4 DIY Youth Room Hacks For A Warm Student Environment
Throughout the years, youth workers have come up with a variety of ways to define space in order to create a warm and hospitable environment for students. Pinterest has made it fun and easy to share ideas, as well as posting ideas for refreshing a youth room. The very idea of a “youth room” is really one of the bedrock ideas behind the rise of youth ministry over the last 50 years, so if you have a youth room (or make one with a flexible space), here’s some go-to’s for making your space fantastic for students.
Full disclaimer. Every church has their unique challenges with space. We’ve never met a youth worker who was completely satisfied with their space (if we have, they were the exception), so the idea with this is to do the best with what you’ve got. Students aren’t always going to remember the “wow” factors of a space, but they will remember the “warm” factors. These our the go-to warm hacks for youth spaces:
Board games, ping pong tables, pool tables, decks of cards – you probably have a few of these lounging around. If anything, you’ll receive these donated from the church rummage sale. I’ve never met a youth worker who wasn’t sitting on a stash of games and leisure equipment. The biggest issue is how this is displayed and stored. If your supplies/equipment is not able to be out in the open during the week, use storage solutions such a movable storage racks or cabinets.
Here’s some of the better games/activities/leisure equipment to utilize:
- Throw Throw Burrito
- 5 Second Rule
- Spikeball (indoor or outdoor game)
- Bounce Battle Game
- Jumbo Connect 4
- Any number of lawn games
When it doubt, spend 15 minutes checking out Gopher Sport.
ON THE WALL
Whenever you walk into a new space, chances are one of the first things you notice is what is on the walls. Not only if there is something, but what is it?
Seeing a variety of church youth rooms, you have seen the spectrum of past year’s mission trip group photos, 4 year old prayer station projects, or even the dated pictures of bible stories someone took from the children’s ministry closet in an attempt to cover up a hole from the ball incident two years prior. Regardless, anything on the wall should follow a few “prescriptive” rules:
- Anything on the wall should reflect the group right now (avoid using anything that might reflect the “glory days” of the youth group or room).
- Anything on the wall should never be so oversized or undersized that it becomes the main thing people notice.
- Anything on the wall should be able to be replaced relatively easily.
To eat/drink or not eat/drink, that is the question. Actually it’s not. Food is becoming more and more of an expectation with groups across the country. Obviously this is contextualized based on group size, but between families/volunteers providing food/drinks, to youth workers building it into their actual budget, it’s a valuable experience in hospitality to serve food/drinks with your group. Beyond the typical snacks you can provide, find ways to bring a theme or programming experience in with your snacks. Here’s some ideas that you can use to elevate the “warm” environment in conversation and social media:
- Do a hot cocoa “bar” for an cold weather evening
- Movie snack night
- Milk/Cookies (stay away from nuts for allergies)
- Walking tacos (using doritos or fritos)
Type “youth group snacks” in Pinterest and let your adults/volunteers have fun with ideas!
We used to play a game called “bigger and better” in youth group back in the 90’s. The simple idea is that you start with something small (like, a penny) and the group you are with goes from house to house, attempt to get something either “bigger” or “better” than what you have. This is how our youth room got most of it’s furniture during my years in youth ministry. I don’t know what the conversations were back in the 90’s, but it’s a different conversation now about accepting used furniture. Furniture can develop a sense of space, but overused furniture can look uninviting and uncomfortable. Here’s some ideas for thinking through a piece of furniture (donated or purchased):
- Don’t accept something just because someone donated it. If you don’t have the space or use, just say no.
- If it’s smelly, falling apart, or dangerous, get rid of it. Imagine your furniture could talk, what would that piece of furniture say about what you believe and expect for a student that would sit on it?
- Replace heavy furniture with space saving options that are easily movable, collapsible, and can be reconfigured for a different type of space (think cushion pouf, stools, or floor cushions).
- Utilize small cafe tables to be able to create space for food/games.
Here are your four “Warm Space” ideas to get you started in the right direction. What suggestions do you have for warming up a youth space?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.