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rongo

Youth trek historical accuracy

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Oh, okay.  Good to know.

I'm not sure I understand the need for strict historical accuracy.  For example, many stakes adapt trek to their locale rather than travel all the way to Wyoming.  So a trek in Alaska or Montana is not going to be "accurate" in that respect.

I see your point about injecting melodramatic elements (Mormon Battalion, Missouri mobbers).  There are plenty of ways to make Trek memorable without going too far afield.

I was previously ambivalent about Trek, but having seen its effects on more than a few youth in our stake has persuaded me that it is (or can/should be) worthwhile.

Thanks,

-Smac

My normally stoic and skeptical eldest son was very emotionally moved as he spoke in fast-and-testimony meeting after the stake trek experience not long before he served his mission.

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3 hours ago, rongo said:

My stake presidency has asked me to present recommendations for making our youth trek (December 2018) historically accurate. 

I have some pet peeves and issues in mind, but would love input from you guys, too.

Can someone link to the trek handbook the Church put out? That has a lot of items that some people will be upset about (sacred cows that are contra policy).

Thanks in advance! 

Ironically, the stake president joined the Church while a student at the UofA in Tucson. He was surprised when I told him the Tucson West Stake (I think that's the one) was kind of the poster child for what not to do on a trek. :) 

That's cool that your Stake Presidency is even aware of this issue and has taken steps to address it.  

I'm in the camp that is generally suspicious of manufactured spiritual experiences, so the idea of the Trek as a "spiritual" activity is suspect to me.  Just this week I was faced with the possibility (thankfully not realized) of having to evacuate my house due to an impending fire.  I had to think about what I would take and what I would leave.  How much could I get in my car?  Where would we go?

These are the exact same thoughts the early Church members had to face more than once, and thousands of people in SoCal right now are having authentic "Trek" experiences.  Were this the summer, I would think it would be more appropriate for the youth of a Stake to do something to assist these people instead of driving out to the middle of nowhere and walking around in circles for a few days dressed in old-timey clothes.  

So instead of asking whether there is something that can be done to make the Trek more historically "authentic", maybe the question is whether there is an activity that could be done instead that would be more spiritually "authentic".  Where actual hardship and sacrifice is made for the purpose of actually performing a good service or making a real personal change. 

I know it's easy to criticize the Church for not doing enough in the community (especially in regards to the fourth mission of the Church), but if you looked at the total budget for a Pioneer Trek Re-Enactment and asked "what is the most good we could do with this money to provide service and spiritual experiences for the youth and making our communities better for the poor and needy", I doubt "Pioneer Trek Re-Enactment" would make the top five.

 

Edited by cinepro
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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Probably because it's something youth can actually take part in.  Trying to organize youth treks with wagons and oxen would be a disaster.

Or quite possibly an awful lot of fun...

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3 hours ago, Amulek said:

I don't recall any of the handcart companies traveling in December. Even the Willie and Martin handcart company arrived before then, and they didn't have a great go of things.

Where are you going to be doing the trek? Miami?

The Butterfield Stage route (Sonoran Desert in Arizona). The Mormon Battalion camped near there (but on Indian land now, so that site is off-limits). 

Not having the Mormon Battalion part of it won't sit well with many, because of our proximity to a site. Maybe we can just see that we are educating people that this happened here and there, but wasn't part of the handcart period.

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Former Trek chairperson here (about 6 years ago): 

We had an enjoyable and interesting training session at our site (Deseret Land and Livestock at Wahsatch, UT.)  The fellow who did the training used a LOT of humor to illustrate and emphasize the wisdom of not creating false historical connections.  We did NOT have anti-Mormon ruffians ride into camp, and we did not have people dressed in white act like people who died along the way.  We DID have an afternoon for playing authentic pioneer games (like stick-pulling), and my impression was that the kids really had a good time with that.  We DID have a chuck wagon, so that the food was actually edible.  And we DID have a women's pull, but it wasn't linked to supposed hardships created by the Mormon Battalion; rather it was linked to actual pioneer women like my great, great Grandmother Sarah Goode Marshall who as a widow with 6 children pushed and pulled her handcart all the way to Zion without any help from a man.

Edit to add:  If we'd been advised against the women's pull, we would not have done that; but I just wanted to point out that there were in fact real historical pioneer women who had to do it all alone.  I also wanted to add that having sufficient medical personnel is a must.  We ended up having a couple of kids who decided they didn't need to drink water along the way--and they ended up needing IV's.  Also, it can be incredibly dangerous if the weather decides to be very hot.  I think it was last year in my home state of Oklahoma that one of the "ma's" on a Trek at the LDS-owned ranch near Pawhuska actually died from the terrible heat.

