Thursday, April 17, 2014


In our new feature, "Random Question Thursday" I will tackle a reader question every week. It can be about anything related to the Young Women program, no matter how weighty or obscure!

Today's question: "(As a leader), what do you wear when you go to Mutual? Do you dress-up?"

In our ward, Mutual (Wednesday night) activities are very casual. When a new YW leader is called, I tell them that dressing up is not required for Mutual. We dress-up in "Sunday best" for most Sunday meeting and classes (Sacrament meeting, Young Women class, etc), but Mutual is a different type of activity. We play games, we cook, we make things, we learn to change oil, we rake people's yards, etc - its not a dress up thing.

For some Sunday activities, such as Bishops Youth Discussions (formerly known as youth firesides) we specify "nice casual/stake youth dance standards" for clothing (in our Stake, this means that they can wear pants if they aren't too sloppy or casual, boys wear a shirt with a collar, and also the modesty standards apply- no skirts about the knee, no low-cut blouses, etc). These Bishops Youth Discussions are normally held at a family's home, and sometimes held outside (around a fire-pit), so Sunday clothes aren't always necessary or appropriate. However, we specify "nice casual" because we want to show a certain level of respect for the host family and the speakers (showing up in pjs or a t-shirt with an inappropriate message on it might not convey that respect)

For any Church activity, a good rule of thumb I've always followed is that if an activity is being held in the chapel, you wear "Sunday best". If we have a Stake Youth Fireside in the chapel of the Stake Center, I don't have to ask - I know the clothing should be "Sunday clothing" (i.e., what you would wear to church on Sunday). The same goes for Mutual (Wednesday night) activities that may be held in the chapel (such as "Standards Night") or other special events.

For the most part, in our ward, the majority of our Mutual (Wednesday night) activities are held in either the Relief Society room or the cultural hall/gym, and we rarely need to specify "Sunday clothes." We have asked for "Sunday clothes" on certain occasions (such as for Young Women in Excellence).

I personally feel like as a leader, its appropriate to dress according to the activity. Honestly, I normally dress up a little more to go to Mutual than I would to go to the grocery store. That is my personal preference, but not something that I feel i required. I don't usually wear a skirt or heels or anything like that, but I might wear a nicer blouse than I would wear if I were just sitting around my house. Of course it depends on the type of activity. If I were leading or attending a self-defense class activity, I would come in different clothing than I might for another type of activity. Even though I might be dressed very casually for some activities, I always dress modestly to set a good example and try not to come across as sloppy because I still want to project the persona of a leader.

On a related note, leaders who chaperone youth dances in our Stake are asked to wear Sunday clothes to the dances (even though the youth are dressed casually). Why so stuffy? Why can't the adult leaders dress casually at a dance? In my opinion, it sets the adult leaders apart as an authority figure and makes them more identifiable as adults to the youth.

As always, my opinions reflect...well, my opinion, as well as the practices in our area of the country/world and don't necessarily represent an official church policy. Please consult local leaders if you have concerns about what types of clothing are appropriate in your area.

If you have a question you'd like to ask for a future "Random Question Thursday," please post it in the comments of this blog post, OR you can post it on my Jolly Rogers Young Women Facebook Group page (search for "Jolly Rogers Young Women" on Facebook - you must request to join the group). Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mothers Day Activity / Childcare Seminar

Every year (on a Wednesday night close to Mother's Day), we have a special activity when Moms are invited to attend Mutual with the Young Women. In the past we have usually played games and done makeovers, that sort of thing.

This year, our Beehive class presidency has planned an all-girls (joint) Mothers Day activity that is a little different. When planning our Mutual activities, one of the Beehive class presidency really wanted to do a "childcare seminar" (an idea called "future roles" found on the Mutual planning site on here). We talked about having some of the mothers of YW come for that activity and they could do the teaching (talk about changing diapers, etc) at various stations.

