PRAIRIE STAR DISTRICT ARCHIVES

Because Prairie Star District has become part of MidAmerica Region, this page has been archived as of July 15, 2013, for reference purposes. It will not be updated in the future, and some links may no longer work properly.  For more up-to-date information, please visit the Mid America UUA site.  Thank you!

YAC Guidelines for Youth Conferences

FOR HISTORICAL ARCHIVE PURPOSES ONLY

The Framework

In order for participants to grow and mature in self worth, inclusiveness is essential. In planning for youth events and conferences, we recommend:

  • Acceptance and celebration of the rich diversity of lifestyles, backgrounds, and spirituality.
  • Education about the damaging effects of prejudice and bigotry.
  • Accessibility of facilities and activities for those with special needs.
  • A commitment to resolve conflicts through discussion and mediation while avoiding verbal and emotional violence.
  • Language and actions consistent with the goal of an inclusive community.

Guiding Principles

At all District Conferences the following policies shall be followed:

  • There shall be a minimum of 1 adult advisor for every 7 youth attending the conference.
  • The human rights of everyone attending the conference shall be respected.
  • There shall be no illegal activity. Offenders will be dealt with accordingly.
  • Participants under legal age should be required to provide a medical release form signed by their parent or legal guardian.
  • Conference guidelines and consequences should be read aloud to the entire group at the beginning of the conference, with opportunity given for clarification.
  • Adults and youth in leadership positions should be required to read, sign, and accept the “Code of Ethics for Persons Working with Youth in UUA-Sponsored Programs” (available from the UUA Youth Office, and in several YRUU publications).

The Rules

The preservation and safety of the community is the goal of rules. The youth and adults planning each event shall establish rules well in advance of the event, in accordance with these principles, in consultation with adult advisors, and taking into consideration the responsibility they have to respect the concerns of youth participants and their legal guardian(s) and/or parents. The following guidelines provide a basis for the creation of rules for any YRUU event:

  • Ground rules and curfews should be based on knowledge of the area, facility rules, and the age group of the participants, and with consideration of local, state, and federal laws.
  • Rules in effect at any event should apply equally to all participants, regardless of age.
  • Rules should be developed in consideration of the needs of the youngest group attending.
  • Sleeping arrangements should be provided to meet the needs of all participants within the conference site (including “same-sex only,” and parent permission for co-ed).
  • Participants should be sent a behavior code with their registration, and be required to sign and return the form stating that they understand the rules and agree to abide by them. Consequences should be outlined.
  • Safety precautions will be observed for all games involving physical contact and an adult sponsor must be present. Appropriate attention must be paid to environmental hazards, energy level of the participants, and strategies to reduce the potential for injury.

Conference Planning

The Seal of Approval (SOA) process seeks to empower youth to create quality experiences for event attendees and event planners and hosts. Quality experiences are those that enrich and strengthen youth program at all levels; local, regional, district and beyond. Attentive planning will help support an inclusive community and conference culture which reflects UU principles and provides opportunity for growth in areas of worship, youth-adult relations, community building, social action, learning and leadership.

Planning groups should be big enough and committed to the task, a minimum of 10 is suggested. It is recommended application for the PSD Seal of Approval occur at least 12 weeks before the scheduled event to allow sufficient time for promotion and registration. No conference can claim the SOA without application to, review by, and permission of the YAC. Whenever possible at least one YAC member will attend conferences earning the SOA.

The YAC will award the Seal of Approval to no more than one conference per month and to none within two weeks of the PSD YRUU annual business meeting/election conference. This once-per-month schedule may also include training conferences such as Spirituality Development Con, Leadership Development Con, etc.

Mailing lists or labels provided with the Seal of Approval are to be used only for that specific event’s communications.

If a sponsoring congregation or organization’s event does not comply with the PSD guidelines, no SOA will be awarded to that congregation or organization for one year following the infraction. This determination will be made in consultation with the Lifespan Program Director.

