You’ve given this program a bad name

Brothers and sisters, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted at BCC, and I won’t lie to you: the neglect has been due to a lack of will and a lack of inspiration. But something’s been bothering me for a long time, and I’m finally going to write about it here because I’ve hit the breaking point. I can no longer pretend that I support the status quo. There’s something wrong in Mormondom, and it must change.

“Activity Days.”

I’m not talking about the Activity Days program itself, although goodness knows its shortcomings are legion. But baby steps, first things first: that name, “Activity Days,” is a horrible, stupid name for a program. Yes, the program itself desperately needs improvement. Activity Day leaders across the church do their best, working with miniscule budgets and almost zero guidance. But I think the name itself demonstrates why the program is so substandard. What a slapdash affair that planning meeting must have been. [1]

“So eight-year-old boys have cub scouts, but eight-year-old girls have nothing. People are starting to notice. We should probably implement a program for the girls of the church age 8-11.”

“Good idea. Something like cub scouts, but obviously not cub scouts.”

“Right. But not too much like cub scouts. We need to avoid gender confusion.”

“Well, it definitely can’t be Girl Scouts. They’re commies.”

“I heard they have an abortion merit badge now.”

“Whatever we end up doing, it’ll have to be inexpensive.”

“Oh, I know—how about the ward has someone—say, one of the sisters–be in charge of planning an activity for all the Primary girls age 8-11, say, once a month?”

“Great idea!”

“The activity should be wholesome and fun, but also gospel-oriented in some way.”

“Yes!”

“Wholesome, fun, gospel-oriented. But feminine.”

“Absolutely.”

“My only concern is that cub scouts have weekly den meetings. Do you think anyone will notice that the girls are only meeting once a month?”

“Good point. Let’s have them meet twice a month to head off any criticism.”

“Is this too much for just one woman per ward? Maybe there should be two sisters in charge?”

“Maybe, but not more than that. We don’t want it eating up too many resources.”

“This is going to be so great for our girls. All we need is a name.”

“Yes, I suppose we’ll need to call it something.”

“Yeah, or no one will know what to write on the calendar.”

“’Girl meeting’?”

“I don’t know. Doesn’t seem very descriptive.”

“’Junior Relief Society’?”

“Too derivative.”

“Oh! I’ve got it. So, they’re having activities, right?”

“Right.”

“On two days of the month.”

“Right.”

“So—we call it…‘Activity…Days.’”

“That’s it.”

“That’s perfect.”

“Let’s pray about it. Remember to bless the refreshments.”

Actually, as I recall, once upon a time the program was called “Achievement Days.” This was before I had daughters of my own. I may be mistaken. I may have imagined the whole thing. But the memory is so vivid. I remember because at some point I noticed that people were now calling it “Activity Days,” and I couldn’t help wondering what the crap was wrong with “Achievement Days.” Was the word “achievement” too ambitious for a program geared toward girls? Too Girl Scout-esque? Too achieve-y? Were our female Valiants getting uppity notions about all their “achievements”? Was “achievement” too hard to spell, taking up too much space on people’s calendars? If so, why on earth would they change it to “Activity Days”? “Activity” has one more syllable than “achievement” and it says absolutely nothing about the purpose of the program, except, well, that they’re supposed to have activities…on days.

That’s stupid. Seriously, I know the church is bad at naming stuff. Everyone wants to know what the heck a Mia Maid is supposed to be. [2] At least “Mia Maid” is distinctive, even if you don’t know what it is. If they named the Young Women groups the way they named Activity Days, Mia Maids would be called “The Middle Ones.”

The worst part is that it leads to so much redundancy. “What activity are we doing for Activity Days?” “What’s the Activity Days activity?” “What day is Activity Days?” “You have Activity Days today.” “We can’t meet on Wednesday because that’s Activity Days day.” “What Activity Days activity is today?” It’s awkward and annoying.

Also, it’s very bad from a missionary perspective. “Would you like to come to my Activity Days activity?” Instead of saying, “Oh, that sounds interesting, tell me more,” people be like, “That’s the most non-descript invitation I’ve ever received to anything anywhere. What’s wrong with your church?”

Is this what we want for our girls (and our potential girls)? No. We need a better, snazzier name for our program for 8-11-year-old girls. [3] Something distinctive and/or aspirational that is easily translated into other languages and that does not use the words “activity,” “eight-to-eleven,” “girls,” or “days.”. I don’t know what it should be. I’m not a “creative” type. All I know is that “Activity Days” sounds ultra-lame, and I’m sick of saying it. Who has a better idea?

One of you has to have a better idea.

—————————————-

[1] I know this isn’t how things actually went down. I don’t actually know how things actually went down. I’m having a little fun, but also making a point: namely, that “Activity Days” is a stupid name. Please don’t miss the point in your zeal to explain to me the history of Activity Days.

[2] Actually, “Mia Maid” is properly “MIA Maid”: MIA as in “Mutual Improvement Association” and “Maid” as in “young girl.” Not that anyone cares.

[3] And the 8-11-year-old boys in areas where there is no Boy Scouts program. If that’s any motivation.

Comments

  1. *Breaks into song*
    Activity Nights (like Activity Days)

    I may be part of the problem.

