FYI: For Your Info


What are you going to do for Halloween this year? If you dread this peculiar holiday because you usually end up bored to tears, scared to death, or worked to exhaustion from cleaning up after other people’s pranks, this section of FYI is for you. It’s full of ideas to keep Halloween fun, safe, and even service oriented. If you live in a place where Halloween isn’t observed, you might want to try adapting some of these ideas to other holidays in your area.

Treats, Not Tricks

Treat ’Em Right

How about giving a treat, not a trick, to your friends and neighbors around Halloween? Here are some ideas for seasonal service projects:

  • Get together with your Young Men or Young Women class, dress in fun costumes, then visit a local nursing home. Chat with the residents, and give them healthy Halloween treats if their diets permit it. They get lots of visitors around Christmas, but Halloween would be a fun surprise for them.

  • Write cheery Halloween words to use with tunes from your favorite festive Christmas carols like “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” or “Up on the Housetop,” and go “pumpkin caroling” at the homes of friends and neighbors.

  • Give out inexpensive school supplies to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door—things like pencils, pens, erasers, or sharpeners.

  • Volunteer to take your little brothers or sisters trick-or-treating, or take the neighbors’ kids, and make sure they follow all the safe trick-or-treating rules.

  • Hand out fliers ahead of time that list safe trick-or-treating tips. (See list that follows.)

  • Offer to paint neighborhood children’s faces to match their costumes. Some children won’t have costumes at all if their parents don’t have the time or the money, so a painted face could make their Halloween.

  • The day after Halloween, go through your neighborhood and offer to clean up after the pranksters. Remove squished pumpkins, splattered eggs, shaving cream, etc.

Halloween Safety Tips

  1. 1.

    Encourage the buddy system—make sure that no child goes out alone.

  2. 2.

    Pin a name and address on small children in case they get lost.

  3. 3.

    Make sure there’s an adult or a responsible teenager with every group of trick-or-treaters.

  4. 4.

    Be aware of area activities and who is sponsoring them. Many Primaries have special Halloween parties that provide a safe way for children to spend Halloween.

  5. 5.

    Make sure costumes are light in color so they’ll be easily visible. They should also be short enough to prevent tripping, and nonflammable.

  6. 6.

    Avoid masks—they obscure vision.

  7. 7.

    Limit trick-or-treating to the homes of people you know.

  8. 8.

    Make sure you stay on well-lit streets.

  9. 9.

    Make sure children eat well before they go out trick-or-treating, so they won’t be tempted to gorge on all the goodies in their bags.

  10. 10.

    Check all treats before letting children eat them. Throw away anything unwrapped or partially wrapped.

Express Yourself

So the stake is having another Halloween dance, and you have to think up a costume. If you’re tired of the same old witch or ghost routine, try some of these ideas:

  • Borrow a costume from a native of a foreign country—a sari, a kilt, etc. If your parents served a foreign mission, they might have brought back some native garb from their country. Or you might have some ancestral apparel stashed somewhere in the house.

  • Dress as a phrase—go as a “family tree,” a “blind date,” an “air-head,” a “banana split,” a “deviled egg,” etc.

  • Scour the newspapers and magazines for political or other prominent people you could dress as. Ever wanted to be a famous person? Now’s your chance.

  • Create a costume that represents your interests—if you cook, go as a chef. If you sing, go as an opera star. If you’re an athlete, go as a pro.

  • Be a famous character from literature. Lawrence of Arabia, Tom Sawyer, Cleopatra, Juliet, Hamlet, The Cat in the Hat, etc.

  • Go as a group. Get your friends together and dress as your favorite musical group, as a Boy Scout troop, as the three little pigs, as your favorite athletic team, as a mouthful of teeth (wisdom tooth, baby tooth, etc.), or as fruit salad.

Do You Know Jack?

  • Plant pumpkin seeds in the spring and raise your own pumpkins. Have a family or neighborhood contest for the biggest, smallest, and most unusual.

  • Hollow out the pumpkin, and fill it with sausage, corn, or other ingredients from your favorite stew, and bake it in the oven for a tasty holiday meal.

  • Save the seeds, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and roast them in the oven. Season them with salt and maybe butter. You’ll be surprised how good they taste.

  • Hollow the pumpkin, carve a smiling face on it, then line it with aluminum or plastic wrap and fill it with goodies for a friend.

Life in the Belfast Lane

If you’ve seen news clips on TV of violent conflict in Northern Ireland, chances are they were filmed at the bottom of the road where 16-year-old Sara Magee lives.

When violence breaks out, Sara and her family, “just shut the doors, pull the curtains, and keep out of the way,” says Sara. “Bottle and stone throwing carries on until the police arrive, firing a round of plastic bullets; then both sides turn around and fight them. Apart from that, it’s just like living anywhere else.”

Sara sees more strife than many because her school, where she is among the top ten students in her class, is right next to the Armagh Courthouse, where political prisoners are tried. “We have to go through plenty of fire drills, as it is a prime spot for bomb scares,” she says.

Also, her father, Portadown Ward’s bishop, as the town’s Chief Fireman, is often on callout to riot fires or burning vehicles.

