Wednesday, July 6, 2016


I'm the YW President in our ward and have been working with the youth for the past 5 years. We also have a Laurel age daughter. So, when it comes to talking about dating, its pretty much been a daily topic of conversation for me...:)

Not everyone is interested in dating, but there are plenty of youth who would like to date MORE. 

Here are some of the obstacles facing youth  (ages 16 & up) in our area 
(according to them), in no particular order:
  1. Girls want to date, but aren't asked
  2. Boys want to date, but are afraid to ask (main reason in our area: afraid people will jump to conclusions/gossip)
  3. Girls don't feel they should have to ask OR are afraid to ask.
  4. Many of the youth have a steady boyfriend/girlfriend, so the number of youth who are available to date is very limited.
  5. Can't always drive other youth around (because of local driving laws, no car, or don't drive)
  6. Boys & girls would like to date, but can't think of anything to "do" that doesn't cost a lot.
Well, I can't do much about #1, #2, #4 or #5 (though we do regularly have lessons with the ym/yw that encourage them to date following the FTSOY standards). I think I will cover #3 in another post, so be watching for that (it will be in the "dating" section when it is posted). My Laurel daughter is very independent and has only been asked out a couple of times. She says, "Mom, none of the girls are getting asked out on dates. I'm not going to just sit around and wait to be asked" and believe me she hasn't...she's been involved in instigating/planning 20 group dates in the past 8 months (since she turned 16). She and a LOT of our local youth have been having a blast and its really gotten the ball rolling in a Stake where "nobody" was group-dating. Once they see it can be fun, not "romantic" they 
get much more comfortable with the idea of dating to get to know people (versus "hanging out as boyfriend/girlfriend"). 

But what to DO on a group date? I can tell you what my 16 year old daughter does NOT want to do, and that is spend money. She has a summer job and has started to realize how much things COST. For a teenager who wants to go on a date to, say, the movies, they have two choices: 
1. Ask parents for money
2. Use their own money (allowance, savings, part-time/summer job income) 
It does seem to be easier to spend money when you don't have to work for it. Now that my daughter has to use her own money (she is always prepared to pay for herself if asked on a date, and prepared to pay for her AND her date if she did the asking). Most of the teens in our area do not work, and some do not have stable financial situations at home. We've tried to help our daughter recognize this  and now she is even more aware of finances when she is involved in planning a date now. Before she started working, she didn't think twice about going on a date to the movies (movie tickets, popcorn, pop, and sometimes ice cream afterward: $50-$60, easy!). Now, she thinks about how much it will cost her (and/or her date) and the other couples who are involved. 

Sometimes she will say, "Oh, I really want to go on a date to ________ movie! But....nevermind, it costs TOO MUCH! Maybe we could just watch a movie at our house instead!" And that makes me really happy. Our youth shouldn't be deterred from dating because of the cost. Some youth only go on "dates" to the Prom, and if you judge by something like that, it IS too expensive to date!

Never fear, I have for you today a list of 4 unique & teen-approved group date ideas that cost little OR nothing. The youth who participated in these dates had a blast. 

These dates were planned with the FTSOY dating standards in mind. Many of them are based in our home, which helps a little with the awkward transportation issues because everyone can meet at our house if they can't drive yet (i.e., I don't have my license yet and I don't want my mom picking up my date in the van!). Plus, it helps with keeping everything on the up & up when everyone knows that my husband and I are home & visible!  Also, my daughter says that all of these dates were pretty casual and didn't require too much "pairing off weirdness" that could make things awkward when you're trying to date as friends.

We got this idea from watching the TV show "Community" (the students at a community college make a giant blanket fort on campus).  This was a daytime date. The youth spent about 30 minutes assembling the fort, then played board games inside. 

SUPPLIES NEEDED: As many blankets, sheets, and pillows as you can get from everyone (ask the attendees to bring as much as they can). Clothespins are also helpful for keeping pieces together.



