A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mission: Possible?

I wanted to post about Activity Days Camp, because it was a good time. For those uninitiated, "Activity Days" is the name of my church's activities for girls ages 8-11. For the past year or so, I've been helping to plan these activities. Before we take a break for the summer, we have a day camp for three days, and this year we had an awesome camp!

The theme this year was from Luke 1:37: "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." As we are near DC (and I have Pinterest) this translated to "Mission: Possible" with a "Secret Agent" theme.

Our first day was at the church building all day. For the first activity as the girls were arriving, they got "passports" and got to pick a Secret Agent name from a jar of adjectives/nouns.
Passports, made out of construction paper and "modge podge"

Set up outside the room when the girls arrived

For the record, my code name was the "Gentle Panda" which was pretty hilarious to me for some reason - maybe it's because panda describes my body physique pretty well. I used this blog post for the badges inside the passports, which also had some good ideas for adjectives/nouns for code names. Throughout the day, we had stamps that the girls got in their passports for each of the activities.

Our opening spiritual thought was on faith and we adapted this lesson from MormonActivityDays.com, which has some good lesson and activity ideas. I liked the idea about the apple seeds.

We then split the girls into two groups and switched between two activities - a cooking class and craft class. The cooking class made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. While the muffins were baking they also did a "secret agent" activity where they had to guess what a fruit was by smelling it (the bowls were covered with tinfoil so they couldn't see what was inside). The craft class got to do two crafts - homemade bath bombs (inside Easter eggs!) and decorating sunglasses with beads/sunflowers/puff balls and hot glue guns. Both activities were lots of fun, and not pictured because I try not to post pictures of other people's children on the internet.

I don't know why, but Primary leadership had asked us to somehow incorporate Family History into the camp, and so I came up with a fun activity (basically a Frankenstein monster of parts of this blog post and this blog post). The girls did a "Scavenger Hunt" with clues all over the church building. At each clue, the girls got another piece of their "puzzle" which was one of these blank puzzles that I had traced a blank family tree on to - each girl had her own puzzle with her name written on the back of all her pieces.

We divided the girls into two teams so they could race and gave each team a "clue box" with helpful resources to solve clues along the way. The clue box included Articles of Faith Cards for each team member, magnifying glasses, invisible ink pens, normal pens, notebooks, small copies of the Children's Songbook, and various decoders mentioned. The girls also got an envelope to collect their puzzle pieces.

Given that we have some very competitive girls, we laid down the following rules BEFORE handing out the clue boxes:
1) The entire team has to stay together (I didn't want the older girls to leave the younger girls behind).
2) Don't go in the Chapel - there are no clues in there (as I knew the girls would be running and yelling, didn't want them to be irreverent in the chapel).
3) Don't disturb the other teams clues (We had a "purple" and "pink" team - they had to leave the other teams clues where they found them...again, our girls are SUPER competitive).
4) Do the clues in order - don't open clues that you may see along the way to your assigned clue.

Here are the stops on the puzzle route:

Clue #1 - Mason Cipher
Both teams received this clue at the beginning as we met in the Relief Society Room. They got a Mason Cipher and a coded message to send them to their next clue (I split the route up so the girls did the clues in different order).
Mason Cipher and Substitution Cipher

Clue #2 - Mirror Image Clue
The team doing the clues in order found their next clue at the High Council Room. This clue was printed in mirror image so they had to go the bathroom to read it, and it sent them to the Bishop's office (idea from this One Creative Mommy blog post, but I didn't use her printout but created my own)

Clue #3
This stretchy word clue (courtesy of this One Creative Mommy blog post) sent them to the fridge in the Kitchen.

Clue #4 - Articles of Faith Fingerprints
This one was entirely my idea (and I'm pretty proud of it) - I made up some "fingerprints" that had the the Articles of Faith in very small type in between the lines of fingerprints. They had to arrange the fingerprints in order and then flip them over to reveal the message sending them to their next location. The message was "It is time to ACT" - this sent them to the stage for their next clue.
Fingerprints Clue!

Clue #5 -  Scytale Cipher
At the stage was a long strip of paper with their next clue - this one was hard for them to figure out, but both teams eventually realized that in their clue box was a paper towel tube, and if they wrapped the strip of paper around it, it sent them to their next destination: the Young Women's room. This was another clue idea from the One Creative Mommy post linked above.

Clue #6 - Article of Faith Recitation
In this room they had to figure out which two Articles of Faith have the same number of words, and then recite them in unison to the Leader we had stationed in this room - she verbally told them where to go next. For the record, Article of Faith #1 and #12 both have 18 words, and Article of Faith #9 and #11 both have 32 words, so there were two possible answers. This clue was a good place to split the teams, but the team doing the clues in order went on to the Primary room next.

Clue #7 - Substitution Clue
In the Primary room the girls were given a sheet with values like "B1" - which corresponded to grids in their substitution cipher (pictured above and part of their clue box). Once decoded, this clue sent them to the foyer (we had to specify which one because there are two in our building).

