“Youth are… encouraged to help plan, carry out, and lead Mutual activities.”
Christa Skousen, Mutual Benefits, New Era August 2008
Many of us know that Mutual is a place to help our youth develop leadership skills, but what does that really look like? I used to wonder about that a lot when I was a new Young Women President. Through a lot of trial and error and some very patient Laurels who taught me a lot, I learned how to do it. Here are some of my favorite tips for helping the youth plan and carry out activities without going crazy.
Start with a Purpose
I always let my class presidencies identify a need in their class and then help them find a way to create an activity to meet that need. Here are some general prompts I use to help them do that. I let them choose which one they want to use.
- Review the Come, Follow Me lesson outlines. Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance is a great month because you can learn sewing, cooking or budgeting skills.
- Which girls need to be more included? What are their interests?
- How can we help more girls in our class attend the temple?
- Are there any girls in our class who are going through challenges? What are they? How can we serve them?
- Which standards from For the Strength of Youth do we need to learn more about?
Generate Ideas Based on the Purpose
Start by giving your class presidency an opportunity to brainstorm ideas. Depending on their age/maturity/personalities, they might get stuck. This is okay. When they get stuck I help them with 3 or 4 ideas that relate to the purpose. Both the Youth Activities Website and Pinterest are great resources for ideas.
Quick tip. I organize my ideas for activities by categories on Pinterest. So I have one for different games, one for temple-related activities, one for service, etc. I always start the title of the board with Activities:… and then the category. You can see all my Pinterest boards here to get a better idea of the categories I use.
For example, if they want to do an activity that works on temporal self-reliance and they get stuck, I will ask them what self-reliance skills they want to learn: sewing, cooking, basic car maintenance or job hunting skills. They may choose one of those ideas or suggest one of their own.
Plan the Activity
My basic rule for planning and carrying out activities is that there are two things I always do for activities: I provide transportation and supplies. Everything else, I do the best I can to keep the responsibility on my class presidency. Depending on the activity, they may need more help from me. I try to be flexible and guide them through working it out, rather than doing it all for them.
I have them pretend it’s the night of the activity and walk me through what it looks like to them. What supplies do we have? How are they explaining the activity to the group? What are we specifically doing?
Carry Out the Activity
Once it’s the night of the activity, let them lead it. At first, it will be hard for some of them. Let the struggle through it. They will develop confidence in learning that they can handle it and that you trust them to handle it.
What if something falls through at the last minute? This really can feel like the worst thing ever! I promise that if you remain flexible and persistent, you can still pull a last-minute activity together with the help of your class presidency. Check out my post 6 Things You Can Do When Your Activity Falls Apart, for tips to help you with this situation.
Evaluate the Activity
We learn a lot from evaluating our experiences. I am a huge fan of evaluating activities for three reasons:
- your class presidency will improve at planning and carrying out activities
- you can get more ideas for activities during the evaluation process
- it provides an opportunity to learn from failure and mistakes
For tips on how to evaluate activities, read my post, 4 Ways to Evaluate an Activity.
What are some of your favorite tips for helping the youth plan and carry out activities?
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