  2. Over here in Britain, where there is no cub scouts, I’ve only ever heard the 8-11 yrs activities referred to as Faith in God after the booklet they’re given. I believe it’s all meant to be based on that… So the announcements sound something like – this week there’ll be Faith in God at 6.30pm at the chapel – still rather weird sounding if you want to invite a friend but…

  3. How about Deborah Days? I mean, what more could girls aspire to than to be a prophetess, a judge in Israel, a mother in Israel (despite the lack of any mention of actual children that she might or might not have had), and advisor to the military power in the land? I especially liked how she (and the Lord) kept Barack humble by telling him that his journey would not be for his honour, but that the Lord would sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.

  4. Bethany West says:

    I agree that the name is dumb, but that calling is my favorite in the whole world. I loved being the AD leader!
    We would always start with an Article of Faith and go over it line by line, making sure that the girls knew what every word meant and why it was in there. We focused on the Articles through a lense of, “JS wrote this to tell the world how we’re different from other religions–what does that mean?”
    We would sometimes spend 20 minutes on (usually) pretty deep doctrine. Then we could cover anything we wanted. We learned about how chocolate is made, how to budget, what credit is, how to sew on buttons, how to hammer a nail, how to prepare a talk, how to wrap presents, how to meal plan, how to take care of our bodies responsibly, just anything! We also hosted a no rules demolition pinewood derby which was SO COOL for the girls. They are so clever and creative! I got released before I could take them on a tour of the fire station down the street and the credit union/bank.
    I was frustrated by the lack of direction at first but learned to take advantage of the freedom and run with it. Very empowering.

  5. I’m with hedgehog. Here in the UK it’s called Faith in God, and it’s for all the children 8-11. We haven’t had scouting here for a long time, and I like it better that way. It feels much fairer to me.

  6. Here in Nova Scotia we don’t have cub scouts either (or scouts), so the boys do faith in god as well. They have their own booklet. Everyone here seems to call it something different haha, whatever feels less awkward I guess. When I had the calling I called it faith in God. Or abbreviated it for the calendar by F.I.G.

  7. Mrs. Bonjo recently met Rosemary Wixom at a training meeting, and asked why the handbook limits AD meetings to twice a month when the Cubs have no such restriction (in our area Cubs meet weekly, and the girls who get dragged to church with the family are often roaming around). The answer was that we are a worldwide church and it would be burdensome for smaller units, and basically we have to do the same thing everywhere.

    Except, of course, those instances where BSA is involved.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Preach, sister!

  9. After a year of trying to get some parity- or even HALF parity, and having every suggestion I made shot down without any exchange, I finally asked to be released. I put my daughter in the commie Girl Scouts, and you wouldn’t believe how awesome it is. They meet weekly for 90 minutes, the girls do community service, volunteer at soup kitchens and homes for the elderly, camp, raft, canoe, swim, learn to make knots and fire, budget their own funds, donate to charity, work with the children’s wing of the cancer center, go on field trips- it’s freaking amazing. Last weekend we did an inter-faith event where we packed more than 50K meals for the hungry around the world. And… there is simply no one telling them “No.” every step of the way. If that’s an option for any of you and your daughters, I highly recommend GSA.

  10. Most of the parents of girls in my stake feel that they’ve won the lottery compared to parents of Cub Scouts, since it’s only every other week, and they have more time for soccer practices or music lessons, or what not. And no one cares about advancement or the like, or takes attendance. Forget about inequality, parents would just rather dump AD altogether.

  11. queuno, what? How do you justify that to the girls? Do you really think they aren’t aware of the things the boys get to do already? If you dump AD you must dump BSA too. There needs to be parity, or there needs to be nothing, and let families manage their own activities (which is what we opted to do).

  12. rebeccadalmas says:

    Rough Americentric problems!

  13. I can confirm that it used to be called achievement days back when I was in it 15 years ago (#old haha). I don’t know anything about the program now but back then the activities had to fall under one of the about fifteen goals and if you did like two activities under that goal you got like a sticker on your paper saying you passed it off. We actually had meetings occasionally to pass out the stickers and such where our parents came and were like good job. At least that’s my memory of achievement days. They changed it to activity days right after I turned 12 and I always thought it was a weird change of name but I thought the program stayed the same. But I could definitely be wrong.

  14. Why not just call them Fake Scouts?

    When I was that age they were called Merrie Miss, which is cringeworthy on several levels.

  15. Totally agree that that’s a stupid name (something I’d never thought about, because the name doesn’t really lend itself to, you know, thinking about).

    And I also agree that the people in charge of it can make all the difference. A new couple was just called as AD leaders in our ward, and Sunday they came in and talked to the girls and boys (because in our ward in Chicago we don’t have Cub or Boy Scouts) about what they’re planning, and my kids are really, really excited (it turns out the leaders have an indoor pool in their apartment building, and it’s probably worth the cost of doing business just for that).

    Of course, like Tracy’s daughters, one of my daughters is also in Girl Scouts (and the other would be if we could get her school to host a troop).

    So AD = good (sometimes, depending on the leaders), while the name = boring, nondescript, and kind of pointless.

  16. Hmm. Activity with no achievement? Sounds like the plan for women.

  17. My mother was Activity Days leader last year for a ward with 25 girls that age. Annual budget for said “program”? $50. Yes friends, $2 per girl per year for approximately 20 activities. Budgeting? That’s $0.10 per girl per activity. You can’t buy buttons to learn to see them on that!!!!

    Obviously, this is not a valued group or program. No curriculum, no vision, no big deal.

