Reflections on the 2017 Youth Development Institute Conference

As my first conference attended through our organization, I was inspired and encouraged by spending time with so many people who work in the same environment as I do.  Being given a space to brainstorm, trouble shoot, and learn from others experiences was a great way to bring ideas back for my own club to grow.  The conference material itself was incredibly applicable to my work, as it overviewed many facets of creating a fun and safe environment in which youth can grow as individuals.  I appreciated the way the presenters modeled the types of community building activities we could use with our youth.  Already, I’ve used several of the activities they demonstrated.

Although the discussions on reframing conflict, creating structure, and building community certainly impacted me and led to growth in these areas, I was most impacted by the presentation “Ask, Listen, Encourage”.  This presentation discussed the importance of showing curiosity and encouragement when our members share their thoughts and ideas with us.  It pushed me to reflect upon how I can move away from praise (“That’s a beautiful painting!”) and towards encouragement (“You really utilized color in this painting.  What gave you that idea?”).  By doing this, we help end kid’s need for outside validation by encouraging them to be confident and open with their own ideas.

Ellen Schlabach
Youth Development Institute Conference