUA and Youth Caucus staff will inform the sponsor and may possibly request the youth to leave Youth Caucus and General Assembly at his/her/their own expense (depending on the severity of the infraction). In such an event, the sponsor is responsible for discipline, including safely getting the youth home, if necessary.
What is a Youth Sponsor? For what are Sponsors responsible?
A youth's sponsor serves as his/her/they legal guardian for the duration of General Assembly. She/he/they may be a parent, relative, minister, youth advisor, religious educator, or another person trusted by the youth’s full legal guardian(s). Youth are responsible for finding their own sponsors.
The role of a sponsor at General Assembly is the following:
- Provide supervision for the youth she/he/they is sponsoring at General Assembly.
- Meet twice daily (minimum) with the youth for whom she/he/they is responsible.
- Attend Youth Caucus Orientation and required sponsor training.
- Be available in case of medical emergency as legal guardian.
- Stay in the same hotel as the youth for whom she/he/they is responsible.
- Be supportive and encouraging of full youth participation in the greater General Assembly community.
- Be the first and final authority on disciplinary issues for the youth.
The ideal sponsor supports their youth in the following ways:
- Meets with youth and youth’s parent/legal guardian prior to General Assembly and discusses code of ethics, supervision expectations, and schedule for checking-in with family.
- Works out a meeting schedule and emergency contact plan with youth and parent/guardian throughout the Assembly.
- Ensures that youth travels safely to and from GA (travels with youth!), and helps youth get settled in hotel room at General Assembly.
- Takes youth out for lunch every day.
- Attends some youth events with their youth (workshops, worships, etc)
- Calls parent/guardian in the middle of General Assembly to let him/her/them know that everything is fine.
What does "in the same housing" mean?
A sponsor must stay in the same housing as the youth they are sponsoring. What this means is that they must stay in the same hotel building. They do not need to stay in the same room. If you are utilizing home stays, it means that the sponsor and youth must be staying in the same home. The one exception is if the youth is staying with a parent or guardian who is not serving as their sponsor. This exception usually only applies to local youth staying at home.
If several youth are attending GA as a group, be sure to follow your congregation's Safe Congregations policies for youth travel and lodging. If your congregation has not yet gone through a Safe Congregations process, contact your UUA regional staff primary contact for more information.
How do I find a Sponsor?
If you're having trouble finding a sponsor and your parent/guardian isn't going to GA, we recommend that you start right in your own congregation. Talk to your minister or director/minister of religious education and ask them which adults from the congregation are going to GA, who are serving as delegates, etc. If it's not possible to find someone from your congregation, then look for a trusted advisor from a nearby congregation, or from your district/regional youth program. Your minister/religious educator might have a friend or colleague from another congregation who is going to GA who could sponsor you. Just make sure it's someone who has the trust of your parents and/or the staff of your congregation. Also make sure your sponsor meets the guidelines set out above. Unfortunately, the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries does not have enough staff time to manage finding individual sponsors for youth who go to General Assembly.