By Jennie Jones, former LDSHE Youth Conference Director
Each year about a dozen youth are chosen to be the Youth Conference Team, who plan the LDSHE Youth Education Conferences. This has been the driving force behind successful conferences for more than a decade now! One element they have interwoven into the culture and spirit of the youth conference is a spirit of inclusion they call “the spatula principle.”
The Spatula Principle
The concept is simple. When a person makes muffins, some splatters of batter inevitably stick to the outside of the mixing bowl. They must scoop it up with a spatula and incorporated into the batter. Our youth–of their own initiative–do this with kids at the conference who struggle to find their place.
They look for youth who are hanging out on the fringes. They scoop them back into the mix and help them connect and find friends. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Their leadership in this important work helps every youth leave the conference feeling like they made some meaningful connections; and had a wonderful experience with other LDS youth.
I have been blessed to see this principle in action many times during my work with the youth. I’ve seen “wallflowers” at the family dance gently encouraged to join a group of youth for a line dance. I saw a YCT member– involved in a circle of animated youth having a good time; notice a young man standing alone and leave the group to go strike up a conversation with him.
At our first conference in the West, the whole youth group banded together. They ensured that a young blind attendee had every opportunity to have an amazing time at LDSHE; including dancing, participating in field games. Our youths’ determination to include everyone is awesome to watch! It’s a huge part of what makes our youth conference so special.
Not every teen can be on the YCT, but every teen can use The Spatula Principle in his or her life. We can all be instruments in the hands of the Lord as we seek out others who are feeling down or lonely, and help to lift them up.