Priesthood and Young Women leaders from four regions in Orem and Provo, Utah, seemed to be rushing the season a bit. On Jan. 16, after having shoveled snow from driveways to attend meetings at a stake center in Orem, the leaders cooked food on outdoor fires and tended camp-related injuries and mishaps more common to summer activities.
Rather than rushing through winter, they were preparing for summer.About 600 leaders participated in the Young Women camp program workshops. They were from 28 stakes that share in the use of Camp Mia Shalom, a girls camp in central Utah.
The gathering was the second Saturday that the leaders had spent in leadership training and instruction pertaining to the Young Women camp program.
The first workshops were held Jan. 9. Carolyn J. Rasmus, Young Women administrative assistant and general board member, was the keynote speaker during the opening session. More than a dozen classes and demonstrations were conducted in conjunction with the workshops, designed to help leaders learn how to:
- Encourage spirituality among young women at camp.
- Organize before and during camp.
- Discover fun ways to evaluate certification skills.
- Teach nature appreciation.
- Develop a year-round camp program.
Participants had some hands-on experiences relating to various aspects of camping. In classes and demonstrations on cooking, for example, leaders prepared food without the use of standard stoves, learned how to make cook stoves from cans, and tried out recipes created especially for outdoor meals.
Sister Rasmus referred to what President Ezra Taft Benson has called "our youth of a royal birthright," and to Young Women Gen. Pres. Ardeth Kapp's statement that "these are no ordinary youths and no ordinary times."
Sister Rasmus said, "It is the role of Young Women leaders to assist parents in helping youths to know the Savior and to live the gospel." The camp program can be instrumental in helping accomplish that goal, she said, referring to scriptures that tell of significant spiritual events that have taken place on mountains.
"However, simply putting youths and mountains together does not create a spiritual experience for them," declared Sister Rasmus. "Young Women leaders must have the vision of what can happen in the mountains or at camp with our young people. Removed from the influences of the world, camp can provide quiet talking time with one another in an informal and relaxed setting. Spiritually prepared leaders can utlilize this time through planned meaningful involvement to create caring relationships with individual young women.
"A vision should be planted in the heart of every leader who goes to camp that everything there can provide an opportunity for planting seeds to build caring relationships. These relationships are our opportunities to share our testimonies and help lead young women to live the gospel and come unto Christ. Camp is a tremendous opportunity for all Young Women leaders to make a difference for good in the lives of young women."
In the opening session of the Jan. 16 workshops, two stake Young Women camp directors spoke: Marilyn Baker of the Orem Utah Sharon West Stake and Young Women chairman of Camp Mia Shalom executive committee, and coordinator of the workshops; and Sandi Clayton of the Salt Lake Grandview Stake.
Sister Baker referred to the Oct. 18, 1986, Young Women satellite fireside, in which Sister Kapp said much of the implementation of the Young Women program will be determined by local leaders to allow for flexibility according to varied circumstances of a worldwide Church.
Leaders in the four regions "see an opportunity at Camp Mia Shalom to implement locally the Young Women leadership encampment, which will provide experiences - planned with a purpose - to help prepare yung women to stand together as an influence for truth and righteousness," said Sister Baker.
Sister Clayton spoke of statements by several Church leaders regarding the trials young people might face. "If we think we have no responsibility to prepare our youths for these coming tests, we place ourselves in the position of being slothful servants."
She asked, "What can we do in our Young Women camp program to promote a preparedness attitude rather than simply an attitude of recreation? The camp program can enhance and support major improvements in spirituality, interpersonal relationships and improved self-esteem. It will teach basic skills of first aid, fire building, outdoors cooking, knots and lashing, field sanitation, and hiking, with a different focus than `just fun.' Could it be that these skills will be needed?
"We need not change the goals and objectives of the current camp program, but we can make that program more responsive to and in greater harmony with the directions of our prophets."
Sister Kapp, who was represented at the workshops by Sister Rasmus, told the Church News that each Young Women camp should be planned with a purpose.
"There is no need for camp to be costly or elaborate," she said. "We don't need to have fancy facilities, but we do need to have opportunities for relationships to be built, and in an environment where we can take advantage of the lessons in nature and realize that with all of the magnificence of God's creations, His children are the greatest. If a young woman returns from camp with that realization, then the whole experience has been successful."
She said an LDS young woman may have positive experiences in her school and community, but the experiences that establish her identity as a Church member are those that she has in relation to the Church.
"Camp is only one of the experiences a young woman may have with the Church but it is a very inportant one, because in nature we find an ideal setting for teaching. Out in nature we develop a reverence for life, and see evidence of God's handiwork and a testimony of the creation."