Clue #8 - Song clue ("Book Cipher")
For this clue, the girls had to use their Children's Songbooks - they were given a series of three numbers (for example, 18-27-4) which referred to the page number (18), word number (27), and letter of the word (4). That series of numbers spelled out their next clue, which took them to the Nursery.

Clue #9 - Circular Cipher
This was a "wheel within a wheel" cipher, where the clue told the girls to align "A" with a certain Article of Faith so they could decode the clue. Once decoded, the clue led to the Gym.

Clue #10 - Books of the Bible Footprints
Construction paper footprints had books of the Bible on them - they had to arrange them in order, then flip them to spell out the next clue. We were kind and gave them a hint to use song # 114 in the Children's Songbook, which has the books of the bible in order. This clue sent them to one of the Primary classrooms.

Clue #11 - Invisible Ink
This clue was a "blank" sheet of paper that had their clue written in invisible ink. In the clue box they had invisible ink pens I got from this spy set on Amazon (our girls loved having their own pens and notebooks). The pens had a light that revealed what was written in invisible ink, which was a message sending them to the next clue. (Again, this was a good place to split the teams - one team which started with clue #7 was sent back to clue #2).

Clue #12
At this point, the girls had 11 pieces of their 12 piece puzzle as they arrived back to the RS room, where we started. I told them to each start assembling their puzzle and pretty soon they all realized there was a piece missing. They were loudly wondering where the final piece could be, as I was whispering "Look at the Hymnbooks." They had to be quiet in order to listen to what I was saying to discover the final puzzle pieces hidden behind the hymbooks. I really liked using this idea to talk about the role of the Holy Ghost in Family History work and how we need to listen to the still small voice, who can show us where to find the missing pieces. It was an idea I stole from this LDS Activity Days blog post.

This scavenger hunt took A LOT of time - the girls probably spent an hour and 15 minutes on the various clues (especially since I planned the clues to go from one side of the building to the other, so they would use up some energy). Unfortunately we didn't have time for the girls to decorate their individual puzzles with their own family tree, but we let them take them home to decorate. It was also A LOT of work to plan and put the puzzles together - major props to my Dad, who came over the night before camp and helped me organize everything, which meant that I only stayed up til midnight instead of 3 a.m.!

After the scavenger hunt we had lunch - the girls brought their own but we had snacks and drinks for them as well. While they were
having lunch, some leaders went over to a hallway and set up this:

SO COOL, AM I RIGHT?!?! This was just red crepe paper (purchased at the dollar store) taped up along one of our hallways. At the end of the "laser maze" was an envelope for each girl which had in stencil: "TOP SECRET MISSION FOR: ______" and then we put each girl's code name (picked at the beginning of the day, you'll recall from above) on the envelope. Inside each envelope was a pack of gum with a label saying "Your Mission is Possible if you CHEWS to accept it" (I am so corny) and a copy of this secret service activity posted at the Fickle Pickle blog. We played secret agent music (this blog post has a good music list, but our girls' favorite was definitely just the Mission Impossible theme) while the girls navigated the laser maze to retrieve their envelopes and filled them out. We even let them do it again once they had completed their worksheet - they liked being timed to see how fast they could do it. This was probably their favorite activity of the day - we let them do it again while waiting for parents to arrive.

We switched between the laser maze and another service activity tying blankets and making cards for sick kids in the hospital.

The day went by so fast we didn't even have time for water games, but we did play one at the end where I had the two teams fill a water pitcher with a sponge (water relay). Their "reward" for winning was that they got to try to dump the water pitcher on me - I wasn't fast enough to outrun them and did get wet, but it was so hot that I didn't mind!
T-Shirts (Purple is my favorite color, can you tell?)

At the end of the day, we distributed their T-shirts and custom drawstring bags with their name of them. For the T-shirts, I used customink.com, it was easy even for graphically-design-challenged-me to design a shirt. For the bags, I used iron-on paper to transfer this message to the bags (be sure to flip the message so that it comes out right ways once ironed on - I did the first one wrong!).  I was surprised how excited they were to get bags with their name on them - this was definitely a big hit, and they used them for the other days of camp, which made it easy to identify everyone's belongings.

Drawstring Bags (I'm covering up the name...again, don't want to share personal info on the internet)

Day 1 was the most labor intensive - our other days were as follows, in case you're interested:
- Day 2: Indoor ropes course/trampoline park. While this was pricey, it was a lot of fun (we did it last year and the girls all wanted to go again). After a picnic at a local park, we did "paint your own pottery" at a local store, which the girls also enjoyed.
- Day 3: Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum in DC (the girls LOVED the Metro ride - we had a train to ourselves on the way back and they had A BALL). Then we finished the day with a pizza/pool party at a ward member's house.

Can I just say, it was fun, even if exhausting? I certainly didn't plan this alone (we have 5 AD leaders, and they all helped, along with parents). I'm glad that Activity Days Camp is only three days (unlike Scout Camp, which is 5 days). I'm sad that, effective tomorrow, I'll have a new calling and won't get to work on Activity Days anymore!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment