Thursday splurge

hard lines.jpgYouthblog would like to apologise for the poor service on the blog yesterday! Taking a tip from our train companies I shall adopt a ‘It’s not our fault’ type air and say that it was the wrong type of html on the lines AND remind customers that any posts under a day late are not actually late by our definition!*
Enough pseudo train-esque excuses: Lets board the 09:45 Christian Youthwork special:
1. John at Christinanzine asked if I could include a link to their Christian news, views and debate site! Job Done 🙂 2. Oakwood Youth Challenge, who I mentioned an age ago are now fully up and running with a mahoosive list of activities and a residential centre. The Centre is over near Bracknell so would be ideal for Berkshire youth groups to do day visits and the like. (BTW our next Network meeting of full timers will probably meet there). 3. Huntercombe Young Offenders Institute (again Berkshire) are looking to recruit a Christian Youth Worker to do two sunday mornings a month with the chaplaincy team. This is a paid role and ideally they are looking for some musical ability (more details from me). 4. Urban Saints (nee Crusaders) have a rather fine residential week for 10-14 yr olds called “Smallwood Again” running from Aug 4-11th, they are really short of female leaders and a cook team. If you can help them or make this need known, that would be fab! 5. Knowing how busy Youth workers are here’s your chance to swot up on all the films you missed with each one reduced to five seconds! ht to Tim
On the Scrounge:
I have 7 family services to write for the rapidly approaching Ski trip. Any Holy Week creative assemblies, preaches, ideas or resources would be HUGELY appreciated 🙂 Thanx

And finally …..

Superheroes mindful of the need to set an environmental example have been downsizing their cars. The fuel savings have also been very beneficial to the Bat-budget.
bat economy.jpg
* For non UK readers, our train companies do not class a train late unless it is delayed by more than an hour! (Whereas, I was once in Germany when someone from the station personally apologised to all the passengers because the ICE was 3 minutes late)

Cannabis

can apolo.jpg
Was gobsmacked to read this as a headline yesterday, ‘Cannabis, an Apology’ from the Independent (It was them that led the campaign for it to be de-criminalized 10 years ago). The evidence of the dangers have been growing for a while but I thought devoting the front page to an apology and a warning was a great piece of journalism. Well worth a read!

Wii Risk assessment

wii5.jpgCommenting to the article below on the Nintendo Wii, Miz flagged up this site that records some of the chaos that has ensued from playing Wii! He also speculated about a risk assessment, so I’ve written one!
Just to reiterate that I think the Wii is fab but here’s the risks and recommended responses if you are going to get one for the youth group 🙂
In Word format Download file and as a PDF Download file

Wii Me

My shoulder hurts!
I’ve just got back from a most excellent weekend away in the company of a bunch of blokes who I’ve had the privilege of counting as friends ever since we were in a youth group together back in the day.
Anyway, the shoulder ….. as well as walking on the Malverns, good food, praying together, listening to music, mellowing and good conversation we spent quite a lot of the weekend playing on a Wii games console, a totally new experience for the majority of us. As the Wii is in the realms of stuff that youth leaders might want to hear an account of, I thought I’d post a general review and shoulder warning!
wii2.jpg The Wii rocks. It’s great fun and operating as it does from a motion sensor that you hold in your hand, is very active AND engaging. To play the tennis game, you have to play tennis (including a lob and smack type move to serve), to Box, well you have one gizmo for each hand and you fight (This means that watching someone else play is even funnier than playing), anyway you know all this but I couldn’t post a review without the broad overview. I was really impressed with how sociable it was, four player golf or bowling for example as you pass the controller to the next person and virtually hit or bowl, FAB! The graphics and interface are really well thought out and you pick up the play really quickly, the Wii making it more of a challenge as you improve. I also liked the humour and creativity in creating a Wii-me Wee-me (as it were). The weird stuff though is how physically demanding games like tennis and boxing are, the idea that you could actually get fit playing a computer game is a weird one. There is a wii3.jpgdanger (which they constantly warn you about) that you may injure yourself or others as your arms flail about the place. What I found though (and we’ve finally got to the shoulder) is that swinging your arm to connect with a virtual tennis ball is brilliant BUT the fact there is no ball that actually has a decelerating effect on your swung arm means that it gets really uncomfortable after a while, your muscles acting as the impetus and the brake is not something that they take readily too. This is just one issue though and actually I give the Wii a massive thumbs up for fun and more importantly creating an active game in which participation of a group of people is possible and a great laugh. (oh and projecting the images through a data projector onto a BIG screen works really well).
It’d be interesting to see how it worked buying one for the youth group and I would love to hear if anyone has. It certainly works better for involvement and fun than a PS2 et al in the corner of a youth group IMHO.

