Thursday, March 10, 2016

New Beginnings: Adventures in Young Women

New Beginnings is an annual event at our church for all young women (ages 12 to 18) and their parents (and any girls who will be turning 12 in the coming calendar year) to help them learn about the Young Women program. We don't have any new young women joining us this year so we decided to keep our New Beginnings program simple. 

Our young women are all very young, so rather than placing the responsibility of carrying out the event solely on them, we gave them half a dozen themes to choose from. We all shared ideas for decorations, food and what the program should entail and how we could relate it all to the chosen theme

The Invitations: The theme the girls decided on was "Adventure". They helped with planning, decorating, and refreshments. I made invitations and decided to look at the Indiana Jones Trilogy (I say trilogy because The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn't count--Aliens, Steven Spielberg? Really? Aliens?) for inspiration. 

The Young Women with some of the props from the skit. The Young Womanhood Medallion in the purple velvet box accidentally got obscured by one the crepe paper vines. Oops.
I couldn't resist sneaking this cute picture of my son into this post.
The Program: We began the program with an opening hymn and prayer. I gave a brief introduction and then we jumped right into the skit. Afterwards we asked the bishop to say a few encouraging words to the Young Women and then we had a closing prayer and refreshments.

The Skit: During one of our Wednesday night activities, the young women and leaders collaborated on a fun skit to tell about the different classes in the Young Women program, and to explain a little about Personal Progress. We tried to incorporate some of the Young Women values and address some of the issues young women encounter with Personal Progress as well. My first counselor, Hannah, took on the job of coming up with a cohesive way to put it all together. She did most of the writing (with a few edits from me) which was a big undertaking and I think she did a fantastic job. You can read it below:

Adventures in Young Women

--Narrator: A Leader
--Nevada Miller: A Young Woman
--Alaska Smith: A Young Woman
--Wyoming Johnson: A Young Woman
--Utah White: A Young Woman
--Discouragement (Enemy of Personal Progress #1): A Young Man
--Laziness (Enemy of Personal Progress #2): Another Young Man
--Young Women President

--The Young Women Torch
--A pedestal (we used a wooden carved plant stand)
--The Young Womanhood Medallion
--A canvas satchel containing: a map labeled “Patriarchal Blessing”, a compass labeled “Scriptures”, a walkie talkie labeled “Prayer”, and a miniature temple or representation of one such as a photo
--A Sword and Shield labeled “Testimony” and “Virtue”
--Signs for Enemies of Personal Progress to wear: “Discouragement” and “Laziness”
--Several different necklaces (at least a dozen or so)
--Plastic skull
--Scene Change Cards (optional)

Episode One: The Beehives and the Raiders of the Lost Medallion

Narrator: We join our heroes, the Beehives: Nevada Miller, Alaska Smith, Wyoming Johnson and Utah White, on their Personal Progress quest. As these Beehives enter the Young Women program they begin to learn how to work together in harmony as they strengthen their faith and stand for truth and righteousness. This is a time to arise and shine forth (Utah White grabs the YW torch and holds it for the rest of the skit). They see the end of the journey in the young womanhood recognition medallion. 

Young women enter, and pause about halfway to the front of the room. They see the pedestal with the medallion.
 Alaska: So what was it we were looking for again?

Wyoming: The Young Womanhood Recognition Medallion? Or something. It's said that we can only get it when we finish our Personal Progress, but I heard our leaders saying that they keep it in here to keep the young men away from it. 

Nevada: Yeah, I heard a couple of years ago they tried to make off with it and that's why they have their own program now, instead of just scouts.

Alaska: So where it is supposed to be?

Utah: I heard the leaders talking about how they keep it in a cave (holds the torch aloft looking around).

Alaska: A cave?

Wyoming: (In passing, matter-of-factly) Yeah, our leaders are really weird.

The young women walk further into the room.

Nevada: Is it that? (points at the pedestal with the medallion in the center of the room).

Utah: Must be. There isn't anything else in here. 

Utah dramatically tries to take the medallion; all get chased out of the room by a boulder (exercise ball rolled by one of the leaders).

Episode 2: The Mia Maids and the Temple of God (before reentering the room, the Young Women arm themselves with the sword and shield located in the hallway)

Narrator: Mia Maids learn about love, faith, and purity as they strengthen their testimony and accept and act on the young women values. 

Girls rush in through other door as if still running from the boulder. 
Utah: That was close. 

Wyoming: Almost too close. I didn't realize there was this much work involved to get the medallion. Good thing we found this cool stuff (motions to sword of testimony and shield of virtue). I have a feeling it might come in handy on this journey.

Nevada: For sure. Let's just rest for a bit and try again. 

The young women begin chatting quietly. The Enemies of Personal Progress, Discouragement and Laziness, slink into the room unnoticed by the girls. 

