5 Clever Ways LDS Youth Leaders Can Make Their Family a Priority

I often hear from LDS youth leaders who feel they struggle sometimes to take care of their family and their calling. I get it. Both take time and dedication. And, let’s face it. We can’t do everything. We have to make decisions about what’s most important. When we make those decisions, we also decide what we’re not doing, too.

You want to do a good job in your calling. You love the youth and want to tend to their needs. These are good things as long as we are not overlooking our family’s needs.

Before you put on your youth leader hat and get to work, please consider these tips.

  1. Daily Family Prayer and Scripture Study- In our family, we share something from our personal study right before we pray.
  2. Family Home Evening- These can be short and simple. You can hold it any night of the week. Some of my friends do Sunday night, some on Friday and we stick with Monday.
  3. Family Dinnertime- We don’t succeed at having this every night, but we do for most. It’s a good time to connect with each other.
  4. Weekly Planning- This helps us know what everyone else is doing and gives us a chance to resolve scheduling conflicts.
  5. Regular Family Councils- These provide opportunities to problem solve together, resolve conflicts and help each other to become better individuals.
  6. Family Fun Dates-We do these on a weekly basis.
  7. Regular One-on-One Time with Each Kid- My husband does these on a weekly basis. They could also be parent-child dates. Carving out a little extra quality time on a weekly or monthly basis could make a big difference.

Now, I don’t expect you to implement every last one of these. What I hope is that you’ll find ways to make sure your family is getting the time it needs while you are fulfilling your calling as a youth leader.

Your turn. What’s your favorite way to make your family a priority? 

5 Things Adult Leaders can’t Rush, Hack or Fake

Last month, we talked a little bit about how leadership can’t be rushed or faked in my review of the Five Levels of Leadership.

Fake it ’til you make it is not always the best advice. Here are a few things, that you can’t rush, hack or fake.

Love. If you pretend to love them, they will see right through it. As you get to know them, it will happen naturally.

Building relationships with youth.  This will happen over time. You have to take the time to invest in them.

Your testimony or theirs. Their testimonies will develop in a way that it only can for them. We are all unique individuals who grow and develop in the gospel at a pace that is just right for us.

Learning from failure. There’s only one way this happens. You have to let them fail! I know it can be really hard, especially if the activity is going to completely flop because someone failed to complete an assignment. Let it happen. They will become more resilient because of it.

Their self-confidence. This grows in a way that is unique to each individual, just like a testimony. The best thing we can do is give our youth lots of opportunities to lead, learn from failure and try new things. They will learn from those experiences that they can handle it.

 

5 Conference Talks on Self-Reliance That Aren’t in the Come, Follow Me Curriculum

Today’s post is super-short and was really fun to prepare. I chose a few conference talks on self-reliance that are not in the Come, Follow Me curriculum. It was interesting to review some of the older talks and see just how consistent the brethren have been. The older ones come across a bit dated because they mention current events of the time, but there are plenty of great thoughts shared in all of these talks that would work well for a Come, Follow Me lesson.

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Blessings in Self-Reliance, by Mark E. Petersen

The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance, by Marion G. Romney

Providing in the Lord’s Way, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Sacrifice and Self-Sufficiency, by M. Russell Ballard

Becoming Self-Reliant, by L. Tom Perry

Do you have any favorite talks on self-reliance that should be on this list? What are they?

