Last summer we decided to have a combined ym/yw activity that was planned by the adult presidencies/leaders (I can't believe I forgot to blog about this last year!)... We've been talking about doing it again this year and making it an annual thing because it was a big hit!
The theme of the activity was Family Home Evening (often abbreviated as FHE)!
We thought the activity would be fun, but I was also being sneaky. Some of the youth (too many!) had mentioned that their family never has FHE. We have some new convert families, but for the most part these were kids from active families. It made me worried that maybe FHE isn't being as emphasized as much as it should be. I wanted all of the youth to understand what FHE is and how easy it is to have it, so that maybe they could be the ones to encourage their parents to have FHE! Even if its not something they can accomplish in their home now, I wanted them to have a good impression of what FHE is and want to do FHE with their future family.
Basically, FHE is a night set aside for family, no matter what the ages of the family members. Sometimes people get the idea that this is just for families with young children, but teenagers need FHE, too!
Like with all activities, FHE begins with prayer. Other than that, you will see a lot of variation from family to family (and maybe from week to week) on FHE. Sometimes there is singing, sometimes there is a lesson, sometimes there is just a game, or sometimes all of the above. There isn't a set thing that needs to be accomplished (beside spending time together as a family), but parents often use the time to reinforce gospel lessons, teach values, go over the schedule for the week, etc.
So, basically, aside from a fun activity, we also taught the youth what family home evening is for and what it can be like.
The youth loved this activity - and although we are a small ward, we had one of our hugest turnouts ever (including friends that they had invited).
The adult leaders (members of the YM & YW Presidencies) planned and carried out the activity (acting as the 'parents') because we wanted all of the youth to be free to participate.
We had asked around and arranged for people bring bean-bag chairs. Then we brought the couches in from the lobbies and arranged everything in a circle in the Relief Society room, living room style! We still had some kids in regular chairs, but it was much less 'class-ish' with the couches and bean-bag chairs.
I made a FHE board (an agenda for FHE like many people have in their homes) for the night, but mine was a temporary version (written on a piece of poster board). Sorry, I don't have a photo, but here was the basic idea:
- CONDUCTING: (any adult leader)
- PRESIDING: BISHOP _______
- OPENING PRAYER*: (a youth was assigned)
- MUSIC TIME: (any adult leader)
- LESSON TIME: (any adult leader)
- ACTIVITY: (any adult leader)
- CLOSING PRAYER & BLESSING ON REFRESHMENTS: (a youth was assigned)
- REFRESHMENTS: (provided by adult leaders)
*we skipped the opening song that many people have for FHE because we sang a hymn during Mutual opening exercises and were short on time!
MUSIC TIME: One of our YW leaders led the youth in a rousing game of head-shoulders-knees-and-toes (accompanied at increasing speeds by one of the YM), but you could do any fun Primary action song. Not every person may know the Primary songs, so be sure to have the leader teach the song first. The youth were surprising "into" this, even the more reserved ones! Probably because everyone was doing it at the same time, so nobody really had a chance to feel self-conscious.
LESSON TIME: I gave a 1 minute lesson about FHE (what it is, why we have it, what the key components are, etc). The youth were getting a little antsy, but I let them know that they should pay attention because there would be a contest to see who paid the most attention and they loved that! I did boys vs. girls and asked them questions about what I'd taught. Things like, "Why have the modern Prophets encouraged us to have FHE?" "True or false?- everyone in your family has to be a church member to have FHE" I no longer have the text for the lesson or the other questions I used, but if you need material I suggest the official church website as a resource - for example, this page about FHE. Basically, you're just wanting to give a basic beginners overview to FHE so that no matter how little experience they have, they will know what FHE is about. Between the lesson and the questions, this portion of the activity took about 15 minutes.
ACTIVITY: We had a pie-eating contest. There were many rounds - here are just a few photos. It was straight whipped-cream in mini pie tins, and we used trash bags as make-shift aprons to protect clothes.
I didn't want to tell the youth we were 'learning about FHE' for Mutual because I didn't want them to think it was going to be boring, so we just advertised that we were having a fun activity and a PIE EATING CONTEST. Like I mentioned, a huge turnout - especially from the YM. Probably partly because of the mention of pie. I can't remember what we had for refreshments - maybe real pie? I think there was a lot of concern that we would only be having 'fake pie' and not 'real pie' when this activity was advertised, so I think I remember serving real pie at the end as well! :)