Want a fabulous, fun and meaningful service experience for Activity Days or any or youth group? Here it is. We have done activities focused on individual worth and personal development and building relationships and we decided it was time to do an activity centered solely on service.
SECRET SERVICE MISSION
We pin-lifted this idea from theficklepickle. as our starting point. The girls became “Secret Service Agents” who received a top secret mission delivered to their homes in a large manila envelope. Click on the links below to see what was included in the “Top Secret Mission” package:
Susan (our leader who was in charge of the packets) pretty much just reworked the downloads from theficklepickle. Why reinvent something that was already done so well? Susan also included a different list of service ideas from this blog post by katharinemaries.com.
To personalize their Mission Packets we asked each girl to choose a “Secret Agent Name” which was used as the label on their envelope. Names could be a number or nickname or something they liked. We had “Agent Triple S Squid,” and “Agent Nerdy Bird,” and “Agent Flexken 2” but my personal favorite: “Agent M&M Mad Dog.” Oh, she’s fierce. All 42 pounds of her.
GOAL: Practice doing acts of service in a variety of situations and locations. Learn to see where they can help and act on those observations. Recognize the joy that comes from serving.
Two weeks before the night of the activity the girls received their Secret Service Mission Packets. During the next two weeks, they were to plan and execute a week’s worth of secret service. Seven days. Seven acts of service. Ideas were listed in their packets. Everything from taking shopping carts back, holding a public door open for others for 10 minutes straight and smiling at people to inviting someone to play, reading to a younger sibling, or baking cookies for a neighbor.
Each girl wrote down their service experiences each day. What they did, how they felt, and what the reaction was. They used this written report to share their experiences at our Recognition Night.
An invitation was included in the Top Secret Mission packet described above – delivered two weeks before the event. All parents were invited to attend with their daughters and everyone was encouraged to dress in their best spy gear if they chose. When they arrived to the activity we gave each of the girls a sticker nametag with their Secret Agent Name on it so they could stay in character.
During the weeks before the activity we asked the girls to wear their hair in a ponytail if possible and took profile pictures of each girl. We then cut out a silhouette from that picture, mounted it to a circle of cardstock (created by cutting it with an Xacto knife and a dinner plate as a template) and then mounted it again to a 12×12 sheet of cardstock. Tip: an easy way to cut the silhouettes was to print each photo in draft quality on a full-size 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper. Hold a white sheet of paper under the photo and cut around the silhouette shape in the photo to create your clean white silhouette cut-out. The photo becomes the pattern for cutting. Try to get as detailed as possible. There is no need to trace each picture to get a good silhouette so skip that step and simply use the photo as the pattern. Wearing their hair up somehow, made a much better silhouette than having it down.
The “secret silhouettes” became the backdrop for our activity as well as an ice breaker as each person tried to figure out who was who on the wall!
WELCOME + LESSON: Since we love to have the program focus on the girls themselves, we had a short lesson by a leader “Agent Hadley” who taught for about 7 minutes about the power of working together in our service efforts. She used this talk as a reference and emphasized the impact they all can make if everyone chooses to work together in their efforts to do a little service. Plus, she was funny. That was a bonus.
AGENT REPORTS: Each girl shared their Secret Agent Name and then reported on their service experiences over the last week. They shared their feelings about service and their favorite secret service ideas. If you’re thinking that this would take a long time, think again. 8-11 year-old girls like to talk for about 45 seconds each. Bam. Done. Move on to the next person.
SERVICE PROJECTS TO GO: Since the girls had spent the last two weeks focusing on serving within their sphere of influence, much of their effort happened in their own homes. We wanted to extend their service even more to the community. We moved to another room where we offered two other service projects that they completed with their parents. We wrote the instructions to each project on the board.
Service Project #1: “Thanks for Serving Me” Treats – 5 bubblegum packets each. They tied a tag to each little treat bag and were instructed to give them to people in the community who helped them. The bank teller, the crossing guard, the cashier…just keep them in the car or in their mom’s purse and hand them out when they receive help from someone else. What a better way to watch for service in their lives – not only were we encouraging them to give service but to be grateful for the service that was done for them as well. This idea was found here in the super comprehensive and creative list of ways for kids (and grown-ups!) to serve. We pulled it out to add to our experience of service that night.
Place all of the supplies on a table and let the girls choose which tags and treat combos they want to use. Another small table held the scissors and hole punches. A length of masking tape was a great way to help the girls measure the twine lengths themselves. We wanted them to be independent and paying attention to the set up of the activity helped them make that happen.
Here’s the download for the tags I created for this project. These can also be included in Project Life books or used as other paper crafting projects, tags, labels and cards. Click on the title below to download the tags. Print them out on basic cardstock (my go-to for church activities is a ream of white cardstock found at Wal-mart for about $5). Cut the tags apart and they are ready for your event.
Thank You for Serving – Tags
Service Project #2: Fleece Dog Toys – donated to a local animal shelter. The toys were then sent home with adopted dogs. Let me tell you – girls LOVE doing things for little doggies! Click here for instructions. Be sure to check with your animal shelter to make sure that these can be donated there – the dogs couldn’t use them at the shelter itself because of threads and fabric getting in the air circulation system but they were willing to send one home with each adopted dog as a keepsake.
We were done in about an hour. With everything. And look at what happened in that hour – it was an activity packed with meaningful contributions from each girl, parental involvement, and a way to extend their experiences beyond the activity itself. And we have loved hearing about their opportunities to hand out their thank you treats. It took some bravery on their part and the excitement they felt when they recognized service being done to them and then expressed thanks for it was thrilling.
We are so proud of them for taking on their “Secret Service Missions” so completely and energetically. And a shout out to the parents for supporting and encouraging them in their tasks. Plan ahead and do this activity with your youth or children’s group – it’s a keeper.
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