The youth did a baking competition (sort of like "Cupcake Wars" or "Chopped," but slightly different). Each received a package of chocolate chip cookie mix (and eggs, oil, etc needed for the mix). Then each couple took turns selecting add-in items from a tray of unusual goodies  (licorice, swedish fish, mint chips, caramels, pretzels. chocolate covered cherries, etc). Then while the cookie creations were baking, the youth played a board game. When the cookies were done, they had us judge the final products. Then they all walked 2 blocks away to a relative's house and had them test out the cookies, too. Some of the cookies were....uh...interesting :)

SUPPLIES NEEDED: cookie mix & ingredients need (1 per couple), cookie sheets & mixing bowls (1 per couple), variety of miscellaneous extra add-in ingredients (could use leftover holiday candy after Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc)


COST: $6 (for 3 cookie mixes. Would be more if you need to buy add-ins, but its best to use stuff you have around the house. Look in your cupboards for leftover stuff like coconut, sprinkles, candy, pretzels, nuts, etc that could be used in a cookie)

This is a popular "challenge" seen on YouTube.  Basically you get a bunch of condiments from the fridge (ketchup, mustard, honey, ranch, hot sauce, chocolate syrup, etc) and put them in a circle on the table. You spin a full-size carrot in the middle, and whatever condiment it points to, thats what you put on your (baby carrot) carrot - and then you eat it. So, you could get lucky with landing or ranch or really un-lucky with landing on chocolate syrup. Actually, the kids thought the dill relish was the worst of all. The kids played this for an hour or more, then started mixing condiments and daring each other to eat it. It was pretty gross, but they had so much fun.

SUPPLIES NEEDED: a bag of mini carrots, a large carrot (or a water bottle) for spinning, and whatever condiments you have on hand. Probably also want to have some paper towels and water available. 


COST: $1-$2 (carrots)

My daughter has planned this for an upcoming date. Basically you need 2 couples (could possibly do 3 couples?) who will compete against each other to sell the most lemonade. They will sell lemonade in our driveway (like little kids do in the summer), 1 cent a cup. The point isn't to make a profit - its to be kind to the neighborhood kids (cheap lemonade). Since they will be in close proximately, they will have to use their charm to talk people into choosing their lemonade over the lemonade of the competing couple. I think this will be really fun! Each couple will make their own lemonade and make their own sign for their table before they head out to "sell"

SUPPLIES NEEDED: 2 folding tables (card table type), lemonade mix and pitchers, cups, ice, 4 chairs (folding or camping), 2 poster boards, markers, bucket or cup for keeping their pennies.


COST: $10 - lemonade mix ($4), ice ($2), poster boards ($2), plastic cups ($2)

Homeschool & Personal Progress

Can Personal Progress and homeschooling work together to help you and your daughter achieve your goals? 

Not long after my oldest daughter turned 12, I was called to serve as a Counselor in our Ward YW Presidency. She wanted to earn her Young Women Medallion (by completing the Personal Progress program), and said that she planned to do so within her first year. My husband and I (neither one being very familiar with Personal Progress) didn't think that this was a very good idea, and encouraged her to space Personal Progress out over the 6 years that she would be in the YW program.
She reluctantly agreed.

Soon after, I learned that YW leaders and/or mothers of YW could also complete Personal Progress and earn a YW Medallion. Since I was now both of those things, I wanted to complete the program as well (to set an example for the YW, but also because I had joined the church the summer after high school, so I was never able to participate as a youth).

So my daughter and I set out to work on the program together (which is HIGHLY encouraged by the Young Women General Presidency). Please note that unlike Eagle Scout projects, Personal Progress hours cannot be shared. So if you help your daughter work on a project (or anyone else helps her), her own contribution to the Project must be at least 10 hours. This also applies if you are both working on the same project (for example, if you are both sewing Halloween costumes for a project, you would each need to work at least 10 hours).

