Thursday, December 5, 2013

Young Women in Excellence 2013

Our Young women in Excellence theme this year was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Wizard of Oz)
Invitations (I purchased the die-cut paper on Etsy, then rubber-stamped the shoes with red ink. Hand-wrote the information, then added some gingham ribbon with a small brad)

Refreshment table (Emerald city theme, with yellow-brick road rice krispies, rainbow lollipops, rainbow fruit skewers, and melted-witch punch. My youngest daughter's tiny ruby slippers are on there, too!)

These were 'take homes' for the girls to remember this night. Ruby slipper necklaces. I bought the charms on Etsy here for less than $1 each. You can buy chains, but they are a little spendy if you have a lot of girls. I made my own ball chain necklaces with some materials I already had. This is not hard to do - you can buy ball chain (get the smallest kind- 1.5mm) and cut it to the length you want, then add the connector). This is the kind I used here. This is easy and much cheaper than purchasing a lot of pre-made chains.  To add a charm like this that doesn't have its own little jump-ring (that little circle that keeps your charm facing the right way), you will need to buy some (seperate) and add yourself (just pull apart with pliers, then close back together around the hole in the charm. Then string the chain through the jump ring. You can purchase these at Walmart or anyplace that sells jewlery supplies - they are about $2 for a huge bag of them. Finally, I cut out yellow cardstock decorated to look like the yellow brick road and wrote their name on each one, then punch holes for the necklace to fit through. This was put inside a little green bag (as shown).
We made these 'take-homes' for the parents, too. Its a copy of For the Strength of Youth, but I wrote a message from the the YW Presidency about how its part of our mission to support them as parents and that sort of thing. I encouraged them to become familiar with FTSOY so that they will know what is being taught (this was especially geared towards less-active or part-member families, but everyone can use a refresher!)
We displayed our Personal Progess board and our Young Womanhood Recognition plaque. For the presentation of the Value Colors, the girls put their colored flags in a white cake.

We tried to focus primarily on Personal Progress, since that is the purpose of YWIE. Here is what we planned for our program (I left the names out, but you get the idea!):

Conducting- (Laurel Class President)

Opening Song- “Count Your Blessings,” Hymn 241

Opening Prayer- 

Brief Explanation of “Personal Progress”- (Young Women President)

Presentation of Value Colors (Assigned to various Young Women)

Youth Speaker – (A Young Woman who has been doing well at Personal Progress)

Slideshow Presentation And Musical Number – “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (performed by a YW)

Bishopric Remarks- 

Closing Prayer- 

Following the prayer, we had refreshments and viewing of display tables:
Just a few examples of some of the girls' display tables

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013 Youth Theme Gift Ornament

If you are a member of my current YW Presidency, please avert your eyes!!!!! :)

When I'm in a Presidency, I like to make Christmas ornaments for the whole Presidency to help us commemorate the year. Using the Mutual theme for the year is a good way to do that for a YW Presidency. I made these for all of the Presidency members in our ward, but you could also make something like this as a relatively inexpensive Christmas gift for all of your young women. (My daughter is Beehive class President and she also likes to make themed ornaments for her presidency - (see also this post about the Beehive ornaments from last year)

For this year's "Stand ye in Holy places" ornament, I bought some clear acrylic ornaments from Michaels Crafts store and used a press-on vinyl saying from Say it on the Wall found here. The vinyl are $1.00 each and are available in various colors. This size (that you will be linked to) is recommended for 4" ornaments, but I used some 4" and some 3" ornaments and it worked fine on both. If you have easy access to vinyl cutting, you could also add the year and/or the name of the calling on the back of the ornament (such as, "Young Women Secretary, 2013")

You can leave these as-is, or if you use fill-able ornaments, you can fill them with an item that goes along with the annual theme. For "Stand ye in Holy Places" I bought tiny red shoes to go inside (along with some filler). I got my red shoes from RockinResin on Etsy here. You can't see the shoes well in the ornament photo because of the glare, but it is really cute in person.

This also coordinates with our YWIE theme, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"/Wizard of Oz because they look like little ruby slippers.

