Revitalizing Those Tired Activities

by Clark L and Kathryn H. Kidd

As we plan and execute ward activities, there are always those old standby activities that we sponsor because everyone knows you should have them.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t use a little imagination to make them fresh and new.  Nobody wants to see the same activity year in and year out, right down to the menu.  If all your ward dinners are exactly alike, how are you going to remember them in the future? Putting a new spin on an old activity not only makes it more exciting for ward members, but it makes it more exciting and challenging for you as the activity planner.Think of it as a challenge to take a common activity that every ward has, but to transform it into an unforgettableactivity that people will be talking about for years to come.    

During the past few weeks, we heard about a terrific spin on an old idea.  A ward in Nevada took a tired old blood drive and turned it into an amazing activity.  The tongue-in-cheek name for this activity was “Bleed ‘Em and Feed ‘Em'” and that’s exactly what the ward did.

This letter comes from Mike Stanger, the high priests group leader.  He stresses that most of the credit for this great activity comes from his assistant, Mark Cordner, and from group member Johnny Valdenegro.

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“I wanted to share a very positive experience I had this weekend. All the wards here in Las Vegas have been assigned the responsibility of hosting a semi-annual blood drive. The bishop assigned it to our High Priest Group. When we called the blood service to schedule a date, we ended up with August 30, which wasn’t great, considering how many of us like to travel on Labor Day weekend.


“We were determined to make it a success. Our first concern was to give those who can’t donate for various reasons something to do (many of the High Priests fell into this category but still wanted to help). We decided to host a pancake breakfast simultaneous with the blood drive. Both breakfast and blood drive ran from 7 a.m. to noon.  I jokingly referred to the event as “Bleed ’em and feed ’em.”


“Our second concern was what to do about all the families with little kids who might use the kids as an excuse not to come. We rented a few jumpers and bouncy castles and set them up in one half of the gym, with the tables for the breakfast in the other half. We also had crayons and paper and videos in the primary room for when the kids got worn-out from jumping. We had High Priests supervising the jumpers and the primary room. This way, Mom and Dad could go give blood while the kids played.

“Our final concern was that we wouldn’t get good numbers with the Labor Day holiday, so we made sure we printed lots of fliers and asked each priesthood holder to distribute at least ten to his neighbors or co-workers. This worked great. It was a very positive experience. Instead of the threatening ‘JOIN MY CHURCH!’ assault (which is what so many service projects turn into), we offered people the opportunity to serve others, get a nice breakfast, and some entertainment for the kids on the side. As a result of the outreach, we had more non-member donors than members. I’m sure many of them had never set foot in an LDS building before.

“This activity taught us what it means to be the salt of the earth. Just as salt helps bring out the inherent flavor in food, we brought out the inherent good in our neighbors. Our plan now is to try to have a quarterly service project that can be used as a community outreach on a similar level. Every six months we will have a blood drive, and in the quarters in between we’ll try something else. Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.”

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Next time you get assigned to organize a ward activity that has been done before, try to see what you can do to make it new for your ward members.  Just as with the Bleed ‘Em and Feed ‘Em, there are ways to take the most boring and pedestrian activity and turn it into something that will attract your ward members and – equally important – attract members of the community

Timing can also be important.  We live in an area that was recently visited by hurricane Isabel.  Suddenly the idea of being prepared for emergencies is a lot more interesting to the average citizen than it was two months ago. A sharp activity planner will see this as an opportunity to teach a preparedness fair for the entire community. What may have been a tired activity in May is now a hot topic in October.  Most people recognize Church members as being experts in this area, so why not reach out to the community in a way that will involve the ward? 

Up until now, this column has focused on general ways to organize your activities.  Now, thanks to Brother Stanger’s letter, we’re ready to open up this column for your ideas.  Please send us any ideas for activities that you’d like to share with others.  If we can turn this column into an idea exchange instead of just pontificating without , this column could become a great resource for beleaguered activities chairmenor anyone tasked with planning activities.The microphone is yours, readers. 

If you have any ideas of how you took a tired idea and made it sing, please write to us at [email protected].  Be sure to put a subject line of “Meridian Activities” on your letter so we’ll be able to distinguish it from spam, and be sure to let us know if you don’t want us including your name (because otherwise we’ll be giving you the credit).