LDS Young Men

The ‘F’ word

Posted in Online by ldsym on July 25, 2008

The hottest topic right now for YM/YW leaders has to be Facebook and other online issues. It is a tough one. My (non-member) co-worker often says his kid is not allowed online, because allowing the Internet in the house is “…like bringing the bus full of convicts from Jacktown (state prison) through my front door.” He may be right.

John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil

Leaders don’t even agree on what is appropriate. In our presidency alone, one counselor does not think it is appropriate for a their child to even have an e-mail adress. I on the other hand have a Facebook group for my Quorum and use it to communicate with the boys. A wide gulf there, but mutual respect flows freely and it is not a point of contention. I think my position is pretty reasoned, but it is also easy to support another family’s effort to keep their kids safe. I just do what I think is best, while understanding and following Parent’s directives for their individual kids. Obviously if you are reading this, you are Internet positive, and you probably come down closer to my point.

A bit of my history on this topic; in grade shool my family’s TV only got VHF (channels 2 -13). UHF was only on newer TV’s, which we did not own. The UHF channels carried all the cool shows; Brady Bunch, Lost in Space, Flintstones, 3 Stooges, Speed Racer, etc. My friends were constantly talking about those shows and I was competely left out of those conversations. Later at BYU in one of my communications classes I learned a name for what I was lacked, I didn’t have “social currency” I was not part of the conversation. I wouldn’t say it scared me for life, but it sucked. I admit that this line of reasoning could be distorted, ie– why not have the the kids smoke dope so they can talk about it with their friends would be taking it a little far, but the act of going online is not immoral in itself. In fact much good can be done online, from communicating between ward members (email is clearly now the prefered method of communication in my ward) to doing missionary work. However the danger can also not be overstated and supervision is critical.

Allowing teenagers to drive cars comes to mind. It is dangerous, physically and morally. Teens are killed in auto accidents every day, and babies are made in parked cars every night. As a society, we have decided it is worth the risk, and have a process of education and supervision to manage it. I suggest education and supervision is the best way to handle our youth’s thirst to be online.

BTW I think the single greatest mistake parents make in supervising their kids online is allowing computers in their bedroom. THAT is allowing all the convicts climb in through the bedroom window.

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Gratitude towards Church Youth Leaders

Posted in Youth Leaders by ldsym on July 23, 2008

This is a great post over at Segulla blog.

It is kind of syrupy for this rough and tumble Manly blog, but the tribute to Young Women leaders is worth reading. I don’t think the author will mind me slipping some Young Men leaders under the umbrella of gratitude she spreads.

When I am tired or frustrated with the demands of my calling I always remember how much was done for me by my leaders when I was a Young Man. I had no of gratitide then. I loved them, but I didn’t realize the sacrifice they made to be with us. Now I realize how hard they worked to serve me, and I can try to repay the service by being a good leader to our current crop of Young Men.

Extending the Word of Wisdom: keep it to yourself.

Posted in Choices have consequences, word of wisdom by ldsym on July 22, 2008

Here is an interesting post over on white-shirted sepulchre blog on local leaders using their personal, expanded reading of the Word of Wisdom to judge their youth.

Here is how I roll: I think we correctly push standards on the youth– clear bright-lined standards that are non-negotiable. We expect them to follow them, and to repent when they don’t. I see no value in extending those standards when some local leader has an opinion on teen eating habits. Lets focus on the standards in For Strength of Youth, and not seek to expand them and put a “sin” tag when they make an unwise , yet morally neutral choice. I wrote about this a few posts back.

BTW- Energy drinks are stupid, clearly not healthy, and expensive. I am not in any way endorsing them. I am just not in favor of personal doctrines finding their way into local Church teachings.

