BRINGING A GROUP TO ACYF 2017
This step by step guide is designed to help groups who are participating in the Australian Catholic Youth Festival understand the practicalities involved in bringing a group of young people to the Festival.
1. Where do we start?
You will need to form a small planning team to organise taking a group from your parish or community to the Festival. This not only shares around the tasks, but also allows for different perspectives and talents to be contributed. Your team may include: youth leaders, parish priest, the parents of youth, youth representatives, and other key people. Getting young people involved early in the planning helps them take ownership of the group, ensures it will be relevant for them, and assists them in forming friendships.
2. What is our group going to look like?
- How many people can we bring in our group?
As many as you can! There is no limit to group size. We encourage group coordinators and youth leaders to dream big and take initiative to organize large groups. Consider reaching out to other youth groups, parishes and high schools in the area. Set a goal for your group size to begin with and go from there. Having said that, if you have only a small number of young people who can attend, the youth festival has something wonderful to offer them, so we encourage you to take them along!
Are you hoping to bring young people under 18? We hope so! Please remember that these young people will require supervision during the Festival. Anyone older than 25 can still be involved as a group leader, or through supporting the group with the planning and any fundraising. They may also consider being one of the official Youth Festival Volunteers. (For more information about volunteering, visit www.youthfestival.catholic.org.au)
3. Who will lead our group?
All groups require a group coordinator in order to register for the Festival. This person is responsible for registering the group and looking after their group members during the Festival. If you are planning to have young people under 18 in your group, the group coordinator is the person responsible for them during the Festival.
Additional leaders will be needed to assist the Group Coordinator, especially if you have a large group. Leaders should be able to relate well with young people, support the Group Coordinator and be open to supporting the faith journey of the Festival participants in their group.
Consider involving the following people:
- Young people just outside the age bracket (e.g. 26-35 year olds)- though anyone over 18 is allowed to be a designated Group Leader
- Your parish priest or a seminarian who has worked in your parish
- Parents of young people in the group
- Other key leaders in the parish who interact well with young people
- All Group Coordinators and Adult Leaders must be over 18 years old.
- It is Archdiocesan policy that all adults working with children hold a current Working with Children’s check. The check is free for volunteers and the forms can be picked up at any Australia Post or downloaded online and processed at an Australia Post. As the Festival involves an overnight stay, all leaders will also need to have a police check.
- Please check out the Archdiocese’s policy on working with young people “May Our Children Flourish” which can be downloaded from here: http://www.cam.org.au/CaringforChildren.aspx
- The AOY also recently made a resource specifically for youth groups who are going on camps based on our Archdiocesan policies. This is called “Providing a safe environment for young people” and can be downloaded from http://www.cam.org.au/youth/Resources/Online-Resources
- The Youth Festival also has a policy for leaders which can be downloaded from the website: www.youthfestival.catholic.org.au
4. How much will it cost to attend?
The main costs for attending the festival are outlined below.
The registration costs for the Festival are divided into three groups. Participants travelling from interstate will pay less than those from the hosting Diocese. Young people attending from the Melbourne Archdiocese are in Group B which means that registration is expected to cost $220 for early bird (until mid-August) and $250 full registration.
Flights from Melbourne to Sydney usually range from $50-$120 each way however for group bookings it is often difficult to get competitive rates. If you are able to borrow a mini bus driving is likely to be the cheapest option however it is an 9 hour drive not including stops. If you need to hire a coach it can often cost as much as flying. You will need to budget for airport transfers if you are flying to Sydney. There is a Train line that goes from the airport to Sydney Olympic park which could help keep costs down.
As the Festival will start on the morning of Thursday 7th December and finish late on Saturday 9th December it is likely that your group will need to find accommodation for at least three nights. The Festival Steering Committee will be sourcing a local accommodation company to secure a number of low cost beds during the Festival.
The Festival has venders around the venue selling food.
With all of these elements in mind, an estimated price to attend the Festival would be $800-$900 per person – depending on individual preferences for the above.
5. How can we cover the costs?
It is important for the young people who are attending the Festival to put in at least some of the costs for attending the Festival. This increases ownership in their involvement and will help them get more out of the experience. It is wonderful however if the full cost is able to be reduced as this can make it more affordable for everyone.
Fundraising involves the whole community coming together to support young people in attending the Festival. Fundraising is also a great opportunity for building camaraderie and team work in your group. The Archdiocesan Office for Youth has released a resource to help groups with ideas for fundraising activities which can be found at: http://www.cam.org.au/youth/Resources/Online-Resources .
