High Achievers Program

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In my opinion, THIS is what Activity Days should really look like! Simeen, the leader of the Lynnfield Ward, decided to elevate the Activity Days program, and this is what she came up with. It’s a program that is more equal to the scouting program, with badges, beads and sashes for awards, and a colorful, exciting booklet to “pass off” their achievements.  Check out these PDF files of their program for the last three years, and be impressed!

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High Achievers_2013-14

High Achievers_2014-15

For more details, here is a letter of explanation from the creator of the program. Thanks to Sarah Gusky for sharing all these details with us!

“I am sending you pictures of girls wearing the sashes at this year’s High Achiever’s Ceremony. There is one picture where there are two girls wearing crowns and holding scepters. The scepters have rubber balls duct taped on the end and they are giant pixie sticks. They get the crown and scepter when they finish all of their Faith in God. I try to have them finish this all before the last High Achiever’s Ceremony they will be attending (for example if their birthday is in October, I have them get their Faith in God award the May before that). Our ceremony is at the end of May. The first year it was at the end of April, but then we moved it to the end of the school year. The top of the sash has a safety pin with beads on it that represent every Faith in God achievement. They are color coordinated just like the FIG booklet. At the bottom of the sash are numbers representing the articles of faith. As they memorize them and pass them off to us we sew them on the sash. We run through the articles of faith at the beginning of HA every week, sort of like an opening exercises. I have them printed out on 11/17 cards.
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“When the bishop called me to do this job he said all of his daughters always complained how scouts was way better than the achievement day girls. I grew up feeling all of the sexist effects of church participation and was excited at the idea of being able to remedy a bit of that inferiority feeling for the next generation of girls. My main mission has been to produce a program that made the girls proud/happy they were girls. I also went to the cub scout leaders right at the beginning and tried to set up some joint activities like they do in YM/YW. The girls have done the Pinewood Derby for three years and love it. They do a few other activities with the cub scouts and they love it. [SGK note: This recently included building an electromagnet. It was pretty awesome.]
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“For the first year we ran the program every other week and went right through the summer. The girls still complained that the scouts got to come every week. So the second year we went every week during the school year and then just twice during the summer because there were two activities they really loved (the Breakheart Hike and the water balloon olympics) and wanted to keep doing. This year we did every week during the school year and did 4 summer activities. (every other week in June and July)
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“At this point we have traditional activities that happen every year. If they really loved it we just make it a yearly event. They love the toilet paper dodge ball and red sox night both of which we do with the scouts. Another one that they really love and I love too is etiquette night. I have them dress up in their fanciest outfits (I tell them to dress as if they are going to a wedding) and I hold a traditional tea party. We have them meet in one room before whilst the ladies set up the tea party with my grandma’s and other people’s china. While they are waiting for everyone to come they sit there quietly and read books and you would not believe how quietly they sit! It is like they know this is a special night and they are supposed to act differently. Then I come in there and give them a brief lesson about etiquette [SGK note: not traditional men do this, ladies do this stuff — she focused on generic manners, like what to have conversations about and how to behave] and I can send you my stuff if you want to do it. Then they file into the room and very mannerly eat small hors d’oeuvres and drink fruit tea. It is so cool to see how different they act because they are usually nuts hyper. Plus, it is good to learn how to act politely in case you actually need to use the skills at some point.”
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6 thoughts on “High Achievers Program

  1. Had anyone said anything about holding Activity Days every week? We inquired on this and we’re not allowed because the handbook specifically says “no more than twice per month”. When i asked Salt Lake about it, the response I got was because if countries where there is no cub scouts, they hold only Activity Days for boys and girls and they have it twice/month. This allows convenience and more time with families.
    I wish they would leave it up to the individual wards and what works for them, maybe word it “at least 2x/month”.

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  2. There is a handbook for guidance for a reason. If you believe in following the Prophet then it is obvious that you would follow the handbook. As far as all the “awards” that are being created out there…when you are released from your calling, will the next leader want or even be able to keep the “bar” that has been set? If not, there could be hard feelings, especially with younger siblings.
    The last line on pg 19 of the Faith in God book says “Parents and leaders should help the children understand that the joy of living the gospel is the most important reward” I believe in being creative
    and following the guidelines…not try to reinvent them. I am an Activity Day leader and we have a great time accomplishing the goals in Faith in God. We have the girls help plan the year and by the time they enter into YW, they are well equipped to transition into personal progress and take on leadership roles.
    I look at different sites to glean new ideas for activities but I would suggest that too many get caught up in the “things”. Try to plan activities with a real purpose and that will teach principles the girls will need as a strong foundation.

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    1. Kay, thank you for your opinion. I find nothing in the handbook that discourages leaders from raising the bar and challenging their ward to have a program equal in merit to the scouting program. Fortunately, the handbook includes a lot of flexibility in Activity Days program, and we should keep in mind that every leader will follow the guidance of the Spirit for what their ward needs. While you may not feel inspired to improve upon your program, let’s withhold judgment on those who feel inspired to go a different direction. I’ve had this calling for five years now, with the Bishop’s daughter in my group for more than half that time. I’ve never done any improvements of the program that didn’t meet his approval. I hope that will put your mind at ease.

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