The pioneer youth trek of 2011 is now officially behind us! It was a great experience, and I am so glad I got the chance to go chaperon. We trekked about 20 miles, suffered only a few small injuries, saw a lot of blisters, and had no handcarts break down on us. Overall, I'd call that a great success.
Being a leader is always an interesting experience. We know the little things that went wrong behind the scenes. But it is always great and reassuring to poll the kids later to find out that none of them had a clue.
We thing that "went wrong" was that we walked faster than anticipated, and got into camp a few hours early one night. (This can barely be called a real problem.) So I got called into action to come up with a few ways to occupy and entertain the youth with no supplies, preparation, etc. (I secretly love operating on the fly.) I discovered I can still pull off completely off the cuff event planning. I really had fun pulling a joke on all the kids at one point. I share this so that other leaders who might be reading this can rip off my little idea.
After walking and pulling/pushing handcarts roughly 10 miles our legs, feet, and bodies in general were sore and achy. But alas, we have no chairs, just the sometimes wet, always buggy, nothing but dirt, grass, and rocks laden ground to sit on. So I gathered all the youth into a big circle around me, and told them how "back when the pioneers walked across the plains," that they didn't have chairs either. So when they got tired they would all stand in a circle, then sit in each other's laps, and this was called the "Pioneer Chair."
(I've intentionally made the below picture blurry so that you can't easily identify other people's children. But I think you can get the point.)
If you've ever been to a cheesy teamwork seminar, you've probably seen this before as the "trust chair" or "teamwork circle," etc. Words cannot express how greatly amused I was when a few kids later on asked me if the pioneers really did this!
The trail was muddy at times, dry at times, very uphill at times, and sometimes a little downhill. We were "attacked" by Indians along the way. And on the hardest hill (a 3/4ths mile uphill pull) "angels" (volunteers dressed in white) suddenly appeared in the woods and came down to help push/pull each cart up the hill. As soon as the carts were up the hill, the "angels" disappeared back into the woods.
|One of the angels helping push|
|The women's pull|
You can check out our great kids on the local Roanoke news- (the embedded video is spotty, so here's the link if you can't see the video - http://www.wdbj7.com/videobeta/7143a87d-9cae-4c4c-9303-f0ba32369e92/News/Several-dozen-children-from-local-Mormon-churches-take-a-spiritual-journey)