Some of you are getting ready to start recruiting for you summer programs so I wanted to share these tips for recruiting middle school youth to your program. You'll see their needs are different from your high school youth, so your strategy will need to be different.
The chart below is based on understanding the unique developmental needs at various ages/stages of youth ages 11-18 (typical middle/high school ages). Of course, some youth will not fit exactly into one of these boxes, but these ideas are based on common child development milestones.
So, what does this mean for you and your staff? First, you might want to see if your staff needs or wants a refresher on the developmental stages of middle schoolers. One of my favorite resources is a Podcast from This American Life. You can really hear what it sounds like, feels like and even if you close your eyes, looks like to be a middle-school aged youth.
Second, take a look at what's been working; and keep doing it! If you need to make some changes based on some new information, resources, opportunities or constraints, try to remember to focus your efforts on meeting kids' needs.
This is also a great time to include young people in the process! Ask them what it would take to bring their friends to the program. Train them to be ambassadors and recruit groups of their peers.
I'd love to know what strategies you use; Tweet me @rebeccafabiano using #recruitingmiddle