Consider speaking to your Parish Priest about whether the parish is able to assist your group financially.
The Archdiocesan Office for Youth is offering a limited number of registration subsidies for Group Coordinators and Group Leaders. Check out the AOY website for more details about how to apply.
6. How do we register our group?
At the time of printing, the Festival organisers are yet to confirm exact arrangements for registration however they are hoping to have similar arrangements to the previous Festival. In 2015, the Group Coordinator registered first via the Festival website and was confirmed once payment was received. Group Coordinators were required to read through the preparation information on the registration page before registering. Once a Group Coordinator had registered, participants and adult leaders were able to be added to the group until the close of group registration. This could be done one by one, or all at once. Those registering more than 10 people at once, were able to upload them in a Registration Spread Sheet available on the website.
- Continue to check the Festival website for updates regarding registration: www.youthfestival.catholic.org.au
- Read all registration policies before registering
- If possible, register all your group members in time to get the early bird rate!
- Don’t forget to notify the AOY that you are taking a group so we can support you too.
7. How can we encourage people to join our group?
It’s important to let your extended community know about your group’s plans to attend the Festival. Promoting your participation can encourage others to jump on board.
This is by far the most important way to encourage young people to join your group. Once you have a small group, encourage every person to invite another friend.
Ask your Parish Priest if you can have 2 minutes at the end of each Mass for a weekend, to speak about your group attending the Festival and invite people to come along.
Include the contact details of your Group Coordinator. You may like to hand these out after Mass, at schools, to friends etc.
- Talking to Parents and Grandparents
Many parents and grandparents have children and grandchildren in the age bracket who may like to go to the Festival. Encourage them to invite these young people to join your group.
Consider setting up a Facebook event to invite people to join your group. Send links about the Festival to your contacts and follow the AOY and the ACBC youth ministry Facebook Pages for updates you can share in your networks.
- Advertising in the parish or school bulletin
Ask the Parish Priest or Principal if you can include a notice in their regular bulletin. Consider schools in the area: Government schools and Catholic schools who are not taking their own group to the Festival.
- Nominate youth ambassadors for your group
Young people can be the most effective advocates for the Festival among their peers. Nominate enthusiastic Youth Ambassadors to be a central point of contact for other young people in your community.
For more ideas please have a read of the Archdiocesan Office for Youth Promotion Resource found on the AOY website: http://www.cam.org.au/youth .
8. What forms do we need?
It is advisable that all participants fill in a form before attending the Festival. For the participants who are under 18 years, a signed permission form must be obtained from their legal guardians. You will also need to collect information in the case of an emergency. An editable form is available for download as a part of the “Creating a Safe Environment” resource that was published by the AOY in 2014. This can be found in the online resources section of our website: http://www.cam.org.au/youth/Resources/Online-Resources
9. How do we prepare our leaders for the Festival?
In addition to the regular updates at the regional Connect meetings; the AOY is running a formation sessions.
- Blueprint Workshop Day – Saturday 8th April
This workshop day will focus on key skills for youth ministry including how to lead leaders and a preparation session for ACYF. It will also include an overview of the Melbourne Archdiocese’s policy on legal requirements for working with young people.
- Youth Festival leaders formation – 23 September
This formation session will focus on practical skills in leading a group of young people interstate. As a group we will brainstorm challenges that may occur and work through strategies to overcome these difficulties. We will also break open ways that group leaders can deepen the experience for young people they are accompanying. The day will include an outline of the Festival schedule, the latest updates from the National Steering Committee and further information about the Melbourne Commissioning Mass.
10. How do we prepare the young people for the Festival?
Once you register your group to come to the Festival, it’s a good idea to get together and get to know each other! You may want to host regular gatherings or a few information nights where participants can meet each other, and familiarise themselves with the practical aspects of attending the Festival. In particular we encourage you to attend the following event:
- Commissioning Mass and Celebration – Sunday 3rd December 2017.
The Commissioning Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Hart at St Patrick’s Cathedral and followed by a social gathering. This event would be an ideal preparation activity for groups to attend together to get to know each other. We encourage you to consider catching public transport together to get the feel of pilgrimage!
In the months leading up to the Festival, additional resources will be released by the Festival Steering Committee and the AOY to assist groups in preparing spiritually for the Festival. Check out the relevant websites for updates.