LDS Young Men

Monson List – Endure to the End

Posted in monson list by ldsym on August 26, 2008

I have had some interest in my Monson List post. I will look through my list as time permits, and post some of my favorite news stories that can be used to teach Gospel Principles.

In the mean time, over at he makes a great point on what we can learn from Micheal Phelps. Phelps pushed himself to the very end in that incredible 100m Butterfly that he won by a fingernail:

Phelps really wanted it. And when it hurt the most, with his lungs aching for oxygen and his arms burning from fatigue, not even then did he decide to stop. Later he would say that he didn’t even realize how close they were. He didn’t beat out that last stroke because he knew it was close, he did it because he knew he had to give it all he had until it was over.

That brings to my mind that great Mormon principle of enduring to the end. (more…)


Choices Have Consequences & Repentance

Posted in Choices have consequences by ldsym on August 22, 2008

Here is one of my favorite stories from my Monson list. It is from Outside Magazine’s website.

It is about a 23 year-old Luke Rodolph, and how a moment of his carelessness took the life an innocent man, and left him living a nightmare of regret for his actions.

From Outside Magazine

Luke Rodolph

Luke was camping with his family in the remote Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming. While on the rim he and his brothers were messing around throwing large rocks over the edge. They had no idea a couple of climbers were just below them. One of Luke’s rocks fell on climber Pete Absolon, killing him instantly. Jeff Herlihy was Absolon’s climbing partner, and survived the accident:

Herlihy wrestled with Absolon’s body to retrieve the gear he’d need to get down. Blood spilled all over him, on the rope, and on the haul bag. He considered bringing the body along but decided the effort would slow him down and might get him killed. (more…)

My “Monson List”

Posted in monson list by ldsym on August 21, 2008

You have heard of a “Bucket List“, made popular by the movie of the same name. Well, I have a Monson List.

Allow me to explain. Some years ago, in an attempt to be a better speaker, I decided to emulate President Monson’s (then Member of the 12) style and use more stories. My memory is not that great, and I often found myself remembering stories that would have been great for a particular topic AFTER I gave the talk on it, so I actually started keeping a list of stories. Anything I came across that could be useful in future talks or lessons are noted. I had to name the computer file something, so I called it my “Monson List”. When I am assigned a topic, I browse the list and see if any are relevant stories or ideas.

Sometimes personal experiences will come to mind along with some correlation to a Gospel principle, so I will write it down. I also keep news items that can be of use in lessons, those I usually see online, and I have a bookmark file called “monson list”. I won’t lie to you, fresh stories beat repeating the ones out of the lesson manuals that the boys have already heard many times.

I recently did a fireside on choices having consequences, and it was pretty much a collection of stories. It seemed to go well.

By the way, I don’t really have a “bucket list” but off the top of my head — I want to get my kids through college, mission, and married. After that, forget about skydiving, I look forward to getting the basement clean before I die.

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Truly High Adventure – Scouts hoisted out of The Grand Canyon

Posted in Scouting by ldsym on August 19, 2008

Check this story on on a group of Boy Scouts caught in that Grand Canyon flash flooding. It is a great story about how the local American Indians helped keep them safe until the National Guard showed up with the heavy hardware and hoisted them out.

I found the troop’s website, in a powerpoint presentation for the Grand Canyon trip, which they presumably presented to the boys and parents before they left,  they stressed preparation saying::


“The success of this trip depends on planning, support, and preparation”

And it appears Troop 21 did prepare well for the trip.   Parents quoted in other news stories say the boys trained for a year with various campouts and hikes. They are not an LDS troop, it appears they are chartered out of a local school there in New Jersey.   It is a great story to share with the boys next time you are talking about being prepared.

New Boy Scout Uniform

Posted in Scouting by ldsym on August 18, 2008

The Boy Scouts are introducing a new “Centennial” uniform. It looks pretty sweet. I am not sure what my old one is made of, but it was not that comfortable. The new one is “supplex nylon”. The Boy scout site says:

these new khaki shirts are made of lightweight Supplex® nylon, a durable, high-performance and infinitely comfortable microfiber fabric with superior moisture control that keeps you cooler in warm weather and warmer in cold weather.

I like the bigger pockets, and the extra one on the sleeve.

Boy Scout website, it says they will be available this Friday, August 22, 2008, although word is they may be backordered a month or so.

Tales from the trenches – Teaching Teenagers

Posted in aaronic Priesthood by ldsym on August 14, 2008

Geoff B. over at The Millenial Star has wrote about his struggle teaching the teenagers. He was the new guy in the ward, and got savaged while teaching teenagers in Sunday School. Anyone who has taught Young Men can relate to some degree.

I am lucky, I have been in my ward for over a decade, so I have been involved with these boys since they were Sunbeams. I have been in the Young Men’s program since 2003, so I have been fully focused on them for 5 years. They know me, and I know them, that helps an awful lot. I am not saying I can control them with a stern look, but we stumble through our lessons with reasonable behavior from both teacher and students.

Last year I viewed one of those Aaronic Priesthood/Scout training videos online (I can’t find it on today, it was a round table type discussion held on an outdoor set) One of the main points was that longevity of leaders is a key to success in a YM program. I wholeheartedly agree, I think it is crucial.

