6 First Day Back Ideas for Youth Workers

The first day back is an ideal opportunity to connect with a student.

Your kick off may be weeks away (I still don’t get why some groups start so late!?) but I’ve found that nothing beats that first day for making a special connection with a student. Here are 6 ways that you and your team can make the most of that special day!

First, Here’s Why

There are special moments when students are open; like when a pet dies, parents separate, when they get their driver’s licence, break up with the person they’ve been dating, or when they get accepted at a college. When we share these moments with a student they feel closer to us but they also feel closer to God. They recognize that He is a part of their ups and downs.

Their first day back or their first day ever of high school is a great time to hear about their day. Here’s what some youth workers are doing.

1. Be There

Not everyone can do this but Young Life, Youth For Christ and other campus ministries are there on the first day. In fact, I know some Young Life clubs that are already there on registration day. They are part of the big welcome for the students and make lots of great contacts for the year ahead.

2. First Lunch

What about the middle of the day? Can some of your volunteers meet up with some of their students for lunch? Obviously this will have to be arranged in advance and parents may have to give permission, depending on the situation but what a great way to give support and encouragement right in the middle of their day!

My wife and I used to have a great time meeting groups of students in the van and taking them for fast food. Some of the students brought their lunch but it was all good!

3. Coke Date

If you can’t be there during the school day, you can arrange get a group together and go for cokes at their favorite fast food place after school. If you don’t have a budget for meals you can cover drinks. Volunteers will probably be working but if you have some college students on your staff they may be able to meet students on their first day back.

If your students attend a number of schools you may have to spread out to get to them.

4. Phone Blitz

If you can’t be there during the day or after school, you can get to many students by phone when they get home.

When I had 15 students in my group I could call each of them in one evening. When I had thirty it took me two evenings. From my perspective, this is one of those special days where it’s worth the effort.

If you have small group leaders they could call each of their students on that special day. You could even make them a list of question like:

  • How do you feel about going back
  • How do you feel about your classes
  • How have your friends changed over the summer
  • Give me a play by play of your day
  • What are you looking forward to this year what are you dreading?

5. Prayer Breakfast?

Seriously, I know a few groups that meet with their students for breakfast and prayer on their first day. These groups inspire their students to be a light in their schools. The students have a sense of mission for the day and the year ahead. They take their ministry in the school as seriously as athletes take their early morning practices.

6. First Night Party

This may sounds nuts but some groups throw a party on that first Monday or Tuesday that students head back to school. There’s probably no homework and some energy left at the end of the day. An evening  that combines food, interactive games, small group chats, and prayer creates an opportunity for leaders to connect with students in a special way.

The key to making this work is creating safe, fun ways for students to share their feelings about their first day and the upcoming year.

Don’t Miss It

A student’s first day of high school or junior high is such a great  opportunity to strengthen relationships with for the year ahead. Missing it communicates how little we are involved in their lives. If you can’t do any of the 6 ideas above, at very least text each of your students individually to ask how their first day back at school went for them.

What other ideas do you have?
Please leave a comment.

Here are 7 More ideas at YouthMinistry.com

And if you don’t have it completely sorted out here are some Kick off Night Ideas

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com