By Savannah Price
MLN Summer Intern
What sounds better than a retreat in the woods with a bunch of friends and a really long waterslide? Nothing! That is exactly what happened last weekend on Kolob Mountain. Almost 200 young women of the Mesquite Nevada LDS stake took the two hour long drive up the mountain to spend lots of time bonding with their wards and with the stake girls.
With activities ranging from a giant waterslide to a five-mile hike, the games could not have been more fun. Archery and firing 22’s at the firing range took lots of time and dedication on everyone’s part, and the waterslide requires lots of water and soap. Speed is a requirement on the slide, and mud is a large variable, due to all the dirt and water at the bottom. The slide empties out into the meadow so when you ride down to the bottom you can take some time to dry off and ride again.
Hope you brought your tennis shoes, because the two to five-mile hike required by all girls first to fourth years is a doozy. Led by great leaders and by mountain extremists, the hike is a fun and beautiful time to see new parts of the forest and the gorgeous scenery that Kolob has to offer. Up the slopes and down the hills, the mountain is a great place to smell the fresh air and get lots of needed exercise.
As much fun as girls camp seems, there is also a spiritual side to the camping trip. There are nightly ‘chocolate chats’ where each ward shares chocolate with each other and talk about the fun and meaningful parts of their day. Whether your favorite part of your day was the opening ceremonies or whether it was the COPE courses, everyone is given the opportunity to share what they loved about the day. Each day is different for each girl, so each experience is unique.
We start and end the day by opening and closing ceremonies. At every ceremony, we sing songs, we say prayers and we have spiritual thoughts. Every meeting is accompanied by someone giving speeches and telling us about the camp. Some say things about how much they appreciate us coming to their camp, and others tell about their experiences at past girls camps, but everyone feels the spirit in their hearts. Many leaders speak of the things that girl’s camp brings into their lives. Often the stories were told from people who did not grow up in this gospel, and their stories are of their transition from their dissatisfied life to one of peace and love because of all the many experiences and all the support that they have received by growing into the church family.
One talk that was shared at camp told the story of a little girl who grew up being criticized for her size by her family. She grew up to have a lifelong struggle with an eating disorder. Her story was of her growing up and learning to appreciate herself and to love herself. It took her more than twenty years for her to tell her story to the girls of this camp, but when she did, we were all in tears. When you tell people something like that, kids will come out of the dark to see if there are people just like them.
It was easy to appreciate all the effort put into camp, because everything went great, with time to spend reading our scriptures or bonding with the other girls in their wards. Each effort put into camp made it worth it to attend and everyone hopes that girls will want to go again next year.
COPE courses are activities that help the young women of the wards grow and bond through trust exercise. We do activities such as the blanket flip, where everyone has to stand on a blanket and you have to flip it all the way over without stepping on it. As we help the scared girls up the ladder to do a trust fall, they learn that they can indeed trust their friends and their sisters. To prepare for the trust fall, the wards play a game called cookie factory. The girls all stand in two lines, facing each other. The ‘cookie’ is the girl who we pass down the line with our arms. It is a great exercise to teach trust and bonding between the girls.
As a challenge given at camp, this same challenge is extended to you. Remember who you are; and remember where you came from. Challenge yourself to become a better person and to want to make an effort to make the world a better place. Learn about your family history and learn about heritage. Learn to be kind and appreciative of what you have and what you can do for others. The spirit will abound in your life and you will grow to love yourself and your Savior.