Chocolate. It’s the universal token of love (especially when you are surrounded by hormonal teenage girls every single week).

That’s why, when I first decided to become a SGL to a group of situationally manic teenage girls, I implemented the tradition of “The Candy Bucket”. Now, this was not your average rinky dinky beach-time sand pail. No, my candy bucket was a well thought out, two-tiered, air-tight plastic storage masterpiece designed to separate the chocolate from the “other” so as to keep the Snickers from tasting like Sour Patch Kids and to keep the Twizzlers from tasting like Twix.

For four years, The Candy Bucket traveled everywhere our small group went. I introduced it at our very first meeting, packed it full of fresh candy for our fall (and winter and summer) retreats, carried it up the stairs to our Sophomore year meeting space, down the hall to our Junior year meeting space and lugged it out of the pantry and into my living room for our weekly Senior year get togethers.

The Candy Bucket was present for 3 AM dance parties, 8 AM breakfasts, volatile debates, tearful apologies and everything in between. When our small group time grew stale, simply passing The Candy Bucket around the circle one more time could bring out hesitant questions or comments that may never have been given the time to surface. I believe there was something in the act of eight body-conscious teens admitting they were all capable of downing a dozen mini Butterfingers in one sitting that allowed for them to let down their walls, open up the conversation and meet each other on the same playing field.

So why am I bragging to telling you about the brilliance of The Candy Bucket? Well, I’m not sure if making a habit of hitting up candy sales (post Halloween and Easter are a candy lover’s dream) was the reason my girls were able to let loose and feel comfortable opening up with one another… I’m just saying it didn’t hurt the cause.

So, what’s your candy bucket? You don’t have to break the bank in dentist bills to get your few to connect with each other. But having an incentive, a treat, a commonality that brings everyone to the same level and encourages your few to stay just a few minutes longer may be just the thing you need to take your circle to the next level. So while you may never be able to replicate the brilliance of the original Candy Bucket, I encourage you to find your own tradition for your group—to implement a “thing” or practice that bonds your few and keeps them coming back week after week… and to never underestimate the power of chocolate.

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Lauren Terrell

Lauren has a degree in elementary education, led the same high school small group for the past 4 years, and will soon be learning the ins and outs of the preschool world as she and her husband clamber through parenthood with their new baby girl.

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