If you are doing a 'stand in holy places' theme, you could use a variety of shoe types (I chose to do all red shoes because it also goes along with our YWIE theme for the year). You can purchase little trinket items like these (or other types to go along with other themes) in craft stores or on sites like ebay or etsy.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Speed-friending & Clothes Swap - Multi-Ward YW Activity

This week we had a super fun activity with the Young Women from another ward that shares our building. We wanted to promote friendship between the two wards' YW. This is what we came up with:

Earlier this year, our former Relief Society Enrichment Leader (now my 1st Counselor) ran an Enrichment Night activity that was called "Speed-friending." I was sick that night, so I didn't attend but I kept hearing about how fun it was. Basically, it was like speed-dating (in that you sat at tables - across from a partner) and rotated who you speak to after a set time), but with all ladies. The timer was set for 3 minutes, and the Enrichment Leader had a list of topic questions that she would read aloud (a different question for each rotation). After 3 minutes, the women would rotate and move to a new person. It never got boring because it was a different get-to-know-you topic every 3 minutes, and you were always getting to know a different person. (We ended up using this same concept on a smaller scale a few months ago as a joint (all-girls) activity in our ward. The leaders and the yw all rotated around and got to know each other better)

When I contacted the neighboring ward's YW President to see if we could schedule a joint (all-girls) activity with both ward's YW, I suggested the speed-friending concept and she came up with the idea for the clothes swap.


My 1st Counselor read the questions (using the microphone - it got pretty loud in there!) and the girls rotated along long-tables that we had set up in the gym. The topic questions were things like, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" "If you suddenly had millions of dollars, what would you do with it?" and "If you could be an animal, what kind would you be, and why?"

This time, since we had a larger group of girls, we didn't include the leaders in the speed-friending (except for one who filled in when there was an uneven number - we had some girls trickle in throughout the evening, so we were constantly adjusting the number of chairs, etc). This part of the activity took about 45 minutes. It could be shorter or longer, depending on how many questions you have prepared and how many girls you have (we had about 26 girls).


During the speed-friending, the other leaders were setting up a clothes-swap in the RS room. We had asked the yw (from both wards) to bring any unwanted (but CLEAN) clothes, shoes, or accessories to donate for the swap (and to get their parent's permission first before donating anything!). We had about 26 girls attend, and I'd estimate we had about 300 swap items donated. We quickly arranged the clothes into areas (pants, skirts/dresses, shoes, shirts, etc) while they speed-friended. After the girls finished up the speed-friending, they went into the RS room, where they were welcome to take anything that they wanted from the donated items. We did not place any restrictions on who could take what (ie, you didn't have to bring something to take something). Most girls took away at least a few things. Some girls had to haul their 'new' clothes away in garbage bags. Any leftover items were donated to a thrift store.

Afterward, we had doughnuts and milk for refreshments. This was one of our most popular activities EVER - the girls have been asking when we can do it again!

This could also be done on a Stake level.

COST: Only the cost of refreshments!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Personal Progress Conference

Last night we had an all-girls (joint class) activity that I called "Personal Progress Conference." I borrowed heavily from an idea I saw on the A Little Crafting blog here but I adapted it a bit to fit our needs.

The main purpose of the activity was to show the girls that Personal Progress can be fun and is not difficult to do. I knew some of the girls probably wouldn't come if they knew what we were doing, so I wanted to make it sound EXTRA fun. I advertised that we would be doing a competition where they could earn 'tickets' and whoever ended up with the most tickets at the end of the activity would 'win' a prize - and the prize was being able to throw a pie in my face! You may notice from my previous posts that pie (and contests involving pie) is a popular theme with our youth. Anyhow, the girls were told ahead of time that they would automatically earn 1 ticket just for bringing their Personal Progress book to the activity!

We had 6 stations set up, each with a YW leader or a mentor (YW who has finished Personal Progress). 4 of them were stations where they could work on (and pass-off) a pre-arranged Personal Progress Value Experience. More on that below. For each Value Experience that they passed-off, they earned a ticket. There was also a station where they could write a letter to one of the missionaries serving from our ward (for an extra ticket). The 6th station was where they could have their Personal Progress interview (and earn THREE tickets!). I wanted the interview to be non-threatening, so I kept it low-key and didn't push the girls who aren't 'into' it.

The girls were able to rotate through the tables in any order they wanted. I provided instructions and all the materials they would need (scriptures, scissors, etc) at each table and each girl was given a mini-composition book to use as her 'journal' for the activity, since most of the activities required writing in a journal. A leader or mentor was at each table to assist them and sign their book/paper.