10 Things Your Class/quorum Presidency Members Should Not Hear You Say

About 6 weeks ago, I wrote a post about things your class/quorum presidency needs to hear you say. I’ve been overwhelmed with the attention this post has gotten! I appreciate all of the sharing on social media and time people have taken to read this post (and others). I wanted to offer a companion post to this one.  Some of these I have said and some of these I have heard from others. Here’s my list of what not to say to your youth:
10 Things Your Class_quorum Presidency Members Should Not Hear You Say
  1. Here’s the agenda for your meeting. Yes, guys, I really did this. Lots of times. This is how I know not to do this. Look, we are adult advisers because we know how to write agendas and chair meetings. The responsibility of a class/quorum president is to learn how to write an agenda. You can ask them to put items on the agenda, you can have them write it with you, you can give them a template with check boxes until they’re ready to write their own. But, please, work toward helping them write their own agendas.
  2. I will chair the meeting. Yup, did this, too. See above comments.
  3. I will do it myself. This is a good way to burn yourself out as a leader, create a disinterested youth group, and rob your youth of opportunities to learn and grow. I can’t tell you how many activities I planned and carried out on my own before I understood that this was not the way to do things.
  4. What do you want to do for activities? If you ever want to see a room of teenagers give you a deer-in-headlights look, this will do it. I know because they have given me that look when I was a brand new young women president. Yay, me. What ideas come to mind when someone asks you that question? Not many? That’s why it’s not the best way to get the information you want.
  5. Here’s what we’re doing for our activity. Um, good way to plan something that they don’t want to do.
  6. Because I said so. Teenagers are at an age where understanding why will help them. This treats them like they can’t think for themselves.
  7. We’re going to do this my way. Please see #5.
  8. Your leaders will choose for you. Teenagers are capable of making good choices for themselves, especially if we create good, clear boundaries for their choices. They’re going to be on their own in making their own decisions as adults. Should we really be making their choices for them? 
  9. Here’s what we’re going to do. Please see #5.
  10. Most yes or no questions. Not all yes or no questions are bad. To really understand what they think and to help them develop their thinking and decision-making skills, open-ended questions will help you the most.

How to Use the Camp Planning Manual to Plan Girls Camp- The Ultimate Guide

Have you ever seen the guide the Church puts out for planning camp? I’d been to 3 camps as an adult leader before I even knew of it’s existence! I think it’s a rather well-kept secret. If I have anything to say about it, it won’t be anymore. This guide can really help you with how to plan camp and how to pace yourself so it’s not a mad dash to finish right before camp. I wish I’d had it the first time I planned camp, for sure!

I prepared a quick, little guide to help you better understand how to use it and how it can help you plan camp.

Review the What, Where, When and Why of camp. The first three are pretty straightforward. I’d like to spend a little time on the why. It is so important to keep our purpose in mind as we plan camp. It will help us to reflect on why when the planning might seem hard or tough. It will also help guide our decisions when we’re discussing what to put in the schedule. If we know our purpose, it can help us to prioritize our activities for camp and make the most of the time we have together.

Prepare spiritually. The very first thing they suggest we do is prepare spiritually to plan camp. I have to admit, this is an opportunity for improvement for me. I could do a much better job of this. Imagine what could happen with camp when you fully enable the power of the Holy Ghost to help you in your planning!

Plan with a purpose. The questions in this section will not only help you pinpoint needs that can be met best at camp, but can also be used to focus your class presidencies and YCLs to identify the needs of the girls in their classes.

Choose a theme. This is a great, no-fail place to involve the girls in the planning. Let each class presidency suggest one or two ideas for themes and then vote on one.

campguide

Based on your selected theme and identified needs, plan camp. This can be a really good time to think about what you can only do at camp, versus during weekly activities. There are questions in this section that will help you to select the best activities for camp. Don’t overlook the right to revelation that your class presidencies have to help you do this.

Include certification. Every camp, I walk away wishing I had used certification to fill more of the schedule. I wonder sometimes, if we sell this short when it comes to helping us to plan camp.

Walk through of a typical day at camp. This can make it easier to make some decisions about what to do and when to do it.

Use the Youth Camp Leaders. I am a huge fan of empowering the young women to plan camp. If you have enough YCLs, I recommend using them as your planning committee and assigning one of them to chair the planning meetings. If you do this, make sure you assign an adult to advise her behind the scenes as she plans and prepares for each meeting. If you don’t have enough YCLs, I recommend using your class presidencies to fill out your planning committee.

Evaluate camp. This can help you so very much. All you have to do is use the questions in this guide to lead a discussion with the YCLs or class presidencies. Even using a few of them will help you learn from your camp experience. Two ways that these evaluations have helped us is to get ideas for the next camp and to get ideas for weekly activities.

What has your experience been with using this camp planning guide?

 

6 Things Your Class/Quorum Presidency Needs to Hear You Say

You will encounter a variety of situations in your journey as an adult leader of youth. Sometimes, it will be easy to know what to say.  Other times, they will leave you at a loss for words. This may be in a  good way or it may be in a bad way.  It’s just important to know that the things we say to them matter. Here are a few phrases I rely on a lot.

