Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

How to Help LDS Youth Have Social Opportunities

LDS Church News

A few months ago we learned we were moving to a very small branch in eastern Alabama. Having grown up in a small branch, I knew the blessings and challenges that our family would be facing.

There are five things we can do when our youth are few in number:

  • Support and encourage your local leaders to have the full program for the youth in your unit. Seminary and Sunday lessons and activities are essential to strengthen our young men and young women.
  • Be sure to provide transportation to all stake dances and activities. I met my husband at a stake dance.
  • Encourage bi-ward activities when approved by priesthood leaders.
  • Encourage the youth to set examples for their non-LDS friends and to be actively involved in doing missionary work. They should be encouraged to invite friends to activities and firesides. However, LDS youth need to use caution in their selection of friends and be sure friends have the same high standards.
  • Encourage youth to be actively involved in student council and school activities. Through such involvement, they can develop their talents and leadership abilities.—Marsha Kay Ault, Thomasville, Ala.

What we did:

Combined for dances

My father was in the military so we traveled a lot overseas. The last place I lived was in Misawa, Japan. My brothers and I made up most of the Young Men program at the time. There were four boys in our family and no sisters. At least once a week, we would get together at our house and watch movies, play games or just hang out. We would try and invite a non-LDS friend over as well. Once a month we would plan a campout, too. For dances, we didn’t have enough youth in our branch, so we combined all the young men, young women, some non-LDS friends and Japanese youth from their branch. We had just enough for a dance.

The young women did their own activities. They would meet at least once a week also.—Elder John E. Tedford, Idaho Pocatello Mission

Bishopric youth committee

When only 1 percent of the student population of the local high schools is LDS, it is a a special challenge for LDS youth to find social opportunities with one another. The youth of our ward have accepted that challenge by actively participating in organized stake activities such as monthly youth dances and sporting events. In addition, our youth have taken the initiative by organizing their own joint activities with other wards. Activities such as softball and volleyball have been planned in bishopric youth committee, and one or two other wards have been invited to participate. Since more people equals more fun, non-LDS friends are also invited to these activities.

Individual wards sometimes host activities for the entire stake as well. One ward in our stake invites all the other LDS youth to a summer’s-end swim party at a municipal pool. Our own youth invited the others in the stake to a New Year’s dance and party. Whatever the activity, one thing is clear—the youth must be fully involved in planning and carrying out the activities, and that planning begins in bishopric youth committee.

The opportunities to have a good time with other LDS youth are many if youth take the initiative in planning them. All it takes is some creative thinking and the willingness to assume responsibility for making a good time happen.—Jennie Robinson, Huntsville, Ala.

Service projects

I grew up in an area where there were youth few in number that were members of the Church. Our big things to do were basketball and luaus. I have learned since then that there are many things to do when it comes to the gospel and its teachings. There are so many service projects around the community—find a place that will be suitable for a group to serve.

Get involved with committees and be a part of the socializing there. The gospel is always and will be forever a big part of your life if you put your heart into it. Participate in Friday night activities, attend firesides in large groups.

The greatest group to be with is your family. They will not mock you for the activity that you choose to do. Family home evening is a perfect time to sit around together and play games, laugh, tell jokes and fictional stories and eat popcorn. Invite non-LDS friends over and include them in activities so that they will feel comfortable in activities that include gospel principles; they will learn about beliefs and enjoy themselves all in one evening.—Karen L. Nihipali, Ogden, Utah

Supportive adults

The key to this is the support the youth get. We encourage them to attend all their Church-sponsored activities, including stake and regional dances. Most important is that parents and leaders support the youth. This includes possibly traveling hundreds of miles to take them to activities. We can encourage our youth, but if they don’t see us put forth the effort for them, they really won’t realize how important it is for them to associate with other youth of the same values.

In addition, we encourage the youth to be involved, not only in Church-related activities, but also in school, sports and club-related activities. We, as the parents, and Church leaders support this by attending those activities whenever possible. We encourage them to associate with other youth of like values. This way they learn to associate with others of different faiths and, through this, maybe share the gospel.—Paul and Sheryl Hedlund, Great Bend, Kan.

Parental involvement

Our stake has a youth committee, one Laurel and one priest from each ward, and they meet with the stake leaders. The youth plan the activities and they set the guidelines and then they police the activities. The activities are whatever they want with lots of adult and priesthood supervision.

In addition, good leaders and good parents are the key. We have one Young Men leader who takes off two or three days a week to do something with young men. He takes them on fishing trips, wrestling matches and other events.

We’re a small community, and in our area, the parents involve themselves with school activities. Many school activities have bad elements because of gang problems, but with parents involved, those problems don’t erupt, and it’s less likely our youth will become involved in these elements. And the children bond with their parents. These youth like to have their parents there.

We have a good time in the Gila Valley. It’s a special place.—Donald and Betty Hooker, Gila, N.M.

How to checklist:

1 Be involved as parents, leaders in lives of youth; be willing to provide transportation.

2 Encourage multi-ward events; let youth plan them.

3 Encourage involvement in seminary, Church meetings; urge youth service projects.

4 Have strong home life; do things together as family.

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