Thursday, February 27, 2014

Amazing Race Youth Conference - Day 1

I've finally decided to bite the bullet. We've had many people ask about our Amazing Race Youth Conference that Bob and I were in charge of a few years ago, so I thought the best way to get the info out is to post it here.

Let me start by saying that when they called us to be in charge, they actually asked me, and were sort of afraid to ask Bob, seeing as how he was in a fairly demanding calling at the time (high council), and they didn't want the stake leaders to frown upon him being asked to be in charge of youth conference. So, they asked me, and said, "We think it would be awesome if you and Bob did it together... as a team... that is... er..., if he has the time". And of course, he made the time.

Now, another thing that I have to make absolutely clear is that we started in March, and we planned and planned and planned til we were almost cross-eyed. I'm serious. We roped my young adult age kids into helping, and they can attest to the fact that we actually had nightly meetings, albeit on our bed and in our jammies. We would talk about what we got accomplished that day, and what needed to be done the next day, etc.

We went out every Friday afternoon and drove to one (or more) of the venues that we would be stopping at during The Race. We timed the drive, timed the activity at the venue, and figured out all of the details that would be needed at each stop.

It was a lot of work. There, I said it. BUT, what youth conference isn't a lot of work? It takes a lot of organizing and preparing and meeting to be able to pull off a smooth youth conference, no matter what you're planning. And, having said that, I can also say that we loved every minute of it. We loved working together, and with our kids, and the other adults that were helping us.

So, I'm going to do this in a few different posts, since there is a lot of information, and frankly, I don't want to overwhelm you with information.

Our Amazing Race Youth Conference was three days long. We did activities that were all in our valley, so that the kids could go back to their homes and sleep there. That saved on lodging expenses, so it worked perfectly for our needs. We wanted to spend the money on the activities and food and such.

We did have each youth pay $10.00 to be involved in the youth conference. This helped defray costs, and also that got us a firm commitment as to who and how many would be coming (and everyone who initially committed, ended up coming!). As part of their permission slip and information form, we asked for their t-shirt size, so we were able to order t-shirts in advance of the activity. Before we ordered the t-shirts, we divided all the kids up into six different teams, along with an adult couple that would be their team leaders. Each team was a different color, so we ordered the t-shirts in the different team colors for every member of each team. We had seven teams in all: red, orange, gray, yellow, blue, tan and brown. Green shirts were for the Race Helpers.

On the weeks prior to the race, we made announcements and talked it up quite a bit to get the kids excited about it. We found a Travelocity Gnome, and even just seeing that, got the kids really anticipating the activity. We made up a flier that had photos of the gnome in some of the places we'd be going on the race. None of the places were obvious, but it got the kids thinking and wondering...

The kids didn't know ANY details about the activity, except that it was The Amazing Race, and they were all very excited! In fact, the bishopric didn't know anything (because each of them and their wives were Team Leaders), and of course none of the other Team Leaders knew anything. We had to keep it that way so that all of the events were surprises and no one knew what was around the corner.

We did have a meeting with all of the Team Leaders (the couples that would be in charge of each group) prior to the activity. We talked about our objectives, which were: to help build unity in our youth group; to help the youth appreciate the history of the Church in our Salt Lake valley; to give them opportunities to serve; to help the youth feel the spirit; to help the youth understand the importance of the temple in their lives; and, to help the youth have a great time. We also gave the Team Leaders a list of things they needed to bring and have in their cars: scriptures, small first-aid kit, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, digital camera, 2 pairs of good fabric scissors (for the first night only), Driver's Race Packet (which was given to them on the first day of the race), a cooler with ice (Friday and Saturday only), race tickets (given to them the day they were needed), hand sanitizer, and cell phones.

All of the above is all just a brief synopsis of the details in the planning of The Race. We had handouts and meetings, and excel worksheets, and lists, and on and on. All of which, were very important, but are not included in this post. It would be WAY too much information. We're already going pretty long on information here. So, I'll move along to the meat of the first day of The Amazing Race...

Day One: We all met at the church in the evening, at 7:00.

When we got all of the kids and adults assembled, we began with a short devotional by Bob. We then explained some of the ground rules for the youth conference (no running through public areas, involve all team members, do each activity as outlined, no use of cell phones to aid in finding answers to clues, no electronic devices of any kind allowed for the youth... leave cell phones at home, obey traffic laws, etc). After that, we directed them to seven different over-sized Word Search puzzles hanging in the room. They had to look at every Word Search puzzle til they found their name, circle it, and then that particular puzzle indicated to them which team they were on.

The poster also indicated which room they should go to. When all of the kids were gathered in the rooms (where the Team Leaders were waiting for them), they were able to open the first Amazing Race clue to tell them what to do next.

I used my printer to print up loads of yellow envelopes to look similar to the ones on the Amazing Race show, 

and they became very familiar to them and were always waiting for them before or after each stop. The first clue said, "Your first task as a team is to finish this stack of blankets so that they are ready to be delivered to Primary Children's Hospital. Follow the attached instructions carefully and work together as a team. When the blankets are finished, return to the meeting room to have them checked off and to receive the next clue. After having the blankets checked off, put them back in the box and place them in your team car for use later in the race. Return all other supplies to the Task Supervisors and straighten your work room before you leave".

So, the kids and their team leaders went to work cutting fleece blankets. There was a stack of fabric, yardsticks, masking tape, and instructions waiting for them in their work room.  It was awesome seeing the boys and girls and leaders all working carefully and quickly on their fleece blankets. When they finished all of the blankets, they brought them back to Bob and I (who were the Task Supervisors for this task), and we checked them and gave them their next instructions, which read: "Your team must now make its way by car to the Draper Parks Pavilion within the ward boundaries. Park your vehicle and follow the markers to find 10 words that will lead you to your next destination."

Once they arrived at the pavilion, and got out of their car, they had to look around a bit til they found signs that were posted down along the trail...

Of course they ran from sign to sign! The signs read, "Get back in your car and go to the Wright's", with each word being on a different sign, so they didn't know where they were going til they read the very last sign.

At the Wright's, we had our Amazing Race clue box (that Bob and I made with a mail box and some scrap wood), and they found their next envelope in there. 

This envelope had instructions as to what they were to do at the Wright's house. Plastic balls (like the ones in ball pits at play yards) had been hidden all over the Wright's yard. The teams had to send one player at a time, using every member on their team, and find a specific color of ball and bring it back to their team bucket. When they found 10 balls of that certain color, and had them in their bucket, they had to then run as a team to the Amazing Race mat and check in. The order that the teams came in to the mat were the order that they would be leaving in the next morning. 

We served refreshments after all the teams had finished, and then the kids were loaded up and taken back to their homes. We told them to be at the church at 7:30 in the morning for a long, fun-filled race day that next day.

Now, that evening's events were just a tiny taste of what was to come. They were told they would be getting their race t-shirts the next morning, and we kept telling them, "Get some sleep... you're going to need it!" And we weren't over exaggerating that at all, as you'll see in the post about Day 2 (coming right around the corner).

For information about the entire Amazing Race, 
click below on the specific days.


  1. This is incredible! I bet the youth love you for such a fun activity!

  2. Wonderful. That was incredibly awesome.