Just two weeks ago, 200 high school youth from our stake gave up part of their spring break to participate in a 3 day Pioneer Trek and experience firsthand the faith and determination it took to make the journey across the plains. They participated in a variety of faith-building experiences similar to those of the pioneers who made the journey to the Salt Lake Valley in the mid-1800s.
Over the course of the trek more than 11 miles were walked while pulling handcarts through some rough terrain that included many steep hills and a lot of mud. The youth were divided into families and led by a “ma and pa”, each family working together to overcome the obstacles. Jonah Turner of the Katy 2nd Ward said, “Going into Trek I didn’t really know anyone in my Family but by the end I felt extremely close to everyone and was very sad to return to my ‘normal’ life.”
Hundreds of hours of planning took place in the months leading up to trek to pull off such a wonderful experience for these youth! 15 handcarts were made (many as part of an Eagle Scout project), meals planned and then enough food brought up to the remote location to feed the 200 youth and 50 adult volunteers, music prepared, pioneer games and activities were carefully planned (such as candle dipping and taffy pulling), babies were made by a quilting group for each family to care for along the trek, tents donated, fresh water brought in, etc. It was definitely all worth it to see the amazing experiences the youth came away with! “Trek was a wonderful experience for me. It was cool to get to see what my ancestors had to experience. It was very humbling and amazing to see how dedicated these people were to the church,” said Daemon Morse of the Katy Mills Ward.
An especially moving moment for many was the women’s pull. The journey already long and difficult when pulling heavy handcarts, only intensified when the men were pulled away as a way to reinact being enlisted by the Mormon Battalion, leaving the women to pull their heavy handcarts alone.
Firesides were held each evening and on the last night we were lucky enough to have Brother and Sister Jim and Ola Mae Williams from Mesa Arizona host a square dance and then speak at the concluding fireside. They served a mission in Martin’s Cove and welcomed thousands off the trail, telling stories of the pioneers and calling the square dances there. It was a perfect way to end the long, hard days walking and pulling.
Myah Perez of the Grand Lakes Ward summarized the experience perfectly, “Trek was an awesome experience for me! One of my favorite things about it was meeting new people and bonding with them through the hard things we faced. I think the biggest lesson I learned is that we can accomplish great things with the help of good people and the help of the Lord. I’ve come to realize that although there will sometimes be trials placed into our paths that are too difficult to bear alone, as brothers and sisters, we can help bear each other’s burdens through our service and love. We should always remember that the Savior loves us perfectly and will never abandon us in our times of need. I’m grateful that I got to go on trek this year, and that I was able to draw closer to my Savior while doing so!”