Problems with children in uni club

Hi all,
I’m looking for some advice on an aspect of running a unicycle club.

We are having problems with some young people who come to the club, pay thier money and then spend all the time outside the building in which we are practicing. We find this unacceptable as we are responsible for them but, especially at this time of year it is dark , and we cannot look after them whilst they are outside. This is against the rules but is done anyway and it seems that no sooner have we sorted out the problem, then someone else joins the club who disrupts everything again.

Does anyone have any ideas about the best way to sort this out? We have suggested that they don’t come if they don’t want to participate but the problem continues. We get pretty annoyed as we spend most of our time chasing the young people in and little time playing. It is getting to the point where we are thinking about closing the club to the ‘public’.

Does anyone else have such a problem?

I would be grateful for any contributions/suggestions.

Thanks a lot.


Re: Problems with children in uni club

cathwood wrote:
> We are having problems with some young people who come to the club, pay
> thier money and then spend all the time outside the building in which
> we are practicing. We find this unacceptable as we are responsible for
> them but, especially at this time of year it is dark , and we cannot
> look after them whilst they are outside. This is against the rules but
> is done anyway and it seems that no sooner have we sorted out the
> problem, then someone else joins the club who disrupts everything
> again.

What sort of age? Have you thought about introducing a rule that
children below a certain age cannot attend unless accompanied by an
adult? It worked well for the Tunbridge Wells Juggling Club when I was
a member, and had the added benefit of introducing a few more adults to
the pastime.

Hey, Beth, I don’t suppose your mum ever got into unicycling though, did

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“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” - Thomas Paine

Probably ‘children’ was an innacurate description. They are teenagers. We have already had one episode of someone being accused (and exonerated) of raping someone else in the grounds behind the community center.


After many years of working with young people in another youth group, I came to the conclusion that most discipline and idle time problems come from a LACK OF PROGRAM for the young members. Most people (young and old) are not disciplined enough to work on a couple of skills on their own for any length of time. Thus you end up with people creating their own entertainment which often leads to problems.

Develop a planned program. Question the youngsters about what skills they are working on. Encourage them to work on new skills. Watch them when they want to show you their progress. Unfortunately, weekly club time is a really bad time for the adults to ride. We need to be working with the new and young riders. Most young people do better with a structured program rather than the “open” riding that usually takes place.

You are not alone in this problem. Memphis Unicycle Club deals with the same issues and we had 14 riders last evening in a room that is way too small for that many.

If the youth are restless and not showing interest, don’t blame them, look at your program.

We have similar problems at our (primary) school discos. The girls are (mostly) OK, the boys spend all of the time trying to escape or in the toilets.

Maybe the sessions are too long? If you keep it to an hour of concentrated “fun” they won’t have time to drift in and out…


What about if you say that they aren’t aloud to leave, if they do then they aren’t aloud back in and that if they are hanging out outside then they can be kicked out. Also make a no refund policy which will give the teenagers more of a reason to stay cause otherwise they loose their money.

Its worth a try anyways, hopefully it helps

One way to involve people is to give them responsibility. Engage them by having them design a part of the program!

I ran a funded unicyclist project for youngsters in conjunction with a youth group- we did all the official stuff- insurance, CRB checks, Health and Safety (compulsory helmets etc); so I do know a little about this stuff.

Your situation is different as it no doubt doesn’t have funding or expert support, and seems primarily to be simply a place for committed unicyclists to practice, that happens to have attracted some young people who are no longer that interested in unicyling.

Your are in a potentially hazardous position, as you could be seen as being responsible for the young people.

Some options have been put forward already, such as only allowing young people if they’re accompanied by a responsible adult- that’s what our local juggling club does.

You could ban all children; that has the negative aspect of denying any who are committed to learning.

This is really bad, What happened- were the police involved? who exonerated them?

I can’t emphasise strongly enough, how this is something that is really not good for the organisers of the club.

It’s a child-protection issue, and, much as the organisers of the club may consider themselves not to be responsible, in the eyes of the law, the fact that you’re providing a space for the children means that you probably are.

If this kind of stuff is going on you really need to stop it.

Have you discussed it with the young people? Explain the problem- explain to them the legal situation, and that it’s not acceptable for you to be put in that position. Mutually agree guidelines and rules, and then stick to them rigidly.

And, if those rules are broken, bar the responsible individual/s.

Do you know any local youth workers who’ve got experience of this kind of stuff? If so, ask their advice- maybe they’ll even come down and help you set up some dialogue; maybe they can use the opportunity to attract some of the young people to their own youth group activites.

I really can’t advise you properly, as my experience is not vast; but, from what you say, i think there’s enough of a problem that you should get some proper advice, as much to cover yourself and the club as anything else.

