Seasonal Program Schedule

This type of schedule will also help you determine how staff-to-youth ratios come into play throughout the whole Club or Youth Center as you put large group and small-group offerings into the mix. Each seasonal schedule should last eight to 12 weeks. Close out your seasonal schedule’s Targeted Programs by celebrating the goals and targets your staff met. Collect and review input from youth and staff to guide your plan for improvements to the next seasonal schedule.

Building Blocks of Programming

Program Planning is an important feature in implementing effective, engaging Targeted Programs and High-Yield Activities.  Your careful planning:  

  • Helps to provide structure and context for young people’s learning experience  
  • Keeps you organized, well-versed in the content, and able to manage time effectively  
  • Helps you consistently incorporate high-quality youth development practices by using the Elements of a High-Quality Session

When you start with a good plan, you can more objectively reflect on what went well with your program or activity, what challenges you had, and how well youth achieved the expected outcomes. In Clubs and Youth Centers, you may hear the term “program” used in different ways. Let’s quickly get clear on these different uses.  

Staff-to-Youth Ratios

A critical consideration for enhancing the quality of your Outcome-Driven Club Experience has to do with how your Club or Youth Center allocates and deploys staff in relation to the number of youth being served. A staff-to-youth ratio refers to the number of youth in a program compared to the number of adult supervising staff members. Research shows that having an adequate number of staff is a mark of high program quality, for a number of sound reasons. Chief among these is to ensure young people are properly supervised, kept safe, and have the opportunity to form healthy relationships with staff and other youth. Youth need to feel both physically and emotionally safe during Club and Youth Center programming, they need to be able to find an adult to help them when needed and they need to regularly receive individual attention from staff and have positive interactions with them. Therefore, good staff-to-youth ratios matter greatly for high-quality youth development and for the morale and job satisfaction of staff. For example, 1:10 means that for every 10 youth, there is one staff member. In their standards for quality out-of-school-time programs, both the National Afterschool Association and the Council on Accreditation have set the same standards for staff-to-youth ratios. They offer guidelines for two groups of youth: those including children younger than age six. Based on research and these standards, BGCA makes the following recommendation for a general staff-to-youth ratio:  

  • Staff-to-youth ratios should not exceed 1:25 for any type of activity. Use such ratios only for large-group games or less-structured time, such as when Club members are engaged in free play in the gym or on the playground.

Below are additional considerations for staff-to-youth ratios based on the type of activity or the type of group you are working with:  

  • For groups of youth age six and older, consider a staff-to-youth ratio between 1:10 and 1:15.
  • For youth groups that include children younger than age six, consider a staff-to-youth ratio between 1:8 and 1:12.
  • For small group clubs, such as Keystone or Torch Club, consider a staff-to-youth ratio of between 1:8 and 1:12.
  • For field trips, the staff-to-youth ratio should be 1:8, with at least two adults per group; one of whom is a staff member. 
  • For swimming, use a staff-to-youth ratio of no more than 1:15. A certified lifeguard should be onsite in addition to the supervising staff. 

How many staff members do you need for large group activities?

Fill in the number of members participating to find out how many staff members should oversee the activity

Members = Staff Member(s)


Targeted Programs

In order to be effective, Targeted Programs:  

  • Are planned  
  • Are designed to achieve stated goals and objectives in a Core Program Area  
  • Are designed to build upon existing knowledge and skills  
  • Are conducted for a specific audience  
  • Are sequenced, meaning they are conducted over a specific period of time using multiple lessons in a certain order  
  • Use specific delivery methods  
  • Measure and evaluate the extent to which participants achieve goals and objectives

Targeted Programs reinforce and celebrate continual learning while setting our youth up for success. Most of BGCA’s national programs are Targeted Programs, because they’re designed to help youth achieve positive outcomes in our priority outcome areas, and they meet the above criteria. For example, the SMART Girls program is comprised of a sequential series of lessons designed to build self-esteem and life skills in girls. The program contains three sets of 10 sessions for girls ages 8-10, 11-13, and 14-18. It uses different types of small-group and large group activities. Activities emphasize discussion and reflection, which allow staff to determine whether girls are gaining knowledge and building skills. To better meet the particular needs and interests of the young people they serve, Clubs should develop and implement their own Targeted Programs, supplementing those with programs from BGCA or other sources. Many of your Club’s programs probably already fit the model, or could do so if you modify them to meet the criteria. In our Formula for Impact, an additional type of activity serves as another crucial component of the Outcome-Driven Club Experience: High-Yield Activities. These provide youth with enjoyable experiences that are hands-on, interactive, intentionally develop critical thinking or other skills, and help them achieve positive outcomes in our three priority outcome areas. High-Yield Activities appeal to young people’s interests and their desire to play, and can even include some friendly competition. They can be done with individuals, small groups and large groups. When done well, they remove the division between learning and playing. Most importantly, they should be fun. They should motivate youth to explore, develop, create and learn. More specifics about High-Yield Activities are in the next section.

Blank Targeted Program Template



Sample Targeted Program Template



Creating Your Seasonal Plan

Lay out your detailed annual plan into a seasonal schedule. Work with your staff to incorporate your chosen goals and annual calendar events and constraints into a program schedule, and define how that schedule will be structured. The seasonal schedule will include your specific Targeted Programs and activities, designate age-group break-outs, and show the opportunities from each Core Program Area. It’s also where you incorporate special recurring features in your schedule – such as snack or meal time, youth meeting time, or a rolling arrival time block. A rolling arrival time block features activities youth can easily join at any time, because not all youth arrive at the same time.

Download Seasonal Schedule

Please insert the number of rooms available and the number of program blocks you have in one day

Rooms Available Program Blocks


Continue to Weekly and Session Planning →