Chris Thompson’s dirty dozen

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Chris Thompson is a wise man. Learn from him.

ML: What tips do you have for a successful first meeting with your group?

CT: The first meeting goes by very quickly, so try to get as much out of it as you can. All I did was a brief icebreaker, and went straight into telling them about what was going to take place over the course of the day. Then, I tried to leave some time for questions before they went over to listen to speakers.

ML: What tips do you have for a successful evening meeting with your group?

CT: The evening meeting was very hit or miss for me. There’s not a whole lot of awkward silence time in the morning meeting because there just isn’t time. Hopefully they are interested and asking questions, but this was not always the case for me. Try to have something to talk about at all times and really let them know that you are there to talk about what they want to talk about, not your own interests. If it’s not going so well you can always get started on your group cheer a little early.

ML: How did you encourage discussion in your meetings?

CT: By taking questions from them and turning them into questions for them. See what they did in high school and what they might want to do in college. Everyone has their thing, but you’re not going to get across to everyone so just do the best you can to let them know about their options. The best thing you can do is show them you actually care about what they’re interested in.

ML: Did you use icebreakers, and, if so what did you use?

CT: I’m not really into the whole icebreaker thing. Ask my teammates and Adam Gobin to help you with that.

ML: Any tricks for remembering names?

CT: Not really. Looking back, I think the best thing to do is to be honest and tell them you will try really hard to remember their names and faces, but you will not remember them in the fall. If they assume you don’t know their name and you do somehow remember it they’ll think you’re really swell.

ML: What surprised you about leading small groups?

CT: It’s not rocket science, but it can be tough. The truth is that most kids really do respect what you have to say and value your opinion. They may not ever tell you that, but it’s true. Just keep the conversation flowing and talk to your teammates to see if they have some great trick you never even thought about.

ML: What would you do differently in your group if you got to do it over again this summer?

CT: I’m not sure. Maybe have the kids write down questions in the morning and talk about them in the evening. Try some different things and you’ll discover what works best for you. Don’t try to be like somebody else; do whatever helps you best connect to the kids in your group.

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