Thinking about taking a group to NCYC? NCYC is a great opportunity to connect your teens to the larger church and give them a “wow” experience while they get to learn more about their faith! I’ve been to a few of them (I’m gearing up for my 17th NCYC since 1989!). It seems like a great task, but I can give a couple of tips to start.
First off, I would check to see if your diocese is running a pilgrimage already. If so, tapping into them allows them to take some of the planning and logistical hardships off your plate! If you are a diocesan leader, visit our last blog here.
If not, here are three things that will be your bread and butter as you plan for NCYC…
Make sure you visit the group leaders page and also the registration page. The NFCYM has really laid it out nicely for us on how to buy tickets and get hotel rooms, so make sure you read through the pages, understand deadlines, and costs.
Getting there becomes the next hurdle. There are plenty options such as flying, bussing, or taking a train. You have to look at what will work best for your group. Flying might be cheaper but if a teen drops at the last minute and you want to replace that teen with another, there are charges the airline will pass onto you for that.
Once you familiarize yourself with the process of taking a group, begin advertising. For the first couple of weeks distribute our promotional materials (videos, posters, flyers) and then host an informational meeting for parents and teens to learn more about what to expect with your delegation’s trip to NCYC.
When people begin to sign up, make sure you follow up with paperwork and payments. You don’t want to purchase tickets and then get stuck with them. Allow enough time to track down that last teen you’re waiting for when deciding your cut off.
Make sure you have some form of a medical waiver/ liability form filled out for each of your participants as well – and don’t forget to bring those forms with you to NCYC. You can probably check with your diocesan office for some samples.
Plan a parent/teen orientation night no later than 1 week before you depart where you can give out copies of schedules and information. Make sure parents know how to contact you in case of an emergency.
The one thing on everyone’s mind is MONEY! Fundraising is one of the most effective ways to make your NCYC affordable. Not only is it just a big financial help, but it also serves as a big part of the NCYC experience. It will build community and ownership amongst the teens and help involve your parish. Trust me, when you are at the conference, all those bake sales, car washes and everything else under the sun will have been worth it!
Every parish, town and area are different. I would encourage you to look at your area and see what types of things work. I’ve heard some parishes doing “cow bingo’s” where people bet on a square of land and see where the cow does his “business.” That just doesn’t really cut it here in Jersey. You might consider some low risk events like:
The bottom line is the more creative you are, the more your teens will want to promote it, participate in it, and enjoy doing it.
I am also a firm believer that if a teen is going to go, they should pay a deposit, or participant fee towards the overall cost. This helps the young person stay committed. We’ve even enticed our young people that if they fundraise up and over the overall cost of the trip, we will give them back the difference up to what they paid for their deposit.
As youth workers we plan. We plan events, we plan meetings, we plan retreats! Going to NCYC is no different. Don’t let the distance, size or overall cost freak you out.
Yes, you do need a plan. It’ll include deciding when you introduce the conference to your young people, gathering paperwork, collecting money, making transportation and housing arrangements. But trust me… when your young people are there and realize you are helping empower them in their faith journey … it’s all worth it!
Also, if you end up not bringing a group this year, it is worth going to check it out. This will allow you to experience NCYC first hand and better equip you for bringing a group next year. Tickets can be purchased here.
If you have any questions, I am more than happy to talk! Just reach out to me. (Email [email protected] | Call 201-998-0088 x4150)
Hope to see you in Indy… I’ll be the bald guy walking around in shorts!
Your support ensures that generations of young Catholics have the opportunity to experience Christ in new and exciting ways.
Mari Pablo is a proud Hispanic and cradle Catholic whose life was wrecked in the best possible way when she finally decided to stop fighting and surrender it all to Him. Mari has joyfully worked in youth ministry for over fifteen years, both as a youth minister and theology teacher, and as a presenter for Ascension Press. Mari has a deep love for food but an even greater love for Christ and is dedicated to helping others encounter Him.
Sister Josephine is a native Texan, raised baptist in Houston Texas. Jesus called her to religious life in 2011 and in 2020 Sister made her final vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She ministers as a licensed mental health counselor, and also serves on the community vocations team and as a national speaker.
The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people.