Edited by Okrahomer
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6 hours ago, rongo said:

My stake presidency has asked me to present recommendations for making our youth trek (December 2018) historically accurate. 

I have some pet peeves and issues in mind, but would love input from you guys, too.

Can someone link to the trek handbook the Church put out? That has a lot of items that some people will be upset about (sacred cows that are contra policy).

Thanks in advance! 

Ironically, the stake president joined the Church while a student at the UofA in Tucson. He was surprised when I told him the Tucson West Stake (I think that's the one) was kind of the poster child for what not to do on a trek. :) 

I think harnessing the power of a rotating black hole to create a wormhole to link the participants to the 1856-60 time-frame would result in an imbalanced use of budget funds.

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My initial thought is "why try to make it historically accurate?" Our stories are our stories. It doesn't matter if they are historical.

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17 hours ago, Okrahomer said:

Former Trek chairperson here (about 6 years ago): 

We had an enjoyable and interesting training session at our site (Deseret Land and Livestock at Wahsatch, UT.)  The fellow who did the training used a LOT of humor to illustrate and emphasize the wisdom of not creating false historical connections.  We did NOT have anti-Mormon ruffians ride into camp, and we did not have people dressed in white act like people who died along the way.  We DID have an afternoon for playing authentic pioneer games (like stick-pulling), and my impression was that the kids really had a good time with that.  We DID have a chuck wagon, so that the food was actually edible.  And we DID have a women's pull, but it wasn't linked to supposed hardships created by the Mormon Battalion; rather it was linked to actual pioneer women like my great, great Grandmother Sarah Goode Marshall who as a widow with 6 children pushed and pulled her handcart all the way to Zion without any help from a man.

Edit to add:  If we'd been advised against the women's pull, we would not have done that; but I just wanted to point out that there were in fact real historical pioneer women who had to do it all alone.  I also wanted to add that having sufficient medical personnel is a must.  We ended up having a couple of kids who decided they didn't need to drink water along the way--and they ended up needing IV's.  Also, it can be incredibly dangerous if the weather decides to be very hot.  I think it was last year in my home state of Oklahoma that one of the "ma's" on a Trek at the LDS-owned ranch near Pawhuska actually died from the terrible heat.

Ahh. You had my son in your group (not really). The more people told him to drink water and put on sunscreen, the less he did so. He got pretty sick and ended up riding in the car one day.

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19 hours ago, Okrahomer said:

Former Trek chairperson here (about 6 years ago): 

We had an enjoyable and interesting training session at our site (Deseret Land and Livestock at Wahsatch, UT.)  The fellow who did the training used a LOT of humor to illustrate and emphasize the wisdom of not creating false historical connections.  We did NOT have anti-Mormon ruffians ride into camp, and we did not have people dressed in white act like people who died along the way.  We DID have an afternoon for playing authentic pioneer games (like stick-pulling), and my impression was that the kids really had a good time with that.  We DID have a chuck wagon, so that the food was actually edible.  And we DID have a women's pull, but it wasn't linked to supposed hardships created by the Mormon Battalion; rather it was linked to actual pioneer women like my great, great Grandmother Sarah Goode Marshall who as a widow with 6 children pushed and pulled her handcart all the way to Zion without any help from a man.

Edit to add:  If we'd been advised against the women's pull, we would not have done that; but I just wanted to point out that there were in fact real historical pioneer women who had to do it all alone.  I also wanted to add that having sufficient medical personnel is a must.  We ended up having a couple of kids who decided they didn't need to drink water along the way--and they ended up needing IV's.  Also, it can be incredibly dangerous if the weather decides to be very hot.  I think it was last year in my home state of Oklahoma that one of the "ma's" on a Trek at the LDS-owned ranch near Pawhuska actually died from the terrible heat.

The “women’s pull” is a routine part of these youth treks and is included in the official guidelines for the reasons you allude to. Nothing wrong with it so long as it is not tied to the Mormon Battalion or is otherwise historically inaccurate. 

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2 hours ago, churchistrue said:

My initial thought is "why try to make it historically accurate?" Our stories are our stories. It doesn't matter if they are historical.

I would strongly disagree with that. We already have too much of people claiming they were lied to because they didn’t get a straight account of something when they were younger. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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54 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I would strongly disagree with that. We already have too much of people claiming they were lied to because they didn’t get a straight account of something when they were younger. 