    I remember attending merrie miss activities and being glad to have something, but being acutely aware of the amazing stuff the scouts were doing down the hallway. It was a wonderful feminist awakening for me.

  18. For a few days now there has been a Friends of Scouting donation slip on the table by my font door. The last time they came around the unlucky High Priest looked so puzzled when I suggested he should be raising money for the Activity Day Girls as well.
    Men of the church, imagine if your organization were named like ours. For one week, you could Meeting Men, Merry Misters, Worker Bees, and MIAmen (Miaboys?).
    Name suggestions? How about the Girls Society? I kind like the sound of Young Womens Society, too. They can all reflect and support the mission of the Relief Society. We can even lend them a lace tablecloth! But seriously, wouldn’t it be awesome if the girls/young women/women were all under the umbrella of the same name and mission?

  19. Ann Smith, yes, we had the FIG abbreviation too.

    I’m with queuno though Tracy M. On “If you dump AD you must dump BSA too.” dumping definitely has my vote. I wasn’t an enthusiastic FIG parent, and found the whole thing to be a total pain.

  20. Mortimer, those were similar budget issues I had- though (almost) but not quite that bad. I railed against it. I asked for a sliver of the boys’ money (nope). I tried to have our own fundraiser (nope). I asked if we could have a bake-sale or car-wash (nope). I couldn’t even buy a snack for the girls to share for our meetings. I was furious. Which is part of why I finally quit. No one cares enough to make any changes, and those who fight are blocked. AD is just set-dressing so it isn’t quite so obvious how unimportant the girls are.

  21. In our small ward in Texas the leadership is divided in this way:

    Activity days = two leaders for all girls 8-12

    Scouts = 10 leaders for all boys 8-12
    (wolves – 2, bears – 2, webelos – 2, 11 year-olds – 2, Committee leader, and Cubmaster)

    Ugh.

  22. Andy R, yes- this was similar to my ward. I suggested we just combine, and have one class for 8-9 year olds, one for 10-11 year olds- boys and girls together- saving teachers, funds and resources, and making the program better for everyone. Girls would have outnumbered boys, but so what. NOPE. Not open to even discuss. NO. So the boys, of whom there are fewer, get not only exponentially more money, but double the adult support. Tell me again girls matter?

  23. Well, it dates back even longer and it’s evolution is worse than you imagined. I’ll stop the history lecture there :-) I’m with dumping both AD and Scouts as Tracy suggested as well.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the re-naming took the amount of time and thought you speculate. After a break of nourishing refreshments the committee then changed HFPE (another terrible name) to “Additional Meetings” (an even worse one, how it that possible?) for Relief Society. They were sure on a roll that week.

  24. I finally signed my girl up for Girl Scouts. And this year the AD leaders in our ward didn’t even attempt to find a time to hold AD where my daughter can go. I don’t even like AD but I was still ticked they didn’t even care about including her to inconvenience themselves. Gah. I just want to rebel against FIG and not have her complete the program and when bishop asks why I can say they didn’t include her. Why does everything re my daughter in the church give anger attacks filled with sadness at the inequity, fear of what they’d teach her if she actually attended, etc.

    PS I still have my Merrie Miss book somewhere. Our theme song was I Will Follow Gods Plan for Me. That’s why the art for that song is a mother holding a baby w an 11 year old watching.

  25. To be fair, I believe that the current general Primary, YW, and Relief Society leaders are among the most progressive in the church. They’re well-educated, have made strides in diversifying their boards (especially the YW Board), and shown great initiative in starting the “I Was a Stranger” program. The wheels of change in the church grind slowly, and the these women have their shoulders to them. Push along, women.

  26. I vaguely recall the name “Achievement Days” being made fun of because at the time, the girls didn’t actually achieve anything. So rather than have them working toward achievement they changed the name…

    I was an AD leader for years and loved it. We went on hikes, cooked for the fire station, did tons of art, did a campout, etc. However, it was all me. I had a hard time even getting the other adults to show up, let alone put on a quality activity themselves. Plus, I paid for it all out of my own pocket. I was specifically told when trying to hunt up money from the ward that I wasn’t allowed to ask the families of the wealthier girls to help. (Which was so disheartening as I knew they would be willing.)

    The moment I was released, the program went back to being party after party after party. Now they tend to give the AD callings to women who are borderline inactive. So its never-endingly on the verge of falling apart.

    I put all my girls in a local program similar to Scouts and haven’t looked back. One of the things I love about our program is that it is co-ed. My kids are seeing shared responsibility. One year a girl might be club president. The next year a boy. Committees are made up of teams of boys, girls, and with anything competitive they all are against each other on an even playing field. It’s lovely and I see such a difference in the ways the kids work together as compared to male/female relations in the church.

  27. Bethany West says: September 22, 2016 at 12:53 am
    Bethany, you rock! I wish my daughter could have been in your AD. What did you do for budget? We put in her Girl Scouts and had a at least a modicum of success there. Of course with GS you know you’re signing up for managing piles of boxes of cookies in the living room once a year, but that’s OK. Regarding the inequities between BSA and AD, maybe we need to starts a “Girls Lives Matter” campaign.

  28. *We put my daughter in GS* I meant to say.

  29. Former Merrie Miss says:

    In the tradition of HFPE, how about GOETAWS? Girls Old Enough To Attend Women’s Session.