Only 2 of the girls brought their Personal Progress books, but I was prepared! I had made up a sheet for each girl that listed which Value Experiences were available to pass off during the activity and a place for the leader/mentor at each table to sign off that it was completed. They can then tape their paper inside their regular Personal Progress book when they get home.

Some girls had already completed some of the Value Experiences we were offering, but I told them that was ok - they could just go ahead and work on the project anyhow to get the 'ticket,' but wouldn't need to get it signed off in their book again.

The 4 Value Experiences we had available to do that night were:

  • FAITH VALUE EXPERIENCE #2 (need a Book of Mormon, pen, copy of "The Family - A Proclamation to the World")
  • FAITH VALUE EXPERIENCE #6 - (need set of scriptures, pen, scissors, crayons, & copy of full set of Plan of Salvation Visual Aids for each girl. I got mine here). I adapted this one- I had the girls set out and explain the visuals to the mentor instead of teaching it in a FHE like suggested in the book.
  • INDIVIDUAL WORTH VALUE EXPERIENCE #4 (need set of scriptures, pen)
  • GOOD WORKS VALUE EXPERIENCE #8 - this was an "personalized" Value Experience that I made up for the activity. Each girl decorated a baby onesie with a fabric applique and then we gave all of the onesies (a variety of sizes) to a soon to be mom in our ward.

For girls who didn't bring their books to get an extra ticket, I gave them an opportunity to earn a bonus ticket (at the end) by answering one of the following questions correctly:

  • TRUE OR FALSE: When you're done with Personal Progress and earn your medallion, you're done with the program (FALSE- you can either start earning honor bees, or start the program again)
  • TRUE OR FALSE: You can't finish Personal Progress until you're 18 (FALSE - I encourage the girls to finish before their senior year - they can still work on their honor bee after that)
  • TRUE OR FALSE: Only a member of the YW Presidency can sign your Personal Progress book (FALSE- a parent/guardian can also sign your book)
We ended up with 4 girls who tied for 1st place for highest number of tickets*, so I got 4 different (whipped-cream) pies in my face! It was really fun! By the 2nd or 3rd pie, we had attracted a big crowd of YM from our ward (plus youth & leaders from the other ward)! We were in the kitchen and they opened the doors so everyone could get a better view!

Please note that doing Personal Progress as a group is generally discouraged because they are supposed to do the actual work/reading, etc themselves. However, it is sometimes appropriate to work on Personal Progress during Mutual. How do we know what is appropriate and what is not? What we want to avoid is doing the work for them just to get them to pass something off- just reading the scripture aloud, discussing as a group, and then lining everyone up to sign their book is a no-no. Really, would they be learning anything?

Even though we were doing some Value Experiences together on the same night during this activity, each girl actually did her own Value Experiences (or not if she didn't want to).  This keeps Personal Progress PERSONAL. I did this as more of a jump-start for girls who are new (or a boost for girls who haven't been working on Personal Progress for a while)...I will not be doing this frequently because most of the Value Experiences and Value Projects need to be done over time, at home, or privately. But it was fun to do for a Personal Progress Conference and we may continue doing something like this once a year or so....

*The original idea on A Little Crafting featured a raffle (all tickets were put into a raffle and one name was chosen to win), which honestly think about have worked better. I personally chose not to do a raffle because I remember reading in the Ensign that raffles should be avoided at church (even when money is not involved) because no matter how well-intended, it is still a form of gambling. I had the feeling our Bishopric would not approve. That is why I chose to do the (more complicated) "winner" method. I could have ended up with all of the girls having an equal number of tickets and I would have had a dozen pies in my face! Some of the girls chose not to finish all of the possible projects, so ours worked out with 4 "winners"

Monday, September 23, 2013

Beauty & the Geek dance theme

This last weekend was our ward's turn to host the Stake youth dance. The youth voted on a theme (they picked "Beauty & the Geek"). We posted information about the dance on the stake's youth facebook page. We invited them to come dressed fancy (dress up) or as a geek/nerd (pocket protectors, nerd glasses, etc).

I had seen a post on sugardoodle where someone suggested decorating with toilet paper streamers  to make a sort of canopy over the dance floor. I thought this would be perfect to go along with the theme, since toilet paper stuck to the shoe is classic 'nerd'

Original idea posted here

It took 3 young men, my husband, and the hugest ladder I have ever seen to get the ropes hung up. We had a little (or a lot of) difficulty getting the TP across the ropes because our (pre-existing) hooks were spaced pretty far apart. So instead of being a canopy over the top of the dance floor, we settled for 2 "walls" of toilet paper, one on each side of the dance floor. See photos....

