Children and Youth program is not about goal setting — it’s about exercising faith in the Savior, Young Women and Young Men leaders say

PROVO, UTAH — The purpose of the Children and Youth program is not to teach goal setting, Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, told BYU Education Week attendees on Thursday, Aug. 19. 

“We’re learning personal revelation and we’re learning to exercise faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s what the program is about. … It’s becoming more like Jesus Christ in every aspect of life.” 

In the third of four sessions on “Understanding and Implementing the Children and Youth Program” Aug. 16-20, Brother Wilcox and Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, taught those gathered in the Marriott Center what the program is and how it can strengthen today’s children and youth spiritually, socially, intellectually and physically. 

Echoing what Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, instructed the previous day about accomplishing the work of salvation and exaltation, Sister Craven said the Children and Youth program is “a tool to help … live, care, invite and unite.”

“This program is to help our youth and children learn to hear the voice of the Lord and live by revelation as they become more like our Savior Jesus Christ,” Sister Craven said. 

She and Brother Wilcox explained in detail each of the three components of the Children and Youth program: service and activities, gospel learning and personal development. 

Service and activities

Brother Wilcox directed parents and youth leaders to the Children and Youth website, where they can find more than 100 ideas for service and activities. The JustServe website and app, he said, is another great resource for finding and coordinating local service projects. 

In addition to weekly activities, youth are also encouraged to participate in the following annual activities:

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, teaches about the components of the Children and Youth program, during BYU Education Week in the Marriott Center on Aug. 19, 2021.
Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, teaches about the components of the Children and Youth program, during BYU Education Week in the Marriott Center on Aug. 19, 2021. Credit: Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

Camping and service projects didn’t end with Scouting, he said. “Don’t sell your camp trailers.”

Now is the time for youth to get more involved in planning activities like camp. “We want them to not just be passengers or tourists experiencing camp. We want them to be part of the crew.” 

Brother Wilcox described FSY as the centerpiece of the Children and Youth program, where all three aspects of the program come together in a one-week experience. These conferences, modeled after Brigham Young University’s Especially for Youth conferences, include activities, devotionals and classes designed to help youth strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ.

After two years of being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FSY conferences are set to resume summer 2022

Gospel learning

All of the components of the Children and Youth program are “centered in the home and supported by the Church,” Sister Craven said. It’s important to be cautious and aware of those that might not have strong support at home. 

As children and youth study their scriptures with “Come, Follow Me,” attend seminary and go to their Sunday classes, they are participating in the gospel learning part of the program. The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth magazine and Friend magazine are also part of gospel learning. 

“We want them to be intentional about it,” said Sister Craven of gospel learning.  

Sunday quorum and class meetings are more than just lessons, she added. A member of the quorum or class presidency leads the “counsel together” portion of the Sunday lesson (found at the beginning of each lesson outline) to discuss the work of salvation and exaltation. 

“This is really a powerful time for our youth to band together and to unite to bring each other closer to Jesus Christ and help them stay on the covenant path,” she said. 

Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, teach about the Children and Youth program during BYU Education Week in the Marriott Center on Aug. 19, 2021.
Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, teach about the Children and Youth program during BYU Education Week in the Marriott Center on Aug. 19, 2021. Credit: Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

Personal development

More than learning how to set goals, the personal development aspect of the Children and Youth program is about learning to seek and recognize personal revelation, Brother Wilcox said. 

Instead of having a manual or booklet tell children and youth what to do, “we want them to look at God and say, ‘What do You want me to do?’”

“As we point these young people to Christ in a very deliberate, in a very intentional way, we will see the fruits of our labors. And I bear testimony that He lives, that He directs this work and that He inspired this program. … This is a program that is inspired for our time that will help young people accomplish the work of salvation and exaltation,” Brother Wilcox said. 

Sister Craven added her testimony: “The Children and Youth program is inspired. It is a way for our children and our youth to be focused with Jesus Christ at the center of their lives.”

The class series “Understanding and Implementing the Children and Youth program” concludes tomorrow, Aug. 20, with Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund. They will speak on “Shepherding the Shepherds: Helping Youth Lead.”

See more of the Church News’ coverage of BYU Education Week