  30. I have a proposal for a new program name: ACTIVIA, which is short for “Active Olivia,” which is meant to specifically target the 56% of young women in the Church who are named Olivia. You would be all but guaranteed this huge segment of YW. Decades from now, when the program is no longer needed, ACTIVIA could be revamped as the senior missionary program.

  31. My vote would be to ditch scouts & FIG without a second thought. Where we live (in UK) there are plenty of excellent resources for out of school activities. Our kids attend scouting/guiding groups that are CofE facilitated and love them, plus the quality of the activities, purposeful planning and child safety protocols makes FIG look like a joke. Granted, the volunteers running them have chosen to donate their time in this way, and have participated in quality training, with access to great resources rather than been rotated into the roles because, well, everyone has to have a calling, don’t they? But I’d quite like it if we cut down Youth activities to once a month too, on the same basis.

  32. 1. I am totally down with FIG. FIG is a much better name than “Activity Days.” SEE HOW LOW THE BAR IS?

    2. My hat is off to all the AD/FIG leaders who work so hard to make the program meaningful and fun. I think my daughter’s AD leaders have been great. But the name is still stupid.

    3. I hated the way scouts inconvenienced me, as a parent, but it was great for our boys. Likely if AD met every week, I would find it a hassle, just as I found cub scouts a hassle, but I don’t even think it’s necessary to have AD meet every week in order for it to be a good program. Obviously, so much depends on the leader(s) in your ward. What’s infuriating is stories like Tracy’s, where everything she proposed to elevate the girls’ program was shot down, including freaking refreshments. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

    4. I appreciate that the program has to work worldwide, but then, if it’s so important that everything be the same everywhere, why do we still have Boy Scouts as the official activity arm of the priesthood, when it can’t be done everywhere, or even most places?

  33. The program was actually tested in a number of stakes before it was rolled church wide. The working title before there was any direction was “Valiant Miss.” My wife, as a test leader in a test program ran it like a girl scout troop.

  34. GOETAWS, FTW.

    We need to rename everything in the church with unwieldy acronyms.

  35. (for Bro B’s copy posted comment) – I know it was an off the top of the head idea, but please drive out any thought that think naming anything ” lives matter”.

    Just don’t.

    (/tangential rant)

  36. The Other Clark says:

    Cathy– There was a time when “M-Men” was a real thing in the Church. This tradition of poor names has a really long history. At least the youth programs no longer have the word “retrenchment” in their names.

  37. Dumb name, yes. But I wouldn’t want to drop the program. In my last two wards the leaders have been amazing and the girls have loved it. Which is probably a point worth considering: how do the participants feel about it? How would they like being rolled in with the boys? FWIW, I grew up with some rambunctious boys who were the focus of everything, and it was wonderful to get into the Merrie Miss class or YW activities and not have to deal with them!

  38. Cate, that’s a fair point, and it touches on what we’re talking about in the Kitchen Table thread. Those boys need to learn to get along with and listen to girls, too. Perhaps if we started socializing them to do so earlier, we would have less problems with misogyny, sexism and the Invisible Woman later in life. Perhaps when those boys became church men, they would know how to listen to the women in their lives and wards better.

  39. I’m totally okay with sex-segregated programs. It would be nice if there were something approaching parity, though.

    But let’s not lose sight of the real issue, y’all. THE NAME IS STUPID.

  40. How about AWCA (Auxiliary Without a Cool Acronym)?

  41. RJ, I generally am, too. I was just saying “Hmmmmm, for the sake of argument…” Parity would be a great starting point. But I think integration is more likely than parity. Which means neither is going to happen. That name though…

  42. hawleyberry says:

    I’ve been involved with AD as Primary President, ward AD leader and now stake AD leader. The long and short is that (as described in the comments), it is a “program” where an amazing leader makes the program amazing while there is no infrastructure to support or help a struggling leader. Our stake encourages weekly meetings – we also hold quarterly stake activities. As long as Scouting is the default program for the boys in the US, then there has got to be a program for the girls, but it should be able to stand on its own as a real program and not just rely on good leaders with deep pockets. One of our best activities this year was a financial literacy conference where the girls attended mini-sessions on all aspects of finance (saving / investing / earning / philanthropy). Classes were taught by women who are all experts in their fields and we highlighted many amazing women both in and out of the church. At the same time, friends in other stakes reported yet another “tea” party being held for their girls. This sort of disparity is what makes me saddest about a program which really could and should be a foundation for our girls’ lives – both temporal and spiritual. Oh – and agree that the name needs some work but I would willingly live with the name for a better solid program!

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    If anyone wants to learn about Master M-Men and Golden Gleaners (mentioned by the Other Clark), which used to be a huge program for adults in the church, search for my blog post with the title 1953 and see Ardis’s comments about it.

  44. In my US ward, we have cubs for 8-11 boys, and then FIG for 8-11 girls. “Activity Days” is a specific day each month (or maybe less) where the FIG girls (referred to often as FIGGs) have an activity.

    FIG seems like a great option to me for the girls who can’t do scouts, but an even better idea is to get rid of scouts (we will eventually anyway, so why not now?) and have all the 8-11s participate in a FIG program.

    But knowing the church, they would change the boys program name to create a separation – it would be Faith in God (girls) and Duty to God (boys). Because we all know we can’t be having them all in the same program.

  45. Former Merrie Miss says:

    Tracy M,

    But I think integration is more likely than parity.

    I agree, and then they’ll do something absurd with the name, like tacking on “and Family”.

    So maybe ‘Scouts and Seekers’. Or ‘Scouts and Girls’. Ugh.

