There is always a debate over the question as to how far the church shall go in promoting Recreation as a part of its program. there are still a few who think that the Church has no responsibility for aught except purely ‘religious’ things. Other enthusiasts hold that the Church should provide for all the recreational life of the community. On the whole, the modern church, with a social gospel and a program of religious education, considers recreation an integral part of its program.
– The [MIA] Community Activity Manual, 1935-36
By today’s standards, with so many opportunities for private recreation, the ward recreation schedule for 1935-36 seems overwhelming, with a major activity every two weeks – and that doesn’t even count the socials held by auxiliaries other than the MIA, the Relief Society bazaar, class parties, Boy Scout outings, banquets, and a very elaborate system of tournament sports (which in 1935-36 included basketball, baseball, tennis, volleyball, horseshoes, and quoits). Nor does this list include stake activities, conferences, general church activities, nor the many hours of preparation that would go into any of the ward activities scheduled that year — and they were ward activities, not solely youth activities. The MIA manual includes elaborate instructions for each of the activities listed here.
Before you decide this is overload, though, think of how you spent your free time last week – and recognize how many of those activities would have been unavailable to you in 1935-36, either because the technology hadn’t been invented or because of Depression-era poverty.
Ward Social Activities Scheduled by the MIA in 1935-36
M.I.A. Opening Social
To provide an evening of sociability where all the members of the ward can meet in a great mass gathering to felicitate each other on the opening of the season’s active work and express loyalty to the group who are charged with providing the leisure time program for the ward.
To center an evening of happy, joyous play around a unique event, and provide wholesome direction for its traditional activities.
Ward Fair or Carnival
To win cooperative action of all Church agencies in a festive occasion, and (where wards are on a budget system) to give opportunity for the raising of funds.
Ye Olde English Party
To vary the ordinary dancing party by introducing novel features of English flavor, in order to prove that variety is the spice of life, and ward recreational life may be improved by means of a little spice.
To give opportunity for this group of young people to express their ideas and ideals along lines of model entertainment.
To socialize the group and develop a cooperative spirit among all auxiliary leaders in an exhibition of loyalty to the Church program.
Old Time Party
To renew the delights of old-time social life and revive some of its customs in which adult and youth can participate in real enjoyment.
To give opportunity for wholesome entertainment and cultural and educational development through the presentation of a carefully selected and well produced play.
Christmas Cheer Week
To promote true Xmas [sic] spirit – with caroling, Christmas tree, presents for the children, public programs, and a joyous, friendly time for all.
To endow the ever-popular dancing party with new atmosphere, providing for the delightful informality which is the foundation of spontaneous enjoyment and the guarantee of real sociability.
To provide an evening that will give to the community the best that has been produced of this interesting type of modern entertainment.
Gold and Green Ball
To feature in beautiful arrangement the M.I.A. Colors, endearing to the hearts of all their significant meaning, and to combine beauty, art, culture, and comradeship in a glorious occasion.
One-Act Play Festival
To provide for friendly rivalry in achieving the best that is possible in this universally loved art.
To provide an occasion where youth can express in a social way their love and respect to parents and friends.
Ice Carnival or “Snow Ball”
To promote active interest in the finest of all fun – winter sports; and to carry the exhilaration of this day-time activity into an appropriately arranged evening event of genuine joy and comradeship.
To unite all members of the ward in a great family gathering where with song, banquet, speech and dance, everyone is made to feel the ward family spirit.
To celebrate an ever-popular occasion in a delightful and beautiful manner, details being introduced which demonstrate the fact that games and decorations contribute as much to the complete success of a community gathering as do music and dancing.
To provide for a large participating group musical and dramatic training and for the public a delightful form of entertainment.
Scout Jamboree – Bee-Hive Swarm Day
To give opportunity for the participating organizations to present the delightfully entertaining features of their program, and receive recognition for their achievements.
To make use of the experience and knowledge of those in the community who have seen the world and can tell about it in order to stimulate among the people greater interest in world conditions and affairs.
To arouse the spirit of friendly competition which adds the impetus necessary to insure the finest type of entertainment; to increase stake loyalty through solidarity of purpose and effort among the various wards.
To cap a season of rejoicing with an event unique to the occasion, and invest a ward entertainment with the atmosphere and charm which is so easily achieved at an Easter celebration.
To bring to a delightful culmination the M.I.A. season’s activities in contest and demonstration featuring the outstanding talent and ability of community members.
Fathers and Sons’ Outing – Mothers and Daughters’ Day
To develop between the two generations appreciation of each other, and demonstrate, through this opportunity for mutual expression of love and interest, the fine possibilities for complete understanding to be found in play.
Independence and Pioneer Day Celebrations
To renew in every heart the hallowed memories of the sacrifices made by those who have gone before, and to prove our gratitude for our marvelous heritage of freedom through concerted expression of love and respect which bind our devotion to the living as well as to the dead.
I expect to be in the minority, but I think this schedule sounds fun!