Part of Personal Progress is a series of short "Experiences" that are pre-set and the YW can choose from a variety of options (for example, there might be eight "Experiences" listed in the "Faith" section, and she gets to choose from those which six she would like to do). There is some  potential personalization there,  but the 8 big "Projects" (10-hour Value Projects) are even more "personal" - there are some suggestions, but for 7 out of the 8 Projects, the YW get to pick exactly what they want to do (to go along with the topic theme). This is where homeschooling works really well with Personal Progress...

What are you working on in your homeschool this year? How can you combine those things with Personal Progress so that you're accomplishing both at the same time?

Learning about Lewis & Clark? Would your daughter be interested in writing and putting on a play about Sacajawea, complete with costumes that she made as part of her "Knowledge" Value Project? 

Does your daughter want to start piano lessons this year? Maybe she could set a goal to learn 3 hymns or Primary songs that she could play in YW class by the end of the school year? That could be a "Faith" Value Project.

Another example would be if you are learning about American Government or Elections, you could find a way to do a project that gives a hand-on experience. One of the projects my daughter did was for the "Choice and Accountability" Value Project. It was an election year, so she contacted a local political party and began volunteering for their campaigns. She worked in the "phone bank" for over 10 hours, and also handed out stickers on  election day. She met several politicians and learned a lot about the political process. She was able to do this project pretty easily because of our flexible schedule, and it was a lot more memorable than just reading about politics in a book.

A good way to start matching up Personal Progress with what you are already planning for homeschool is to take a look at the categories of Value Projects and come up with ideas (together)  for Projects that she wants to do that coincide with her education. You can find a TON of  ideas for Projects online. A great source is "Personal Progress Helper"  (you can also search "Personal Progress Helper" on Pinterest).

Here is an example of the requirements for a 10-hour Value Project (this one is "Knowledge"):

Knowledge Value Project

After you have completed six knowledge value experiences, create a project that will help you practice what you have learned. This should be a significant effort that will take at least ten hours to complete. Prayerfully seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost to select a meaningful project.
Here are some examples of projects that could be done for the "Knowledge Value". Of course you'll want to make sure that each project takes the YW at least 10 hours, so sometimes that takes some creativity. I've also included (in red letters) how each idea could be tied in with schoolwork or school projects:
  • Ask a parent, grandparent, or ward member to teach you basic recipes. Make a recipe book from the recipes you learn, and cook one of the recipes on your own. Cooking skills, writing skills
  • Plan and grow a garden Science/horticulture
  • Hold a party for watching General Conference with your family or fellow Young Women. Plan snacks or a meal and spiritual activities for in between sessions. Organization skills, social skills
  • Interview friends, family, and ward members about how they gained a testimony of the gospel, and create a video sharing those testimonies. Technology, interpersonal skills
  • Learn how to cross-stitch and make something that describes your testimony of the gospel. Handicrafts
  • Learn a new skill and make at least three of the Christmas gifts you will give away this year using the new skill. handicrafts, cooking skills, service
  • Make white hair scrunchies for all of the YW in your ward to wear when they go to the temple for baptisms Sewing, service
  • Memorize the entire document: “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” Memorization, reading 
  • Compile a list of possible careers or college majors and study each one. Organization skills, research, reading
  • Sew a quilt or an article of clothing sewing skills
  • Sew scripture bags to give primary kids when they’re baptized, including your written testimony of the importance of studying the scriptures. sewing skills, writing, service
  • Start a book club that meets for an hour a month and run it for 10 months organization skills, reading
  • Contact an elderly relative (by phone, personal visits, or video-chat) and compile their life history. Type it out for them and give copies of it to your relatives. family history, interpersonal communications, technology

Here is a link to the blog that my daughter started (in 2012) to share what Projects she had done for Personal Progress. You might find some fun ideas there!
Once I had a better idea of how Personal Progress works and that we could incorporate those 8 big Projects into our homeschooling, I realized that we could kill two birds with one stone and that my daughter could complete Personal Progress in one year if she wanted to. She finished in 12 months and I finished in 13 months*.

