May 16, 2005
Personal Progress Award
Posted by Gordon Smith

PersonalprogressA couple of months ago, I posted something on my son's Eagle Scout Court of Honor. Last night we had another important milestone event in the family as my daughter received her Personal Progress Award along with three other young women from the area. I assume that most of Conglomerate's readers will not be familiar with the Personal Progress Award, as it is a uniquely Mormon institution. It is probably misleading to compare the award to an Eagle Scout because the requirements are so different, but the concept is similar in that the Award is earned by accomplishing a series of tasks, called "Value Experiences" and "Projects." And for almost everyone in the program, the Award is the culmination of many years of effort.

The tasks are organized around the following values: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. Within each of these value categories, the young women are required to study and develop new skills. The study requirements  involve varied reading assignments and may include "field work," such as interviewing extended family. As for the skills, my daughter is fairly traditional, and she learned to make bread, designed and created her own quilt, and knitted all sorts of things. She also performed lots of service, which I am happy to report comes quite naturally to her.

The awards ceremony was held last night at our church, and it was a tear-filled affair. (The cause of all of the tears was a bit mysterious to me, but there they were.) All of the young women spoke about things they had learned, and with the exception of my wife -- who invited Laura's adult leader from Oregon to speak -- all of the mothers spoke, too. Being relieved of speaking duty was just fine with my wife, especially since Laura's adult leader is also one of my wife's best friends. I was in charge of the slide show, so my PowerPoint skills have finally found a useful purpose, and I credit the silliness of the slide show with putting an end to the tears.

The evening ended with a pot luck, which was quite wonderful, except that I had a hard time shedding a thought planted earlier in the evening by one of my friends: "Are you going to eat at the pot luck?" he inquired. "Do realize how many hands have touched that food?" Having read lots of cases about fast-food restaurants for my unit on franchising, I would have thought that this idea wouldn't bother me, but it did.

In any event, it was a wildly successful evening, and I am proud of my daughter -- who is not just a great teenager, but a great person -- so I thought I would share.

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