Start Your Own Club
Are you looking for something different to do with your friends after school? Do you want to plan a challenging activity to keep you busy during summer vacation? Is there a hobby, topic, or issue of special interest to you? Perhaps you are a leader at heart and like to take charge of things. How about starting your own club! Just follow these six basic steps:
Step 1. Talk to your friends.
Try out your idea on a few friends and classmates. See if they're willing to help you get a club started. Remember, some kids may not know as much about your subject as you do. Or they may not share your enthusiasm. Be open-minded about what others have to say. If you want your club to be successful, you must be committed enough to make it work.
Step 2. Recruit members.
Finding members is fairly easy. Start out with just you, your friends, siblings, parents, relatives, and classmates. Later on, you may want to announce it at your school, church, or in the local newspaper to find other kids interested in joining. Don't be disappointed if you attract fewer members than you had hoped. Some kids may be busy with jobs, sports, or other activities. Your goal should simply be to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to join.
Step 3. Hold a meeting.
Choose a time, date, and location for your club's first meeting. Try not to conflict with other events, such as sports or church nights. Your first meeting will set the tone for future activities. Work on making members feel welcome and give everyone a chance to be actively involved. Each club member should play a meaningful role in the club's decisions, projects, and development. There's a lot to do the first time a club gets together, so you may want to have an agenda. Schedule the following things to do:
Discuss the reasons for forming a club and what you hope to accomplish. Brainstorm a list of things that everyone would like to do. Decide on the club's overall focus. Write up a mission statement (statement of purpose) and club rules.
Pick a name for your club by asking members for suggestions. The name can be catchy and should reflect the club's focus. Have each member write one or two ideas on a slip of paper. Collect all suggestions and vote to decide the winner. You may also want to ask members to come up with designs for a club logo. It could incorporate your group's name, initials, a picture or symbol. At the next meeting, members can vote for the best logo.
Discuss how your club will be organized. Do you want a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary? If so, vote for club officers during the first or second meeting. If members prefer a less formal structure, you might consider having a different chairperson for each meeting so that all members have a chance to sharpen their leadership skills.
Do you want to charge membership dues to put toward club expenses? If so, everyone will have to agree on how much the fee should be. Also, who will provide refreshments, if any, at each meeting?
Decide where to hold meetings and how often to get together. Keep in mind that members will be busy with other activities during the school year. If you schedule meetings too frequently, there may be only a small turnout at each one. On the other hand if you schedule meetings too infrequently, members will tend to lose interest in the club.
Once you have decided how often to meet, set up a club calendar and plot out the times and dates for future meetings. Your club has a better chance of succeeding if you meet regularly and members know ahead of time when those meetings will be.
Step 4: Put it in Writing
Hopefully you've jotted down some notes about your club's goals and strategies, and other things you've talked about. Put in writing all the rules and essentials that members have agreed to, and give everyone a copy. You should refer to these written records when you talk to an adult about being your advisor. He or she will need to get an idea of your general purpose and plan, and will want to know that you're serious about following it through.
Step 5. Find an Advisor
To make your club "official", consider asking an adult to sponsor your club and oversee activities. This could be a parent, a teacher, a community leader, a local businessperson, or other responsible adult. Choose someone who has the right experience, resources, and contacts to help you achieve your goals. For example, you may need help with advertising, raising funds, or doing community projects. Perhaps your club could even be an extension of an existing organization such as a Girl Scout troop, Cub Scout pack, 4-H club, or homeschool group.
Step 6. Take Action
Brainstorm some projects and activities you can work on as group. For example, an ecology club might have a recycling drive. Community service projects can help promote your club, as well as helping the community.
Types of Clubs
Good Deed Club: Help elderly neighbors, volunteer at a child care center, collect canned food and/or clothing for poor people, pick up trash in your neighborhood, etc.
Lego Club: Build individual projects side-by-side with other Legomaniacs, or work on a group project such as constructing a 5-foot model.
Book Club: Plan projects, field trips, games and crafts related to your reading. The American Girls, Little House, and other series work well for this type of club. (A mother-daughter, father-son, or family book club may also be fun.)
Pen Pal Club: Write letters to kids in other states or countries, then share the responses with club members. Find out interesting facts about where the pen pals live, learn their language and traditions, and swap recipes of ethnic or regional foods.
