A Nautical Night

Ideas for Planning an Embark-themed Young Women's Activity

So, my sister Karin happens to be super involved with the young women program at her church and recently helped plan a "New Beginnings" evening to welcome girls from the congregation who will be old enough to join the program during 2015.  Their theme for the evening was "Embark!" and they came up with so many fun ideas we thought it might be worth sharing here, in case they could be useful for other youth groups.  It might be getting a little too far into the year for "New Beginnings" gatherings, but there's no reason you couldn't use the same cool nautical tie-ins for a different activity any time this year.
Here are a few fun ways to embrace the "Embark!" theme:

embark lds anchor clipart
Cute logo Karin drew to go with the theme for 2015.

1. Blue and white color scheme.  

It might seem obvious, but honing in on a couple of colors can go a long way towards setting the tone.  Karin's group used these colors to help transform the space they were using from a standard meeting room at the chapel to something special that really grabbed the girls' attentions as soon as they walked in.

First, they covered a rolling chalkboard with blue butcher paper and used white cut-outs to create a backdrop.
Bulletin board lds

They also decorated with bunches of blue and white balloons.  To keep down expense, they opted to tie balloons together (through a little hole punched in the tie of the balloon) and suspend from the ceiling, rather than splurging on helium.

Cheap blue table cloths and labels made from blue-patterned scrapbook paper helped tie-in other parts of the room as well.


2. Name (and rank) badges

Since one of the goals of a "New Beginnings" evening is to help younger girls get to know the older girls, Karin's group decided to have stick on name badges for everyone.  She whipped them up on her computer using printable address labels, but the real fun came when she and the other leaders decided to give everyone a rank in addition to their names.  Most of the leaders were commanders.  The bishop was an admiral.  Girls were grouped based on their age with titles like "Lieutenant" and "Ensign."  Incoming girls were "New Recruits."

Aye aye, sir!

3. Small gift for new girls

Speaking of the new girls, Karin's group worked hard to make the youngest girls feel welcome.  The older girls had prepared "getting to know you" posters ahead of time that were on display, and the leaders prepared a fun favor for them to each take home:
Super fun favor for the incoming girls: "We won't make you POLISH the poop deck, but with this you can polish your nails."

Getting-to-know-you posters made by the older girls.

4. "Charm"ing keepsakes for all the girls

The new girls weren't the only ones to receive a small favor to help them remember the evening and its theme.  Karin and the other leaders made up these necklaces for everyone:
Embark gift idea
Anchor necklaces celebrating the "Embark!" theme.
You can buy something similar from Deseret Book for $9.99, but Karin's fabulous friend found these great anchor charms at FullLoveAccessories  10 for $2.65.  They paired them with chains (also found at a discount online) and pearls from Hobby Lobby and were able to make 40 necklaces for less than $40.

5. Fish and chips, anyone? 

Of course, what's a great activity without some great refreshments?  Here are some of the tongue-in-cheek ways they were able to incorporate the nautical theme into some yummy treats:

6. Spiritual sails

And finally, along with all the fun Karin and the other leaders hoped the meeting would be meaningful to the girls on a spiritual level and be a chance for them to share personal experiences that had strengthened their faith.  To accomplish this, they set up a wooden ship on one of the display tables, along with sails representing some of the values the young women's program emphasizes.  At one point in the program each of the older girls shared a brief thought they'd prepared about one of the values and added that sail to the ship.

The girls also sang an arrangement of Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy.

It sounds like a really special evening and I hope that someday when my girls get older they're lucky enough to have leaders like Karin to encourage them.  

Or maybe I'll eventually talk Karin into just moving to Alabama.  It could happen, right?  People in Alabama need cool pictures (like these) drawn of them too after all...right??

One final tip: ask around to see if anyone has any nautical-themed decorations they'd be willing to lend you for the evening.  Karin was lucky enough to find a few fabulous gems like this to display.  Awesome.


  1. So fun! Seeing all this makes me wish I was a YW leader again. Maybe someday. Great job, I'm sure that the girls loved it!

  2. Yay! It turned out to be such a fun evening!

  3. I agree with Alene - WOW! (I'm Sara's mom).

  4. I love everything about this - so creative and amazing!

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