I am sure most of you have agonised over why it is so difficult to engage some of the kids in your Ranger group. Why is it that most of your group will listen to what you have to deliver but one or two withdraw or become disruptive and don't want to participate? There are a whole range of possibilities that can be considered that may or may not be relevant to your individual situation.
Ultimately, kids respond to people who inspire them. As leaders we must be passionate about our role. We must be excited about what we want to present and we must believe that what we offer is worthwhile.
We may have had a long day at work and there is baggage that we all carry, but we must approach each Ranger meeting with a freshness that only God can give us. In praying for your Rangers and the meeting, don't forget to pray for yourself, that God would bring your passion to the front and your daily life to the back. Kids too have had full days. School can be a draining process for some where learning does not come easily. They have often been contained in classrooms with tasks that may not always be inspiring to them. Rangers must be different from school. Sitting at tables with books and paperwork is just not going to cut it for some kids. Some kids also have draining home lives - struggling relationships, tension, low finances, trauma, the list could go on.
As leaders we must build safe, secure relationships with our young people. Relationships built on trust that gently shows the child that they are so important to you and valuable. Your relationships should show the compassionate love of God in all you do. These relationships need to be for the whole groups but also for each individual child. Throughout the meetings make direct and personal connections with each member during the activities.
Your program needs to be exciting and practical. Where possible bring in physical examples of things to show and use. The program feature is all about giving our young people new skills to integrate in their lives. You can't always develop these skills from a book or handout. You actually have to DO. Research shows that children do learn some by hearing and seeing, but they have far more effective learning by actually doing, and then by teaching others. Once they have mastered a new skill, have them teach someone else.
Learning is also more effective when it is framed in personal experiences. Open your own life up to your group. Show that you are human. Let your guard down a little. Talk about your life. I do this so regularly in my classroom. My students know all about my family, my interests, my hobbies and my life. Relationships must be 2 way. My students relate well with me and they share their lives with me because I share mine with them. In your group, talk about how God relates to you during your devotion and quiet times. Share specific examples of His movement in your life. During your program feature share how you have been able to utilise the skills you are teaching or have your other leaders contribute their experiences. It's all about connecting with people. Have fun with them - join in the games don't just stand on the sideline as the referee. Allow yourself to laugh with them, but above all be real.
Be relevant. If you can use technology to assist your presentations then do so. The children of today learn differently from how we do. Their lives are visually stimulated through interactive programs. You can agree or disagree with the technological advances of today but they will not change. This is their life. Harness what you can to work for you and still incorporate the hands on approach that is so necessary, especially for our outdoor programs and skills.
In my experience as a Teacher, a School Principal, a Ranger Leader and as a human being, the key to a whole range of possibilities that can be experiences. Open your own life up to your working with people of any age is ‘relationships’. Healthy, safe, secure relationships. As leaders, you need to know your young people and know what it is that will build that relationship most effectively. God designed us all as relational beings – in relationship with others and ultimately in relationship with Him. Through positive relationships with you, your young children will seek after that relationship with their Lord and Saviour – maybe not immediately, but seeds will be sown.