My two oldest sons played the Enemies of Personal Progress in our skit. They were good sports. Also, I bribed them with food.

Alaska: Is this all really worth it? I look at my book and the experiences left to do I get so overwhelmed that I still have so much left to accomplish. 

Discouragement: So why don't you just quit? It's not like it's all that important...

Laziness joins in and both ad lib, continuing to try to convince the young women to quit working on Personal Progress. Nevada takes out the sword of testimony and battles Discouragement and Laziness and wins, chasing them out of the room. She rejoins the group, exhausted but triumphant.

Utah: Wow. That was another close one. This isn’t easy, but like our scripture theme for this year says, we must "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men" if we want eternal life and that young womanhood medallion.

Wyoming: Look. I’ve got some tools here to help us on our adventure (she reaches into the satchel and hands each of the young women and object: a map--patriarchal blessing, a compass--scriptures and a walkie talkie--prayer).

Alaska: These are just what we need! I also think we should make time for a temple trip before we continue on our journey.

Wyoming: Great idea! I always feel better after I go there (she pulls out miniature temple or picture of the temple and holds it up for all to see).

All agree and exit together.

Episode 3: The Laurels and the Last Crusade

Narrator: The journey nears its end as the young women finish their preparations to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. In this Last Crusade through all their hard work, the young women will receive that holy grail of the program, The Young Womanhood Recognition Medallion. They have found that to reach this ultimate goal they must follow in the footsteps of Jehovah, be penitent and take giant leaps of faith along the way.

Girls enter through back door and walk to the front. They find their Young Women President standing by a table full of necklaces and different medallions (a quick scene change occurs when the young women exit at the end of scene two). 

Young Women President: One of the Young Women values is Choice and Accountability. You must choose, but beware-- (holds up plastic skull) the last young woman that was here, chose poorly.

The young women come forward to look at the choices and ad lib debating which is the correct necklace. After a little discussion, they notice the Young Womanhood medallion and remark on the picture of the temple on it. They decide that must be the correct choice. They present their choice to the Young Women president.

Young Women President: You chose wisely.

Cheering. The young women hug each other and give high fives before galloping off into the sunset.

Narrator: The Young Women program is an adventure. It can be a challenge at times, but young women can experience true joy as they stand as witnesses of God, strive to live the young women values, prepare to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple and enjoy the blessings of exaltation. What an incredibly happy ending!


On they go to vanquish the foe!

The Decorations: I brought some junk artifacts that one might see in Professor Jones's office or on one of his adventures from my house and we used them as simple decorations to set the stage: a lantern, topiary, plastic skull, vintage camera, a couple of souvenirs my husband brought home with him after living in Chile for two years, a rock with a face that my little boys had in their rock collection, and a couple of fossils. We covered the table with simple brown paper and we snagged the old bedraggled world map from the church library and hung it above the refreshment table as a nod to Indiana's world travels. The young women were excited to make paper gems a few weeks earlier. They put them all over the room and hung crepe paper vines. 

The Food: I love having fun with the food when we're doing themed events. The young women and leaders had lots of great ideas and my second counselor, Liz, did a large part of the food preparation and even made cute little signs labeling things so people could see how different things on the menu tied into our theme. Liz is an excellent cook and has even done catering before so all her food was deliciously on point. The young women and leaders made some contributions to the refreshments as well, but Liz gets major props for all her hard work.

Our Menu:
  • Quicksand (Vanilla Pudding with Vanilla Wafer crumbs) and Whipped Cream--"Don't SINK Below Your Potential" and "WHIP Your Testimony into Shape"
  • Black Forest Cake--"Beware the PITfalls of Satan"
  • Shrimp Dip with Crackers--"Don't SHRIMP on Personal Progress"
  • Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders--"Don't Let Your Scripture Study Slide"
  • Ants on a Log--Remember all those bugs in The Temple of Doom? Ew. Also there are the killer ants in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but we're not counting that movie, remember? ;)
  • Warheads--"Be a SOURvivor"
  • Gummy Worms--a reference to the snake pit in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana's fear of snakes (because gummy worms are more readily available than gummy snakes).
  • Ring Pops and Chocolate Gold Coins--because every adventure needs treasure!
  • Kool-aid--"Cultivate a Thirst for Knowledge"

These paper straws I had in my stash looked like mini dart blowers. 

The event was a lot of fun and a great success.  I so appreciated both of my counselors really stepping up for this event. The young women loved it because they got to play such a big role in the planning and execution of it. It really gave them ownership and pride in how well everything turned out. We decided to share it all--skit, menu, decorations, everything--with the hopes that someone else out there can benefit from our ideas and hard work. Hooray for Adventures in Young Women!

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