All attendees must be pre-registered and have pre-arranged adult sponsors. Registration forms should include all pertinent data and must be accessible at the event. There must be a mechanism ensuring the home congregation is aware of the registrant’s attendance and sponsor, such as a signature on the registration form.

Adult sponsors are participants in the youth conference setting. Whenever possible, the conference organizers should provide advance information to adult sponsors concerning their role. Orientation for adult sponsors must address exact expectations, the event site, logistics, and available resources in case of emergency. Adults should be assigned with youth to specific spaces within the Con community, such as touch groups.

Touch groups should have activities planned in advance and should be mandatory for all attendees, youth and adults.

Event rules and consequences for infractions shall be presented at the beginning of the event. Conference Affairs Committee members are to be designated before the event and are required to be available to address concerns as they arise during the event.

Sexuality

Sexuality is something to be valued and developed in persons of all ages. However, recognizing the variance in readiness for, and comfort with, sexual relationships among youth, members of the community are empowered to decline sexual intimacy of any kind. In addition, sexual behavior at conferences and other events can create awkwardness and detract from our goal of an inclusive community. Recognizing that sexual behavior can be potentially life threatening, education about safe-sex should be provided. PSD YAC requests that no sexual behavior take place at conferences.

PSD YAC Smoking Guideline

The Prairie Star District’s Youth/Adult Committee recognizes the following to be true:

  • Federal law prohibits the purchase of tobacco products by persons under 18 years of age.
  • Many states have laws which prohibit public possession and use of tobacco products by persons under 18 years of age.
  • Use of tobacco products is tolerated by some parents of underage YRUUers.
  • Some youth who attend YRUU events use tobacco products without their parents' knowledge or consent.
  • Tobacco is one of the most addictive substances available, either legally or illegally.
  • Many people are allergic to tobacco smoke.
  • Social Smoking destroys a group's overall sense of community.
  • Our UU Principles affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all persons, which implies both individuals who smoke and those who do not.

The Guideline

In light of the aforementioned, the PSD YAC strongly discourages smoking at PSD YRUU events. Smoking will be tolerated at YAC endorsed events, however with the following restrictions:

  • All host site rules pertaining to smoking will apply.
  • Smoking will be permitted only in small, non-public, designated outdoor areas, regardless of weather.
  • Social smoking will not be allowed: smokers must leave the designated area when not smoking; non-smokers should not be present in the smoking area.
  • All butts go into a receptacle. Smokers will be responsible for policing the area and disposing of cigarette butts.
  • Event attendees can only use tobacco products which they personally brought to the event. No bumming, no sharing.

The PSD YAC encourages local YRUU groups to educate themselves and others on the hazards of tobacco use, with the goal of eliminating the use of tobacco by participants of YRUU events.

Enforcement and Consequences

It is the responsibility of the entire community to enforce behavior rules to maintain itself and the safety of its members. Members of the community should be empowered to either confront any behavior that makes them uncomfortable, or to approach a youth leader or adult advisor with their concerns. Alleged violations of the rules should be addressed by a Conference Affairs Committee (CAC) composed of both youth and adults, with youth in the majority. Membership on the CAC should include at least one event planner, a chaplain and one representative of the PSD YAC, if available. This committee should be introduced at the opening of the event, should have discretion in dealing with inappropriate behavior, and should maintain confidentiality when appropriate. The alleged offender’s adult sponsor will be informed and invited to participate.

PSD YAC Guidelines on Adult Sponsors

Every youth attending a conference which has received the YAC “Seal of Approval” must have an adult sponsor arranged prior to the conference, and this sponsorship shall be communicated to the conference planning committee. There shall be at least one adult sponsor for every seven youth who attend a conference or event.

Adult sponsors are defined as persons age 25 years or older who are authorized by their home congregation to accompany youth to PSD activities. Exceptions for persons under age 25 may be granted by a governing body of the person’s home congregation. Sponsors should know the youth they are sponsoring, and youth should know their sponsors.

