Before You Start
As soon as your program has been scheduled, prepare a calendar of the dates for each workshop. The more co-leaders and parent volunteers you include in the program, the more useful a calendar will be. Post the calendar in your shared meeting space and duplicate it for each adult participant.
Use the calendar as a to-do list. For workshops having activities that need assistance from others in the congregation or community, write reminders to contact these people well in advance and to confirm their engagement closer to the workshop date. Use your calendar to note when you will download, customize, and distribute the Taking It Home resources provided for each workshop. If the group will go off-site for a Faith in Action activity, mark on the calendar the dates when you need to create, distribute, and collect permission forms.
If someone on your leadership team has the expertise to create a shared electronic calendar, take advantage! Designate one person to keep the calendar up to date. If the group will have different leaders for different workshops, make sure to assign responsibilities, as needed, for distributing permission forms, requests for volunteers, and other advance communications to parents. Note these tasks and who will execute them on the calendar.
After you finish your calendar, read this guide through a couple of times. Envision your group, setting, and time constraints and prioritize accordingly. Highlight whatever sounds great. Make notes in the margins about modifications and additions you would like to make. Talk about the guide with your co-leader(s).
Reserve a good, private spot that is large enough for the group to spread its wings and scatter in different directions when private writing space is desired, but with an area small enough to be conducive to intimate and audible discussion. Refer to this spot in some consistent way. In the workshops, it is called the "meeting room." For those times when participants disperse for an activity, devise a method—such as sounding a bell or singing a song—for calling them back to the meeting room.
If your meeting room has a dry erase board, you might use it instead of newsprint when notes are not needed for future workshops.
Decide if you will serve snacks and treats. If you plan to serve snacks, decide who will provide them. Also decide if snacks will be available throughout the sixty-minute workshop or only served at the end.
Decide on the opening and closing rituals for the first workshop. Thereafter, the group may want to weigh in on what rituals they would like to use. See Workshop 2 for suggestions. Bring the necessary materials (a chalice, a candle, chanting tape, and the like.).
Make nametags for participants and leaders before the first workshop. Keep extra materials handy for making additional nametags for newcomers or guests.
Last — but not least — read over all the poems in the workshops. Familiarize yourself with them. If you have poems that you love, fit the theme, and are appropriate for youth, talk to your co-leader and congregational religious educator about using them as a replacement or in addition to the poems included in the program.
And, finally, enjoy the experiences you will share with this unique group of individuals.
It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
— Ursula K. LeGuin