Before 1974 the church had a program in place for boys and girls ages 8-11. They received bandelohs (band-uh-lows) and earned different pins and badges and such. Then in 1974 the church enacted the new era with adding cub scouts for the boys 8-11, and the young women program for girls 12-18. They got rid of the bandelohs altogether. The primary girls got hosed with merry miss—which morphed to achievement days and finally activity days, with no recognition (especially after they did away with the Faith in God award).
When I was called to activity day leader, I recalled doing all kinds of crafts and little things here and there. I remembered feelings of frustration that we didn’t get to do any cool camps or outdoor activities like all the other kids did. Older boys have the BSA, younger boys do cubbies, and the older girls got the personal progress medallions. Younger girls get squat! I made it my mission to make activity days as equal to any of those programs as possible. The following are some of the things I’ve implemented in my ward.
So, I found a lady in my town who has an embroidery machine. I collaborate with her to make up badges for the girls to earn. We work on each badge for about three weeks—that’s to make sure most of the girls learn what they need to if they miss a week. We started with the sewing badge where they made a sash to put their badges on. We then worked on a do it yourself badge, rock climbing, music, candle making, and recently my life has been consumed by the four day camp I directed. The girls also get a bead for every article of faith they memorize. They can sew them on individually in a pattern, or string them and tie it to a safety pin, or however they can think of to attach them to the sash.
Badges We’ve Completed:
- Sewing: the girls learned to thread a needle and tie off the thread, do a running stitch, a whip stitch, and sew a basic straight line on a sewing machine. We sewed the nursery a bunch of felt food.
- Rock Climbing: my gym has a free day once a month so I take the girls with me on this day and we work on teaching them a figure 8 knot for belaying, the proper lingo, and wall climbing practice. The girls do this twice and they’ve earned the badge.
- Music: we utilized the FIG booklet with this and the girls learned basic timing, how to lead music, and participated in Christmas Bells using hand bells at our ward party. I also work with them on special musical numbers for sacrament or the primary program with harmony parts or sign language.
- Candle Making: even though Candlemas isn’t celebrated in America, or recognized by LDS faith, it’s a fun European holiday that’s celebrated somewhere around the end of January. In days past, it was a time when everyone would take all the tallow or beeswax they had saved over the year and make and bless their candles. There’s an underlying spiritual theme about looking for the light within ourselves and to the light of Christ at the darkest part of the year. So we made candles out of oranges, rolled beeswax sheet candles, and you could dip candles as well but we never got that far. Along with that we introduced the scripture from Mathew 5:14-16.
- Camp Badge: the girls get one for completing the four day summer camp.
- Do It Yourself: I taught the girls how to make body butter, dry skin salve (we collected outside plants that grow where we are, dried them and then steeped them in oil to do this), play dough, and carmel corn. Kind of random—they were just things I knew how to do well and taught them.
- Edible/poisonous plant identification
- Babysitting readiness
- Fire safety
- Needle Felting
- The sky is the limit—whatever you’re good at and want to incorporate out of the FIG handbook!
Other Ideas: Joann’s fabric has some fun charms you could do in lieu of badges, and oriental trading company has charms as well, and there are some LDS ones sold online and at bookstores. If my girls have already received a badge, they will get a flower bead to sew onto the badge they already earned. They also get a bead on their badge if they know the skill well enough to teach it to the other girls.