While we were planning that activity, I suddenly remembered that we hadn't planned anything for our annual Mothers Day activity. Since there was only one week available to do the seminar, and that happened to be the Wednesday before Mother's Day, we decided to combine the two.

I will include more photos after we do the actual activity, but here is our plan:

1. INVITES: Make invitations for the mothers (and/or grandmothers, stepmothers, aunts, etc) of all YW in our ward* and hand them out the week before the activity

2. SEMINAR: Ask some of the mothers who are likely to attend to teach a small section of the childcare seminar (nothing too complicated - maybe how to change a diaper, how to keep small children entertained, how to baby-proof your house, etc). You could have them speak to everyone as a group, or have them assigned to stations that the yw will rotate through.

3. GAMES: Since this is a baby-themed activity, I thought it would be fun to play some baby-shower games. I thought the YW would appreciate some of the "grosser" games -

"Name That Poopy" (click on the photo below (from Lil Luna) to go to the Lil Luna website, which explains this game:

and "Guess the Baby Food" (photo from Martin Lane Designs). Click on the photo to go to Martin Lane Designs for the instructions:

#4 FOOD: The girls really wanted to have lemonade, but didn't have any other ideas for refreshments. I've been wanting to make a donut-tower forever, so I think we will do that. Here is a an example that I saw on the Double Take Event Styling website (click on the photo to go to their site):

Happy Mothers Day!

*We would never want any young woman to feel left out, so we need to be aware of sensitive situations. Last year when we did makeovers, we had 2 sisters, so their mother and aunt came. For this year's activity, there isn't any 'pairing off', so it should not be as awkward if someone's mother can't be there. We always make it very clear that we want ALL YW at the activity, whether their mother can attend or not. In the past when we've paired off for games and some mothers didn't show up, YW leaders stepped in as substitute mothers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sunday Lessons = Boost Testimony of Christ

One of my readers has suggested that I write about teaching lessons for girls of all different backgrounds. I was intrigued by this idea - I wondered what she meant. Like, less-active girls? Part-member families?….I’ve thought about it a lot. 

If your ward is like mine, you've got a wide range of backgrounds in your young women organization. When you boil it down, I feel that no matter what the background or circumstance, all of the young women need the same thing. They need a testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel. This is what prompts them to keep the standards, repent, study the scriptures, pray, want to attend lessons and activities, be missionaries, etc. I feel that this is the root of a lot of the struggles our young women are facing, regardless of their background and family situation. 

If they don't have a testimony of Jesus Christ and his restored Church, why would they want to do any of the things we’re trying to teach them to do?

I made a list of some of the different situations/backgrounds that our young women might have. This includes young women who may show up on any given Sunday, who may not necessarily be on your attendance sheet. I'm sure there are many more scenarios, but these are the ones I'm familiar with (not necessarily about girls in my particular ward):
  • Part-member family (one or more parent is a non-member)
  • Less-active (not attending class and/or activities as much as she should be, may have a calling but usually does not do it)
  • Inactive (not active in the church in any way - not attending church/activities)
  • Non-member (not a member of the church, perhaps visiting with a friend or relative)
  • Unbaptized member (active in the church, but unable to be baptized for some reason)
  • Investigator (meeting with the full-time missionaries to learn more/prepare for baptism)
  • Recently Re-activated (used to be inactive, has recently become active or less-active and may not have a large gospel knowledge background)
  • New Convert (baptized after age 8, did not grow up in the church, possibly never attended Primary)
  • Disgruntled (upset about church policy and/or gospel doctrine and/or leadership decisions)
  • “Over it” (thinks she is too mature, too cool, too whatever to listen or participate)
  • Forced to attend class/activities (don’t want to be there, but parents make attendance non-optional)
  • Paid to attend class/activities (don’t want to be there, but parents bribe them to attend)
  • No testimony
  • Weak testimony
  • Not sure if she has a testimony or not
  • Thinks the standards are ‘old fashioned’/rules should be bent to fit her preferences
  • Has no intention of keeping the standards, but lies about it so her parents don’t find out
  • No home support (parents may be inactive or non-member, but do not provide support like rides, help with personal progress, etc)
  • Speaks a different language
  • Special needs (physical)
  • Special needs (mental or developmental)
  • Special needs (emotional)
  • Special needs (abuse victim)
  • New Beehives (less familiar with the program, may be unsure of higher level concepts in lessons)
  • "Hermoine Granger" (totally “gets” it, bears testimony at every opportunity, raised hand to answer every question, volunteers for everything, may be labeled a “goody-goody”)

