Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:34 AM

For Youth Conference this year, the kids ages 14-18 in our congregation are going on a living-history-type Pioneer Trek on June 1-3 in Cockaponset State Park in Connecticut. The youth leaders hope to recreate for these teenagers what life must have been like for the Handcart Pioneers.

The kids will be pulling handcarts 10-14 miles, then camping, cooking and eating, and (I'm quite sure) sleeping like the dead until early the next morning, whereupon they will get up and start all over again. They'll be wearing clothing of the period and will be separated from all of their beloved electronic paraphernalia. It should be quite an experience.

Patrick and I have been asked to be 'parents' to one of the groups of the youth. We are to travel with them and provide physical guidance and spiritual leadership along the way. To say that I am not excited about this trip would be a considerable understatement. Frankly, I don't see the point.

If I were in charge and had the goal of having the youth get a bit of the flavor of real frontier life, I wouldn't try to fake something. I'd have them build a real house for a real family with Habitat for Humanity. Or clear a piece of real land, chopping down trees and pulling stumps, for a real community garden. Or have them grind real wheat and make real bread by hand in a stone oven, then distribute it to the real poor. Or something where the exhaustion of really hard labor would be compensated for by the satisfaction of having really served someone else. Teenagers don't get enough of that kind of thing, in my (real) opinion.

But I'm not in charge, and I'm trying hard to quell my rebellious nature and keep my covenant of support for the church leaders, so I'm just moaning a bit right here and now. There. No more negative words from me on the subject. Now I'll buckle down and get ready for the trip. Because there is a lot to do in the next two months.

Patrick and I need costumes. Last night I browsed through some pattern websites, and here's what I have come up with. Patrick will wear this (he'll need three) and these (we're allowed to spurn authenticity in favor of proper hiking shoes). I'll make this for myself, with three different shirtwaists. I'll also be sporting this and this. Yes, you can trust me to find an excuse to knit something new.

I also need to brush up my recorder and pennywhistle skills for campfire entertainment. I'll be practicing the hymns from the 1835 Hymnal. I'm hoping my friend Karen (who has a much better attitude than I do) will bring her guitar, so that we can make merry together.

I'll be keeping to the running schedule I've been on, even though I know it would take marathon training (which I'm not doing) to be able to handle the Trek gracefully. But every little bit helps, right?

I need to prepare stories of pioneer ancestors--one of mine and one of Patrick's (he asked me to do his, and I agreed; he's got plenty more to do before then). Which to choose? We each have several colorful candidates with faith-promoting histories to relate.

Last but far from least, I will be praying for a change of heart and an outlook suitable for leading impressionable youth. Anything you want to add in that regard would be very welcome. Westward ho!
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On 26/3/07 , Amanda1 said...

Wow, this sounds like an intense trip! Lots of work for all just to prepare for the work you'll do while you're there!

On 26/3/07 , Jenna said...

I hear you, Luisa, I really do. But I sure wish I could come too! I may be going with our group since I was just called as First Counselor in YW. But I don't think it's completely pointless. I think it will create a spirit of the rich heritage that our pioneer ancestry has given us. If I could come with you and Karen and Patrick...oooooh! What fun! Try to be cheerful and a good sport.

On 27/3/07 , Anonymous said...

Louisa, my sister and brother-in-law did the trek in 2005. They began at the St. George Temple, taking the youth on the visitor's tour, emphasizing Eternal Marriage and families. Albert made muslin dolls, painted their faces, and dressed them in a baby outfit. They were filled w/10 lbs of wheat, and each 'family' on the trek had a baby to carry. During the trek one of the teaching moments was that each baby died along the way and was buried (under just grass and flowers). Then at a program a month later, all the babies had been cleaned up and were given back to the 'families' as resurrected children. The kids really had become quite attached to these babies. 'Raelene'

On 28/3/07 , Annette Lyon said...

These kinds of reenactments make me ill. I really don't see the point. When I was that age, our young women group went on annual hikes through the Utah Uintah mountains for a week, hiking Monday through Saturday. It was hard, but it was also one of the greatest things we ever experienced. We had the most amazing spiritual moments around the campfires, for starters, and by the time we came back (stinky, of course), we all realized that wow--I climbed some big mountains. That got us a long way through metaphorical mountains in our teenage years, too. And without silly bonnets and costumes. But that's just me. :)