It looked much cooler with the dance lights on (and the main lights off), but you'll just have to use your imagination. It really had that "TP'd" look! Having the two "walls" of TP made the gym seem smaller and more cozy, so it did seem like more people danced. But since they were easily see-through with all the gaps, there wasn't a problem with visibility for the chaperones.

For refreshments, had divided a long table into two halfs- "beauty" (fancy pink cupcakes) and "geek" (mini cookies and rice krispy treats with nerds candies on the top). The youth made a bunch of tissue-paper roses and thick 'nerd' glasses cut-outs that we put all over the table.

We had a budget of $75.00. I bought $25 worth of TP ($1/4-pack at Dollar Tree = 100 rolls). Other supplies: rope (about $3), tissue paper and floral tape (about $4), tablecloths ($2), black cardstock and poster board ($4), cups ($3), and about $20 for refreshments.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Abide by the Guide - For the Strength of Youth

This last week we had a lesson about dating for the young women. We focused a lot on how the For the Strength of Youth guidebook can guide us to date (and eventually marry) in the way the Lord wants us to.

I saw this printable (left) on the Little Miss Suzy Q site and thought it was very catchy...Decide to Abide by the Guide! (the original printable shown in the post matched the older version of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, the NEW printable that matches the latest version of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is available from the Little Miss Suzy Q site here)

This printable was a perfect handout for the lesson, but "Abide by the Guide" could also be used as the basis for a Mutual activity, fireside / Bishop's Youth Discussion, or theme for a Standards Night. We focused primarily on dating and church dances, but you could expand the idea to include all of the other subjects covered in For the Strength of Youth (media, education, dress and appearance, etc) for a complete overview of the standards

This "Decide to Abide by the Guide" handout is easily printable at home, but you can also save it and have it printed in 4 x 6 photo size at a photo center (I used Walgreens). I printed out the information below and taped it to the back of the photo for the handout. I don't have a document for this, just copy the text over to a document and then edit the text size so that when you cut it down it will fit on the back of a 4 x 6 photo. I was able to fit 2 of these on one printed page.

For those who are interested in focusing on the dating aspect of For the Strength of Youth, I put this on the back of the photo for my dating handout:


- You should not date until you are at least 16 years old
- When you begin dating (ie, high school years), go with other couples (group dates)
- Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person (ie, having a boyfriend)
- Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose
company you can maintain your standards

Just because you can date when you turn 16, doesn’t mean that you should
have a boyfriend. In the world’s customs, going on a date with someone can
mean that you are instantly boyfriend/girlfriend. In contrast to that, the Prophets have
preached that youth should not pair off exclusively (ie, be boyfriend/girlfriend).
For instance, President Hinckley said, “When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating.
When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved.
But you boys who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls”

If you aren’t dating to have a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, then why even bother
dating? (Dating) can help you learn and practice social skills, develop
friendships, have wholesome fun, and eventually find an eternal companion (when you reach
that stage in your life). It is supposed to be fun and casual- a way to get to know people
and have fun experiences without the problems and potential temptations (emotional and
physical) of entering romantic relationships too soon.

Before you get married, would you rather date one person, or go on MANY dates
and get to know a lot of different boys? Which would be more fun? Would a girl who
had only steady-dated one or two people before getting married maybe regret what
she had missed out on later?

For the Strength of Youth is our guide for dating in the way that the Prophet & Apostles 

have taught us. For lasting happiness, Abide by the Guide!


You can also order copies of the actual For the Strength of Youth pamphlets from (in the "Order Materials" section) at no cost and with free shipping, but it does take a while to get them (1-2 weeks) even if they are in stock, so be sure to plan ahead.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Alligator letter - contacting inactive YW

There is a sales technique called "alligator letter." The basic idea is that if you have pretty much "lost" a sales client (they aren't returning your calls for a long time), you can make one last effort by sending a letter to the client and ask them to at least let you know what is going on (by providing a sheet where they can select their level of interest and a self-addressed stamped envelope). I believe it is called an alligator letter because it is meant to be an easy way for them to contact you with their intentions even if they are "swamped" 

For example, something like this:
___I'm still interested in purchasing your product, but I've been "swamped". Please call me again
___I'm no longer interested at this time, but may be in the future.
___I'm still interested, but am too "swamped" to meet now, but please contact me in a few weeks

This technique can help 'save sales' for salespeople, because instead of giving up (or continuing to 'hound' an uninterested potential buyer), the salesperson may be able to find out (directly) what the situation is and know how to proceed.