You'll probably recognize most of these situations in your own ward. Of course, these situations I've listed might not apply to everyone and many girls will fall under multiple categories. Its usually not helpful to label people, because we are all complex individuals, but it is important to be aware of the situations our young women are dealing with so that we can be of the most help to them.

We may place a lot of focus on helping the girls who need the extra support or are struggling, but even the girls who already have a testimony (or the beginnings of one) will need to be strengthened to keep their testimony going through all they have to face in their teenage lives. Many times the "goody-goody" is the outcast, even among her fellow youth in the church. 

Just like adults, every single one of the girls I’ve worked with could use some testimony-strengthening. Specifically their testimony of Christ- who is the center of everything we believe and do.

How do we do this?

My personal “mantras” for teaching any Sunday lesson:
  1. No matter what the assigned topic, Jesus Christ is the topic.
  2. Prepare/teach a lesson as if it were the last one they are going to hear (because sometimes it is).

Let me elaborate.

I am a convert to the church (the only member on my side of the family) and a returned missionary. So I think (and hope) that I’m pretty missionary minded. When I prepare a talk or a lesson, I recognize that there will probably be at least one investigator or non-member visitor in the congregation that day. I plan for that. I try to think about what I would say if one of my own family members were there. Would I “phone it in” with my preparations and just 'wing it' or read a Conference talk word for word if I knew that they would be there? I would try harder to have the spirit and teach from the heart, and bear an honest testimony thats for sure. 

But what do we bear testimony of? And what if our topic is something potentially awkward to a visitor or less-active member, like tithing? 

I would never want a visitor or investigator to come to church for the first time and hear a talk that I gave and go home thinking, “My pastor was right - they aren’t Christian. The speakers spent the whole time talking about home teaching, and didn’t even mention Christ”

Even if I am assigned the topic “Tithing,” I still consider Jesus Christ to be the primary focus of that talk….Why do we pay tithing? (to show obedience to Christ, to become more like Christ, to teach us sacrifice like he has sacrificed for us, etc). You don’t have to talk about Christ the entire time, but if Christ is the head of our Church and the center of our lives, should be at the core of all we do and teach.

I use this exact same concept for young women Sunday class lessons.

2 Nephi 25:26 “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins”

Are we teaching, preaching, and testifying of Christ, every chance we get? Do we talk about him every single Sunday? If we want the young women to understand that they can look to him, we need to make his name and teachings a presence in our lessons. The girls need this - no matter what background or situation they come from. The investigator, the disgruntled young woman, the girl who is only sitting there because her parents are “making” her, the Hermoine Granger - every one of them. Some girls (many) are not getting this at home. Even if they are, its not something you can reinforce too much.

In our ward, we don’t have advisors, so the presidency members teach the Sunday lessons. I’ve had experienced some situations when I’m teaching a lesson and I know that it is likely to be one of the last lessons one of the girls will hear (or maybe even the last). As the girls grow older, they want to make their own decisions and create their own identity. They start to question why they have to keep all of these ‘rules’ and begin to realize that its getting harder and harder for their parents to force them to come to church. 

I think to myself- what can I say, what can I do to help this girl? What will she remember about this lesson? Will she say that she’s not accountable because she was never taught the correct principles? Will she say that she didn’t know whether I had a testimony or not? Even if she doesn’t have one - I need her to know that I DO.