I don't necessarily recommend that every homeschooler try to complete Personal Progress in a single year. It was a stretch for my daughter to get it done in time to meet her goal, and that wasn't necessary. Maybe 2 or 3 years might work better for your YW, but you will need to be the judge of that, depending on your YW, her ambition, and how much you want to incorporate Personal Progress into your schooling. My main point is that homeschooling can help your daughter to work through the program at a faster pace, since you can combine Projects and school work (and perhaps be more flexible with your schedule than a public school student can).

*If you are working on Personal Progress as a mother, I definitely recommend letting your YW complete her program first - even if you have to slow down a bit to let her get ahead! It is, at the heart, a YW program, so while we can complete the program as adults, we want to be careful not to overshadow our daughter's accomplishment. 


"If my daughter finishes Personal Progress while she's a Beehive or Mia Maid, won't she be bored after that? What will she DO the rest of the time she's in YW?"

In previous editions of Personal Progress, YW had to complete different parts of the program at various stages corresponding with their age, (much like the current Duty to God program for the YM). There would be specific items to complete while they were a member of each class, then as they advanced in classes they could move on to complete the other sections. This sort of spread out the program over all 6 years that they are in YW, which had its advantages and disadvantages. Our modern version of Personal Progress does not restrict completing sections of the program to a specific age, so YW are literally able to work at their own pace. This means that a Beehive can complete the program "early," a YW could spread the program out over all 6 years, or a 17 year old new convert can start and complete the program during their senior year. Our Church leaders have made this change on purpose, and I feel that it is a great advantage that the YW can personalize their Personal Progress experience in this way.

Sister Neill Marriott of the General Young Women Presidency came to our region for a YW leader training a few summers ago, and she taught us that Personal Progress is not mandatory, so we should not try to force the YW to complete it,  but that we should encourage the YW to be working on some part of it. She also recommended that the YW who are interested in completing the program to try to finish before they turn 16. When they start driving (or even drivers ed),  dating, possibly working part-time, etc (and all of this in addition to their regular seminary, high school, and extracurriculars), SAT/ACT, college admissions, graduation preparations, they become very busy and Personal Progress may take a back-seat at that point. I've also heard many people suggest finishing before age 16 for the YM and their Eagle Scouts, for the same reason... the closer you get to high school graduation, the crazier things get.

Obviously, if a YW finishes Personal Progress before age 16, she still has several years left in the YW program, but this is not a negative thing. I asked my daughter (now a Laurel) if she felt that she ever had "nothing to do" because she finished Personal Progress as a Beehive. She just laughed, because she is very busy with callings/assignments, ward stake youth activities, social life/dating, family history, etc. She's also completed her "Honor Bee" (a supplement to the Personal Progress program that you can only work on AFTER you complete Personal Progress). We also have one Laurel in our ward who has chosen to repeat the Personal Progress program again (which is always an option). So really, there is no reason to worry about having "nothing to do" after completing Personal Progress, because there is ALWAYS something else to do! :)


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Temple Prep Bucket List

I'm teaching YW class this Sunday, and I've created this "Temple Prep Bucket List" to go along with the lesson. 16 things that YW can do now to start preparing to make temple covenants in the future!

This "bucket list" doesn't list the requirements that must be met in order to qualify to enter the temple...instead, it is a list of things that YW can do in their daily lives (such as working on Personal Progress and following through on commitments) to prepare spiritually.

I've actually made 2 different versions, so use the one you prefer! The second one (with the black border) is easily printable as a 4x6" photo (for more information on how to print handouts as 4x6 photos at your local photo shop for cheap, see my post about it here).

These are great ideas that any YW can use NOW to be better prepared to attend the temple for baptisms for the dead as a youth, but also to prepare for future temple covenants that she will make.

Feel free to use in your classes or activities, and pin on Pinterest! Enjoy!