I'm not in sales, but I thought that this concept might be helpful to find out what some of our inactive young women are thinking.

I did something similar to this when I was a ward-missionary and wasn't getting anywhere with some of our new members who had stopped participating in the church and wouldn't return my calls about scheduling their new-member discussions. I've adapted it for some of our (totally) inactive young women - the ones that we have never seen at church or Mutual (most are on our records as child-of-record and have almost no knowledge of the church). I have talked to most of them and invited them to activities/church, but haven't had any progress. It is hard to know how to proceed when I don't know what they are thinking.

So I created the following letter to send out (with a self-addressed & stamped envelope):

Hello, I’m the President of the Young Women organization of your ward (church congregation) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We offer youth activities, classes, and leadership & community service opportunities for girls age 12-18. We have been contacting you because you are on our church records as being a young women in the 12-18 range.

We’d love to have you join us for some of our activities so that you can get to know us and see if you’d like to participate. You might also be interested in learning more about the church and what we believe. For some basic information, you can also visit

We have a Wednesday night activity almost every week from 7-830pm at the church building (address here). However, some weeks we may have an activity at a different location, so maybe call or text me (phone # here) for info if you plan on coming to an activity. We do some activities for just the girls, but some are combined with the teen boys. There is never a cost to attend – everything is provided!

You are also always welcome to join us for church on Sundays. This year, our ward meets starting at (enter time here), followed by Sunday School (classes for all ages), and then a special class for the young women.

We would love to have you participate in our youth activities and church, but if that isn’t something you’re interested in right now, we don’t want to be pests…
To help me know whether you’re interested or not, please check the box that best fits your situation:
      I'm swamped right now, but I would be interested in church or youth activities in the future
      Don't quit trying- I am interested in church or youth activities, I'm just hard to get a hold of.
      I'm not interested in youth activities or church right now, please don't contact me for a while.

        Please return this sheet to me in the stamped envelope provided 

Thanks so much,
(enter name and contact info here) 

Notice how I only included positive choices for them to 'check' - ie, instead of listing "I'm not interested" as an option, I made it "I'm not interested right now...please don't contact me for a while," which will leave the door open for future contact.

I would probably recommend this method only for totally inactive young women who are not really responding to your efforts, have not participated in years, and probably have little to no knowledge of the church.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Girls camp treats

Our yw have girls camp this week and I wasn't able to go :( , but I wanted to let the girls know I was thinking about them.

My husband is going up for Bishopric night tonight, so I made some treats for the young women. Last year I made cookies, but this year we have one girl with a serious gluten allergy. So, while I could have made two separate kinds of cookies, I thought I'd keep it simple this year. I bought a variety of Skittles (which are gluten-free) -one for each girl...

 - and put their name and a message on each one...

If you don't want to (or can't) send candy to camp, here is another idea that goes along with this year's theme that I saw on the She's crafty blog - its socks!:

Click on this photo to go to the She's Crafty blog

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Personal Progress Board

If you look in the "Personal Progress" section of this site, you'll find posts with information about the Personal Progress board that we've been using for the past year.

It looked like this (may look familiar because I've talked about it so much!):


That board was great and had a lot of benefits (low cost, bright and colorful, easy to use, etc). Instructions for this board are available in the "Personal Progress" section if you are interested. I have heard so many compliments on this board and it worked for us really well.

With our new Ward YW Presidency (and I use the term 'new' loosely, because 3/4 of the Presidency stayed the same!) I've really felt like we needed to make some changes to how we handle Personal  Progress. Specifically, we are going to work together more as a Presidency to motivate and inspire the girls to do Personal Progress (instead of having a Personal Progress specialist like we did before).

Some girls have moved in/out and some have completed Personal Progress, so the board needed to be updated because of that, and we also wanted to do something different, just to keep things interesting and exciting for the girls.

(For our new board, I was inspired by this  Personal Progress board - below -  from the Beantown Menzies website)

Instead of one large chart, it is a framed cork-board. I loved it and tried to make something similar. It turned out a little differently, but I'm happy with it!