Predicting the future

future2.jpg I have never been very good at predicting the future (and have no reason to think that in the future I will be better at it) but encouragingly lots of other people aren’t either. For evidence of this I shall cite Space 1999, or in fact any number of TV programmes that attempted to paint the future as they saw it!
But I have a futuring project to do! I have to present to the other trustees of Woolhope (Small residential centre in the country side that sleeps 21 people) a look at how changing Church or youthwork trends might impact it’s use for better or worse AND how it might need to change, or indeed close. At this time bookings are fine and it ticks along nicely but we are taking the chance to ask some questions:

> Does the small self catering centre have an ongoing role or not?
> What trends in Church and Christian Youthwork might affect this or require a change of emphasis?
> Are youth leaders looking more for bigger centres with everything laid on?

In fact no piece of trend analysis or residential reflection is outside the boundaries of this discussion.
So Grasshopper*, I need your wisdom please
*If you are not familiar with the Kung Fu TV series back in the day then this reference can be ignored

Death by Powerpoint

pp.jpgPowerpoint is a great thing! It has the potential to enliven communication, to reinforce the message being delivered and to give multimedia impact to presentations. All good eh, So how has something that was created for good been so often corrupted into an evil hi-tech purveyor of boredom?
You know what I’m talking about right? “Death by Powerpoint” where each slide uses a natty entrance to reveal row after row of bulletted text. This text is THE presentation and is read out to the audience a bit at a time just after each new line appears. For the full slideicidal effect, the speaker should turn and read it off the wall mounted screen giving you their back to view while you read the words, AND then hear the words! This is the evil manifestation of Powerpoint where a boring ‘communicator’ gets to feel like a good communicator because it’s no longer a talk but a full blown presentation! I feel pretty strongly about this and would like legislation whereby any Powerpointer who commits this crime should have their laptop confiscated and have to enter into a restorative justice programme where the audience explain how their will to live was evaporating away during the presentation.
The Youthblog Postulate: You need to be capable of communicating without Powerpoint if you are ever going to fully utilize the communication potential of Powerpoint.
Powerpoint (IMHO) Should:

1. Reinforce and illustrate your communication
2. Be visually interesting
3. Not use too many types of transition and entrances/exits in one presentation
4. Visually fit with the tone and gravity of the presentation
5. Be put together when you are clear about the message you are presenting (not be put together because you are not clear)
6. Be the tool not the driver
7. Be the subservient partner in a double act with you, not be the star

Interestingly the worst examples I can recall have been delivered by statutory based professionals rather than folk in the faith sector.
Here’s a present from Youthblog. Download file
Laminate this and keep with you in case you find yourself dangerously trapped in a “death by powerpoint” scenario
I’m open to other thoughts and tips, oh and confessions of those that inflict ‘death by Powerpoint’ on captive audiences!

Do blogs distract from work?

Today I’m conducting some research into how much of a distraction this blog is from doing the Youth work related stuff you are supposed to be doing! Please let me know how long you spent here today 🙂
(If you are picking this up via a reader you’ll miss the distracting nonsense below and hence the excuse for the ‘research’ )