It hasn’t taken long for The Hub to become one of the go-to places for kids and teens in Warren County.
(Photo courtesy Christin Borger. The Hub Teen Advisory Group members with campers during The Hub Camp July 16, 2020. The Advisory Group planned and carried out the camp.)
That is due, in large part, to the work of The Hub’s Teen Advisory Group. Already this summer they have developed, planned and hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament as well as a day camp for kids ages 3-9.
“We’re teaching them leadership,” Christin Borger, one of the group’s advisors, said. “We want them to learn how to put on events from start-to-finish, be a team and see what it takes.”
For the basketball tournament, that process included not just the tournament itself (gathering teams, preparing brackets, assigning officials, etc.), but also concession food and pricing, decorations, set up and tear down, and following cleaning and distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They felt the pressure of all of that,” Borger said. “And they need that. It’s a good learning experience in leadership.”
Aside from giving a sense of normalcy during an abnormal summer, the event also raised $700, which the group donated back to The Hub.
As the name implies, the Teen Advisory Group comprises several teens from the community, as well as a pair of adult advisors.
“We created The Hub for community outreach,” Sports Outreach Director Steve Younger said. “We wanted to have a group of teenagers from the community to give ideas about different things kids would like to see The Hub utilized for.”
The group consists of teens of different ages from all across Warren County. The members are; Lucas Angove, Ailsa Boger, Alex Borger, Ian Darling, Lily Lauffenburger, John Page, Paige Rafalski, Zach Rohlin and Connor Younger.
In addition to planning the basketball tournament, each member of the group took on specific roles before and during the event. For example, Alex Borger served as the point person, Rafalski created the publicity posters, Rohlin officiated games and Darling drew up the brackets.
(Photo courtesy Christin Borger. Ian Darling, Alex Borger and Zach Rohlin at the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, July 4, 2020.)
Their reasons for joining varied, but all felt the pull of wanting to serve their community.
“I wanted to give back to my community since when I was growing up I had great programs such as Vacation Bible School at St. Joseph that helped keep me occupied during the summer,” Darling said.
“When Mrs. Borger asked me to be a part of the Teen Advisory Group, I knew I wanted to be involved right away,” Boger added. “I always try to be as involved in the community as possible, and this opportunity arose just at the right time. It seemed like a very cool place to bring together the community, especially people my age, so I was eager to become more involved.”
Part of the Praise Fellowship community all her life, Lauffenburger jumped at the chance to lead.
“I’ve had a heart for outreach in the community,” she said. “I’ve been going to PF since I was born and I wanted to be a part of planning the events that would take place in The Hub.”
The kids day camp ran for a week and, while successful, presented the group with some additional challenges, namely learning how to separate activities by age and adjusting as the number of attendees grew daily. These things were all discussed in a debriefing, known as “The Hub Cap.”
During that meeting, the group discussed both the positives and negatives, as well as what they, as a leadership group, could do better next time.
“This is really a teachable moment,” Steve Younger said during the meeting.
The meeting itself served as an example of how leadership decisions in businesses and organizations come about.
“My biggest takeaway from (being part of) this group is learning how to work as a team while keeping the best interest of our community in mind,” Rafalski said.
(Photo courtesy Christin Borger. Ailsa Boger and Paige Rafalski work the concession stand during the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, July 4, 2020.)
While looking ahead to the next event, there were a number of times when the discussion would start to veer into a tangent.
“Let’s get back on schedule,” was a common refrain from Alex Borger at this particular meeting.
“I have definitely enjoyed getting to know some of my peers in a way I never have before,” he said after the meeting. “I enjoy listening to their ideas and suggestions and how they think we can best impact our community.”
The kids ran the meeting, with the adults interjecting occasionally. Steve Younger had The Hub’s schedule of events handy so there wouldn’t be any conflicts.
“Steve sees the wisdom in allowing the kids the ability to take on roles and be successful,” Christin Borger said.
“You can’t make a leader if you don’t train a leader,” Steve Younger said. “They continue to do a great job. I’m very proud of the kids.”
As they discussed the possibility of hosting a drive-in movie, Christin Borger reminded them to make sure they consider their extra-curricular schedules in the planning process, not just for their own plans, but whether other teens would be able to attend as well.
Aside from those occasional interjections, the kids ran the show, and once the creative juices started flowing, the discussion became much more focused. Darling, in particular, came up with a number of suggestions.
“I’m like Magic Johnson dishin’ ideas,” he said.
It’s not just the kids who are learning new things about themselves either.
“I’m more hands-on,” Christin Borger said. “Handing over the reigns has been a learning experience for me. But the kids have to be given the opportunity to lead, it’s a wonderful experience for them.”
While the events themselves have been successful, the response from the group’s friends have been just as positive.
“I am in a huge group chat with my soccer and school friends,” Page said. “We play something every night and my friends are always suggesting The Hub. They love the facility. It’s great to see the feedback the community is giving and how wonderful it is by bringing people together.”
“My peers have expressed their appreciation for The Hub and the team working behind it,” Lauffenburger said. “There are a ton of girls who come from the community who don’t go to church there and it has made a big impact.”
Having the facility available this summer, especially, has been a morale boost for some.
“I know many of my peers appreciated a place to safely gather and do what they love most – play sports,” Alex Borger said. “We were able to remain open for the majority of the summer which gave the young adults of the community a place to play.”
The positive community feedback only serves to motivate the group.
“Many people are surprised when they hear that a few teenagers are behind the different activities,” Boger said. “I’m really proud of myself and the other members of The Hub Teen Advisory Board, and the positive feedback is extremely rewarding.”