How to honor pioneers in the easiest way possible-Part I

Pioneers are a huge part of Mormon history and Pioneer Day is an official Utah holiday that is celebrated annually on July 24 in commemoration of when Brigham Young and a company of Mormon pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847. New LDS converts had made the harrowing 1,300-mile-long journey from Nauvoo, Illinois and since they couldn’t afford wagons, they pulled human-powered handcarts. Many lost their lives but the stories of sacrifice and survival are downright inspiring.

Every four years, the youth in our stake (and hundreds others) go on a mini-Trek for four days on a portion of the actual pioneer trail in Wyoming. Jamie was in the first youth group from our stake to do the Trek and has a lot of fond memories.

And not-so fond ones of the turkeys they killed, plucked and cooked in a pit.

Fortunately, our Treks aren’t quite so extreme but I guarantee most kids have never done anything so physically demanding as pulling handcarts for hours on end over four days, sleeping on the ground, cooking their own meals and enduring extreme heat, rain and wind. My friend Tiffanie went on the Trek and took these fabulous pictures of our youth. It was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done but also one of their greatest spiritual experiences.

The testimony meeting following the Trek is always the best part as the youth spoke of how they banded together and were deeply inspired by their pioneer ancestors.

Hadley will go on the Trek when she is 14. Bode will just miss the cut-off (he’ll be 12 and needs to be a minimum of 14) so he will go when he is 16.

During our 3,000-mile road-trip to Canada, we had to do a massive detour after a road closure in the armpit of Washington (read: ugly). Wildfires were blazing, the temperatures were sweltering and I was grateful for our air-conditioning. I shared stories of our pioneer heritage with my kids and mentioned how at that exact same time, the youth from our ward were on the Trek traveling several miles a day on foot.

Then, there was silence.

After a while, I asked the kids, “So, what do you think? Doesn’t Trek sound like fun?”

Bode was the first to respond. “It’s nice and all to not forget about the pioneers. But can’t we just honor them by doing a play about them or something?”

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