How to help young people learn about the legacy left by pioneers of every land

There have been pioneers in every land and every time - people who break new trails and overcome obstacles for their families and communities. We have the responsibility to preserve and pass on the memories of those who went before - those who struggled and sacrificed to obtain the things we tend to take for granted.

This includes both our own ancestors and the people who have built and improved our society. The following may be helpful:- Learn about our forebears. This can be done by reading things that have been written and by talking to older family members or people in the community.

  • Write histories of any family or community pioneers that you knew personally or have access to information about.
  • Let your children know who these people are and what they did that built and contributed to the family or community.
  • Think of activities and role play to help children understand hardships faced and overcome, sacrifices made for what the pioneers believed in, and other obstacles encountered. - Karen D. Garrett, West Valley City, Utah

How we did it:

Discuss history

My mother sent us some copies of family histories, and my wife's family has given us family histories. We have used family home evenings to discuss these histories. We learned that my wife is a descendant of a member who was acquainted with Joseph Smith. My family, on my mother's side, settled the Diamondville, Wyo., area.

We also do the following:

  • Go to Utah - when possible - where we see such things as This Is the Place Monument. We also like to go to pioneer museums.
  • See films on pioneers, such as "Legacy" in Salt Lake City.
  • Read books - both fictional and historical - about Church history.

As for group activities, several years ago our ward celebrated the 24th of July based on pioneer activities and games.

Because of these things, my children understand the sacrifices made for them. My children know they come from people who work hard. - Arthur Piper, Beaverton, Ore.

Book of Remembrance

My love for family history grew when I was a young mother, when, after completing four generations of research, I went on to collect all the histories I could find of my ancestors. I felt a need to share with my 44 grandchildren and perhaps my five great-grandchildren and others.

I have been making a "Book of Remembrance" over the past few years as the children reach 12 years of age. They receive these at Christmas time.

They love the stories that tell of happiness, sorrow, joy, failure and success. Many are repeated because of the sacredness of the experiences and the moral of the stories. The young people feel they know and understand the hardships endured by those pioneers who brought the gospel into their lives.

Because of the nature of what the stories tell, many have been related in firesides, family home evening assignments and talks for youth. - Nona M. Jenks, Burley, Idaho

Revival, renewal

In our family, we do the following:

  • Grow gardens, hike, swim and fish. In the fall, we make quilts, bottle fruit and enjoy the beauties of the world. Pioneer summers were similar.
  • Use our favorite recipes from ancestors, such as Danish rice pudding, English muffins, French onion soup, New England baked beans and Indian corn pudding.

Pioneers had a great spirit of revival and renewal. We can keep faith alive as they did. The new Primary activities program is a good way to help us inspire children. Scouting does the same. - Elizabeth Hope Dickson, Ogden, Utah

Real people

I have always felt that I was especially blessed by having all eight of my and my husband's grandparents born into the Church. Their parents lived Church history. These grandparents often told me of their pioneering experiences in settling in the Gila Valley in Arizona. They also shared written histories of their parents so that when I came to study Church history, I found that it was the story of our families' lives. It was a privilege to write two histories as they were told to me.

When I began to gather my family history, these were not just names with dates and places on the records. They were real living people. Even those whose history I didn't have became real people when I studied the records and then came to know the history of their time and place. Much could be learned of their lives by really looking at these records. History has always intrigued me.

While my family was growing up, I was working on these records and shared with them the stories of these pioneers. I felt they needed to appreciate the land and towns that have been settled by them. Later when they began families of their own, I had a desire to pass these stories on to them. Each Christmas, I have made a book with the stories of our family history. Each year as I had more information - and time - I added to the histories.

At times, the families use these histories for family home evening programs. As I near the end of my years, I have written my and my husband's histories to leave for our grandchildren. Now I look forward to seeing the people on the other side who I have come to know through their histories. - Cherrel B. Weech, Pima, Ariz.

Games, activities

In our ward, there are two families from which the majority of ward members descend. So, for our Pioneer Day celebrations, we choose one of the families' heritage to discuss and structure the event around. Each year we switch families.

Another idea, perhaps for an activity for Young Men and/or Young Women, is to have a table with food from different countries. The youth play games from a particular country and have speakers representing that country. The same could be done for Primary activities.

Concerning family activities, for our family reunion, we sometimes pick a country from which our heritage comes. The children play games from that country. If someone has clothes or articles from that country, we display them.

In addition, individual family members should be familiar with the local family history center. Have family home evenings to learn how to use the center. This way, the whole family is involved. - Toni Sadler, McCalla, Ala.

How to checklist:

  1. Teach heritage through family, ward activities.
  1. Help young people research, record pioneer history.
  1. Visit historical sites, museums when possible.
  1. Help young people understand time, place of events.

Write to us:

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