  46. “Duty to God and their Supporters.”

  47. Boys Who Do Things and the Girls Who Sustain Them.
    Subjects and Objects.
    Young Mountaineers and Camp Cooks

    No? Too much?

  48. Former Merrie Miss says:

    Pre-priesthood and Hearkeners.

  49. Jay, they’re in the same programme here in Britain. The girls get the pink FIG book, and the boys the blue FIG book, but they are both FIG. No idea if the content differs slightly…

  50. Here in the States, we have Duty to God for boys, and Faith in God for girls.

  51. I was confused when my daughter became old enough to go because of the word “days.” For one, it’s plural. Secondly, the activities are usually in the evening because they are in school during the day. Having less oversight can be a good thing. I suspect that if the church gave out a curriculum, it would contain a lot more marriage prep and modesty nights and a lot less actual useful life skills.

  52. Lords of Creation, and the walking pornography assigned to bake them cookies.

  53. I love you, Ardis.

  54. it's a series of tubes says:

    Those boys need to learn to get along with and listen to girls, too

    Wasn’t concern regarding the behavior of boys the founding issue for the Primary program?

  55. it's a series of tubes says:

    No one drops the mic like Ardis. Damn.

  56. “Here in the States, we have Duty to God for boys, and Faith in God for girls.”
    Are you sure? Duty to God is what the boys do 12-18 here, while the girls do Personal Progress.

  57. You’re right about Prinary’s origins, Tubes: http://www.keepapitchinin.org/archives/primary-was-intended-for-boys/

    (To be clear, I have absolutely no objection to boys and men getting what they need from Church programs. Except when that comes at the neglect of what girls and women legitimately need.)

  58. wreddyornot says:

    The SS, Saintly Suffragettes?

  59. Duty to God is for boys 12+ Boys who are 8-12 are also supposed to do the faith in God booklet. The content is more or less the same between the girls FIG and the boy’s, except for the last section and there’s one ‘goal’ where the boy’s learn about a education for a career but the girl’s booklet omits the career aspect entirely. Cub scouts earn their religious knot by completing a smattering of goals from their FIG booklet. Other than that both FIG and Duty to God get largely ignored in favor of scout focused activities in the US.

    As much as I hate the name, the very first thing *I* would change would be to make an official certificate for completing the FIG program. The signed back cover of their (used ratty) FIG booklet is the only recognition they receive for completing the program.

  60. I think Hedgehog has it correct. In the gospel library app it is Faith in God for 8-11 year olds, and then Duty to God and Personal progress for those 12-18.

    Our ward hasn’t had an Activity day meeting for a couple of months, because one of the leaders is often missing in action. I even volunteered to help, but still no meetings. But the cub scouts and their many leaders meet weekly, so all is well, right? No.

  61. Former Merrie Miss says:

    This reminds me of the Parks & Recreation episode Pawnee Goddesses. :D

  62. There’s another thing the Boy Scouts has that Activity Days does not, besides a non-silly name, a decent budget, badges, campouts, and advancement: the Boy Scouts has mandatory youth protection training for all adults.

  63. Believe me, all, I’m totally okay with less oversight. The only thing that bothers me about the lack of guidance is that it gives the impression that this program isn’t worth having an infrastructure for. Clearer goals and some helpful hints for leaders who aren’t natural fits for the role would be an improvement. I definitely don’t want a manual with micromanaged lessons because as hawkgrrrl says, there would be way more modesty and marriage prep than appropriate for that age group (i.e. any).

  64. Also, Ardis, FTUW.

  65. You’re correct, Hedgehog. I was mistaken.

    I was also mistaken about my ward not even discussing the issue of combining the young scouts and ADG girls. I just learned there was actually a discussion, and while there were no changes made, my suggestion was brought before the scouting committee/bishopric and heard and talked about. So baby steps?

  66. The Other Clark – I don’t know. The Retrenchment Maids has a nice ring to it.

  67. Linda Hutchings says:

    Back in dinosaur days when I was in Primary, girls that age were called Homebuilders, with Larks (motto:”Greet the day with a song”) , Bluebirds (“Make others happy”) and Seagulls (“Serve gladly”) as subgroups by age. Since older girls have nature names…Beehives, Laurels (sorry you unfortunate MIA Maids), maybe it’s time to resurrect one of those old bird names. I can imagine young girls being called Larks.

  68. “None of your twittering larks!”

  69. it's a series of tubes says:

    (To be clear, I have absolutely no objection to boys and men getting what they need from Church programs. Except when that comes at the neglect of what girls and women legitimately need.)

    Ardis, thanks for the link; I remember seeing the article but couldn’t find it.

    FWIW: Activity Days is awesome in our ward, but only because my wife is the Activity Days leader and she chooses to make it awesome. 1 woman (with a couple assistant leaders on the margins of activity so essentially no help there), a token budget (so we self-fund the expenses for a year of activities for 30 girls), and a bucketload of her time (and a decent amount of mine). So, based on personal experience, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment expressed in the OP, or Ardis’s quote above.

  70. Former Merrie Miss says:

    What’s in a Name?

    Some interesting findings in SquareTwo’s recent survey.