Mutual Activity: A good slippery slope in which to find yourself upon.

Posted in Activities, Mutual, Youth Conference by ldsym on August 14, 2008

Here is a great end-of-summer Mutual Activity, the classic slip-&-slide.
When I was in California I saw a great one at a Stake Pioneer Day Celebration. It was about 45 feet long, and ran down a perfect grassy slope. As you can see in the picture, it was awesome! The Young Men were all over it. I have done a slip-&-slide with my kids, but never thought of it for a Mutual Activity.

At the Sons of Liberty Encampment they built the greatest Slip & slide ever. It was actually more like a temporary waterslide. Check out the video here (click on the “2008 water slide madness video” link)

I am guessing the Church risk management folks may not approve, but that is part of the appeal isn’t it.

Suitable for: Quorum or Whole Mutual.
Equipment: Need a water source & hose and a big sheet of plastic.
Cost: $10 for a large plastic sheet.
Prep time: half hour to get supplies before-hand, but I would make building it part of the activity.

  • A gentle slope on grass is best, for obvious reasons steer clear of pavement
  • Put a bit of diluted dish soap in a spray bottle, and coat the plastic for some really good sliding.
  • The grass will look trashed when you are done, but it will bounce back quickly.
  • Look for a way to secure the top of the plastic sheet, usually with stakes that can be pounded down below the surface they they will not injure the sliders.

THAT lesson

Posted in aaronic Priesthood by ldsym on August 13, 2008

All us Young men leaders have had to teach the lessons on the Law of Chastity.

Adam Greenwood over at Times and Seasons writes eloquently of the unique Mormon challenge, and humor of teaching it.

Marketing Marriage to the boys

Posted in aaronic Priesthood, lessons by ldsym on August 12, 2008 pic

Matt W. over at New Cool Thang is asking for ideas for his upcoming Young Men’s lesson on Eternal Marriage. He for good answers to the question: “Why get married”   The truth is, if you get them to their mission, the marriage thing will take care of itself, but that doesn’t help Matt W. with his lesson.  Anyway there are plenty smarter folks smarter than me who are helping him, check out the good comments in reply to Matt’s call for ideas.

Mutual Activity: Mini-TED Conference

Posted in Mutual, Youth Conference by ldsym on August 11, 2008

Here is a very different idea for a Mutual, or Stake Activity — stage a mini-TED conference.

A TED conference is described on

The annual conference brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

The basic idea is that you have really fascinating people give short talks on something they are passionate about. We first did it on a Mutual night using:

  • an artist who helped design the SLC Winter Olympic Medals, he spoke about design and form.
  • a cheesemaster
  • an artist talked about Picasso, her area of expertise.

We spent our budget on cheese and fruit, which became our refreshments after cheesemaster told us the fascinating history of Cheese and taught us how to properly eat the different kinds of cheese.

The event turned out great, It is impossible not to enjoy a good speaker talking about their passion for a short time (We limited speeches to 12 minutes.)

A short time later our ward was in charge of a Stake Youth Activity, so we decided to do it again on a bigger scale. We used the same speakers, but searched the stake for a few more. We found a musician who spoke on music through the ages, and a former actor who did a presentation on pick-up lines from Shakespeare’s plays.

After the talks, we gathered in the gym and ate the cheese and fruit and had a chocolate fountain. We had kids play classical music on piano and string instruments for background music, and had one of our artists demonstrating sketching of portraits. We also had artwork on the wall, and a “where’s Waldo” type game where they had to look for things in the art.

It was very successful, the kids liked it more than I thought they would. One of the amazing things is that it was a “calm” evening. Most stake youth events are a bit rowdy, which is great, everyone is having fun, but it was nice to have a different type of atmosphere for a change.

Suitable for: Whole Mutual or Stake Youth.
Equipment:: If the groups are of any size at all you need to a mike & PA for each speaker. Also you will need multiple laptops/projectors, as most speakers like to use powerpoints.
Cost: In our case we (over)spent our budget on cheese. Gouda and Port Salut are not cheap!
Prep time: This takes weeks of planning for a ward event, much longer for a Stake.

  • This is all about the speakers, you need to work every angle to find out who is a great speaker and has interesting passions in your Stake/area. People like that LOVE to be asked to speak.
  • If you break into groups, assign a youth to lead each group, assign one person to keep time and ring the bell for passing time.
  • Timing is crucial during the event, you have to set out a realistic schedule, then stick to it.
  • We called it “Arts, Beats and Eats”, which is easier to market to the kids than “TED conference” You could call it whatever you want though
  • We may do it again, this time we would make sure to include at least one speaker on a Gospel topic, there is always someone around who has studied an interesting & faith promoting topic. Mormon History in your town or area would be great if you had a dynamic speaker.
  • For the ward event we just kept the group together for the presentations, but for the Stake event, we split the kids into 5 groups and rotated them, every 14 minutes (12 for each talk, 2 for passing time.
  • Quirky and diverse topics work the best.
  • Make the speakers very organic to your area, don’t try to find someone to speak about cheese because it worked for us, ask everyone you know and find the best speakers in your area. Build from there.