Carolinas Youth Department honors achievements in virtual awards presentation
By: Brad Rowland
Through the power of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other virtual outlets, Salvation Army officers and employees are able to effectively communicate and interact with soldiers, volunteers and youth even during the challenging days plagued by COVID-19. In the North and South Carolina Division, one fallout of the pandemic is the cancellation of youth councils, an event that many look forward to each year.
While the weekend is packed with excitement, fellowship and worship, youth councils also brings an opportunity for the divisional staff to hand out awards to both young people and leaders for their spectacular achievements during the year. In order to execute that vision under different circumstances, the NSC Youth Department used inspiration from a popular web series and put their own twist on it, creating a virtual awards ceremony featuring upscale attire and tangible production value.
“We were kind of inspired by John Krasinki’s ‘Some Good News’ broadcasts that he’s been doing, and of course they are very popular,” said Daynes Crouch, divisional Christian education director. “One of the editions had a virtual senior prom with people all dressed up, and (divisional creative arts director) Caitlin Allen took it from there with some of the logistics and the fancier aspects to make it special for our youth.”
The ceremony was pre-recorded through Zoom in order to present it in well-edited, polished fashion. However, the entire gathering was recorded while each staff member and officer was operating from their own home, with the exception of a small handful of awards that were actually hand-delivered and captured on video for sharing within the ceremony itself.
“We got some great feedback and I think our kids really enjoyed the opportunity to kind of escape, be recognized and have their friends and leaders be recognized,” Crouch said. “One of my favorite examples is a filmed reaction by one of our youth leaders that received an award. She was so shocked when we read her name and it was very sweet to see.”
In addition to this virtual awards presentation, the divisional team is reaching out to its youth in various ways, ranging from young adult gatherings on Zoom to newsletters, opportunities for music and arts engagement through virtual performances, and daily devotionals shared through social media channels. Still, this singular touch was meaningful to many in the division, with the chance to “attend” a high-end ceremony, all from the comfort of home.
“I think, with everything happening around us, awards weren’t necessarily on everyone’s mind, but it was a nice recognition to put out there for people,” said Crouch. “We wanted to celebrate people and let them know they aren’t forgotten, even if we can’t fully do it in person the way we might want. Overall, it was a really nice way to show appreciation for the youth in our division.”
The full awards ceremony can be viewed below.