My husband and I work with the junior high kids at our church. We to offer activities that build relationships with each other and within the church body as much as possible. I think junior high kids are often mis-labeled as having bad attitudes and being difficult to work with. We believe this age group is the best age to set a foundation of what real friendships are, how to encourage each other, how to build others up, how to look at other’s needs, etc. That’s how
this idea began.
The Big Girl/Little Girl Sleep Over was an overnight at the church where each girl in the youth group requested a younger girl in the church to ‘buddy up’ with for an overnight event. The girls who didn’t know any little girls or who didn’t go to our church regularly, I assigned a little girl to them. First I got a definite list of Big Girls for the night. Then I personally called the mothers of the little girls to explain what we were doing and to invite them. That way, it came from one adult to another and if a little girl wasn’t available, I could substitute a new little girl with no hurt feelings.
The event went from 7pm until 10am the next morning. We held it at the church because there was more room for everyone! All the girls brought the regular stuff for a sleepover. The big girls brought their makeup and hair stuff. The little girls brought their favorite board games and favorite book to be read aloud and videos.
We made sure it was 1 big girl to 1 specific little girl. The big girl took complete charge of the little girl the whole time. We had a couple little games to help them get to know each other, then snack time, then we turned them loose to do the make up stuff! First the big girls did the little girls make up and hair and fingernails and toes. Then the little girls did the same for their big girls! We took videos and pictures of each pair. They surprised us and spent about 2 hours doing that! And they ALL loved it!
Then the big girls played the little girls’ board games. It was wonderful to watch the junior high girls playing “Pretty Pretty Princess” or “Clue Jr.” and interacting with these little girls (all about 4-6 years old). Big girls were in charge of getting little girls in PJ’s and getting sleeping stuff all ready. The girls even slept by each other.
Video time got most of the girls quieted down and ready to sleep. Then we let the big girls enjoy some time together after the little girls were all tucked in and asleep. In the morning the big girls got little girls fed and dressed and packed up and ready to go.
Both big girls and little girls loved it. It taught the big girls about mentoring and the little girls were enthralled that a teenager gave her so much attention. The parents of the little girls were thrilled with the junior high girls and the parents of the junior high girls were so proud of them. It was a positive experience that really touched a lot more lives than I expected.
We’ve decided to make it an annual event and the girls are already talking about next year!