Here is our new Personal Progress board:

This is about 2' x 3' and has a mini-chart* for each girl- so it is easily update-able (you can add/remove girls as needed, or add an honor-bee tracking chart for girls who have completed Personal Progress). We can also add/remove mini-charts for leaders as needed, too! Thats right, we've put the YW Presidency members on the board, so that the girls can see that we are working on Personal Progress, too!

Another thing that I like about it is that it will (hopefully) be less intimidating for the girls who are newer (or aren't as active with Personal Progress) because it doesn't compare them to each other (each chart is separate) and you have to get really close up to see who has done what.

*To create the mini-charts, I made grids on an excel spreadsheet with the girls name at the top. I put the values down the side and the experience #s and value project across the top. I highlighted each value with its corresponding color. I did something similar with the honor bee charts, but just had 40 spaces to represent the 40 hours of service.

Here is a close-up of the mini-charts to give you a better idea of how I did it:

If you already have a cork-board that you can use, this is a low-cost project (I used some scrapbooking embellishments and letter stickers for decoration). Even if you don't have a cork-board already, you can purchase one about this size for about $15.00

New blog name

This blog has had almost 100,000 page views! In celebration of that, I have changed the name of the blog (I felt that the previous title, "LDS Young Women Ideas and Activity Blog") was a bit wordy and general.

As you can see from our new banner (at the top of the blog), the blog is now called "The Jolly Rogers' Young Women Blog". The original blog address and content will stay the same, only the title will change. Thank you for your support and encouragement!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Personal Progress Motivation


In 2011, the New Era published suggestions for motivation in the Personal Progress program. These suggestions are geared towards the young women themselves, but I think we can benefit from these ideas as leaders as well. 


“How can I stay motivated to do Personal Progress, and who can help?”

One way to stay motivated is to remember that by consistently working on your Personal Progress, you are cultivating feminine attributes, strengthening your testimony, and reaching your divine potential, as well as preparing to enter the temple and to have a family (see Young Women Personal Progress [booklet, 2009], 1).

Personal Progress is more than just receiving a medallion; it helps you become the best you can be. You can personalize it for what you need in your life. Keep that in mind as you look over the value experiences and plan your projects.

If you try to do it all at once, Personal Progress can seem intimidating. Focus on just one or two experiences at a time. You may find that you are already doing something that fulfills an experience. Set aside a specific time to work on your experiences—for example, every Sunday after church. Other young women, your parents, and Young Women leaders can also help you stay on track. When you have someone cheering you along, it is easier to continue no matter what may get in the way.

Make a Chart - "I just finished my Personal Progress. One way I stayed motivated was by making a chart and keeping track of what I was doing. I also told my mom what I was planning on doing, and she would ask me about it. I am working on my Honor Bee now. The best way of all to do Personal Progress is to pray for help" Emily H., 15, Washington, USA

Work with Friends- "I do Personal Progress with friends. We are starting a Personal Progress club. We sit and do Personal Progress. We all can relate to it and are able to share stories on it. It is so much fun. We take turns reading scriptures and set goals together. I learn so much and am able to spiritually grow. I also am so excited about the ribbons" Madison R., 14, California, USA

Work Together- "On the first Tuesday of every month my Young Women group has a Personal Progress night. We all do the experiences together and set goals. It motivates me a lot when we do it all together. It also creates deeper discussions, because we all have an experience to share or a thought to give" Eva S., 15, Utah, USA

Start Good Habits- "I know that staying motivated for Personal Progress can be hard. The things that helped me were the longer value experiences that took two to three weeks. I made a chart and checked off the days as they passed. As I went through the experiences, I could see good habits becoming part of my life, such as morning prayers and daily journal writing, and I was happier in general"  Erin F., 16, Utah, USA

Remember to Apply- "I stay motivated to do Personal Progress by remembering that what I do every day can be applied to it. When you look at it as just another thing on your to-do list, it can become a real drag. But what really helps me is to look at things that I’m already doing and applying them to value experiences and projects. This helps me accomplish more, and it makes me realize all the good I’m doing in my everyday life" -Stephanie M., 16, Michigan, USA

Call and Report- "My cousin and I call each other on Sundays to set goals and to tell each other what we did that week for Personal Progress. This helps us stay motivated because we can report our achievements to someone. So far, we have had great success!" -Jamie H., 14, California, USA

