Activity Day Ideas Introduction

My current calling is the Activity Day leader for my ward, and the ward we share a building with (there aren’t a lot of kids in our area so there is a total of 8 Activity Day girls between the two wards). I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from the parents, the other leaders and the girls themselves even. Since I seem to be doing something right I thought it might be helpful to share what we’ve been doing. So for as long as I have this calling I will post summaries of our activities.

My Philosophy
Since this is an introductory post I’ll take the chance to bloviate about things I think are important. I think that kids (all people, really) benefit from doing worthwhile things that are hard. A healthy sense of accomplishment is something that is heartening and sustaining during low points in our lives. It helps us to define ourselves, and stand up for our standards when we are challenged. I think it is part of my job to give the girls in my group opportunities to gain that sense of accomplishment. I personally am inclined to give people credit for just trying- so when we are, say, memorizing the articles of faith, I have to remind myself that the sense of accomplishment they will get from actually doing the work is worth me being the bad guy and not bending the rules.

I also put a high priority on having fun. No one is going to come to the activities if it is all work and no play. Early on I sat down with the girls and said, “Yes a lot of this stuff is boring but if you guys buckle down and do the work then I will do my best to make sure that we do things that are fun too.”

Also, I had (have?) a lot of angst about how the youth programs were run while I was going through them. The boys activities always seemed so cooler and more fun, and they seemed to get a lot more attention for what they did. I personally would have been happy being in the boys program because I was a bit of a tomboy. As an adult I see that simply mimicking the boys program isn’t the way to correct that disparity as there are plenty of girls who would dislike doing exactly what the boys did. What all the girls would benefit from is having a program that represents a comparable investment of time energy and resources. So I have a personal goal to make sure that none of my girls have any reason to envy the boys.

Structure
The program I inherited was kind of mess. I had moved into the ward a week before I was called. The previous leader had rather suddenly moved out of the ward. The current primary president was MIA because she just had a baby, and then she moved out of ward herself two weeks later. I was handed three binders and two tote bags worth of paperwork but there wasn’t any real record keeping going on. So I pretty much started from scratch. I finally settled on this routine: We meet every other week, at my house for an hour in the evening. We sing a song, say a prayer, I take attendance, we recite an Article of Faith (they get a change to pass it off if they’re ready), and then we do the activity.

For the very first activity my only goal was to put names to faces, and get to know them a bit. I got a $4 dollar bottle of sparkling lemonade and let them drink it out of fancy stemware, and that was the whole activity. The fancy cups served as portion control, so the one bottle lasted about 40 minutes. I asked a few questions here and there, but otherwise I let them talk to each other while I listened. I learned a ton just by eavesdropping on them. They had a great time, thought I was super cool, and were excited to come for the next activity.

If you have activity ideas that you want to share feel free to email them to me at Starfoxy7@gmail.com.

Starfoxy

Starfoxy is a fulltime caretaker for her two children.

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6 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    I love this series…I did activity days about 7 years ago, and I was always trying to make the connection between teaching the girls something and making sure they had fun.

  2. DavidH says:

    My wife has work with activity girls for many years, and recently felt like she had run out of ideas. I gave her my boy scout handbook and some merit badge books, because she plans to do activities from BSA that might be of interest to the activity girls.

  3. O says:

    Sounds like it was a fun first day! I’m excited to do Activity Days when my daughter starts next year (I’ll lobby for the position as soon as she starts, lol). I’ve been doing cub scouts for the last two years, so I’m all fired up about doing a just-as-cool program for the girls.

    While I agree that simply following the scout program isn’t going to solve everything, I *do* think you can get LOTS of great ideas from their handbooks. There are so many fun activities and useful lessons, and everything is already outlined.

    I would totally recommend buying a Wolf & Bear handbook, and maybe the Belt Loops Handbook (aka the Cub Scout Sports & Academic Program). No, they won’t actually earn the belt loops, but there are so many awesome things to learn in there and it gives all the information you need- astronomy basics, sports rules & guidelines, safety, etc. Each activity is outlined on a single page. Makes planning super easy! If you don’t want to buy the handbooks, you can see everything online, too, at MeritBadge.org.

    I will also give the girls bracelet charms to ‘earn’, similar to the cub scouts getting their belt loops. The church used to do that awhile ago, but stopped (probably due to costs, but I will champion for our girls until they cave!). I think its important for them to get visuals of their accomplishments and new skills. Plus, its fun! 🙂

    Definitely going to do a tools activity, where we get to identify and learn how to use basic tools. Such an important skill for everyone to know!

  4. O says:

    Oh, and also…I think most girls would enjoy doing anything in the scout program. My daughter has joined us at every activity for the last two years and loved every minute of it- and she’s not a tomboy, she’s girly in every sense of the word. And I always tagged along with my dad’s cub scouts, too, and had so much fun doing what the boys did. I still remember making a pinewood derby car with my dad’s cub scouts and I thought it was so cool (even if I painted it purple with a pink bunny on it, lol). 😉 I don’t think it should be copied verbatim, but I don’t think you should rule out anything just b/c you think its ‘too boyish’.

    I have my cub scouts sewing and cooking and knitting (in between their normal scout stuff) and they love it! They’ve never said it was ‘for girls’ or complained, they all thought it was really cool.

    So take advantage of this age…they aren’t set in gender stereotypes as much yet and are still open to many different experiences! I know as a girl I would’ve appreciated being exposed to all sorts of stuff in “Merry Miss”- not just journal jars and potpourri and pudding pies.

  5. Becca says:

    I love your plans for this series. I can tell already that I will read them with envy that this didn’t exist back when I was an AD leader. I, too, found using ideas from scouts to be helpful. So many of the scout projects involve hands-on, cool stuff that it is easy to adapt them/replicate them exactly for the girls.

  6. rachel says:

    i’m in a tiny branch. i’m the primary prez with two counselors….so we all kinda do everything. we have five kids that attend our branch. all siblings and none are lds. their grandma is lds and brings them to church without their parents. tomorrow is our first day of achievement days with the three older girls. i do enviro ed for work so i’m hoping to steal a lot of ideas from work to use with the kids. thanks for this post and the rest in this series….i’m already finding ideas very helpful!!!

    keep them coming!!

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