High Adventure: pack the spirit

Posted in high adventure, Scouting by ldsym on July 21, 2008

We just completed a very successful High Adventure Backpacking trip. One of the things we did very well this year was to set aside a few minutes every day to talk about the Gospel. We had a short evening devotional, where we asked each boy about gospel topics. We focused on their responses. We also read the Book of Mormon as a group, and sent each boy into the woods for 10 minutes of silent reflection. As you would suspect, the first attempts were a bit clumsy, but the boys did learn to expect it, and by the end of the week were responding quite well. It was really worth the effort, and I highly recommend developing some form of this daily devotional for LDS troops at Scout Camp, High Adventure, and even the weekend campouts.

Choices have consequences

Posted in Choices have consequences by ldsym on July 11, 2008

I found a posting on WXYZ.com about a group of LDS youth attending an EFY at Eastern Michigan University who decided to cram 15 kids in an elevator. Oddly enough, It got stuck. The fire department had to be called to rescue them. A number were transported to a local hospital for dehydration and breathing problems.

I recently did a fireside for our youth about how choices have consequences. I am definitely adding this little story if I ever get a chance to give it again.

Choice: Massively overloading an elevator

Consequence: it gets stuck, fire department is called, you feel stupid and embarassed, and when the parental units find out (once the fire department & ambulances are involved it is a pretty good bet that the parents will hear about it) you are probably in heap big trouble.

To me, what makes this interesting is that (assuming the youth were not out running around after curfew or breaking some other rule) overloading the elevator was not necessarily breaking any commandments or immoral.. it was just dumb.

Some of the older YM in our program have that teenage feeling of invincibility, but they keep the commandments. We are trying to teach them that sometimes decisions are made that are not necessarily “immoral”, they may still be just stupid and they can lead to big problems.

Mutual Activity: Flour War

Posted in Activities, Mutual by ldsym on July 11, 2008

Here is a really fun outside activity. It is impossible to resist laughing and having a great time as a white cloud envelopes you, trails of white streak the sky, and all your friends and adult leaders look ridiculous covered in flour.

It is pretty simple, it is capture the flag with ammo!

The flour bombs are actually a handful of flour inside a “nylon” stocking. Each kid starts with a couple of bombs, and is free to pick up used bombs from the ground. Players can go anywhere on the field, when you get tagged with flour you are out. Line teams up on opposing sidelines, place their flags near their sideline. Teams defend their flag, while trying to capture the other team’s flag and return it to their sideline. If you get tagged while carrying the flag, you drop it. Games go quickly, kids are not out very long. I guarantee everyone will love this messy game.

Suitable for: Large quorum or any combined activity.
Equipment:Flour bombs, Markers for field boundries, 2 flags, ref stuff, jerseys or pennies.
Cost: couple bucks for for flour, scam the nylons from a shoestore.
Prep time: Medium, collect flour and nylons, takes 45 minutes to assemble a couple of dozen bombs.
Tips:
* Have an adult referee, get a striped shirt & whistle. This will quickly be chaotic, you will need the whistle.
* Make sure referee is your most outgoing, self assured borderline obnoxious adult. They will need to shout down the Priests, it won’t do to have a timid soul in that role.
* When reffing remember the goal is to make sure everyone is having fun, be quick to change rules as you go to alter the game so everyone is having fun (throttle strong players, help weaker ones.) If the game is at an impasse, bring a couple of players back from elimination to get it back on track.
* ID teams with jerseys, borrow from ward basketball team.
* After each round, pick up the flour bombs and re-use, they are good for multiple rounds.
* You can collect old nylons from ward members, but it is much easier to stop in a womens shoe store and talk them out of a few dozen of those little footie nylons that they have available to put over bare feet when trying shoes on.
* Obviously this is an outside game, and does not work in the rain, so have an indoor backup plan.
* Mark off a defined field of play, otherwise it is just a prolonged chase around the building. Adjust the size of the field between rounds to get the best quality of play.
* Get word out to wear old clothes.

Note: I got this idea from a book that I can not find right now, so I can not give proper credit. It was something like “Ward Activities for Dummies” or something like that. If someone knows the book, let me know so I can give proper credit.