But still, Sara’s family manages to maintain a normal, happy life. Since their ward has no pianist, left-handed Sara is learning to play the right-hand melody for Primary and sacrament meeting. Her true musical love is dancing, though, both at stake activities and in local talent shows, contests, and festivals.

Help for the Handicapped

Joseph Gent of the Bremerton First Ward, Bremerton Washington Stake, says that working with the handicapped in the Special Populations program has been the best part of the job he’s held for the past two years with the Bremerton Parks and Recreation Department. One of the handicapped boys he worked with has even been baptized.

Joe’s peers have noticed his talent for working with people and elected him to be their student-body president.

He starts out every day with early-morning seminary, which he’s been attending for the past four years.

Dig This!

Not only did Lynae Good of the Martinez Ward, Augusta Georgia Stake, get to work on a 12th-century archaeological dig, but she went to Russia to do it. Lynae was selected as an ambassador to the Soviet Union with the People to People Youth Science Exchange, by merit of her accomplishments in leadership, all-around academics, and science.

Lynae is the oldest of nine children and serves as Laurel class president. She plans to major in Russian and political science at BYU. Then, she says, she would love to serve a mission to Russia.

Treasure Hunt

by Neal Rackleff

When Scouts from the Vista Fifth Ward, Vista California Stake, were invited to participate in a treasure hunt, they knew from the start they wouldn’t be returning from the hills with mounds of gold. But if they were lucky, they would play a part in unraveling a mystery, and that was incentive enough.

Under the guidance of a researcher investigating the location of the Lost Dutchman Mine, they traveled into the Superstition Mountains near Mesa, Arizona, and spent several days visiting old campsites and learning about the history of the southwestern United States.

Like Indiana Jones digging for clues, they pored over local legends and folklore, studying about men who gave all they had to the search for gold. They also learned something much more profound—that a person can waste his whole life searching for worldly wealth instead of grasping the eternal treasures of the gospel.

“We learned to appreciate the beauty of the mountains,” said Harry Bakken. “It’s a treasure in its own right.”

“And we learned that when it’s hot in the desert, you’d rather have water than gold,” said Kenneth Weeks, the senior patrol leader.

The Scouts were also able to use the activity for fellowshipping, by inviting along a non-LDS friend.

Fantastic Gymnastics

There’s nothing like learning from the best. That’s what 16-year-old Cassandra Johnson of Laie, Hawaii, decided when she left her home island for Houston, Texas, where the promising gymnast could study with world-renowned coach Bela Karolyi.

Cassandra lives with Church members in Texas and comes home to Hawaii for Christmas and spring break. It’s not easy, but her family is proud that she’s able to do so much missionary work among her teammates—she’s already given out 16 copies of the Book of Mormon. She’s also active in seminary and won first place in the scripture bowl.

Cassandra keeps a tough schedule. She attends seminary at 6:00 A.M., practices gymnastics from 7:00–8:30 A.M., goes to school from 9:30 to 2:30, studies, then goes back to the gym from 5:00–9:00 P.M. She would eventually like to become a gymnastics coach.

A Track Attack

Robert Weighall of the Bakersfield First Ward, Bakersfield California Stake, cleaned up the track at the National Jr. Olympics meet held in Lincoln, Nebraska. Competing with 6,500 athletes from all over the country, Robert won three gold medals and a bronze. He placed first in the 13–14 age group in the pentathlon, pole vault, and long jump. He was third in the 100-meter hurdles.

Robert also plays on his school’s football, baseball, and basketball teams. But he still has time to go to early-morning seminary, be on the honor roll, and serve as deacons quorum president.

Math Meister

It all adds up for Elizabeth Thompson, 14, of the Bangor Ward, Bangor Maine Stake. She was the first student ever chosen to represent Orono Junior High in the National Math Counts competition.

The competition involves geometry problem solving. Elizabeth was in high form for the event, held in Washington, D.C. She didn’t win but gained invaluable experience.

Elizabeth would one day like to be more involved in engineering technology and archaeology, but for now she spends time getting good grades, reading, and being involved in sports and theater.

Service Supreme

by Shayla Chatterton

“Last year we had cable TV; this year we don’t even have TV!” wailed one member of the Dallas Texas East Stake. Their youth conference was to consist of winterizing Camp Grady Spruce on Possum Kingdom Lake, and at first many participants were not excited at the prospect of working outside in the 103-degree Texas heat. But they changed their tune.

They found that hard-working service was actually fun, as they cleaned, scraped, and repainted ski boats; hauled away 15 truckloads of brush; washed and cleaned tent and office areas; repaired windows and screens; and built a wood and steel fence and gate at the entrance.

Of course there was some fun included. Campfire songs, rapping, speakers, and a dance were some of the highlights. And the testimony meeting at the end capped it all off.

The results?

“Everyone worked so hard and quickly that the work was done much sooner than we expected,” said camp director Jan Beaty.

[photos] Photography by Steve Bunderson

[photo] Northern Ireland’s Sara Magee sees violence in the streets, but feels peace in church.

[photo] California Scouts agreed with Kenneth Weeks when he said, “We learned that when it’s hot in the desert, you’d rather have water than gold.”

[photo] Cassandra crossed from Hawaii to Texas to study with the best.

[photo] Maine’s Elizabeth Thompson knows all the angles.

[photos] Photography by Don Heit