13 May 2022

Do we appreciate our volunteer youth and children’s workers?

Matt Perkins

A Salvation Army children's working helping a child with craft
Matt Perkins reflects on an Easter Sunday visit to the Army with his family while they were on holiday.

My family and I spent this year’s sunny Easter weekend visiting family in the seaside town of Worthing. Among the egg hunts, rock pooling and scooting along the promenade, we attended Sunday morning worship at Worthing Corps.

The children were staying in the meeting and not going out to age-appropriate teaching - cue panic! I am sure this would send a shiver down the spine of most parents of small, energetic - and, in our case, mischievous - boys.

The initial signs were not good. There were hands over ears as the band played an opening march and flag waving turned into swordfighting (accompanied by karate sound effects) mid-worship song.

The chances of them sitting and being engaged for an hour without having to be removed was as likely as a child waiting until after breakfast to eat chocolate on Easter morning.

Thankfully, I was to be proved wrong.

My two eldest boys, five and two years old, were invited to sit at an activity table with several children they didn’t know.

For the next hour the volunteer children’s worker, the young people’s sergeant-major (YPSM), must have given out 10 engaging activities. There was colouring, multiple crafts, egg decorating, biscuit decorating, all of which enabled children to discover the Easter story in a fun and creative way. There were even drinks and snacks.

When the service ended, the fun didn’t. There was an egg rolling race in the back room followed by an Easter egg hunt in the main hall.

My boys and every other child there had a fantastic morning and left knowing something of the risen Jesus.

I sat watching them through the morning meeting, wondering how much time must have gone in to preparing each activity. It was staggering to me! The thought that had gone into it all, the creativity, the financial cost.

I felt compelled to say something:

‘Toni, this morning was amazing! The boys loved it. I know the amount of time you must have put into preparing for this morning. Please know that we appreciate what you have done.’

When was the last time each of us thanked our volunteer young people’s workers?

Parent or not, let’s value who they are and what they contribute to our corps and the lives of our young people.

Written by

Matt Perkins

Matt Perkins

Youth Specialist (Leader Development), Youth and Children's Ministries

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