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Young Men: Mutual Activity Ideas

LDS Living Staff - August 17, 2009

Try these suggestions to get your creative juices flowing and move you beyond the old standby of pick-up basketball.

As a young men's leader, each week you are put to the challenge of coming up with fresh ideas for mutual. Not only must they be fresh, but they also must harness the attention of 14- to 18-year-old boys while teaching them a gospel principle. Truth be told, it's not always easy. So here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing and move you beyond pick-up basketball. Some of them may even satisfy merit badges!

Missionary Olympics

In the Missionary Olympics, the young men are challenged on some basic "survival skills," though not your typical ones. Make sure each young man comes dressed in a white shirt, dark pants, and a tie. Divide the young men into companionships (to emphasize working together) and then into "zones"; let them compete in mission-oriented events: nurse a specified minor (but pretend) wound, iron a shirt, prepare a spiritual thought, pack a suitcase, follow a recipe, and ride a bike through an obstacle course.

Also, try putting a twist on the events by timing the young men.

Scavenger Hunt Food Drive

This activity is a fun and creative way to do service. Divide your young men into teams of about three or four people per team. Give each team a piece of paper and a list of canned goods you want them to find. The list might organized in a fun way - such as foods starting with each letter of the alphabet or food groups from which the items should come - or you might simply list some foods a local shelter needs. Make sure at least one member of each group has a pen or pencil. At the "go" signal, let each group go on a scavenger hunt for those cans for a specific amount of time (forty-five minutes or so) to various homes in your neighborhood, attempting to find those canned goods.

The group should assign certain team members to keep track of the items and at least two members to carry the box. A team can get as many cans as they want from home it visits, but they must visit the same number of homes as there are items listed. Teammates must stay together throughout the hunt. When the time is up, all teams must return to the church and show each other the items they have collected. Drive together to the shelter, award a prize to the group who gathered the most food, and enjoy some ice cream sandwiches together!

Faith Factor

It may be a spoof from the TV show Fear Factor, but faith factor is a little less repelling. Various wards have adopted this idea, forming an activity in which the principle of faith acts as the overarching theme of the evening. First, start with a lesson on faith. The young men will then be challenged to different tasks, such as finding gummy worms in a bowl of pudding without using their hands, finding a coin in a pile of flour, eating chocolate covered crickets, drinking a delectable (and possibly questionable) blended concoction, and more. Place a time frame around each event to make it more interesting, such as one minute to drink as much of the concoction as possible or one minute to eat as many chocolate covered crickets as you can. Make sure the young men wear clothes they can get dirty. Depending on the amount of young men present, either put them in teams or have them compete as individuals. Award the winner a prize and close with a final thought on faith versus fear.

You can find a packet with completed Faith Factor activity and lesson ideas at sugardoodle.net.

Being a Good Sport

Mutual for young men wouldn't be complete without physical activity, would it? In this activity, take a slightly different direction and teach the boys about sportsmanship, both in sports and everyday life. Discuss principles of good sportsmanship, focusing on rules in those sports that are of interest in your quorum. Find a former college athlete or coach from your ward, stake, or community to come and talk to the young men about the value he or she found from incorporating principles of sportsmanship from the game into life.

If you have time, play a few team sports, reviewing rules for sportsmanship and requiring that the young men make an effort to follow them.

Literature and Love

In preparation for this activity, contact ward members who have a hard time leaving or are unable to leave their homes and request their permission to do this activity with them. Ask them what types of books they enjoy. Then, for the activity, check out the books from your local library, go to their homes, and read to them. This might be something you continue to do each month, especially if the books you choose are longer. Additionally, you might also ask them what other things they enjoy (such as singing) so that you can incorporate other interests into the young men's visits with them.

© LDS Living, July/August 2009. Photo by Shawn Himmelberger/sxc.hu