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Last year, our parish (along with two other parishes) used the Be Yourself Journals as part of their plan for the youth group.
I was thrilled to get feedback from the men who run this program. They loved what the Be Yourself Journals addressed and how it was presented. It was exactly what they were looking for after attending a meeting about what is best to reinforce with the age group that is often identified as early adolescent, tweens, middle schoolers or junior high students.
*If you want more ideas, or ideas on how to use the Be Yourself Journals in the Classroom, check out 3 Ways to Use the Be Yourself Journals in the Classroom
Here is a glimpse of what we did as well as some plans we had that we never did get to (ugh, COVID).
Catholic Youth Group Topics in this post include:
- Identify as a Child of God
- Bullying, Forgiveness and Jesus
- Saints as Friends and Motivators
- Prayer: Praying without Ceasing
Identify as a Child of God
Who are you?
Prior to this first session, we asked the youth to email us a picture of themselves in nature. We suggested they send a picture of themselves doing something outdoors (hiking, fishing) or visiting somewhere they enjoy (at the beach, up the mountains, at the Grand Canyon). The focus should be that they are somewhere that show’s the beauty of God’s creation.
One of the youth ministers prepared a quick slide show to play after we discussed “who are you?”
Here’s a glimpse at our “lesson plan” for the night!
Topic for this session: Who are You
To get the 6th, 7th and 8th graders thinking about the topic, we directed them towards the journal pages that asks them simple and fun questions about themselves.
Page 6-7-15-16 Boys Journal
Beauty Basics, God’s Creation, God’s Creation and You, Girls Journal
Whole Group Activity:
Invite teens to come up to a white board/butcher paper and tell them to write a word or two describing
who they are. They will write the words inside their own circle. Inside the circle will be a stick figure to
represent themselves. There will be a separate board/paper for the girls and guys.
Brief Talk on God’s Creation
One leader gives a talk on how these adjectives they wrote do describe aspects of their personality, but they don’t define them.
The letter in the Girl’s Journal from Saint Catherine Siena gives a great analogy that might be worth discussing! Check it out and share it with the kids!
Teach and stress the following:
- We are God’s creation. God created you in His Image. God created you body and soul.
- God created everything for you but you in turn were created to serve and love God and offer all creation back to Him.**
- We are unique and unrepeatable. We are called to identify as God’s son or daughter (child).
- God created everything for you but you in turn were created to serve and love God and offer all creation back to Him.
After this brief talk/discussion, show the slide show with all the pictures that were sent!
show slide show on the TV for the teens in nature.
Ask: What natural wonder would you love
to see one day.
Present a list of the natural wonders.
Rest of Night:
Would you Rather Activity
** The Would You Rather Game focuses on the beginning of this Catholic teaching: “God created everything for you but you in turn were created to serve and love God and offer all creation back to Him”
After they fill it out their answers in the book, the small group leader can go through each choice and
have them raise hand to see if they chose Answer 1 or 2.
Girls v. Boys
We wrote each “would you rather activity” on a slip of paper. The teens picked a paper out of a hat and had to act out the activity and someone had to guess in a set amount of time.
We did boys v. girls and gave each group an alternating turn, it was so entertaining to watch! Lots of laughs!
Pick an action out of a hat and act it out (like ziplining, swimming, mountain climbing, hunting, fishing, etc. . .)
Here are some other spring boards from the book that make great group activities:
Bullying, Forgiveness and Jesus
Using the Boy’s Journal (pages 42-43) and the Gospel of John (John 8:3-9) is a great way to start talking about bullying and sticking up for people who are getting “ganged up on”.
We ended the night with a “writing in the sand activity”. The Youth Minister had one prepared . . . he had bins of sand that students partnered up with and shared.
The materials were simple and the interaction with sand was so fun!
Saints as friends and motivators
Give each tween a small white board or paper. Tell them to write a Saint quote or something that Saint might have said on the paper. Have each take turns showing their quote and the others guessing who said it. If they need help, here are some pages of each book that will help:
Boy’s Journal: pages 15, 60, 62, 68, and 89
Girl’s Journal: unfortunately pages are not numbered, but there a MANY pages with Saint quotes – girls will be able to find them easily.
Saint or Superhero Game
My friend Sara Estabrooks (author over at ToJesusSincerely.com) has a podcast with Chastity Speaker Tim and they played a game where Tim stated a quote and Sara had to guess if these words were said by a Catholic Saint or a fictional Superhero.
It was not easy! I recommend listening and taking some of the questions as well as adding your own.
Since this may be difficult for kids who are just learning about the Saints, a good idea would be to put a youth minister in the “hot seat” and have the youth vote on whether he or she is right or wrong. There’s a gameshow that’s like that, right?
Prayer: Praying without Ceasing
I’m sure you have at least one night planned on the topic of prayer. Here are just some supplemental activities that will shake it up a bit 😉
Boy’s Journal – page 31 – gives ideas on how to pray while you play sports. You could set up stations around a gym or school yard and allow the students to choose a station then ask them to come back and talk about the experience.
Girl’s Journal – What’s your prayer style and Design a prayer room. Scrapbook materials required – really a fun one if you can separate the girls and give them time to work on these pages.
Saint Joseph and Jesus workshop skit
I was also thinking of a Saint Joseph and Jesus skit idea . . . do you want that idea? Let me know in the comments! If there is enough interest, I’ll create a free download!
This is idea number 5 – let me know if you want it and I’ll work on it!
Remember you can purchase the Be Yourself Journals from:
From Our Sunday Visitor