If your club roster is chock-full of families with children, give yourself a pat on the back. Your recruiting efforts are paying off, and you’re probably having quite a bit of fun, as are Sheila Markham and the Brown Hills Lions Club in North Dakota. “It’s loud and busy, sometimes downright crazy before we start our meeting and get things squared away,” Markham says. Children can offer a club loads of enthusiasm, but they also require plenty of attention and a different approach to how a club handles its business. Luckily, a few modest changes to a club’s operations can make the experience a good one for all involved. The Membership Programs department at Lions Clubs International offers a Family Lions Cub Activity Guide that’s perfect for learning how to work with youngsters, but here are a few key points to keep in mind for taking on kids in your club. • Be Patient. Fresh from a sugar high of cereal snacks and juice and ready to take on the world, children can be a bustling and raucous bunch. Just remember—they’re kids! Don’t expect youngsters to be perfect little Lions, and prepare yourself for noise, laughter and a bit of disruption to the old routine. Just remember to go with the flow, smile and laugh along. • Plan Ahead. Nary a child will be interested in the budget forecast for your club’s public relations campaign, so make sure there’s something to keep them engaged and interested while club members are handling business. Invest in school supplies—pads of paper, crayons, markers, glue, tape, string, popsicle sticks—and have a Lion volunteer to supervise a regular time for kids to create crafts. If you sense right away that the energy level is a bit too high for focusing on crafts, consider a game involving physical activity like “Duck-Duck-Goose.” • Get Them Involved. While they may not be able to handle the responsibilities of an adult, get children involved and encourage their development by assigning reasonable tasks with realistic goals. “We had the kids do turkey drawings of their hands and let them help put together items for our Thanksgiving basket handout,” says Anne Northrup, a member of the Windy City Lions Club in Chicago. “We wanted the project to be family friendly, so we invited the children of all the club’s members.” Encouragement and positive reinforcement are the keys. Setting and clearing dinner tables, organizing bingo cards and helping with cleanup projects are all activities that will build confidence and help your club at the same time. • Be Safe and Smart. Every parent knows that without a routine or supervision, children can get into a bit of mischief. “We had a member’s little boy come early to help set up for our meeting, and little did we know, he went off and accidently locked the entrance to the community room,” says Brad Miner of the South Laredo Lions Club in California. Keep in mind that some children might have special needs or medical or dietary restrictions. Speak with parents in advance of any activities isolated away from the regular club meeting, and get a written list of special needs and restrictions, if any, for each child before beginning. Curious, fun and full of imagination, children can bring a spark of excitement to your club. Make a few simple adjustments, and the youngsters will be on their way.
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