It never ceases to amaze me, how many activities and organizations are available to kids in Des Moines. It almost seems overwhelming as a parent, trying to wade through it all. Youth Groups is yet another topic we will try to tackle here on dsm4kids. We will be highlighting various youth organizations and providing you with as much information as we can dig up.
What You Need To Know
Youth organizations have been around for decades, there are many types for many personalities. Youth groups provide opportunities for kids to participate in activities they may not otherwise be able to do at home or school and they can gain many benefits by participating in one.
Youth organizations can play a vital role in helping youth to develop, learn and have fun. Mostly being administered by volunteers. In addition to the skills and values these groups teach, they can also be a place of refuge for kids who struggle to fit in or are disadvantaged due to a family situation or lack of opportunities.
Some questions to consider when determining what youth group is right for your child and family:
- Is your child interested in joining?
- What activities would your child enjoy most?
- Are you able to get them to meetings?
- Do your kids have friends participating? Do they need to have friends they already know to participate?
- What’s the time commitment?
- Is a parent required to attend meetings? Other parent involvement required?
- Is there a fundraising requirement?
- How are meetings structured?
- Is the organization affiliated with a larger organization?
- Is there an adequate number of adults to kids?
- How are staff and volunteers selected and screened?
- How do older and younger children interact?
- Does the philosophy of the organization align with your family’s values?
Where to Look
- Community Centers
- Cultural Centers
- Fine Arts Programs
- Museums and Libraries
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Parks and Recreations Departments
- Pediatricians/Specialists (Special Needs Groups)
- Schools and Universities
- Sports Programs
When to Register
Most youth groups follow the school calendar and start registration at the beginning of the school year. Although, many allow registration throughout the year.
With any activity, membership fees and cost to participate is a concern. When registering make sure to ask the following questions:
Is there a refund policy?
It will vary by organization. Some refunds will be based upon the reason for the refund and may take into account when the request was received. Other organizations will not make any refunds. Many organizations, especially nationally affiliated ones, allow membership transfer.
Is there financial assistance available?
Many organizations offer scholarships and have it as part of their mission, that no kid will be turned away. So, be sure to ask if assistance is available, especially if the cost is the only obstacle holding you back.
What is included in the membership fee?
Typically membership fees will support the activities and services provided by the organization. It will also cover insurance coverage costs, program development, volunteer training and materials. Other items to ask about are fees for special programs and trips, uniforms, and special equipment.
Are special discounts available?
Often organizations offer discounts for early-bird registration, life-time memberships and enrollment of multiple family members.
What benefits do you think youth groups provide for kids in Des Moines?