  71. Ka-Boom. Ardis just won the internet. Also, that linked post on the origin of Primary? Wow. Well worth a gander.

  72. In our ward in Seattle, we put a lot of time and effort into building out an Activity Days program (but sadly, stopped short of renaming it) that would establish greater parity between the girls and boys in terms of financial and leadership resources and recognition, and would, simply put, be a high-quality offering for the girls. Budget was equal with Cubbies, 4 leaders were called and we made Luke 2:52, “and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” the foundation of the program. Four “pillars” with two “sub-pillars” each (wisdom/education + talents; stature/activity + adventure; discipleship/learning the gospel + living the gospel; friendship/service + leadership) made for a program that considers the whole girl and provides a structure within which to create excellent activities and experiences for the girls. AND we aligned it with FIG (wisdom and stature = developing talents, discipleship = learning and living the gospel, friendship = serving others). Would be happy to do a post about it if there’s interest in more details.

  73. I piece I wrote on Activity Days a few months ago.

    * * *

    I respect scouting. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have made a tremendous impact in the lives of my brothers, nieces, nephews, and friends. However, I struggle with the disparities between men and women created by my church’s decision to adopt Boy Scouts as a church-sponsored program for young men without adopting a similarly rigorous and funded program for its young women.

    As a teenager, the differences in the time and funding devoted to young men via the Boy Scout program v. the time and much smaller amount of funding devoted to church activities for young women appeared to quantify my perception that the church did not value women as much as men. As a mother with a husband assigned to scouting, the extra evening and weekend time he spends at Scouts comes at the expense of my ability to stretch beyond the domestic as I am relegated to childcare.

    However, browsing through my husband’s scouting manual this week and listening to others express concerns about the lack of curriculum, support, and budget for the Activity Day meetings designed for younger church girls inspired me with one idea that could potentially reduce some disparity: create a manual for Activity Days providing plans for structured activities, though leaving activities open to local modification and input. This manual could take a variety of forms — hard copy, electronic, and /or even an interactive site for sharing ideas and providing feedback.

    A manual is a low-cost solution that could provide several benefits:

    Support. Volunteers lead Activity Day meetings, and they may struggle to conceive of ideas or lack time. A manual could provide much needed inspiration and reduce the burden on volunteers.
    Quality. A manual that provides (good) activity ideas could help set a standard and ensure consistency as leaders turnover. Leaders could also point to the suggested ideas to argue for the increases in budget required to enact them.
    Efficiency. A manual could enable better activities on the current budget by suggesting activities that use and reuse a set of materials in which congregations could invest.
    Buy In. Sharing the manual with Activity Day girls and families could help them invest more in their own experience as they anticipate, plan, and share in the process. A physical manual is also an object that a young girl could cherish and review as she looks forward to her participation.
    More formal guidance for Activity Days will not come with the resources, history and experience of the Boy Scout program. But it’s a potential step towards something better for our young women as we grapple with the larger structural questions.

  74. Since this is the time before they emerge into the beehives, why not call them larvae?

  75. How about “Valiant Girls”?It sounds heroic, spiritual, action-packed and Vs are cool and not as immodest as the letter x.

  76. anotherqualitysarah says:

    ADVENTURE DAYS.

    I don’t know if it’s a worldwide winner, but it’s better to me. That’s what I thought of them as when I was an Activity Days leader. I felt like the girls were hungry for adventure. And every activity I planned that was adventurous, went off way better than ones that I planned to fill an “Activity Days” slot.

  77. Shhhhhhh everyone be quiet!
    You are raising this in front of a the GAs who happily removed names like ‘Valiants’, ‘Sunbeams’, ‘Stars’, etc. and decided it would be best to use homogeneous titles and call every class ‘CTR [age]. Zzzzzzzz. How dull! You know, since we’ve complained, they will rename this ‘CTR 8-11 Activities-Girls’.

    Ok, here’s a new list:
    (cough cough)
    Faith Cadettes (my favorite)
    Eastern Stars or Job’s Daughters (ok, blatantly ripped off, but hey, they’re cool with it. Probably.)
    Zoromites (named after you know, the tag-along)
    Widow’s Mites (to reflect their budget)

  78. Ok, here’s a *real* list:
    FIG
    Trumpeters
    Believers
    Errand of Angels
    “Inspire”
    Fellowship Girls
    Miracle Workers
    Faith in Every Footstep Youth
    Service League (Troupe, Circle)
    Light Bearers

  79. When I did Achievement Days, we got beads for a wallhanging that my mom/our leader made for us. That was fun.

    My oldest is Activity Days-aged and she’s only gone once. I don’t really want my son in scouts, so I don’t really want my daughter doing AD for parity- they are in other groups and clubs. We also do not have a car, so getting to church on a weeknight isn’t really feasible, so I’m kind of glad it’s not even on the table. The one time she went was for an event that we could bike to.

  80. Call them the Jesus Busters. They will have amazing jumpsuits and will do good world wide in Jesus name.

  81. Tracy M,
    Sorry to hear of your experiences. My mom spent about $300 out of pocket in the calling, just doing what had to be done. It was for a good cause- for the girls. Wish you were in my ward.

  82. Little Helping Hands

    Adopting the same logo and mission as Mormon Helping Hands.

  83. Or taking an image from the Bible call them Rivers for rivers of peace and waves of Righteousness.

  84. “Lords of Creation, and the walking pornography assigned to bake them cookies.” Ouch, Ardis. I’m busting a gut! You should write for Studio C.

  85. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    To be fair, the church didn’t cook up a curriculum for Cub and Boy Scouts either, they just hitched their wagon up to ours a hundred years ago, and SLC can look at their aims and advancements and think, “well . . . close enough, it’ll get them ready for missions.”

