Holy Fire

A Middle School Event Like No Other!


Holy Fire, an event for middle school young people, is produced by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) in association with Declan Weir Productions (DWP). NFCYM and DWP require that each delegation accept full responsibility for the actions of its members, including any damage or theft caused by its members while attending Holy Fire. All delegation members are to help enforce the following behavior guidelines and codes of conduct, collectively, “the rules,” and to set an example for other participants. Click here to download a PDF version of this page.

Behavior Guidelines

  • Alcohol, weapons, pornography, and illegal drugs are strictly prohibited.
  • No rows or sections may be saved for later arriving group members or used for storing coats, bags, or other personal items. A few seats may be held for late arriving members. Do not enter any blocked off sections/ areas.
  • Participants are not permitted to stand on seats or sit on the shoulders of another participant.
  • Mosh pits, crowd surfing, “human chains,” and other similar activities are not permitted.
  • Participants may not enter the stage or any adjacent access ramp or staircase unless specifically invited to do so by a member of the production crew.
  • Frisbees, vuvuzelas, stadium horns, air horns, beach balls, balloons, and laser pointers are prohibited at all times within the event space.
  • No objects or liquids may be thrown in the event space. Such behavior may result in serious injury to persons and/or property. Failure to comply with this rule could result in dismissal from the event.
  • Participants under the age of 18 may not smoke by law. Adults are forbidden from smoking inside any event building or within 50 feet of any event building entry. Failure to comply with this rule could result in dismissal from the event.
  • Participants are expected to attend all scheduled activities and to be on time. Upon leaving sessions or other activities, please keep noise to a minimum so that events still in progress are not disturbed.
  • Be aware of noise levels on concourses, lobbies, and hallways, especially when programming is in session.

Codes of Conduct

In addition to their families, parishes, schools, organizations, and/or dioceses, Holy Fire participants also represent one of the largest and most respected Catholic youth organizations in the world, the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. NFCYM expects all participants to project an image of Christian consideration, sensitivity, and respect to everyone, and to the property around them. All participants are asked to express thanks to the volunteers for the hospitality they provide.

The Catholic Church in the United States has suffered through revelations of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy and others. As a community, we have been called upon to individually examine our conduct and to raise our expectations of one another when we gather in God’s name. The Catholic bishops of the United States have issued the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the Charter) as a guide and measure for all dioceses in the construction of their own youth protection policies. NFCYM also used the Charter as a basis for its youth protection policy, Safeguarding God’s Children.

The following codes of conduct are excerpted from Safeguarding God’s Children and are provided as a reminder. Failure to abide by the code of conduct could result in participants being barred from further participation in Holy Fire.

Youth Code of Conduct

Youth participants will:

  • Project an image of Christian consideration, sensitivity, and respect to everyone and to the property around them through language, dress, and behavior
  • Refrain from inappropriate touching and verbal harassment
  • Respect other persons and/or property
  • Refrain from actions that could result in injury and/or damage to property
  • Adhere to stated curfew
  • Wear appropriate credentials in order to gain and maintain access to NFCYM events and activities
  • Keep their personal belongings with them at all times
  • Attend all scheduled activities, arriving promptly, and staying for the entire event
  • Be aware of noise levels in lobbies, hallways, and concourses
  • Maintain the spirit of the event
  • Report problems of any kind to a trusted adult

Youth participants will not:

  • Possess weapons of any kind
  • Purchase, possess, consume, or distribute alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Engage in any form of sexual activity or peer sexual harassment
  • Purchase, download, possess, or distribute pornography

The following behaviors are generally considered appropriate at an NFCYM event:

  • Side hugs
  • Shoulder to shoulder or “temple” hugs
  • Handshakes
  • “High-fives” and hand slapping
  • Verbal praise for a job well-done (not regarding physical attributes)
  • Touching hands, faces (usually in context of a blessing), shoulders, and arms of minors
  • Arms around shoulders
  • Holding hands while walking with younger minors
  • Sitting beside younger minors
  • Kneeling or bending down for hugs with younger minors
  • Holding hands during prayer
  • Pats on the head when culturally appropriate

The following behaviors are generally considered inappropriate at an NFCYM event:

  • Inappropriate or lengthy embraces
  • Kisses on the mouth
  • Holding children on the lap who are capable of sitting on their own
  • Touching bottoms, chests, or genital areas
  • Showing affection in isolated areas of a facility such as bedrooms, restrooms, bathrooms, closets, staff-only areas, or other private rooms
  • Being in or on a bed with an adult
  • Touching knees or legs of minors
  • Wrestling with minors
  • Tickling minors
  • Piggyback rides
  • Any type of massage given by minor to adult or another minor
  • Any type of massage given by adult to minor
  • Any form of unwanted affection or peer sexual harassment
  • Compliments or put downs that relate to physique or body development
  • Going to an isolated area away from the group, or being taken to an isolated area by an adult or peer

If a problem of any kind occurs during this event, please go immediately to a trusted adult to discuss the matter.

