Summer Vacation Chaos: How to get more margin in the summer months

Remember as a kid looking forward to summer vacation?  It was like this world of free time, no limits and most importantly no school.  For some reason that notion is still ingrained in my mind, but in the world of student ministry I feel like before the snow even melts, my summer is packed full of camps, retreats, meetings and maybe a family vacation.
I’m not sure about your ministry but ours doesn’t take a break, it just takes a new direction.  Instead of regular Thursday and Sunday night worship, we move into trips, events and gatherings.  It’s a little hectic because it throws off the flow of what we do.  And from talking to other youth workers it’s almost like when summer hits, we’re looking forward to the fall because:
We Find Structure

Whether you like structure or not, we need it or else we find ourselves on the brink of burnout.  But when it comes to summer there’s a pressure and a purpose to have more events, why?


Teens Have More Margin

But just because teens have more margin, doesn’t mean that we should lose ours, especially considering that we need some time to rejuvenate and refresh before the fall.  So to make sure we have our margin, enjoy summer; yet, keep the flow of ministry moving here are a few tips every youth minister should consider for their summer.

  1. Be Consistent – This doesn’t mean meet consistently with your students like you might during the year.  What it means is for you to create a work schedule that will help you stay focused on necessary tasks throughout the week.  If you just let your hours fly because there is less structure you’ll find yourself wasting more time and being less productive.
  2. Pre Meet and Post Meet – If I were to tell you today we are going to run a marathon, you would call me crazy.  Everyone knows you need to train, and that you need to recover.  Same things for youth ministry events and camps; yet, we go into them cold turkey and end them abruptly.  Everything you do in ministry needs to be a part of your vision and mission; therefore, create something (i.e. meeting, pep rally, reflection) that’s going to bookend your event and lead into what you do regularly; otherwise, cut it out of your schedule.
  3. Simplify and Outsource – If you continue to meet on a regular basis with your students simplify your structure and outsource your material.  Summer is a time of reflection and refreshing, you can’t do that if you are going at the same speed as you were in February.  We did something called Church at Chipotle where we just met, had little structure, but it created big impact.
  4. Build Up and Delegate – Summer is a great time to meet one on one with ministers.  Don’t go for the big meetings because getting everyone together is tough with summer vacation.  Instead, go out for lunch, coffee, just spend time with a few ministers one on one.  Do this with the ones you see have potential leadership.  Then talk to them about investing and inheriting in more of the vision.  By the time you hit the fall your leadership will be stronger.

I know many of us can’t think of summer with several feet of snow blocking our office windows, but don’t take these priceless months for granted.  Yeah we want it to be down time, but really it’s more than that, it’s a time to refocus.  So if you are doing too much look how to simplify; however, keep things moving.

I understand that with more margin in the teen’s schedules there might be pressure to do more or do something different, but stay focused, even if it means saying, “no” to a few things. 
What are some of the pressure you feel as a youth minister when it comes to planning out the summer?