“A fountain of pure water” and “a thicket of small trees” (Mosiah 18:5) — Mormon used these words to describe the place where Alma hid after fleeing from King Noah. Those trees and that water became “beautiful … to the eyes” of the people who joined Alma there. Why? Because in that place, Alma and his people “came to the knowledge of their Redeemer” (Mosiah 18:30).
The location of your Young Women camp — whether it is in a forest, in a park, on a beach, in a meetinghouse or virtual — can become beautiful to the eyes of all who gather there. Like Alma and his people, young women need a place where they can gather together, separate from worldly influences, to feel the Spirit of the Lord, grow in unity and love, and strengthen their faith and testimonies of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Alma and his people did not stay at the Waters of Mormon, but their experiences at the Waters of Mormon stayed with them. Likewise, as the young women return to their day-to-day lives, their experiences at camp will stay with and strengthen them because they have come to a greater knowledge of their Redeemer.
As preparations for Young Women camp begin, it is important to remember that youth camp leaders should have the primary responsibility for planning, directing and evaluating camp. They counsel with the Young Women presidency, ward and stake camp leaders and priesthood leaders.
As adult leaders, what can we do to “shepherd the shepherds,” our youth camp leaders, in their planning and directing of camp? Much of our mentoring work will be beforehand and behind the scenes, focused on the following principles of leadership in the Church:
- Prepare spiritually.
- Minister to all of God’s children.
- Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Preside in righteousness.
- Counsel together and build unity.
- Delegate responsibility and ensure accountability.
- Prepare others to be leaders and teachers.
- Plan meetings, lessons and activities with clear purposes.
You may start by reviewing the Young Women Camp Guide together. This guide, updated in 2018, is principle-based and designed to help local leaders seek and receive inspiration for what is most needed in their area and is a valuable tool. Teach your youth camp leaders how to counsel together about the needs of the young women who will attend. Encourage them to ask Heavenly Father what He wants to have happen in the lives of the young women as a result of camp. The answer to that question should inform the camp goals, which will guide all other decisions that are made about camp.
Youth camp leaders can develop a camp theme that aligns with their goals. A theme should be spiritual in nature and remind young women of a gospel principle. Sources of inspiration for a theme may include the scriptures, words of the living prophets, or hymns.
Sister Liz Darger, a member of the Young Women general advisory council, fondly remembers attending Young Women camp each summer at Pine Top Recreation Camp near Idaho City, Idaho. One year, the camp theme, “All Things Typify of Christ,” was taken from 2 Nephi 11:4 and Moses 6:63. As young women walked around the campground each day, they saw signs posted near rocks, water, trees and other elements of nature with scriptures about the Savior written on them. Young women were encouraged to study the scriptures and ponder how they could look for Christ in all things.
That simple lesson planted in Sister Darger’s heart a desire to seek Christ in everything around her, and she carried it with her beyond the camp experience. As youth camp leaders use the camp goal and gospel-centered theme to guide the planning of activities, they will naturally plan activities that strengthen faith in and testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues at varying levels across the globe, our young women crave connection. Encourage youth camp leaders to counsel together about how to use camp as an opportunity to help rebuild important relationships. What activities might be planned to assist young women in building genuine friendships with each other? When we show our confidence and trust in youth camp leaders, they will create and produce new, innovative ways to accomplish their camp goals.
Now more than ever, our young women need a place and opportunity to gather together, separate from worldly influences, to feel the Spirit of the Lord, to grow in unity and love, and to strengthen their faith and testimonies of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
We invite you, along with your youth camp leaders, to prepare in such a way to make this year’s Young Women Camp that place and opportunity.