6thingstosay

What did you learn from that experience? Inevitably, they will make a mistake at some point. It’s important to teach them that mistakes are learning opportunities. If we do this, they will be more likely to develop self-confidence and they will establish a pattern of “failing up”.

Great job! I really like how you… Always, always, always be specific in your praise. If you aren’t, it may not come across as sincere. Teenagers can smell insincerity and hypocrisy a mile away.

Good news, you can try again. This is another good one for when they forget to do something or make a mistake. It also helps them to develop some perseverance.

Who’s responsible for that? I use this when my class presidency members ask me to do something that is their responsibility. Not too long ago, I had a class president ask me to announce her activity in opening exercises. I used that question.

I drive the get-away car! I use this one to remind them when they are trying to give me a responsibility that belongs to them. It’s a good lighthearted way to remind them. It makes them laugh, probably because they all know I’m crazy.

How are the plans coming for…? Every age group needs a certain amount of follow up. Asking about it this way helps them take responsibility for planning and executing activities and the care of those in their class or quorum.

Now it’s your turn. What useful phrases do you use often with your class or quorum presidency?

 

 

5 Tips for When Youth Get Quiet During a Lesson

Ever hear crickets chirping when you ask a question during a lesson? Sometimes, my young women even stare at me as if I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead! It used to bother me. Over time I’ve developed a few different tricks to help me deal with it when they get silent.

5tipsforwhen

  1. Remember that they are hearing this question for the first time and may need time to think about it.
  2. Wait until you can’t stand it, then wait one more minute.
  3. Rephrase the question.
  4. Have them write their answer first.
  5. Use your sense of humor. I look at the clock and say, “No problem. We have 20 minutes left of class time. I can wait!”

I’ve found that this helps when tongues become suddenly tied.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you do when they are slow to answer your questions?

4 Steps to Planning a Successful Class Presidency Training Retreat

Last Fall, we tried something new- a class presidency training retreat. It was an overnight activity, designed to give our class presidencies a boost in their leadership skills. We played some fun games, baked cookies and delivered them, and had five leadership training lessons. It was a huge success and the girls that I talked to afterward said they felt it was very helpful to them and they would like to do it again.
Here was our planning process:
4 Steps to Planning a Successful Class Presidency
1. First we needed to decide what training to provide. We had all class presidency members and young women presidency members review this list of lessons and tell us the top three they felt they needed the most.
2. In young women presidency meeting, we came up with five leadership training lessons based on their feedback and split the lessons among ourselves. We assigned one to the Laurel class president.
3. We asked for feedback from our class presidency members about what other fun things they might like to do. They asked to learn to make one of the leader’s recipes for chocolate chip cookies and play games. So each girl brought a game to play with everyone else.
4. We asked for requests for breakfast- waffles and bacon won.
And that was it! You could do this as a half or all day Saturday activity, if you’d rather not make it an overnight activity.
What successes have you had in training class and quorum presidency members?

Studying One Verse a Day Works

The last couple of months, I’ve been studying the scriptures with an old friend of mine. It’s been a great experience. After finishing Proverbs at the pace of a chapter a day, we decided to study the book of Esther. We decided for a slower pace of one verse a day. I’ve never tried it this way before, but thought it might work. We follow a similar pattern with Come, Follow Me. We take a paragraph or two from a conference talk, a short video or a verse or two from the scriptures and discuss it with great depth.

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It’s worked! I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for what Esther walked into and what a miracle it was that she saved her people.

I think this approach could also be helpful with the youth we work with, especially if they are struggling to find a place in their lives for personal scripture study.

How have you helped the youth you work with to establish a pattern of scripture study?

The Show Will Go on Without You

Would you like the youth you work with to learn to roll with the punches? to be resilient?

Yes?

Then, let them lead.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was the only adult young women leader at church. I’d been held up on my way to the room that they meet in and knew I’d better hurry. I was teaching, after all.

continuity

I walked in to see the Mia Maid class president already making assignments for opening exercises. It reminded me that we may come and go as adult leaders. There’s a good chance that the girls themselves will be more constant fixtures to each other than we will be as adult leaders. Letting the youth lead helps provide continuity in our programs.

So, that was my recent a-ha moment from the last couple of weeks. The show will go on without me and it works the best when the youth do the leading. It never has been and never will be about me. That’s a good thing!