Friday, March 13, 2015

Activity Day Girls Curriculum

My wife and I have been talking about a possible quality and quantity difference between the curriculum for the activity day girls and young women vs. the cub scout and boy scout programs.  We have several daughters who participate in the activity day girls program.  Our two daughters have expressed that the church's activities day curriculum does not match up to the boy's programs.  This is not a problem with the quality of leadership.  The leadership in the Primary, activities day girls, and young women's is excellent.  However, the cub scout and boy scouts have the advantage of a long-established curriculum and a lineup of big traditional events.  Activity Day girls is a rather new program in the Church and doesn't have the same developed curriculum or tradition of bigger events.   I have been pondering on this for several years and have a proposal to develop a curriculum and big activity outline for both the young women and activity day girls.

First, let me explain that I do not think an effective activity day girl's program should mirror cub scouts.  Activity day girls can be as good as or even better than cub scouts. Having attended several wonderful activity day girl functions and having participated in the cub scouts, I can tell you that I am impressed with the maturity of our girls.  While the cub scout activites are focused on basic tasks like paying attention, sitting still, following directions and taking turns; our girls are ready and eager to start learning life skills even at age 8.  I don't think our boys reach the same level of maturity until age 10-11 (Webelos and 11-year-scouts).  However, the cub scout program will also be changing to a more skill-based program as well. 

Second, I think the "Faith in God for Girls" program is an excellent and inspired program.  This proposal in no way seeks to supplant or diminish from this wonderful program.  Accordingly, the Activity Day Girl Program should incorporate the Church's "Faith in God for Girls" by including elements of service and spirituality wherever and whenever possible. Weekly activities can involve elements of service including larger stand-alone service projects.

Third, I think some girls do not realize how dull scouts can be sometimes. Yes, the monthly camping and outdoor program is great.  However, the required merit badges covering Communications, Personal Finance, Citizenship in the Community, Nation and World are very dry.  The scouting outdoor program helps balance this out.

Fourth, cub scouts and boy scouts have their own committees and much more human resources and money devoted to its success than the girl's programs.  The scout committee requirements come from BSA and not the Church.  In reality, when I was a scout, we didn't have scout committees, and we didn't ever go to scout camp, and I didn't miss it.  I don't think there is much value in trying to emulate BSA committees.

Fifth, I do not think an Activity Day Girls curriculum should mirror the BSA outdoor program. According to the Proclamation to the World: "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  With this in mind, I believe that an effective activities day girl program should focus on women teaching the girls skills that will help them in their future role as wives and mothers in Zion.

When the young men and women went out together on Trek, there are too many skills for one young man or women to have learn them all. But the boys and girls worked together.  They boys helped set up tents and start the camp fires.  The girls were able to prepare meals.  In that setting the young men and women complemented each other and and learned from each other.

Sixth, like scouting, the young women and adult experts from the ward and stake should routinely be invited and used to help teach and demonstrate elements in the activity day girl curriculum. 

Seventh, Activity Day Girl Curriculum has 18+ areas of focus and 3 yearly big weekend events. One or two areas of focus would be chosen each month.  Each area of focus has several subareas.  The reason it is good to have a standardized curriculum is that certain topics that are important but may seem dull get skipped because leaders want to do only the "fun" activities.  But in reality, even the seemingly dull topics can be made fun with a little creativity.

1. Safety- kitchen, child, home, car, learn about car seats, personal defense, put out kitchen fire, use baking soda, use fire extinguisher, turn off gas and electricity and water in an emergency.
2. Cooking and Nutrition- cookies, cake, pie, holiday dinner, food pyramid, vitamins
3. Sewing- buttons, mend socks, hem, knitting, crochet, quilting.
4. Gardening- soil prep, timing, watering, fertilizer, weeds, spacing, pruning.
5. Child Care- diaper changing, baby sitting, baby proofing home, feeding.
6. Games- board games, pioneer games, get-to-know-you-games, skits, card games, dice games.
7. Party- baby shower, invitations, food, activities, decorations.
8. Canning and Preserving- fruit, meat, smoking, dehydrating, jams and jellies
9. Homesteading- cheese, butter, soap, candles
10. Animal Care- feeding, grooming, pets, chickens, goats, rabbits.
11. Budget and Finance- budget, credit, fill out check, coupons, tithing, sales, thrift, yard  sales.
12. Medical- first aid, cpr, fever, nausea, sprains, cuts, bruises, cold, hygiene 
13. Music- talent show, singing, instruments
14. Family History- pedigree, family search, temple ready, personal histories, scrapbooking.
15. Creative Writing- poetry, journaling, essays, short stories.
16. Art- painting, sculpture, water color, photoshop, crafts.
17. Outdoor Appreciation- biking, hiking, conservation
18. Recycling and Repurposing- "use it up, wear it out, fix it up, or do without"
Eighth, Worldly topics to avoid: hair, makeup, jewelry, fashion, etc. (Isa 3:16-26).

Ninth, There could be a system of recognition set up like scouting to recognize girls for their participation.  Home Depot has a monthly children's work shop.  As part of their program they give out orange aprons and a different pin associated with each months activity.  Something like what Home Depot does could be developed for this program.  Another idea is a charm bracelet could also be developed with separate charms for participation in each area could be awarded. 

Tenth, Activity Day Girls should have several bigger annual events that put into practice and/or showcase many of the skills the girls are learning in their bimonthly activities.  Ideas for bigger annual events includes:

1. Daddy-Daughter Dinner and Dance: this has already been excellently demonstrated by the Stake and Steven's Creek Ward.
2. Stake Fair: All young women and activity day girls from the stake bring activities, crafts, art, posters, demonstrations to share.
3. Outdoor Picnic BBQ Dinner and Fireside: incoperate and showcase outdoor skills like outdoor cooking techniques.
4. Ward Temple Night: the girls watch younger children at the church while parents and young adults attend the Temple.

5. Etiquette Dinner: Girls can cook and serve a multi-course dinner for themselves and parents learning about place-settings, serving, and fine dining etiquette.

FYI:  In May 2015, the Cub Scouting program is about to undergo a major change to become more skill-based and less task-based by adopting an adventure belt loop and pin curriculum instead of the current arrow points. 


Nicol said...

This is AWESOME and just what I'm looking for for my daughter. Do you have anything set up or was this just thinking? Either way, great! I'd love to get ideas for each of the categories. I really like the category of things to avoid!

David B said...

Just explaining a principle that all activities can follow. Start with the purpose and then "funify" it. I'm anyone could get creative and come up with a great activity that is worthwhile and fun for any of these categories.