Marketing to the Boys

Posted in Activities, high adventure, Mutual, Scouting, Youth Conference by ldsym on July 8, 2008


Last summer we had the greatest high adventure trip that I can imagine. We went backpacking Isle Royale. It was a big trip, so this year the overlords have us on a short leash. That leads to the problem: how to get the boys interested in a less awesome trip this summer. When one boy was overheard saying that they were not interested in a “nature walk” we knew we had a problem.

Simply “talking up” the trip was marginally effective, so we came up with a different idea. We put up a billboard in the hallway in the church building. Actually, it was a bulletin board hyping the trip. We used pictures, maps and descriptions of where we are going. The boys walked past it every time they were in the building. It did rev up interest.

One tip — There were not a lot of good pictures of the trail available from traditional sources, so we used Flickr. Which was a goldmine. We made sure to give proper credit.

Joyous Mutual Mayhem

Posted in Activities, Mutual by ldsym on July 7, 2008

It is quite a scene in our ward: the second the organized Mutual activities are over the kids are sprinting down the hall to get to the gym. Once inside a joyous noise erupts. Kids gather in groups chatting loudly, some just hang out, spontaneous games of tag, touch football, half-court basketball, murderball (modified dodgeball), lightning and many other forms of childhood PLAY break out.

That is right, it is the rare state of modern childhood called PLAY.

Personally, it is my favorite time at Mutual. In this era of over-scheduled, hyper-achieving, stressed out kids, I take great pleasure in seeing them participate in unstructured playtime. I strongly suspect for some of the kids, it may be the only non-planned, non-overly-supervised activity in their week. There is a lot of smiles and unbridled childhood joy in that 20 minutes.

Sure, there have been a few injuries, little kids get mowed over by a big kid chasing a ball. We have even had a broken arm. No shocker there, kids being kids sometimes get hurt. The inevitable calls to shut down the gym-time followed. More than a few minutes in BYC Meeting have been spent discussing it. It is obvious by my first paragraphs where I stand. I place high value on fostering childhood exuberance, and I staunchly defend the open-source play structure that has developed. I am rarely inflexible in any church problem solving, but I strongly feel the need to defend this free time. In the end I say to a parent who does not want their child in that field of mutual combatants, they should pull them out, but don’t ruin it for the entire group.

BTW, most adults gravitate to the gym as well, so there is ample oversite, but so far, cross my fingers, not an un-needed heavy hand of adult direction.

Please note – I have learned in my years in the YM presidency that structure and organization during the actual Mutual activity is critical, and means the difference between success or failure in every activity.

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2009 Mutual Theme: YW Leaders PWN YM Leaders Online

Posted in 2009 Mutual Theme by ldsym on July 6, 2008

In my first post I mentioned that I had noticed the Young Women Leadership, both local and in Salt Lake seem to be a little ahead of us Young Men leaders in the use of the Internet.

Today I present proof: Salt Lake announced the 2009 Young Men/Young Women Theme on July 1. I got it off LDS.org in the Young Women’s section. As of now (July 6 ) It is nowhere to be found on the Young Men’s Section. Everyone knew it was coming out July 1, not sure why the YM webmaster got pwnd.

Anyway, the new theme is:

Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

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Manage Duty To God Advancement

Posted in aaronic Priesthood, Duty to God, resources by ldsym on July 3, 2008

We are using a great online resource for managing our boys’ Duty To God advancements.

It is called E Trail to Eagle. The site has 2 main functions, a pay side tracks Scout Advancement towards Eagle for a reasonable 20 bucks a year for the whole troop.

The other portion tracks advancement to the Duty To God Award. That part of the site is free. I particularly like how the site keeps track of how long a boy has been in a Deacon, Teacher or Priest, and reports, in percentage, how far they are along in that 2 year segment of the award (which takes 6 years of steady effort to earn). It also emails reports to leaders each month, and allows parents to log-on to see their boy’s progress.