Fun Kids Club: Gather some kids together in your school, church, or community and start your own local Fun Kids or Teens Club. Meet once a week to share games, activities, crafts, recipes, stories, and more.
Other Clubs: Do you like to write stories and poems? Start a young author's club. Are you concerned about the environment? Start an ecology club. Do you like to do science experiments? Start a science club. Do you collect coins or stamps? Start a coin or stamp-collecting club. Do you like to eat? Start a cooking club. Do you like to play games? Start a gamers club. Do you like to do jigsaw puzzles? Start a puzzle club. Do you like to keep in shape? Start an exercise club. Do you like to make things? Start a craft club. Do you like to grow plants? Start a gardening club. Do you like photo albums and stickers? Start a scrapbooking club. Do you like rock hunting? Start a rock collector's club.
Recommended Reading: The Cool Crazy Crickets by David Elliott. In this easy chapter book, the author highlights the benefits of working as a group and the rewards of compromise. Four young friends come up with the idea of forming a club, and they negotiate over choosing a name, meeting place, mascot, and deciding what kind of club it will be. In the sequel, Cool Crazy Crickets to the Rescue, the kids return with a mission to raise money through baby-sitting, pet-sitting or making lemonade.
Does your child want to be in a club but can't find any other kids in the neighborhood with the same interest? Then he or she may want to consider joining an online or mail-order club:
The Young Scientists Club (www.theyoungscientistsclub.com) These monthly mail-order kits are curriculum-based, so they are also an excellent learning tool. Children are introduced to the scientific method and are encouraged to write down their observations, measurements, and conclusions. Each kit contains everything required for the experiments except for common household materials. All new Young Scientists receive a free binder and storage pouch with a magnifying glass, memo pad, pencil, ruler, and more. A complete description of the 36 science kits-enough for 3 years-can be found on their website.
Creation Kids Club (www.theselittleones.com/evenachild/club_main.htm) The Creation Kids Club is an international club made up of boys and girls who believe that God is our Creator and who care for His Creation. It's a "virtual" club house for kids to share their interests, stories, and experiences. Children can find a pen pal, leave notes for other Creation Kid Club Members, try a java coloring book, read jokes and riddles, or play online games at this award-winning site.
Junior Philatelists of America (www.jpastamps.org) The JPA is a group run by and for young stamp collectors, age 17 and under. Junior members operate services, write for its publication (The Philatelic Observer), participate in study groups, serve on committees, and elect their own officers; services include pen pals and a stamp swap program.
Amateur Entomologists' Society Bug Club (www.ex.ac.uk/bugclub) The Amateur Entomologists' Society Bug Club is devoted to young people who find insects interesting. They publish a colorful newsletter six times a year packed with interesting articles, games, puzzles and fun things to do and make, all related to creepy crawlies. It's based in London, but open to members in the U.S.
Kids Cooking Club (www.kidscook.com) The Kids Cooking Club offers a membership program designed to teach children all about good food, kitchen safety, nutrition, and basic cooking skills. They provide a quality kitchen experience for kids ages 3 - teens. Each month, a complete cooking project is delivered right to your door with the necessary ingredients, a newsletter filled with recipes from around the world, and a special cooking gift.
American Adventure Club (www.theamericanadventure.com/entryform.cfm) This book club for boys and girls ages 8-12 is based on a series of books covering our nation's major historical events from the landing of the Pilgrims through the end of World War II. These historical fiction adventure stories, written from a Christian perspective, feature kids as the main characters. Readers experience the children's daily way of life and encounter events as seen through a child's eyes, while following the lives of families through the generations. Book club members receive a colorful timeline poster, stickers, supplemental activity sheets, and two exciting books per month.
Kids Care Club (www.kidscare.org) A national service club for schools and youth groups that introduces kids to philanthropic action. Their website contains project ideas, a start-up handbook, and everything you need to organize your club.
Scholastic-at-Home Clubs (http://homeclubs.scholastic.com/service.asp) There are a variety of Scholastic-at-Home Clubs for all ages and interests: Magic School Bus, National Geographic's Animal Adventure, I Am an Artist, I Can Read, Beginning Readers, I Spy, Animal Lovers, Pony Pals, Little House, Magic Tree House, Mad Science, Dear America, Spy University, Detective Academy, Space University, Magic Tree House, Scholastic Classics, and plenty more! Your child will love being part of a club and you'll like the convenience; costs range from $10-15 per month.
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