Just Desserts

The Problem: Each week at our program, The Landing, we have a few students who stay outside during large group time, then go to small group. No amount of encouragement has brought them consistently inside.

The Solution: We haven’t fully figured out a solution, yet, but I think we took a big step closer last night. We have free dessert after small group each week. This week we handed out dessert tickets at the end of large group. Without a ticket, dessert cost $2.00. While free dessert alone might not get them into large group, there’s a certain psychological feeling of being left out that might get them to start coming in.

Unexpected Benefit: A leader told me that his students who are regularly in large group liked having the tickets. Even though they always get dessert, there was something about having a ticket that made them feel better. I think it might have brought a feeling of belonging. I didn’t expect that, but I’ll take it.

As youth workers, we’ve got to continually think of ways to nudge our students in the direction we want them to go. In a month’s time, I’m hoping to see some benefits from moving to this system.

I’d love to know your thoughts and also some things you’ve tried that have worked or flopped.