My truly-adorable niece Lizzy has echoed the opinion for several years that all the cute boys are in Utah.
We decided to prove her right.
Mormon youth are advised to wait until age 16 to date according to For the Strength of Youth
(forever and always hereafter referred to as the FSOY). In addition to the age restriction, our teens are counseled to date in groups. It’s fantastic advice, but requires a fair amount of organization for 16 year old boys: find friends who want to go on a group date, plan an activity, ask out the cute girl from math class (and when she says ‘no’, call the girl from Biology, then English, then the grocery store…ok, anyone!)
We ask a lot of our youth, and I believe in return we can help them out a bit. By organizing a series of simple and inexpensive group dates for Lizzy’s sweet sixteen visit to Utah, we gave a huge group of kids the opportunity to meet new people, practice basic dating etiquette and glean ideas in a completely non-threatening environment (no planning or scary phone call involved).
Originally, I named the endeavor “Dating 101.” But Hans found that ever so slightly insulting (some boys have no trouble planning or calling). So as we created the Facebook group to invite his friends (of all faiths– not just Mormons), we coined it “four days; four dates.”
Day 1- hike and cookout in the canyon
Day 2- ice blocking and movie in the park (our county provides free movies in the park every Friday night)
Day 3- downtown photo scavenger hunt (everyone said this was the most fun. They simply made a list of items or people to find and “capture” with phone photos– a man with red pants, orange construction cones, something that costs $29 etc.)
Day 4- Games and ice cream at Hans’ house. No name drawing, just a big Sunday night gathering.
The rundown: meet at Hans’ house at 7 pm, all girls names go in the popcorn bowl and the boys choose a name. The name you choose or are chosen by is your date. Of course everyone will talk and get to know each other, but that person must be your first priority: get to know them, sit by them, open the door etc.
Hans, Lizzy and our friend/planning partner Jessi, went on faith that the numbers would be even and with a few last minute phone calls, they succeeded each night.
Note I say Hans, Lizzy and Jessi– I stepped out of the picture– except to take a few pictures– after helping them set up the initial outline. It was important for them to take charge, and they did a great job. If I’d hindered them by lecturing on proper behavior or leading ‘get-to-know-you’ games, I think the effort would have fallen flat.
Hans endured a fair amount of girl giggliness as they planned and called. But I think he enjoyed it. Because Lizzy arrived the day after we returned home from Europe, she spent several nights at Jessi’s house until Hans accused Jessi of “stealing my cousin.”
Saturday night, we brought home four extra 16 and 17 year olds from the Parker Bradford Memorial Hike. I was impressed these kids would jump in the car with us and sleep in my basement on a last minute invitation. Everyone was thrilled to have participants from Singapore, Switzerland, California, Pleasant Grove, San Diego and, of course, our own East Millcreek. And I must say, cute boys (and girls) come from every corner of the planet, not just Utah.
We’ve never heard of anyone planning a similar event, and were unsure of how it would be received, but everyone invited was flattered and enthusiastic. Friends who hadn’t been to our house in years showed up and I think even those who weren’t able to come were happy to be invited. For several of the kids participating this was their first date. I love to think “four days; four dates” set the precedent for happy camaraderie, simple, inexpensive activities and genuine fun. Let me know if you try it in your area– I’d love to hear your ideas.