Several years ago we had a teenage girl join the church. One Sunday, her mother (a Catholic) unexpectedly attended church with her and she was invited to YW class. I was teaching all of the girls that particular day, and the lesson was about a very sensitive topic that I knew was a point of concern for her. I only had 1 hour notice that the mother would be attending class with us. I was panicking a little. Not because I didn’t know what to say, but because I had already geared the lesson toward active girls who are familiar with the concept, so I needed to make some changes to my plan. I tried to think of how to explain the concepts to everyone - but especially to the mother of this recent convert. I tried to explain the doctrine and my feelings about them. I bore my testimony. I tried to say everything I would want someone to say if my own parents had been present.

This is how we should approach teaching the young women every time…. not just special occasions or with special visitors - every time. Because they need it and because it might be the last time they bother to show up. I don’t mean to sound negative, but its not uncommon for young women who used to be active to suddenly refuse to participate in young women. Their reasons may vary from “its dumb” to “I just don’t believe in the doctrine.” As a leader who cares for and stressed out over how to help the young women in our ward, it hurts.

I feel that focusing on Christ and bearing our honest testimony are two of the most important things we can do to help these girls.

I am totally on board with the “Come Follow Me” youth curriculum, so please don’t misunderstand. Our emphasis has gone from preparing an old-fashioned “speech” lesson to trying to create an interactive experience for the youth to develop their own testimony through discussion, experiencing teaching, etc. Although I try very hard to follow that model and it has been very successful, I always try to keep the focus on Christ and still always try to end with my heartfelt testimony. I never want anyone to leave the class without knowing that I know.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Get To Know You GAME NIGHT

We've got a few newer Beehives and a new 2nd Counselor in the YW Presidency, so the Beehive class presidency planned a "Get to know you" game night.

We picked some fun games (we got some of the ideas from the church's new mutual planning site HERE). I didn't want to do anything that would embarrass anyone, so we picked games that didn't require anyone to be singled out. We had multiple games prepared. I find that one game is not going to last the whole time - or keep their attention even if it did last the entire activity. We called this activity "Get to know you" games because that was our purpose for the activity, but they weren't really the usual get to know you games with 'trivia' about people, it was more just to have fun and feel more comfortable around each other.

Game #1- Knot game
Everyone stands in a circle and closes their eyes. They put their hands in the middle of the circle and grab someone else's hand, until everyone is holding someone else's hand (probably holding two different people's hands - one with each of your hands). Then they open their eyes and everyone is in a big knot. They try to work together to twist around and climb over each other until everyone is untangled. 5-10 minutes

Game #2- Leadership/communication game
We had a table set up in the room. I put another table out in the hallway and arranged some items in a specific way. I had some paper plates, glue sticks, plastic forks, and some other things. It doesn't matter what you use, as long as you have at least 2 of each item because you need to have the same materials on the table inside the room as you do on the table outside the room. For example, if you have 5 pencils in a circle on one table, you need to have 5 pencils to make a circle other table because they will be trying to duplicate the design you have made on the table the hall.

When you have the items arranged on the table in the hallway, have one girl come out to the hallway to observe the design. She then returns to the room to verbally explain to the others in her group how to replicate the design on the hallway table using the same materials in the room. This is relatively simple, but the girls loved this game and everyone wanted to take a turn (or two) being the "leader". After the first turn (when I set up the hallway table), we also had girls take turns making the design in the hallway (and then they didn't help with the replication of course). Make sure the girls who are leaders (describing the design to their team) know they can't touch any items and they should try not to use their hands to describe the design. This was a lot harder than it looked!

You could do this altogether or make it a competition between several groups to see who can finish the fastest.

Game #3- Memory
A popular baby shower game- I brought an assortment of about 15 things from home (stapler, pack of gum, ctr ring, apple, etc) and arranged them on a small table while they were playing a previous game. I covered this table with a cloth so that the girls couldn't see the items.When the cloth was removed, they had 1 minute to look at the items and try to memorize them, then I re-covered the items. Then I gave each of them a piece of paper and a pencil and they had 3 minutes to write down as many of the items that they could remember.  This was harder than they thought - nobody got all of them, but some girls got really close.