Just Do It- "It helps being upfront with friends and family. It makes them want to be involved with you, so you’re not doing Personal Progress alone. Set aside time on Sunday to do something new in it, and use all the tools available, including online Personal Progress []. Set a date you’ll be done by—not just for the whole Personal Progress but with each value—and stick to it. Other than that: Just do it! Thinking about doing it does not get it done" -Sarah W., 17, Idaho, USA

Set Goals with Dates- "The way I motivated myself to do Personal Progress was to set a goal for when I would finish it. I wanted to get it done before my 16th birthday. Having that goal gave me something to shoot for and helped me pace myself. I was able to get it done two months before my birthday. So, my advice is: set a goal and work toward it" -Shirley H., 16, Arizona, USA

Post Reminders- "It helped me to post Personal Progress tidbits on my mirrors. They were nice daily reminders of what I needed to focus on" -Francesca G., 18, Texas, USA

Do a Few Things- "If you make goals for Personal Progress to do a few things every month, then you know that there is a possibility in finishing what you need to get done. Also, reward yourself for achieving your goals" -Olivia L., 13, Illinois, USA"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Goodbye / thank you gift for leaders

Its been a while since I've posted anything new, but I have a good reason - I promise! I was recently released as the 1st Counselor in our Ward Young Women Presidency - and called as our Ward Young Women President! So I've been brainstorming, praying, and planning like crazy. I will start updating the blog with new ideas as we go along.

One thing that I wanted to do (immediately) was to come up with a thank you / goodbye gift for the previous President.  I purchased a WillowTree "Forget Me Not" figure (Demdaco) - I got mine from Deseret Bookstore, but you can find them in other stores and online from many sources.

I also made a card with forget-me-not flowers (inspired by a forget-me-not craft on this website) and a little pot of forget-me-not seeds (also purchased at Deseret Bookstore).

I had all the girls and the other presidency members sign the card at Mutual and then we presented the gift the following Sunday.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fathers Day Pie Day!

We recently we had our 2nd annual Pies for Fathers Day - just like last year, it was a big success, and I think we will continue this tradition for a while! Instead of passing out a candy bar or something like that at the end of Sacrament meeting, our ward does something a little different.

On the Saturday before Fathers Day, each of the classes met together with their leader (ie; Beehives with the 2nd Counselor in the YW Presidency) for "pie day." Each class made a certain number of pies (# of pies and type of pies were determined at the previous YW Presidency mtg).

Our bishop announces in Sacrament meeting (on Fathers Day) that the adult men will be excused from their priesthood classes 10 minutes early. (As a bonus, hopefully this encourages some of the men who might be tempted to leave church early to stay until the end of the 3-hour block?). Meanwhile, the Young Women and their leaders leave their 3rd hour class about 15 minutes early and head to the kitchen to serve pie! Instead of pre-dishing-out the pie, we had the girls each take a pie and slice it themselves. Then, as the men arrived and entered the kitchen, they could select the type of pie they wanted and the young woman responsible for that pie would serve it to them.

We had the YW serve the pies and some of the YW leaders dispensed cool whip. If you have a very small number of yw (more pies than leaders & yw combined) OR a very large number of men that would have to come through the kitchen, then it might work better to pre-plate the pies and have them laid out on the counter or on a table. We prefer to have the girls directly serving the pie if possible, I think it gives them a better sense of ownership for the pies.

We've found that since they are all in different classes and some are quicker than others, the men don't arrive all at once to claim their pie, so it is a steady flow of men instead of 100 men ready for pie at once.

We have a smaller ward with an average Sacrament attendance of about 125, so we planned for about 50 men.

Our assignments were:
Laurels: 3 fruit pies
Mia Maids: 3 pudding pies (chocolate and/or chocolate peanut butter)
Beehives: 3 pies (2 lemon, 1 pumpkin pie)

We ended up with a few extra pies (myself and one of the other leaders making one extra pie, just in case!), so we even had plenty for the young men to eat, and then all of the yw got a piece as well. We were careful to make sure that the adult men were served first, though! Some of the girls tried to hide pieces of their favorite pie to make sure they got the piece they wanted, so I tried to gently explain that this is a service we are offering to the men to show our gratitude, so we need to make sure that they are served their first choice before we have leftovers.

Here are a few of our YW with some of the pies we made this year!

