My ward (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) has a youth family history night coming up! The youth in my ward are planning on going to the Calgary temple about a month from now and they would like to take some of the names of their ancestors with them. (Why do Mormons perform vicarious baptisms?).
In order to baptize one of their ancestors, these youth will have to know the ancestor's name, approximate birth or death date, and a place where the ancestor lived. Ideally they will know more so that they can properly check that the ancestor has not already been baptized for the dead. Many of the youth in my ward will probably have trouble finding ancestors that have not already been baptized for the dead because their parents and grandparents and extended family will have already done it.
Asking the youth in my ward to find a name that they can take to the temple for baptism in a month's time is a tall order, but I believe it can be done (at least for some of them). However, since we don't have any time to waste, we need to make sure that everything runs smoothly when we meet with them. Here are some things that my ward leaders have done to prepare:
1. Make sure each youth has access to his/her LDS account. In order to submit names for the temple the youth will need to sign up for Family Search with their membership record number. They can get their number from the ward clerk. It's best if they do this at home to save time, but it's also not a bad idea to invite a ward clerk to the family history night so that he can look up numbers for any of the youth that come unprepared.
2. Each youth should bring four generations of family history information if they can. Family Search is a collaborative website, so the youth should be able to find many of their ancestors by collaborating with other people on Family Search (including their parents and other relatives). However, information for living people is private, so they need manually enter information on all of their living relatives and the first deceased ancestor for each line before they can access the information on their other deceased ancestors.
3. Train the youth leaders in advance. I think that the youth will be more excited about family history if they see that their leaders are also interested in it and know what they're doing. Also, one family history expert won't be able to help everyone at the same time. While we want to be careful to let the youth figure out a lot on their own, we don't want to leave them staring at their computer all night without any direction at all. And, since it's unlikely that the youth will be able to prepare a name for the temple in one night, the leaders need to be available to help after the family history night is over.
4. Try to get a computer for each youth. It's very difficult to learn how to do family history work abstractly. If the youth don't get to enter their own information and search for their own ancestors they are very unlikely to do it at home. That said, if there are siblings within the group, they could work together and, depending on the siblings, they might be more likely to continue at home together.
Our family history night is next week so I'll let you know how it goes!