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)

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