If you belong to a youth group, you probably know how hard it is to come up with activities that have a purpose to them. Most groups don’t want to just have fun—although they would like their activities to be fun. They want the activities to be important. They want to do things that make their members better people, give them a chance to serve other people, or help them learn something new. The Mormons (a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have the same goals for their own youth program, so they have set up a website to help teens and their leaders come up with ideas.
Mormon teenagers attend a meeting called Mutual (which is short for what used to be called Mutual Improvement Association) once evening a week from ages twelve to eighteen or until they graduate from high school. Sometimes the teens all meet together. Other times they group by gender or age. Although they want the program to be fun, Mormon teenagers have lots of opportunities to have fun. These meetings are supposed to have a bigger purpose as well.
Take a look at the new website:
You’ll see the activities are grouped into eleven categories. Mormon teens plan their own meetings under the supervision of adult advisers. The adults make sure the rules are followed and teach the teenagers leadership skills. If they see a problem, they use something called shadow leadership to fix it. That means they don’t tell the teens how to fix it—or even what it is. They will ask questions until the teens have figured out the problem and the solutions themselves. The questions just help the teens learn how to think about the problem.
They are taught to first figure out what their group needs help with or what they need more experience in. Let’s say the group is in the inner-city and many of the teens want to go to college, but they can’t afford it and they’ve been upset about that. The teens who are in the current presidency (the class president, her two counselors, and the secretary) go to the youth activities website and look under “Preparing for Future Roles,” which includes college. There is an activity on paying for college. They read the suggestions and then make their own plans, adjusting the suggestions to fit their needs.
That’s not the most exciting activity, but it can change their whole lives. It’s important, and the teens really want to have great futures, so even though it isn’t glamorous, they enjoy it because it lets them start dreaming of a better life.
Next week, they want to have a little more fun. The Mormons have been making short videos about real teens and their challenges or testimonies. These are called “Mormon Messages for Youth,” and you can watch some of them here:
The leaders of the youth group are planning an activity with all the teens in their group—all ages, both genders. They want to encourage their peers to improve their creativity and to learn more about helping others. They go to the creativity section of the new website and see an idea for making your own Mormon Messages. They know their friends would love making their own videos, holding a movie night, and maybe even posting them online, so they plan an activity that will be done over a few months. The first month, they divide into groups and show some Mormon messages. Then the groups make a plan and give assignments to the teens in their group. The next month, when they have another large group activity, they make their videos. The third month, they have movie night to show the videos, have treats, and decide what to do with them.
This activity teaches creativity, movie making, and missionary work or helping others, but it does it all in a fun way.
If you belong to a youth group of any kind, check out the site. You may find some ideas that will work for your group, no matter what religion you are.