The summer months on the church calendar can often feel empty. Many youth ministries take a break from their regularly scheduled meetings, which leaves parents looking for connection and activities for their middle and high schoolers. The long, hot summer days can also leave scheduling gaps for the senior adults in your congregation. Now would be a great time to take advantage of an emptier calendar and schedule some times of interaction and have some summer fun with these two groups.
We want our youth to have relationships with our senior adults, but it can often be a challenging combination. What fun it would be to invite these two groups to come together a few times during the summer to invest in each other and discover their similarities and develop friendships!
Initially, your young people might feel intimidated by the thought of interacting with your senior adults, and honestly, the seniors may feel the same way! Your best bet is to break the ice and entice them both with some good food and fun! Invite them to a Make Your Own Sundae Event or a Taco Tuesday or something equally as yummy. Then you also need a guided activity that helps them interact but also allows them to see that people can have fun and laugh together no matter the age.
Here are 4 fun events you can spread out throughout the summer to promote interaction and relationship building:
1) Let’s Play a Game – Have the seniors teach the students their favorite games from when they were young: Rummy, Spoons, Mexican Train Dominoes, and other games. Then switch and have the youth teach the seniors some of their favorite games: Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Speak Out. This will break the ice and allow them to laugh together.
2) Let’s Play Outside – Host an evening on the lawn playing croquet, badminton, kickball, horseshoes, and cornhole. Then end the evening enjoying s’mores around a campfire or fire pit! Hopefully you will spot some fireflies and the seniors can share a story around the fire!
3) Let’s Make a Difference – Have your seniors and youth work together to bring the items to make Blessing Bags for your local men’s and women’s prisons or bags to give homeless people in your community. Pitching in together to do something for someone else will bring the groups together.
4) Let’s Ask a Question – Have the two groups come together for a final event where the youth get to ask the seniors prepared questions. This is a great opportunity for the youth to learn life lessons from the seniors. You can also allow the seniors to ask some questions of their own. This will be a time of teachable moments and laughter. Make sure to top it off with a celebratory meal or dessert, maybe a potluck of each groups’ favorites!
There is so much to be gained from these kinds of friendships. Too often we hold spiritual and social gatherings that keep our youth and seniors apart instead of bridging the gap and promoting unity. This isn’t done to intentionally exclude but often as a result of what we believe to be preferences. However, the body of Christ is meant to build one another up, and our older adults have so much to offer and teach our youth. We too easily discount our youth and forget that their exuberance and energy can often be coupled with insight that we have lost over the years. Summer is an ideal time to intentionally create space and time for this unity to grow.
What will you do this summer to bring your seniors and youth together?