National Consumers League

LifeSmarts and FCCLA: Strong traditions for a new generation


By Seth Woods, LifeSmarts Outreach Coordinator The last time I wrote for the Savvy Consumer blog, I reminisced about returning to my state’s LifeSmarts tournament. This time, I’m going even further down memory lane, to the FCCLA Leadership Camp in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. It’s a beautiful campus near a small farming town, and it had nearly been ten years since I had last been there. (Like many LifeSmarts players, I was also a member of FCCLA, and a rather active one at that: I was the State Parliamentarian my senior year.) I had been invited back this summer to discuss LifeSmarts, leadership, and the importance of consumer education. Things started out slowly, but the teens quickly became interested when the buzzers came out. To make things more interesting, we divided into teams based on officer groups. First we had the qualifying matches, some of which were very close (including a 90-70 nail-biter won by my successors, the VP’s for Parliamentary Law). But we weren’t finished yet: teams that hadn’t won were still eligible to qualify for a “wild card” spot for the Finals by earning a high score on the TeamSmarts multiple choice test. This is very similar to what FCCLA chapters can do to qualify for the National LifeSmarts Championship: either win their state tournament and represent the state, or earn a “wild card” by scoring highest on the special FCCLA TeamSmarts quiz in February. Thanks to a grant from Experian, the winning team receives $2,500 to fund its trip to the national championship, this year in Atlanta. (For more details, check out and click on “Welcome FCCLA.”) Once we had our finalists, it was time for the championship game. Instead of using the buzzers, though, teams faced “The Word Wall.” On a wall were 50 vocabulary terms, and each team had a rolled-up paper tube. A definition was read out, and the first to swat the correct term won the point. The first team to five points won the game. (Teachers, this makes a fun and easy classroom activity—again, check out our Web site for more ideas!) About ten minutes later, we had our winners. Gold medals (not really, it was “gold”-fish crackers) went to the Vice-Presidents for Membership, and the First Vice-Presidents earned second place. I was glad to see that these guys had picked up on LifeSmarts so quickly; the officers quickly understood the rules and were excited to show how much they knew. The state officers even wanted to play their own match after everyone had gone to bed! Of course, I was happy to oblige; this may have been the first recorded instance of “Midnight LifeSmarts.” Everyone had a great time, and it was especially meaningful to me. Not every day can you bring something new back to your roots!