“A Leader’s Perspective”

Hey All! I wanted to just touch on something that I think can be easily glossed over when trying to build and develop a club. Recognizing and respecting the different place in life a 13-year-old is versus an 18-year-old. Some clubs have approached this problem by simply separating their clubs into a “Junior Leaders Club” (middle school) and a “high school leaders club.” Although that solution gives the two groups space to learn and grow on their own, the unfortunate thing that this solution can lead to is the isolation of the younger leaders, with them feeling as though they are being “babied.” An alternative that I have heard of clubs finding great success in is breaking up the club “families” to bring together different age groups, but this is a system that may not work for all clubs. Another option is to just have one meeting with all ages, which again can lead to isolation through “cliques” by age. So what can be done about the gap?

In my experience, it is extremely helpful for club cohesion to do activities such as “cross the line” or a “four corners” activity where the end result is that everyone gains perspective. Perspective often shows the older leaders that they really aren’t too old or too cool to be friends with 13-year-olds, and it shows the 13-year-olds that the 18-year-olds are still going through similar things and are approachable. Not every young leader will have an older mentor to be best pals with, but imagine the impact it would have if each leader had someone to turn to who had a different perspective than them. None of these options are a cure all, but they are important steps to take when aiming to build a cohesive and productive club.

On a personal note, during my eighth grade year I became close friends with a large number of leaders who had “graduated” to our high school leaders program. The whole year long I felt as though my age defined my worth in the club. As advisors, the responsibility with which you have been entrusted is to provide a constant feeling of support, and in a divided club that may not be able to be accomplished. Whether it is awkward games, serious games, a family program, or maybe a mentor program, it’s vital to the success of a club that there is synergy and love between the middle and high-schoolers.

Trey Kawugulé