Yes but I don't think the solution for that is to try to eliminate everything non historical. We wouldn't have much left. 

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The trek doesn't need to be historically accurate with respect to starvation and dehydration. Take plenty of food and water so you don't end up in the headlines.

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23 minutes ago, Thinking said:

The trek doesn't need to be historically accurate with respect to starvation and dehydration. Take plenty of food and water so you don't end up in the headlines.

A member of our stake owns the Iceberg Drive-In in Draper, Utah. At our stake’s last youth trek, he actually furnished hamburgers and milk-shakes, the latter packed in dry ice. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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On 12/8/2017 at 2:36 PM, rongo said:

The Butterfield Stage route (Sonoran Desert in Arizona). The Mormon Battalion camped near there (but on Indian land now, so that site is off-limits). 

Not having the Mormon Battalion part of it won't sit well with many, because of our proximity to a site. Maybe we can just see that we are educating people that this happened here and there, but wasn't part of the handcart period.

I helped organize a Trek in my stake about four years ago. We went to the Willie and Martin handcart sites in Wyoming. There were some good experiences and I saw some of the youth open up to the spirit. But historical accuracy (or lack thereof) was on my mind much of the time.

  • I heard the false quote attributed to Brigham Young that the three young men who helped the saints cross the Sweetwater River had assured themselves salvation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
  • I heard this quote, "We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities." (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, p. 8). The words are beautiful but the idea that no one ever left the church from that company is false.  
  • I could hardly watch when they did the women's pull. One girl had problems and would pass out if she over exerted herself. She insisted on doing the women's pull. Just at the top of the hill she started passing out. She fainted multiple times. Eventually she passed out and wasn't coming back around. I had to run back to camp and get our camp medic. She survived the ordeal.

I do believe there is an important lesson regarding the handcart pioneers, but it is one we will never teach. It has to do with blindly following leaders despite the knowing better. In fact, Brigham Young criticized the leaders of the handcart companies for permitting the the saints to go forward but I seriously doubt anyone will ever share that message. 

Why are we so hyper focused on the handcart pioneers anyway? It was a terrible experience, why do we then have to re-enact it? Does anyone re-enact the Donor Party's struggles? Since you have said that the location you are going to is close to a Mormon Battalion site, why don't you focus on them instead? You don't need to bring the handcarts into it. In fact, I wish that saints all over the world would look to their own history. Who started the church in the Congo, what challenges did they face? Who moved the work forward in the Dominican Republic? Aren't these saints just as important as those who were with the handcarts? 

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22 hours ago, churchistrue said:

My initial thought is "why try to make it historically accurate?" Our stories are our stories. It doesn't matter if they are historical.

19 hours ago, churchistrue said:

Yes but I don't think the solution for that is to try to eliminate everything non historical. We wouldn't have much left. 

We must not continue to present false stories and rumor as fact. In the end this damages credibility of the church and causes many to question their testimony. If we strip away all the embellishments and have nothing left, then so be it. Apparently we never had it anyway. But if the entire truth was told as far as it can be found I think there would be more things of interest, not less. We would see situations that are perhaps more morally difficult to resolve but wouldn't that better represent what we all face anyway? 

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On 12/9/2017 at 12:07 PM, churchistrue said:

Yes but I don't think the solution for that is to try to eliminate everything non historical. We wouldn't have much left. 

There is a difference in historically inaccurate and non historical. I think bringing in the hamburgers and shakes above (non historical)  was a fun idea. I love it, but if they told how the pioneers had shakes (historically inaccurate) that would be a whole other thing. 

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8 hours ago, janderich said:

 

Why are we so hyper focused on the handcart pioneers anyway? It was a terrible experience, why do we then have to re-enact it? Does anyone re-enact the Donor Party's struggles? Since you have said that the location you are going to is close to a Mormon Battalion site, why don't you focus on them instead? You don't need to bring the handcarts into it. In fact, I wish that saints all over the world would look to their own history. Who started the church in the Congo, what challenges did they face? Who moved the work forward in the Dominican Republic? Aren't these saints just as important as those who were with the handcarts? 

Having just spoken with a Congolese refugee family and going to hear one of the lost boys of Sudan* share his story tonight I think that is a great idea!

*if you are in the Phoenix area he will be speaking at 7pm at the interstate center (830 E 2nd Ave)  in Mesa. Not a church thing - it is being sponsored by Lifting Hands International. 

Edited by Rain
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