One of the best things we started doing this year is also the simplest. Each year we have students fill out our “Who R U?” form, which asks them things like their contact info and family situation, but also asks about favorites like color or TV show. We have the students do this on the first Midweek meeting of the year.
It’s become a tradition, and some of the older students tease us for making them fill it out again and again. So this year I decided to do something fun as a “thanks for filling it out.” When the students arrived at Midweek the next week each one found a paper bag that contained they’re favorite drink along with a handwritten note.
Getting all the beverages was a little time-consuming for the first week, but it was very simple. As you can imagine, most of the drinks were sodas. I grabbed the list of favorite drinks and went to the great wall o’ beverages at the gas station up the road. The look on the cashier’s face as I brought up the dozens of 20oz. bottles was priceless, that almost made the whole thing worth it right there.
A few of the drinks were a bit more involved. Students who listed something from Caribou Coffee as their favorite, or who specifically enjoyed Diet Coke and grenadine… not just cherry coke. The extra work was rewarded, however, as those students were even more appreciative of the extra mile we went to providing their favorite liquid treat.
Perhaps my favorite was the student who had decided to be a smart-aleck and had written “blood” as his favorite drink. He arrived at midweek to see the other students grabbing the bag with their name on it and pulling out their respective gifts. He’s a bright kid, so it didn’t take him too long to figure out that what was in the bags corresponded to what they’d written the week before. His smile turned to concern as he uttered, “Oh-no.” I handed him his bag saying, “I wanted to be here when you opened yours.”
He sheepishly pulled apart the flaps of the bag and peered inside. This is what he saw:
A little internet sleuthing had uncovered a “blood” energy drink. I had to travel to four stores to find the last pouch of the stuff, but his response (both the shear terror of seeing a bloody pouch in his bag and the pure entertainment when he realized what it was) were well worth it.
It was such a huge hit, in fact, that it has become our new tradition. Every time a new student comes to our youth group we have them fill out the information sheet and tell them to come back the next week for a little gift. It’s a great incentive to fill out the form, another reason for them to come back, and a simple way to show that we care about them individually. That’s quite a return on investment for a $1 soda.