Clipper Staff Writer
KAYSVILLE — Away from cell phones and computers, televisions and ipods, participants of the Kaysville Utah West LDS Stake’s trek were able to look within themselves and discover their potential.
The trek, held last month east of Huntsville, Weber County, was Kyle Braithwaite’s second, and the second time around was every bit as good as the first.
“It’s a great experience, a great time to come together,” the 18-year-old said. And he’s looking forward to the time he can serve in the role of a “pa.”
The Mormon Pioneer Handcart Reenactments are held within stakes about every four years, giving teens the opportunity to experience something of what the pioneers went through coming to Utah.
It’s a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun, Braithwaite said, and in the end it provided both young participants and adult leaders a chance to reflect on what’s important in life.
Dorothy Watkins, who served as co-coordinator with her husband Wade, said the call to plan their stake’s trek was met with some apprehension. “Neither of us had ever been on trek before,” Watkins said, “so we did lots of homework. We prayed and fasted and cried a lot,” and went to the temple. “We got whisperings of ‘hey, you might want to do this.’ It’s what I call gentle nudgings,” she said.
She admits to feeling like they weren’t up to the task, “but we saw many evidences of Heavenly Father’s hand, throughout the trek,” she said. And through it, she learned the wisdom of the biblical verse, “With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). “I saw the impossible, and He made it possible,” she said.
“It increased my testimony,” she said, adding she saw so many things happen on trek which made her realize God was working in the situation.
Braithwaite too saw God moving in his trek experience. On a day set aside for spiritual experiences, the young man said he was able to look within himself to examine what he wants to do with his life. It also spoke to him of the importance of family.
The youth received letters written by their parents which they read that day, as well as spent time reading scriptures. Those letters spoke of the love parents feel for their kids, and “helped us realize our potential. It reminds you there’s more to life than hanging out and being a kid,” Braithwaite said.
The day also featured a time in which participants sat in a circle and shared what they liked about each member. With his experience on trek, Braithwaite said several of the younger participants said they appreciated his knowledge, which helped ease their fears.
He said young people today have so many options of what they can do, given today’s technology, “but on trek have to to make up things to do.”
The first day, Braithwaite and his companions pushed handcarts 13 very long, tiring miles. From there, Braithwaite said it got a little easier, but that first day, “it put us in the mindset to understand what they (the pioneers) went through. Trek was long enough (four days) to understand what they went through, but any longer and it would have been kind of tough.”
The next day, there was time for games and activities.
Not everything was truly authentic. Those in charge of food used chicken instead of quail and beef instead of buffalo and the group didn’t make hoe cakes, but Watkins said members of all the participating committees tried to make it as realistic as they could.
Braithwaite would recommend the experience for any youngster who has the opportunity. Even though often first-timers are nervous and may not want to go, by the end, he said, “they’re excited.