Game #4- The Web
One of the girls brought a ball of yarn. Everyone sat in around a large round table and the girl who started picked someone else at the table to give a compliment to, then tossed the ball to her (still holding the end of the yarn). Then the complimented girl picked another girl to compliment and the ball continues to be thrown until you run out. After just a few throws, the yarn begins to form a web. By the end, we had a really cool looking web!

Cost: $0 - we used items from home!
Purpose: Get more comfortable with new class members and leaders

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Face painting activity - Gaining skills for service

I came across the idea for doing face-painting as an activity when a pin on Pinterest led me to this site: LDS LEMON"AIDS" At first I thought that sounded more like an Activity Days activity, but the more I thought about it, the more I loved it - especially for a Beehive class activity!

The purpose behind learning how to face-paint was to teach the girls a skill that they may be able to use for service. Whenever we have a ward party (Halloween, 4th of July, etc) the young women usually get asked to make centerpieces for the tables. Which is fine, but I thought it would be so fun if the girls knew how to face-paint and could offer that as a service.

I also mentioned to the girls that if they were to purchase their own supplies and practice on their own, they might be able to develop a skill that could earn them extra money in the future (they could be paid to paint faces for kids birthday parties and things like that).

I purchased a good-sized Snazaroo face-painting kit through Amazon THIS is the one I got and it was around $16.00 and I had free shipping through my Amazon Prime membership. It only comes with 2 or 3 little brushes, so I bought some extra paintbrushes at Walmart (we expected about 8-10 girls, so I got 16 brushes). (PS- they barely used any of the paint - this kit will be kept in the YW closet and can definitely be used many more times for practice or for "real" face painting).

I went on the internet and printed out some examples of simple and fancy face-painting - some were very intricate and some were just a simple ladybug on the cheek. They used some of these examples for their creations. There were also some examples in the booklet that came with the kit.

Before we started, I talked about some of the basics (I am not an experienced face-painter, but I looked up some information online) like sanitation (washing brushes) and not mixing colors in the palette, start with the main colors first and then add the details last, etc.

The Snazaoroo website HERE has a lot of good information and instructional videos. Our girls just wanted to get started, so we let them go!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

YW Value Buckets

We've started using the "Real Heroes" posters that correspond with the YW Values (click on photo below to go to the site) on Sundays. The posters we had been using previously were a little old-fashioned and we wanted something new and interesting.

The Real Heroes YW Poster Set has a woman from the scriptures or church history that corresponds with each YW Value (ie, Mary = Virtue, Hannah = Faith), but the poster itself does not state the actual YW Value. So, when we put up the poster featuring Mary at the beginning of the month, I explain how she represents the theme, but it doesn't exactly get the message across to the YW that the theme for the month is Virtue for all the other weeks in that month.

To solve the problem, I made these little 'theme' buckets using mini metal buckets (Walmart $1.00 each). I hot-glued a fake flower (matching the color for each monthly theme) inside each bucket. I couldn't find gold flowers, but I had some gold spray-paint, so I improvised. Then I attached the name of the theme to the front of the buckets using scrapbook paper & double-stick tape. We put the corresponding bucket beside the poster we display for the month. You could also use the entire set for display during New Beginnings or YWIE.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Most of our youth are preparing for an upcoming music festival youth conference, so those kids (who will be 14 or older by the conference this summer) have singing practices for 2 mutual activities each month. Since these happen on our regular combined ym/yw or class activity nights, these either leave the younger beehives with nothing to do and/or leave the older yw (who choose not to attend youth conference) without an activity. So we've been planning special activities for these girls for the past month or so. This week we combined with some of the girls (in the same situation) from the neighboring ward and had a girls-night "GAL-entines Day party"

It happens to be Valentines Day this week, but you could do the same activity any time of year and call it something else :)

I told the girls that the point this activity was to have fun and celebrate Valentines Day without having to worry about boys or romance or any of that stuff :) We would just be celebrating our YW  awesomeness and having a good time! We would also passing off a Personal Progress value experience, so they were asked to bring their books.

