During the summer months, youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often participate in what is called a pioneer trek. This pioneer trek is a reenactment of when Latter-day Saint pioneers trekked across the country to settle in Utah.
While some may think that pioneer treks only happen in Utah or Idaho, that’s not true — pioneer treks have been known to happen outside the Jell-O belt. This shared cultural experience was depicted in a 2018 movie called “Trek: The Movie.”
I recently watched it again and here’s why you should, too.
The movie follows a group of youth as they go on trek. One of them is named Tom Jensen and he really doesn’t want to go on trek. He said, “I don’t want to pull a simulated handcart so I can have a simulated spiritual experience and gain a simulated testimony.”
He goes on trek anyway, and the movie that follows is both hilarious and deeply emotional. The kids on the trip play jokes on each other and explore friendships and relationships. Like any good coming-of-age movie, it follows them as they joke around, pull pranks, but also mature and become more confident in themselves. They grow to be closer than they were before and learn the value of sacrifice.
This is the type of movie that is a little cheesy, but in a wholesome way. I don’t think you have to have gone on a trek to find the movie funny; in fact, there’s a non-Latter-day Saint character in the movie who goes on trek.
The most redeeming quality of the movie, however, is not its humor. For me, I love movies that make me feel something deeply. As cheesy and kitschy as this movie may be, I did get emotional during the movie several times, especially as the characters reflected on the sacrifices of pioneers and how they were changed by the experience.
I think Tom’s line about not wanting a simulated spiritual experience was profound because it resonated with me and thoughts that I have had over the years. Seeing Tom have a genuine spiritual experience in the movie and experience a real sense of friendship and brotherhood was heartwarming and caused me to be introspective.
I think “Trek: The Movie” is a good reminder to be open to new experiences, even ones that may seem awkward, and to be open to fostering genuine connections and sincerely loving those around you. It might just change you.