One last note - Because of schedule conflicts, I was unable to get any of my class (the Mia Maids) together to make pies on "pie day" Saturday, so I was afraid that I would have to make the Mia Maid pies myself. Not that I would have minded making the pies, but the point was for the YW to serve the fathers (and, as a bonus, to get some cooking experience). Instead of meeting together to make pies together, I talked to the girls (who were willing to participate) a few days beforehand and asked them to take home pie supplies (provided) and bring a completed pie to church on Sunday. We were in charge of the no-bake pudding pies, so I bought each girl 2 boxes of instant pudding and a pre-made graham cracker crust. I put them in a ziplock bag and printed out very clear instructions on what to do and when to bring the pie. I was careful to mention - several times - that the pies had to be kept refrigerated! I sent pie supplies home with 2 girls and they both brought completed pies, so even though it would have been more ideal to make pies together, I think it worked great as an alternative! I would recommend this only with no-bake pudding pies, though!

PS - Don't forget the paper plates and forks, unless you want to wash dishes!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

DON'T STRESS! (teaching YW to deal with stress)

     For our most recent Mia Maid class activity we had an activity called "Don't Stress!" It seems like the pressure grows every year for these girls, and as they move from junior high/middle school to high school, the pressure is even greater. Schoolwork, sports, extracurricular programs, family responsibilities, etc. I wanted to teach the girls how to deal with stress in a productive way.

     This was a low-key, discussion kind of activity. 

     I made a print-out of the following information (in blue) for each girl, but I didn't give it to them until the end (so they wouldn't just read ahead and get bored). I had a copy for myself and went over it as we 'discussed'. 

     Basically, I explained a little about what stress is, then I asked:
  • What kind of things are stressful to kids their age? (I thought it was better to be general and then let them share if they wanted)
  • How can they tell (physically) if they are experiencing a lot of stress? (headaches? stiff muscles?)
  • Who would they talk to if they needed help with stress? (this opened a discussion about whether or not they felt comfortable approaching parents, etc)
  • How much sleep do you get? (Can you get more?)
  • Can you prevent some of the things that are stressing you out? 
  • How does exercise help us feel better?
  • Why would pray help people deal with stress?

For our purposes, I kept this very basic (it was a short activity because we had some other YW business to do at the beginning of Mutual), but you could expand this activity idea by adding more to it. Maybe have someone come and teach yoga or meditation?

Here is the sheet I printed out (the entire blue section below). You can copy it onto a word document to print it out....

   Most people think that “stress” is bad, but stress actually means a change or challenge, which isn't necessarily mean a bad thing. For example, if you move to a nicer house, that might be a good thing, but just the change involved would be a sort of stress...a change in your lifestyle that means you have to make adjustments and choices. Or you may be offered two great summer jobs (a good thing), but have to choose between them (which would be the stress part).

   Our response to stress situations is actually biological (have you ever heard of 'fight or flight' response? When faced with the stress of danger , the body gets adrenaline to help you have the energy to deal with it, whether you decide to face the danger (fight) or run away (flight)).

Some sources of stress for teens might include:
  • school demands  
  • social competition, peer pressure, problems with friends
  • bad self-image
  • family problems or issues
  • moving or changing schools
  • having too many activities
  • having too high expectations
  • financial problems

   People who deal with a lot of stress, or who don’t know how to deal with stress can start to have physical problems because of it. These are the common symptoms of too much stress:

Common effects of stress ...
... On your body ... On your mood ... On your behavior
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Over-eating or under-eating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal
 (Source: The Mayo Clinic)*


Help for stress:
Physical activity – exercise is physical, but it also helps us feel better spiritually and mentally.
      Find solutions to help prevent stressful situations For example, if you are overwhelmed with homework, maybe reconsider how you schedule your time (do you put off assignments until the last minute? Try to do your homework when you’re too tired?)\
      Talk to a trusted adult (parent, leader, teacher)

Get enough sleep the average teen needs 9 ½ hours of sleep a night (according to the american sleep disorders association), if your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it can’t fully recover from the previous day and recharge for the next day.
      Try increasing the amount of time you pray. You may also want to try meditation and/or deep breathing. “Research shows that people who are more religious are better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being. Students who had strong religious correlations also had higher positive feelings, lower levels of depression, and were better equipped at handling stress”

ACTIVITY PURPOSE: Teaching the girls about how to cope with stress, pointing them toward good health habits, reaching out to parents & leaders when needed, and encouraging prayer

*I have removed a few of the originally listed symptoms to make this list more appropriate for YW