Before you surmise that all we did at youth conference was sit around and read the Book of Mormon for three days (oh wait, that was last year) let me just tell you about some of the fun we had. We arrived at camp Thursday, somewhere around noon. We were supposed to use the next few hours to set up our tents and camp areas; however, thanks to our wonderful Young Men's president, and his son - who headed up the night before - our camp site was already set up and ready for us by the time we arrived! The girls' and boys' sites were divided by a ravine..."Helaman's Sons" on one side, and "Ishmael's Daughters" on the other. Every section of camp had clever and creative sinage which had some sort of Book of Mormon or scripture reference. For example the whole camp site was called "The Promised Land ", the nurse's station was called "Look and Live", our designated eating area was called "The land of Milk and Honey", the boys' row of port-a-potties was labled "Desolation of Nehors" (I thought that one was hilarious), the girls'..." The Lake of Fire and Brimstone" (also pretty funny). There was also a candy shop, "Gadianton's Goodies & Sweet Combinations", where the kids could cash in their Senines and Ontis (part of the Nephite system of monetary exchange) for candy and treats.
After familiarizing ourselves with the whole camp set-up, and because our site was already set-up, we had plenty of free-time to lounge. In our camp chairs we sat - for close to 5 hours...enjoying the beauty of our surroundings, some good conversation, each other's company, Sister Tuckett's snacks, and the hot, hot sun.
After dinner that evening, we had a variety show...and variety it had. I enjoyed watching the youth showcase their talents, put on some funny acts and skits, and lip sync. We had to endure at least one or more bad joke from every single Bishop...haha, no they really weren't bad, but if they didn't get a loud enough laugh or applause from the audience, they got gonged (yes we did have a giant gong sitting at the foot of the stage), just like in the old school variety shows. And, well, as if that wasn't enough fun for one evening, we got to close the night with a dance. It was so great to see everyone come together, and just shake it. Ha...even we old leaders did our fair share of rug cuttin' (now that's an old lady term if I've ever heard one)!
Friday was a crazy day, packed with all kinds of fun. In the morning the kids were divided into groups by age for some great team building games and activities. They had a giant tug-o-war, a water balloon launch, and about 4 or 5 other activities which they rotated through for the better part of the morning and early afternoon.
After lunch, it was on to the bigger and better things, such as: the flying squirrel, knife and hawk throwing, archery, rifle shooing, a service project (humanitarian work), and the zip line. John and I were in charge of manning the zip line. We stood out in the hot sun, harnessing and unharnessing kids...one after another, for 6.5 hours. By the end, our knees were achy and our legs were shaky...but seeing how much fun those kids were having, made every single second of suffering - totally worth it. After sending 150 kids down that zip line, I thought I might be too exhausted to try it out myself. I didn't think I had one ounce of energy or strength left in me to tackle the hill (it was quite a climb). I'm glad John talked me into it, though, because at the top of that mountain, I found my second wind...and I then I was able to come down like this...WAHOOOOO (yes I was hootin' and hollerin' the ENTIRE way down)!
That evening we had our wonderful "Tree of Life" depiction; and Saturday, after taking down camp, we had a two hour testimony meeting, which robbed me of every last tear (sounds like such a bad thing...but no, these were happy, happy tears). I am just so proud of these youth. They made such a righteous decision by coming to youth conference...especially because there were a million other things they could have been doing. How strong and valiant they are. How vivacious and full of life. I know that they felt the Spirit of the Lord. I know that they felt of God's love for them...