Monday, April 13, 2015

Faith in God for Girls Implementation and Purposeful Activity Selection

Here are some thoughts about the implementation of the Faith in God for Girls program and Activity Days Program Activities selection and Church Activities in general.  After our ward council on this issue, I wanted to clarify a few things: 

A. Our proposal was not seeking to "change" the programs of the Church but improve their implementation. Again, the "Faith in God for Girls" program is a perfect program. It doesn't need any improvements. What can be improved is our implementation.   We have zero interest in steadying the ark.

B. The Augusta Stake is making this a topic of attention and has called a meeting to discuss it.  This is a great opportunity to suggest improvements in implementation of the "Faith in God for Girls" program.  

C. The problem with activity selection and planning in the Church is not just an Activity Day Girls problem. This affects other programs like Young Men/Young Women's, Relief Society, as well as Boy Scouts.  All of these programs can improve in the selection of worthwhile, purpose-driven activities.  As President Hinkley said, "it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something".  Similarly when it comes to activities, it is not enough to be fun, they should be fun with a purpose.

D.  Families make a big sacrifice to bring their children to Church activities.  When you schedule a child, you schedule the family.  (Elder Cornish) Activities need to be fun and purpose-driven.

E.  As a side-benefit, if participants are actively engaged in worthwhile, fun, creative, and purpose-driven activities, there will be an increase in spirit, cooperation, and unity. 

F. What no one wants to see is Relief Society  enrichment activities were a plastic surgeon is invited to talk about Botox and collagen injections (true story in my SLC home ward) or Activity Day Girl activities where all the girls show up to paint fingernails (extreme example to illustrate).

G. All the topics that I listed are found in and part of the Activity Day Girl "Faith in God for Girls" Manual.  What I am suggesting, is that instead of picking a girl and telling her "you have the activity next week, good luck". We can empower her by giving her a range of topics to choose from, let her select one that interests her, and then help her prepare and come up with a fun activity that fulfills the requirement and introduces the skill- a skill that fulfills a "Faith in God for Girls" requirement and will help her in her future role as a wife and mother in Zion and bless her family according to the "Proclamation on the Family".

H. It is not enough to want to love.  We need to add skills to the love and learn how to love. (BYU Conference on Family and Marriage).  Similarly, while it begins with a desire, it is not enough to just want to serve, but when we have acquired skills, the doors of opportunity to serve will be opened up to us.

I. Just as Cub Scouts is becoming more skill-based and less task-oriented, Activity Day Girls can also be skill-oriented and less task-based in its fulfilling the "Faith in God for Girls" requirements.

J.  This Activity Day Girl Curriculum has 20+ suggested 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.  Activities would be fun with a purpose.  (Note: all categories come out of the Faith in God for Girls manual)

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, visit fire station.
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, plan FHE.
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, learn to fill out tithing slip.
12. Medical and Hygiene- 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, visit temple.
15. Creative Writing- poetry, journaling, essays, short stories, write letters to grandparents or missionaries.
16. Art- painting, sculpture, water color, photoshop, crafts, visit museum.
17. Outdoor Appreciation- biking, hiking, conservation, build fire, outdoor cooking.
18. Recycling and Repurposing- "use it up, wear it out, fix it up, or do without", visit recycling center
19. Personal Fitness- learn a sport, play a new active game, go on a hike, develop personal fitness plan. 
20. Citizenship- write a letter to congressman. attend town hall meeting, learn local, state and national representatives. 
O. Worldly topics to avoid: hair, makeup, jewelry, fashion, etc. (Isa 3:16-26).

P. There could be a system of recognition set up like scouting to recognize girls for their participation.  The cub scouts has an expensive belt loop program that is being implemented but individual church units have been asked not to spend church money on these loops.  Activity Day Girls recognition could be a simple charm bracelet with charms or apron with pins.

Q. 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 dining etiquette.

R.  Activity Day girls should begin and end with a prayer. Girls can conduct the meeting. Meetings should also include learning and singing one of the Article of Faith songs from the "Children's Songbook".  

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