As long as it takes.
Encouraging a feeling of membership and belonging among your youth may be something that can take a substantial amount of time, given the dynamics of your youth program. Especially if you are a program where intakes are ongoing and new youth are constantly joining the group, teambuilding activities are essential.
The best way to get buy-in from the youth who are regulars and the youth who are new is to involve the youth who are not new into the responsibility of implementing the teambuilding activity.
Icebreaker of the Month:
Move Your Butt
The youth in the after-school program I once worked loved this activity no matter when it was implemented. It is a movement activity and will require you to have space for people to swiftly move from one seat to another without fear of injury and restriction.
(1) You form a circle of chairs where everyone has a seat except for one person.
(2) That one person begins the game by standing in the middle of the circle and sharing one thing about themselves that they think other people share. So, for example, they can say “Move your butt if you are a high school student like me”
(3) All of the people seated who share the trait that the person in the middle mentioned must get up and dash to another seat that is empty. If there is not an available seat, they are the next person in the middle.
(4) The rule is that you can not dash to a chair that is directly next to you and you HAVE to stand up if the statement applies to you!
This game can go on and on unless a rule is agreed upon at the beginning that a certain number of people will have a chance, etc. This game is a great way for people to get to know each other and you get so caught up in it that any self-consciousness fades quickly.