An unpleasant problem.

Strange: on the one hand, they are paying, but on the other, they are not participating.

To get them to participate, you need:
To let them see you and your colleagues riding hard and well, and enjoying it.
To charge them enough for them to value the sessions.
To structure their learning.
To provide clear and measurable objectives. The levels? races?
To devote time to teaching them.

To participate, they need:
To want to unicycle.
To respect you and the other senior members.
Encouragement and constructive teaching.

To sell the idea to them, you need to:
Show them that it isn’t just a laugh; it is fun, but requires application.
Make it clear that they aren’t entitled to it. Fear of loss of opportunity is a powerful sales tool.
Give them a long term goal - a hockey match, a performance, ride outs in the summer.

Don’t make a rod for your own back. Recall when you were a teenager: if someone had offered to lend you a unicycle and teach you to ride it, for a very reasonable fee, how would you have reacted?
How does this compare to how these kids are reacting?

Good luck.

Don’t get drawn into conflict. If they see you in some way as “authority” they may well kick against everything you say. When your hobby becomes a duty, it is the beginning of the end.

Children are edible.

tell them theres free candy inside of thaat fails chase them inside with somthing on fire

Thank you for all your contributions.

I quite like this idea. We had a session where all the members of the club were involved in making rules that they agreed to stick to. They don’t. My greatest problem is that the person who co-runs the club with me is ‘soft’ and will not back me up even if I were to insist that the kids stick to the rules. And in some ways it is ‘his’ club.

Both I and the other guy who runs it have CRB checks and he holds a public liability insurance. We considered ourselves in some ways responsible for what happened although at time we had just formulated some rules and the kids were very much breaking them.

Yes the police were invlovled and the lack of evidence they found ‘cleared’ the boy. They dropped the case.

I was particularly worried that I would be invloved as I work with children and did not want to have this effect my work standing. We consider ourselves to be responsible for the children which is why it is such an issue. We don’t want anything to happen to them whilst they are in our care.

I want to do this, yet the guy who co-runs the group hasn’t stood by me in the past when I wanted to bar a boy who was extremely disruptive in the club. Perhaps I am just going to have to be more assertive with him.

these are very good points and things that we don’t do. My colleague wants to charge as little as possible to be ‘fair’ to everyone.
We also don’t structure their learing - he doesn’t like doing that, or provide clear objectives.

Oh dear, I’m back to what I tried to escape from after the not-rape incident. The problem isn’t the children it’s my colleague.
I went through a lot of angst at the time, wanting to contine to attend the club as there is no other way for me to get that time to ride inside for my own enjoyment, yet being extremely frustrated at his passivity and worried that something ‘bad’ was going to happen. (Which it did). I guess nothings changed. He just wants the majic of the skills to enduce the children to behave and for us not to have to do anything to ensure that that happens. He’s living in cloud cucoo land.

Thanks again for your comments. It has helped to clarify things for me if nothing else.


This guy worries me. When you are in charge of children and teenagers you can not have them just doing what ever. When you are running something like he is you have to be assertive take charge.

The kids have to know if they are going to be there they have to be inside. Do parents drop them off? If so they the parents may be using the club as a baby sitter. That’s not good as the child likey doesn’t really want to be there at all. If they come in on their own and its the distruptive child(s) don’t let them in for the day. Give them a warning before though.

Make a sign in sheet and not let them out once they sign in.

Cathwood, we came to the same conclusion on the problem. Kids are going to be kids, which means adults need to be adults and your colleague isn’t stepping up.

If you are not able to convince him to back you and have a united front–but you still want to be able to ride there–you should consider formally removing your name from anything that has to do with the club, i.e. checking account, any by-laws docs, etc. Then you become just another person taking advantage of the facilities. May not be ideal for you, but at least you take steps to limit any liability you’d have if something hits the fan. That might also be what it takes to jar this guy into realizing there is a problem and he is at risk for it.

$.02, TB

These “kids” unicycle, and they try to act like rebels? Have you reminded them that they unicycle? And that they pay to do so? I didn’t know that there were delinquents that unicycled… to me it just doesn’t add up.

Yea but if they are in their teens they are way past their prime and are probably really chewey by now. This problem is easily solved, eat them before the age of 10. Yum!

Well, actually no they don’t. Well one of them can ride very well, a couple of them have tried and would be getting it by now if they had continued. There’s at least a couple who don’t even try.


i’d say “if you’re not going to uni, you get to leave.”

Yes. That is what I’m going to do.


Yes, I just have to agree with TB here. Don’t let your irresponsible college get you into a jam.