Thank you for this inspiring story. It brought strong emotions and for me, many
memories of when I helped lead handcart treks all summer for youth conferences
in the Tetons. What a great feeling to watch lives change and courage found.
Having been on a Trek with LDS youth before, I think it's important that
local church adult leaders use good judgement and learn when to call things off
(have a plan "B") when the weather presents life-threatening conditions.
I was alarmed to read about the young man who kept vomiting due to heat
exhaustion. I had a brother almost die due to convulsive heat stroke.... and it
has forever changed his body so he can no longer tolerate hot conditions.Yes, the Real Pioneers had no other choice but to stare-down a lightning
storm or 110 degree weather. We don't need to actually make the kids go
through life threatening conditions to have them learn something about
sacrifice.Just because it's a church function, doesn't
automatically absolve local church leaders of being prepared, and using good
judgement. Glad no one seemed to be seriously or permanently hurt.Future Treks ought to be limited to just a morning or afternoon to give a
flavor, and then do other things. Some are taking it all way too far.
Our Salt River Stake from Mesa Arizona went to the hills in Prescott with
handcarts to learn about our pioneers. We had a water tank that was to be
refilled and we knew it would be critical to have as the weather was over 100
degrees. The time it took to do the water run and get back was much longer than
expected. We had the same results as you. I still remember the thirst, using
my "illegal" water bottle to pour over heads, and trying to hit mouths
with a squirt. But what I learned about my own ancestors who were in the 2nd
company to settle in Arizona made me so grateful. The trek was in 1995 and
still is unforgettable to me. My ancestors were from Bear Lake Area in
Idaho and my great grandfather asked Brigham what would happen if he didn't
go to Arizona. Brigham told him either go to AZ or go to heck. He once said he
thought he had chosen AZ. (Remember there were no fans in those days much less
RE: Jason Wright or DNews Editor---For the accuracy of "the
recordkeepers", last Thursday was July 19th (Jason incorrectly listed it in
his 3rd paragraph as July 18th).Anyway.... excellent article, Jason!
Thanks for sharing that experience. The youth (and adult leaders) definitely
learned that they "CAN DO HARD THINGS!" 8^)
I have to agree with Gr8Dane on this one. Its not necessary to half kill our
youth in order to teach them how to appreciate the pioneers.
Understandably we should be prepared and never deliberately require the youth to
suffer similar challenges as the "real" handcart groups faced. And I
don't think anyone was deliberately negligent in this case.I
daily check the local forecast from at least to varying sources and even then it
is rarely accurate. One of those sources is a government weather tracking
station located about four miles away from my home.You can do your
best to prepare, but life is life and the unexpected always happens. We can
argue all day long that these Virginia youth should never have faced this and
how much better it would be to do a quick hand-cart-pull around the block and
then play video games the rest of the time. And that is the problem. Too many
are growing up thinking that life is a kin to a video game and when it gets
difficult, you simply park the hand carts and go inside where it is air
conditioned and play games.We never put anyone deliberately in harms
way, but when the challenges come, let's praise these youth who didn't
quit and insisted in going on to the end.
The fact that all survived and finished the trek is hard evidence that the
leaders of the group in the story were prudent. No, youths shouldn't be
exposed to unreasonable danger. They should definitely be exposed to hard
things. There is no such thing as zero risk. "The best things in life
don't come easy." There are many hard things that I've endured in
life due to circumstances beyond my control. There are also many hard things
that I've chosen to do in life. Both types of hard things have been
valuable experiences. Too many people have too few hard things that they
accomplish in life these days. I think that is a false path through life. For
many it is as seductive and destructive as more generally recognized
"mistakes" in life.
This is is just plain dumb. Would the pioneer ancestors wish that sort of risk
and agony on their descendants? I think not. Unacceptable risk.
Why do we all seem to think it's okay to write "youths?"It's almost as bad as "funner" or calling rain,
"moisture" and it drives me crazy!That said, I think there
is a reason we live in 2012, and I'm soooooo thankful Pioneer Day is over
for another year. Can we please not tell the same pioneer stories again until
next July? Thank you.
Oh, ye of little faith!
I did a similar trek in about 1990 in VA. One of our young family members had
slept under his ground cloth in a depression so he was literally in a small
stream all night during heavy rain. His entire body was wrinkled in the morning.
We learned on the first day pull that water guidelines for the low-humidity
west, suggested by the BYU guides, were wholly inadequate for temperatures in
the mid to high 90s with 90+% humidity. We survived and adjusted in later treks.
I came away from four of these wishing I could have had had one as a
young man(1950s), and I'm speaking of the really hard stuff I didn't
get until Infantry Officer's School when I was 26. You simply don't
learn the same lessons in the watered-down short, safe-in-all-respects versions.
If you take the view that's all that should be done I suspect you've
never been on one nor seen the changes in lives they produce. Do them that way
if you will, but don't call them a pioneer trek or expect the kind of
life-changing results that come from the real ones.
It is a shame that harsh judgments have taken away the wonder of this amazing
life-changing experience. Youth can do hard things, though they rarely choose
to. They did accomplish this very hard thing and I am enormously proud of them
and their leaders.
I would like to thank Jason for his accurate portrayal of our Trek. I would
also like to thank those readers who recognize that weather can be tricky and
those who appreciate the value in doing hard things. Our Stake leaders were
incredible. They went to tremendous lengths to ensure our safety. To reiterate
Jason’s conclusion, every youth and every leader who began the Trek
finished and all were better for the experience. I wept along with everyone
else as each family crossed the finish line. As a descendant of many Mormon
Pioneers, I am humbled and proud to have participated in this difficult,
rewarding activity as a tribute to those who struggled so faithfully to
establish God’s kingdom on this earth.