We started off with Personal Progress. I chose "Divine Nature Value Experience 1" which is:  "What are some of the divine qualities of a daughter of God? Read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”; 2 Peter 1; Alma 7:23–24; and Doctrine and Covenants 121:45. In your own words, list the divine qualities discussed in your reading. Think about how you can discover and develop each of these qualities. Record your ideas in your journal"
We don't do a LOT of Personal Progress Experiences together during Mutual (maybe 4 or 5 times a year), but when we do I try to have sort type of paper or substitute "journal" for each girl (because most Experiences require journal-writing, and they usually don't have journals with them, even if I ask them to bring them). This way, they can 'write in their journal" to pass off the Experience, then tape the page into their journal at home if they want. 

I had picked up some memo pads in the Valentine section of Walmart (97 cents), so I planned to write the instructions on each page, but I needed to make about 20 and my hand was cramping, so I printed some instructions on printable stick-on address labels (that I had around) and attached them to the memo sheets (see photo example):

You could do this same type of thing with many of the Value Experiences that can be completed in one day. Many of the Value Experiences take longer than one night, so you have to really look for the ones that can be completed during Mutual (and be sure to follow the guidelines that specify that each girl completes her own Personal Progress Experiences & Projects). For example, in this Divine Nature Value Experience #1 that we used, they are to read certain scriptures, make a list, and write in their journal. Even though we did this together (at the same time) they each did their own. We even adapted this to make it possible for everyone (one girl has reading difficulties, so we had one leader in each group reading the scriptures aloud for the group, then everyone wrote their own lists and journal entry). What we need to avoid is doing the Experiences for them (ie, if I had read them the scriptures, printed out a pre-made list for them, and told them what to write in their journal, they wouldn't have gotten anything out of the Experience)

Busily writing qualities of daughters of God!

You would not believe how long their lists were!

This Personal Progress part of the activity only took about 10 minutes. I pointed out how quickly we were able to do it and reminded them that most Personal Progress experiences are just as easy to do (even the ones that take more time) - it just takes a little effort.

Our Laurel class president had found some cute ideas for food on Pinterest and we borrowed the ideas from these sources (click on the photos at the bottom of the post to see the original posts where we got the ideas with recipes, etc . Instead of just making the food for them, learning to make these treats was part of the activity. They were not hard to make, but it was a good chance to talk to the girls about some of the basics of cooking, oven safety, handwashing, etc.

I considered teaching them to make homemade pizza dough, but we were expecting a pretty large group, so I simplified. I tried to find pre-made pizza crust and didn't have any luck, so we ended up using crescent-roll dough (I used the Pillsbury "big & flaky" variety, because I worried that my 3-inch heart cookie cutter would be too large for the regular size crescent dough pieces). There are 8 pieces of dough in a can and the 3-inch size heart cookie cutter worked perfect with 1 heart per piece of dough. (I know what you're thinking, I could have probably pieced and pinched dough pieces together and gotten more pieces out of the dough, but I was going for easy this time!) :)

Everyone decorated their own pizzas. We had pizza sauce, mini pepperonis, and cheese. Cute! These are VERY SMALL pizzas (shown on tiny plates!), about 1/2 the size of a regular piece of pizza.

The YW leaders from the neighboring ward were in charge of the cupid floats and I was too distracted by drinking one to remember to take photos! They were really good!


We ended up with some leftover time, so we played "Whoonu" (a board game that I keep in the closet for occasions like this!). I like this game because everyone has fun, but nobody feels self-conscious - AND everyone learns something about the other players. I'm not sure if this game is still being made - I found some very expensive ones online, but it should be only about $20:

Here are the sources for recipes:
Original idea for cupid floats (click on photo for site)
Original idea for heart pizzas (click on photo for site)