    I think twice a month would be an ideal interval, but the Scouts have too many boxes to check and badges to buy, so the result is an increase in time and money spent for young men and boys. I don’t think such would necessarily be the case if the church built up their own programs from scratch.

  86. Why does a non-program even need a name?

  87. Daughters of the Morning

  88. I agree that Activity Days and Mia Maids are gosh-awful names.

    Back when I went through the program, the 9-11 year-old boys in Primary were the Blazers, Trekkers, and Guides. That was back when we had bandlos (search Keepapitchinin if you want to know everything about bandlos). In the scouts, the 11-year olds were the Guide Patrol. Later, the 11-year olds were the Blazer Bs (being one year older than the Blazer As) and in the scouts, they were “Blazer Scouts.” Nowadays, they’re officially the “Eleven-year-old Scouts.” (It’s not just the girls’ program that they’ve given a bad name.)

    I’ve been the scoutmaster for the past several years. A few years ago, someone in the stake Primary decided to interpret the handbook to say that since the girls could only meet twice a month, the 11yo scouts could also only meet twice a month. It turns out that the handbook is not a great paragon of clarity on that point. And I’m not a great fan of disparate programs for boys and girls. Nevertheless, our 11yo scouts were going great guns at that point and showing every sign of reaching First Class by age 12. I was not excited about hobbling a well-functioning boys’ program in order to reach parity with a not-so well-functioning girls’ program. I threw a fit and gave my interpretation of the handbook, and we were eventually allowed to keep meeting weekly, though the Cub Scouts went to the twice/month schedule.

    I’m not a fan of segregating the 11yo scouts from the rest of the troop anyway. Aside from troops in some high-fertility areas mostly in western North America, most LDS troops don’t have enough scouts to be able to afford to segregate anyone out at all. I’ve always tried to integrate the 11yo’s into the troop as much as possible. I think Salt Lake wants to make joining scouts “for real” and moving into Young Men correspond to getting the priesthood. I think that’s misguided. Getting ordained should be significant by itself. I’ve never met an 11yo boy or girl that wasn’t ready to get the heck out of Primary. I say let them move into Young Men/Young Women at 11 and that solves the whole 11yo scout thing.

  89. Cub scouts is a terrible name. Scout is a relic in so many ways and the whole wolf pack thing is a both silly and unused potential — really they should be howling all the time and doing weird wolf things and yapping all the time.

    Couple options even worse for activity days. Call it…
    Mom Prep
    Daddy’s Girls (referring to Heavenly Father)
    Mommy’s Girls (referring to Heavenly Mother)
    God’s Girls
    Covenant Keepers

    But my favorite would be Divine Sparks. Who doesn’t love the idea of a bunch of little heavenly Sparks going to their Spark Meeting?

    If that’s no good we can give honor to the prophetess Deborah and call them Little Debbie’s.

  90. I think all these extra things are sorta stupid. Maybe I just have a bad attitude about it but I’m the Bears leader for the 9 year old boys and just found out that basically, nothing they do matters later on. Like, if they don’t do the prior year or don’t finish their “bear year”, it doesn’t matter at all!! Why are we adding more to the plates of parents and the people who have to volunteer for this?! Why not just have them all do faith in god or girls do Girl Scouts and boys do cub scouts. But don’t just add crap just to add crap! That’s what I feel like they’ve done for the girls. Let’s add activities for them because we don’t know what to do with little girls! Okay, I’m done ranting!! I mean, I’ll keep teaching the cub scouts, I just think it’s a little pointless.

  91. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    Well, clearly “Pre-priesthood and Hearkeners” FTW. (Ardis’s version even more to the point, but there’s a subtlety to “hearkeners” that’s pure awesome.)

    Seriously, agree with everything everyone has said here.

    Of course as a practical matter (as many have pointed out), at the local level, great leaders can make all the difference. I live in a stake/ward where there’s been an emphasis by both stake and ward leaders to achieve parity. AD is action packed. Local leaders also recognize, for instance, that there’s value in YM “high adventure” in helping YM learn to do hard things. And correspondingly, our ward does YW high adventure as well. I was on the stake high council for 5+ years, and was a consistent voice advocating for parity at the stake level as well, in both funding and scope/imagination/support for AD and YW activities. These anecdotes are consistent with others’ recounting of good anecdotal experiences with AD or with varieties of attempted parity. All that is good.

    But there are some nuances that haven’t been raised here. For instance, our former Bishop (who primarily spearheaded the YW-doing-high-adventure thing in our ward) related to me privately that the biggest obstacle he faced wasn’t institutional opposition or lack of support – – he simply mandated equal budgets etc, so that wasn’t hard – – but rather, there was cultural inertia in the YW organization that indicated a preference for “parties” and fluff. In both the leaders as well as the YW themselves. So while there are many moms/wives/daughters/fathers/husbands/leaders who agitate at the disparity and the message it sends to young women and girls (I for instance agree COMPLETELY with both the OP and the larger set of discontents it represents, beyond just bad nomenclature), there is sometimes a lack of will to DO something different, even when the total green light is given.

    Which highlights the real problem. The problem, of course, is that any localized attempts to set things right, even when such attempts are successful and workable, are still ad-hoc solutions. The problem is the lack of any systematic signal from SLC that these things (cubs and AD; YM and YW) should operate at parity of both resources and focus. Yes, some local congregations work hard, against the odds and swimming upstream, to make these things better. But it shouldn’t be so hard. THAT is the problem.

