Saturday, February 14, 2009

Multi-stake Youth Dance - What Worked, What Didn't

Coleen and I are the co-chairs of the youth activities committee for our stake, a group of 10 LDS congregations in our area. That means we are responsible for a series of events for the youth age 12 to 18.

Multi-Stake Dance

As part of that assignment, we hosted a dance last night for the youth ages 14-18 from Loveland, Longmont, and Greeley. Other youth were welcome to attend (including the 17 who came from Fort Collins, and any who may have come from Laramie or Cheyenne).

The dance was an interesting exercise to plan, host, prepare, present, and repair. In the spirit of "relentless improvement", here are my observations about the dance.

What Worked Great
  • The Eiffel tower that Matthew Pond created was amazing. He constructed an 8 foot tall Eiffel tower framework from 2x4 lumber. Dionne Lee covered it with butcher paper and drew squares on the paper to give the feel of the Eiffel tower. In an unexpected twist, many of the youth at the dance signed their names to the tower. Good conversation piece and a good centerpiece.

  • The chocolate fountain was a big hit and was surprisingly tidy. Coleen provided platters of rice krispie treats, bananas, apples, and angel food cake squares which the kids could dip into the fountain, then eat as a chocolate coated treat

  • Priority Five, an acappella group from Berthoud performed 4 songs, all with the intent that the songs were dance numbers, not performance pieces. The youth didn't seem to dance much, but we encouraged them to dance, and they were thoroughly impressed by a live performance from a first class acappella group.

  • A carabiner through an eye bolt is a great way to string lights in the gym, and makes it easy to remove them when the dance is finished

What Worked
  • Tourist posters from member photos of the destination (we used "France" as our theme, and used pictures from Brittany West's trip to Paris). Printing the pictures in poster size was easy (upload them to the Sams Photo Club site, order the pictures online, and pick them up), and they looked good

  • Use the decorations as prizes. We gave away the posters at the end of the night, some to committee members, some to raffle winners. The youth who received them seemed happy to get them, and we had a few less things to take home after the dance was done.

  • Good musical selection and disc jockey work from Christian Dunn. His sound system was excellent, his fees reasonable, and his music selection seemed to fit the youth very well.

What Didn't Work As Well
  • Postcards as a mixer activity. We distributed postcards to the youth as they arrived and invited them to have their dance partners sign the postcard. Once the postcard was signed with 7 names, they received a raffle ticket for the end of dance drawing. Some of the youth enjoyed the activity, and the 5 raffle tickets which were chosen all claimed their poster prizes, but it didn't seem to generate much enthusiasm among the larger group of youth.

  • Not enough setup and teardown help from the committee, in large measure because the dance was on a Friday night. Their school events and athletic activities compete for their Friday nights even more than they compete for their Saturday nights. I think teardown was also affected by the late hour. The dance finished at 10:00 PM, and we didn't leave the building until almost 11:00 PM.

What Didn't Work At All
  • Friday night is the wrong night for an event that requires significant preparation time. Coleen was on the run all day gathering food and supplies for the dance, I was on the run after leaving work early just before 4:00 PM, and still we had youth and adult chaperones arriving at the dance before we were ready.

    Saturday is the night for big events, not Friday

  • Don't forget the little details (need a checklist of little details to avoid forgetting them in the future)

    • Without keys to the church, setup will not happen

    • Buy much food early (as much as you can), since the day of the dance is filled with plenty of other things

    • Bring tools to the setup in case something needs repair or rework

    • Include more people in setup and teardown

    • Use an agenda during the chaperone orientation meeting so the meeting runs smoothly

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