Adult Code of Conduct

Chaperones are the first line in keeping young people safe. This does not mean chaperones must trail the young people in their care around the facility, it does mean that they need to be aware of their location. In addition, chaperones should be observant of the behaviors of all youth and adults. If a chaperone sees something that is inappropriate, it is fully appropriate for him/her to intervene when safe to do so. If not safe, they should bring the situation to the attention of the suitable authority. Remember, all young people are our young people, not just the ones from our family, parish, school, organization, or diocese.

All chaperones at Holy Fire should be in compliance with their sending organization’s youth protection policies, most, if not all of which, require some type of training and background screening. While most of the other adults you will encounter at Holy Fire are also screened and background checked, some are not, given their role at the event. There is no reason to believe that the participation of “uncleared” individuals poses any greater risk to Holy Fire attendees than do the normative experiences of young people’s day-to-day lives: traveling to and from school, shopping at the local mall, going to the park or movies with friends, or attending Mass. Nonetheless, it is important for chaperones to be aware of their presence and to be mindful always of the young people entrusted to their care and their location. Chaperones are the hedge of protection to the young people at Holy Fire.

As an adult participant in this youth event sponsored by National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), in association with Declan Weir Productions (DWP), chaperones promise to strictly follow these policies and the following standards as a condition of providing services to their parish/school/diocese/organization and/or NFCYM and DWP.

Chaperones will conduct themselves in a manner that exhibits the highest Christian ethical standards and avoids even the appearance of impropriety, and therefore will:

  • Report suspected abuse of any minor to the appropriate authorities.
  • Cooperate fully in any investigation of abuse of minors.
  • Develop and maintain the level of skill required to be competent.
  • Complete training in youth protection in their diocese or, if not available in their diocese, through the Boy Scouts of America’s on-line training/certification program.
  • Treat everyone with respect, loyalty, patience, integrity, courtesy, dignity, and consideration.
  • Honor the equality of all people, avoiding all forms of discrimination and respecting the dignity of each person without regard to economic status, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or physical or mental abilities.
  • Use positive reinforcement and communication rather than criticism, unhealthy competition, or comparison.
  • Become thoroughly familiar with the objectives and guidelines of the program in which they are participating and strive to achieve these objectives and communicate them appropriately.
  • Be aware of and adhere to emergency plans and evacuation routes appropriate to the program in which they are participating.
  • Be responsible and/or accountable for stewardship of all resources entrusted to their care.
  • Uphold the authority of those responsible for the program or activity in which they are participating and assist them in every way to encourage learning and to conduct fair and impartial events.
  • Avoid situations where they are alone with minors, always following the two-adult rule.
  • Avoid any form of excessive familiarity, inappropriate language, or any situation and conduct that exploits or could give the appearance of exploiting another.
  • Follow practices that consistently exhibit no tolerance for any form of abusive behavior.
  • Follow practices that demonstrate appropriate relationships between adults and minors that are important for a child’s development and a positive part of ministry.

Chaperones will not:

  • Use physical affection to initiate inappropriate contact with minors.
  • Touch a minor in a sexual or other inappropriate manner.
  • Smoke or use tobacco products in the presence of minors.
  • Purchase tobacco products for or distribute tobacco products to minors.
  • Use, possess, or be under the influence of alcohol while supervising minors or while participating in an NFCYM youth event.
  • Purchase alcohol for or distribute alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 years.
  • Use, purchase, possess, distribute, or be under the influence of illegal drugs at any time.
  • Purchase, download, possess, or distribute pornography.
  • Pose any known health risk to minors (i.e., no fevers or other contagious situations).
  • Humiliate, ridicule, threaten, demean, nor degrade minors or others nor tolerate such behavior in the environment for which they are responsible.
  • Use physical discipline in any way for behavior management of minors. No form of physical discipline is acceptable. This includes but is not limited to spanking, slapping, pinching, shaking, hitting or any other physical force as retaliation or correction for inappropriate behavior of a minor.
  • Use profanity in any form in the presence of minors.