These adult sponsors shall:

  • Make regular check-ins with each sponsored youth throughout the conference.
  • Be aware of, and monitor, any medical conditions or allergies of the sponsored youth.
  • Keep emergency notification numbers for parents of sponsored youth.
  • Attend an “Adult Orientation” and sign agreement to the UUA’s “Adult Code of Ethics.”

The YAC strongly suggests that youth attend the same society as the adult sponsor. A planning committee may choose to make special exceptions for youth unable to find a sponsoring adult in their own society. In such a case, the following process should be followed:

  • Every option in the home society must be exhausted.
  • A willing adult who will sponsor a youth outside of their home society and who does not exceed the 1:7 ratio must be identified.
  • The youth and adult must contact each other and contract to be responsible to each other prior to the conference.
  • No “walk-ins” will be allowed. (A “walk-in” is a person who has not registered in advance OR a youth without adult sponsor or registration-form signatures OR a youth whose home congregation is unaware of their attendance at the event.)

A specific plan should be employed to safely turn away walk-ins or house them separately overnight if needed.

PSD YAC Guideline Regarding Drivers

The PSD YAC encourages individual churches to set driving policies for their own YRUU communities. It is up to the individual churches to determine whether or not they will allow youth drivers. For PSD YAC endorsed events, the following policies will apply:

  • All drivers must have adequate insurance.
  • All drivers must have a valid Driver’s License.
  • Youth Drivers, when allowed for by their local church, must have a permission form signed by their parent/legal guardian allowing them to drive to and from the event, and additional approval to carry passengers.
  • Youth passengers must have a parent/legal guardian signed permission slip giving permission to ride with a specific driver, with note made when that driver is a youth.
  • Seat belts must be worn by all people in the vehicle.
  • All drivers are encouraged to have adequate sleep before driving a vehicle.

Code of Ethics for Adults and Older Youth

Adults and older youth who are in leadership roles are in a position of stewardship and play a key role in fostering spiritual development of both individuals and the community. It is, therefore, especially important that those in leadership positions be well qualified to provide the special nurture, care and support that will enable youth to develop a positive sense of self and a spirit of independence and responsibility. The relationship between young people and their leaders must be one of mutual respect if the positive potential is to be realized. There are no more important areas of growth than those of self-worth and the development of a healthy identity as a sexual being. Adults play a key role in assisting youth in these areas of growth. Wisdom dictates that youth and adults suffer damaging effects when leaders become sexually involved with youth persons in their care; therefore, leaders will refrain from engaging in sexual, seductive, or erotic behavior with youth. Neither shall they sexually harass or engage in behavior with youth which constitutes verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Leaders shall be informed of the code of ethics and agree to it before assuming their role. In cases of violation of this code, appropriate action will be taken.

Signature:____________________________ Date:______________________________

Adapted Code of Ethics for Adults

Adults are in a position of stewardship and play a key role in fostering the spiritual development of both individuals and the community. It is, therefore especially important that adults be qualified to provide the special nurture, care, and support, that will enable youth to develop a positive sense of self and responsibility. The relation between young people and adults must be one of mutual respect if the positive potential of their relationship is to be realized. There are no more important areas of growth than those of self-worth and the development of a healthy identity as a sexual being. Adults play a key role in assisting youth in these areas of growth. Wisdom dictates that youth and adults suffer damaging effects when leaders become sexually involved with young persons in their care; therefore, leaders will refrain from engaging in sexual, seductive or erotic behavior with youth. Neither shall they sexually harass or engage in behavior with youth which constitutes verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Leaders shall be informed of the code of ethics and agree to it before assuming their role. In cases of violation of this code, appropriate action will be taken.

Signature:____________________________ Date:______________________________

Adapted code of Ethics for Youth in Leadership Positions

Youth in leadership positions are uniquely visible and influential in any conference community. They should recognize that power imbalances exist in their interactions with other conferees. Inappropriate sexual behavior is never acceptable; additionally, youth leaders should remain aware of the impact of their actions and behave accordingly. Youth who abuse their roles as leaders, consciously or not, can damage individuals and the community. Youth leaders are expected to use their influence in a positive manner.

Signature:____________________________ Date:______________________________