Here are a few big picture thoughts to help you plan a great summer calendar
Go with something gender-specific.
A couple of years ago we tried a girls-only Bible study called Bagels & Bibles. It didn’t even necessarily cover girls issue that first year—but we stumbled onto something great: Something for the girls was a HUGE hit. In fact, the guys startled grumbling and asked for a Bible study of their own, too! While Donuts & Dudes has a much higher sugar content, it is a great idea, too. We also do a guys overnight trip called “Burly,” and a girls trip called “Girly.”
Give guest speakers that stage.
You probably want to teach during the most important weeks of the year—back to school, promotion, New Year—but summer is a great chance to develop some new teachers and build skill in the second tier. Let them have it! It’ll give you a chance to be the relational giant you thrive at, anyhow.
Carry over the winners.
Every summer you learn from the last—carry over the winners from summer to summer, and create a few key traditional events and activities students will look forward to year after year.
Steal from everyone else.
Be a learner! Scour youth ministry blogs for ideas on summer ideas that might work in your setting. At your next network meeting ask around and see what is and isn’t working for other people. Even ask members of your congregation for their best summer memories as a teenager and see if you can create or recreate something special and memorable. Quick aside: If you trigger good memories for people from their childhood, they’re super likely to volunteer at a similar event hoping for others to have the same life-changing experience they once had.
Block out a week at the end for you.
Don’t make the mistake of planning a killer summer and then heading right into “back to school” mode and fall kickoff. Take a break! This year we’re planning a “down week” at the end of summer and making sure that everyone is refreshed and healthy for the new school year. A great summer sets the table for a great fall—make sure you build in some time and space for yourself as well.