May 22, 2013

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Last night our youth had a super fun activity to honor the three kids in our ward who are graduating high school this week.  I was in charge of the event, and the evening was practically perfect in every way.

Of course there was a lot of work behind all that perfection.

I borrowed the party theme from Dr. Seuss: "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"  With the help of many Pinterest pages and good friends, here are some snapshots of the party I planned.

There had to be a big poster with the theme.  Tara, a talented artistic friend, designed the poster for me, and then I filled in the dollar-store poster board with acrylic paints.  That was time-consuming but well worth the effort.

Then I made some silly sign posts with details about post-high school plans for each of the seniors (they were personalized, also with dollar store supplies).  Those were fun to make because I watched two episodes of The West Wing while I cut them out.

I emailed surveys to each of the senior's parents.  (That was a most excellent stroke of brilliance.) Their answers were the foundation of the posts and the games we played at the party.   They also sent pictures that made up a slideshow for the party.

The evening began with the Young Men president reading a little poem, which was a collection of phrases from the Dr. Seuss book. It set the tone for our fun night. Then we started group games. The first was a spin on Mad Libs.  If you aren't familiar with the game, here's the gist.  There's a sentence with a blank spot in the middle.  You have to fill in the type of word (verb, noun, adjective, etc.) that is missing. An example is: "Heidi was super {adjective} after planning a big {noun}."  You don't get to read the story before you choose the missing words.  The result is usually a really funny nonsense story.

I wrote three stories, each in the form of a conversation between parents and based on the seniors' accomplishments and future plans.  (Sorry, Karie...I changed my mind at the last minute.)  I divided the attendees (maybe 50 people) into three groups.  Each group had a big list of the parts of speech that would fill in the blanks of the stories.  The youth seemed to love coming up with the words.  Then the sets of parents (we had one senior with three "parents" present because...well, it's complicated) read the conversations using the words the youth chose, and the results were hysterical.  One story said that Austin wanted "infinity children."  Another talked about Tyler's "tall muscles."  And Holly's story had so many silly references to her desire for a big family that we were all roaring with laughter.  That made me very happy.

(holding her sister's baby)

After that, we played a version of The Newlywed Game.  I asked the seniors a bunch of questions and they wrote down their answers.  The parents were in the hall for this part, but I invited them back in when the seniors were done answering my questions.  Then I asked the parents the same questions.  The idea was to see how well the parents knew their children.  Sometimes the answers--the parents' and the seniors'--were extremely funny.  More laughter.  More inner satisfaction for me.

The final group activity was watching a slideshow (Shelly did an amazing job) of the seniors.  The pictures were set to Carrie Underwood's "Whenever You Remember" song, and they were of the seniors as kids, growing up to their current selves. It was quite tender.  If there hadn't been a major technological malfunction right in the middle (totally my fault), that would have been perfect, too.

To round out the evening, there were two more activities.  (Yes, we ran long, in case you were wondering.)  In one corner was a table where kids wrote notes to the seniors.  I will compile them in photo books for each senior.  In the other, Janae set up a "booth" where a photographer/ward member took pictures of the kids in ridiculous outfits.  That was completely awesome.  And of course there was also food.  Each treat was a favorite of the seniors, so we had Texas cake, cookie dough brownies, and ice cream.  Silvia made amazing graduation caps from peanut butter cups and chocolate bars.  Super cute, right?

In the end, I was very happy about the evening.  People made comments about how much fun they had, which was my primary objective.  I'm also thrilled that a friend in another ward will use the big sign for her ward's girls camp.  The ward's theme is "Oh, the Holy Places We Will Go."  I am very pleased that all the hard work on the poster will benefit someone else on another day.  

In my own world, I wish the next place I could go was a quiet room with a bed and a book, but I have company this weekend, youth conference and stake conference next week, Fathers and Sons the week after that, and then I'm gone for two weeks to Canada and girls camp.  Maybe I can rest in July.
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