Planning a Great Fall Kickoff

Only one weekend to go. One weekend until the flurry of fall activities hits us once more. There’ll be back to school, the beginning of fall sports, and club sign-ups, making early fall one of the busiest times of the year. I know parents, teachers, and program leaders who’ve been planning, and shopping, and counting down the days until the return of fall routine since June. But I also know some that don’t have a clue what they’re going to do with the kids and youth they work with.

Fall is a time for kickoff events. Personally, I love these events. They set the tone for the rest of the year. A good kickoff party gets the kids excited for the new season. A poor one… well, let’s just say you’ll hear about it for a long time after it’s over.

For those of you who have your first day/night planned already, congrats and best wishes. For those of you who are still trying to kick your brain into fall gear, here are some ideas for some fun kickoff event themes.

1) What Stunt Would You Tackle?
One year our group had a local stunt person in. He demonstrated some of his stunts and talked about his experiences in the business. The kids loved learning about the television and movie industry and it provided a great opportunity to talk about taking risks/trying new things, thinking creatively, and being safe at the same time.

2) Don’t Be a Knock-Off
This theme works well for teens/older children who are all too aware of what the cool brands are and what are the cheapie, knock-off versions. Our group did this theme one year. We had all kinds of games where the kids had to tell the difference between real objects and fake ones. We even have knockoff themed desserts: jello in drink cups, and a watermelon that was decorated like a cake using Cool Whip. I found a lot of knock-off food ideas by searching for April Fools foods. This theme allows for discussion around being your authentic self instead of trying to change oneself in order fit in.

3) Get Your Game Face On
Games are always a popular feature with children and youth. This theme allows us to instill values like determination, focus, trying one’s best, and being a gracious winner or loser, while having a whole lot of fun. Games can be a part of any kind of kickoff, but a time dedicated completely to play with all kinds of different games is sure to be fun for everyone. If you’re looking for a great game to try at your kickoff event, our game MIND-N-METTLE will be coming out late this fall/early winter. While the full version won’t be ready for a couple of months, you can get the PowerPoint pilot version of this quiz-show style game by following us with your email address. Make your own questions and play it with your whole group, an individual, or as an option for one of your activity stations.

4) Movie Themes: Anyone can volunteer… but only the strong will survive
We did this as a Hunger Games theme back when that movie was still new. We had various “challenges” that kids could compete in and used the movie to talk about commitment and following through. More recently I’ve seen a lot of Frozen themed parties for young girls. Our Junior grades group also did a Transformers themed weekend this past Spring when the new Transformers movie first came out. Just keep an eye on the box office and you’ll be set.

5) Reality Shows
The possibilities are endless for this type of event because there is a reality show on just about everything. For our event we did a Fear factor eating contest, an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt, an America’s Got Talent competition, a Don’t Forget the Lyrics game based on Disney songs, and an Iron Chef challenge (requires access to a kitchen) for our group of teens. This was one of our most popular events.

Our team at Alcove wishes you an amazing Kickoff and a wonderful Fall season. If you’ve got some other ideas for Fall Kickoff events, please feel free to post them in our comments section. We’d love to hear from you.

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Carey Emmerson

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