  92. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    (And… Tiffany is right about crap/quality, in many ways. In other words, another way to achieve parity is for cubs and YM to do LESS, rather than match with YW/AD doing MORE…)

  93. Clark Goble says:

    Not a lot to say, I’d just note that in Utah County that Camp Jeremiah Johnson up Hobble Creek will take Activity Day girls as well as cub scouts and do exactly the same activities. My daughter went this summer and absolutely loved it.

  94. Clark Goble says:

    BlueRidgeMormon, I think you’re right that it’s not hard to equalize things. And not hard to be inclusive of the young girls who want to say race at the pinewood derby. I’m grateful that every year we were at the pinewood derby both my son and daughter raced. Also at Pack Meeting the girls are always encouraged to join in with the activities.

    Often the problem is what people want though. There’s a lot of expectation for cubs and scouts. Without that expectation for young and older girls people may be more uncomfortable with activities. My sense from previous discussions here is that there’s actually more dislike of a lot of scout activities by some than it first appears. There’s alway that balancing act between pushing people out of comfort zones for personal growth and trying to deal with the diversity of interests. I’d imagine just because Activities Days is relatively new that the expectations sometimes make it harder to do.

    Of course as with most things, so much depends upon the nature of the people who take up the calling. A lot of issues are less the programs themselves than how people run them.

  95. “Diversity of interests” is key and too often overlooked. Some girls do like to “do exactly the same activities” as the boys. Some girls do NOT want to do exactly the same things — but they still want to do SOMETHING. They do “fluff” because they know/believe/imagine they don’t want to go whitewater rafting but they don’t know what they want to do, so they fall back on what some leader’s sister’s ward did once and paint their fingernails.

    Too often we just don’t know what that “something” is, in large part because we don’t know what there is out there for us to do — nobody has introduced it to us before, and not everybody is the kind of genius innovater who can invent everything from scratch. The Scout programs wouldn’t be what they are, either, if every troop had to invent all the ideas without having seen what other troops have done. Maybe there should be a clearinghouse — unofficial, probably — of ideas that one ward has tried but that another ward isn’t going to dream up on their own. Most wards aren’t going to have a Cynthia to dream up ways of teaching coding, but they could do that activity once they know it’s a possibility.

  96. Former Merrie Miss says:

    I’m reminded of the unfortunate phrasing during the BSA leader controversy.

    “As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.”

    Fully one half of the church’s youth are female. Girls are either invisible or an afterthought.

    BTW, Ardis’ ‘Lords of Creation, and the walking pornography assigned to bake them cookies’ is pure genius.

  97. Even switching the order to “Girls’ activity” would be an improvement. “This Wednesday there will be a Girl’s activity at 7pm.” The day part of the name is particularly onerous when the girls meet at 7pm.

    That aside, I would rather kill the program and give parents the time to put their girls in something worthwhile, or fully copy the cub scout program. I’ve lived in two entirely different areas of the country and both required every single activity to be based off of the faith in God booklet. (Incidentally in both areas cubscouts and acitvity days each got $10 a month budget) Meanwhile cubs were encouraged to do it once a month (and didn’t bother). How can you have a reasonable “activity” based on discussing the first vision? Why can’t we purchase an extra cub book and let the leaders base activities off of that. Learn to use a compass, identify coins, make a paper airplane, visit a religious or historical site then make a display, play leap frog. Any of those would be far better than the constant reading, singing and journal writing my daughter has endured for the last half decade.

  98. Aussie Mormon says:

    An obvious solution would be to cut the ties with external scouting organisations. I believe there are now more members outside the US than inside it, and assuming similar family dynamics, it means that over half of the church’s primary age people are already using the Faith in God booklets for both boys and girls. As has been said in earlier comments, both of these books exist, and have for a while, so they’re there to be used.
    Get rid of the boy/cub scout links, which would also then also allow the re-inclusion of boys that would’t cope well with scouts (physical, social, developmental issues etc).
    Actually align things properly worldwide so that it’s actually a worldwide church, run as a worldwide church, rather than a worldwide church except for running things differently in mormon heavy parts of the US.

  99. I’m with Bethany. Activity Days (yes, dumb name) was my favorite church calling ever. We met at the building in the afternoon and had the whole building to ourselves. We could use the cultural hall, the kitchen — whatever we wanted. We had no oversight, and I operated on the direction I got from a member of the general Primary presidency that it was not our job to make sure the girls finished the Faith in God booklet. So sometimes, we did do those things, but only sometimes. The rest of the time we did whatever we wanted. So we went to museums, hiked, heard a female police officer, did a yearly book review and book swap, did pilates, played volley tennis and pickleball (instructed by a woman in the ward who was an Olympian), learned portrait-drawing skills (another ward member), had a bank officer tell us about finances and budgets, collected new stuffed animals to be delivered to the police station — just some of the things that come to mind. And yes, I’ll admit that we sometimes did crafts and cooking. And the lack of budget didn’t bother me. Most of these things can be done for free. (And much of cub scout budget goes for patches and such anyway.) I’ve been a cub scout leader, too — and this was more fun. I’ve also been a YW leader, and I agree with the person who mentioned inertia — so many silly activities. I would be sad if AD had a more rigid program and more oversight. Leave it alone (except for the name).