In our family, General Conference traditions are summed up in one word: tents.
(No, maybe two. Tents and treats.)
We love the story of the people who pitched their tents toward the tower the prophet-king Benjamin stood on so that as many people as possible could hear his counsel, testimony, and teaching. The “towers” used to project our prophets’ words may be different today, but Mosiah 2 has become a starting point for every General Conference. We read his words and then each child gets to set up his/her tent, using sheets and tables and blankets and pillows. (Another family uses real tents. Since we aren’t a camping family, we make our own!)
Eight hours, you may ask? Do children actually sit for eight hours and listen to people talk about religious things?
Of course when they were really little, it was hard to keep their attention, and kids will be kids, but my children really do love General Conference and usually do watch the whole thing (not all kids have that kind of attention span, though, I know).
My daughter (age 10) got really excited last night, in fact. “General Conference is this weekend!” she exclaimed with sparkling eyes. When conference sessions end, my children will usually groan. “Nooooooooooo! We don’t want it to end!”
It’s really a wonderful time. As a family, we slow down and hunker down and just enjoy feasting on God’s word through his living prophets and other inspired leaders (both men and women). I think family traditions, even simple ones like tents and treats, can make it all more something children can look forward to.
I love my friend’s tradition of pulling out their stash of legos while they listen. And crepes. Doesn’t that sound divine?
If you are Mormon, what traditions do you have at General Conference time? If you have posted about your traditions on your blog, link to it so others can enjoy!
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Around this time, we get a lot of requests for preparing for General Conference. Following are some links and resources to help you get ready, both to prepare beforehand and to encourage children and youth to engage in active listening.
The General Conference page at lds.org has reading material for preparing for General Conference:
- Read about why we need prophets today.
- Read President Uchtdorf’s three basic steps of preparation.
- Review the highlights from last conference.
- Read how to prepare your children.
- Review the blessings of general conference.
- Ponder and record what concerns and questions you need inspiration for.
Preparing for LDS General Conference: This list by Emily Jensen over at the Bloggernacle Back Bench has a bunch of links for General Conference activity ideas, printables, and more.
General Conference Notes Worksheet for Youth or Children – prepared by Nathan Richardson
Read other posts about how Mormons like to enjoy General Conference weekend.
I heard an idea we’re trying this year–setting out a platter of treats which correspond to each apostle (gummy bears for Uchtdorf, toffee for Christofferson, cookies for Cook, heart snack for Nelson, etc–a little creativity required to come up with them!), and getting the kids excited to feast on the word when they get up to speak. I taped their photo to each item and my son eyes the platter every day in anticipation… I also added Hershey’s kisses for female speakers 🙂
My children are older now (teens+) so we don’t do the coloring packets and word searches and things like that. They each have a notebook and they take notes about things that occur to them as they are listening. But the part that they really look forward to (I’m raising some boys and I’m a realist) is the food.
We feast during General Conference, just as we feast at holidays. We plan the menu days before. There are foods that we only have then and the kids love it, genuinely looking forward to it. We started that when they were young to help them love conference, and now they love conference for the way they feel and the thoughts that come so much more easily to them during that time. The food that was once the center has become a metaphor.
Now that my oldest has a daughter, we do the four general sessions at their house so that she can take naps as needed. She is learning from the joy her parents and aunts/uncles have that this conference is a good thing, as she goes from person to person getting treats and having them snuggle her into a lap for a few minutes.
It’s our favorite time of year.