helamans encampment was amazing. one of the best experiences of my life up to this point. and it's something I'll always remember. it was hard work, it was fun, it was spiritual. it was fantastic. a lot happened, so hopefully I can remember most of it! remember what I said about injuries? they gave us knives, so you can guess where this is going. 6 kids gone for stitches... on the first day. anyways, here's a rough breakdown of the weeks happenings.
monday: got there nice and early, set up camp (picked the worrrst spot for a tent) and it was just a get settled free kind of day. I hit up the zip line. hung out around the campsite, not much went on.
tuesday: got up bright and early, went for a hike. a looong hike. 20K, up table mountain, across the ridge, down the whistler side. this was probably one of the most physically draining things I've ever done in my life, but it was SO worth it. amazing views. it's just not something you get every day. it was steep, it was challenging, but it was a fantastic opportunity to improve in brotherhood and priesthood unity. I know if I didn't have some of those guys hanging back with me, helping me out and encouraging me, I might not have made it all the way through. I have a new respect for those guys, and I feel so fortunate to have them as friends! they called this one "get thee to the mountain" and related it to the BoM when Nephi went into the mountains to inquire about how he was supposed to build a ship. he needed a blueprint, tools, ore to make the tools with. but the key is that he asked. he studied it out in his mind, and went to the Lord when he realized he needed help. "ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you". we took a break for water and the hike master (who had to do this beastly trek 3 times I understand. I wonder if he's still alive..) asked us about personal mountaintop experiences, and immediately my mind went to a previous hike I was on for a prior ym camp. it was steeep. I was about ready to give up. I was out of breath, knees shaky. (I was also incredibly out of shape). but the words to the second verse of "how firm a foundation" kept going through my mind. "for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid". and it hit me so powerfully, He's there. He's always been there, and always will be there. He knows what's going on in our lives, a lot of the time better then we ourselves do. so then I started to cry a little bit, because it made me realize how fortunate I am to not only have Him with me, but also be able to recognize when He's there. very few times have I ever felt the spirit so strongly then I did that day on that spotty hiking trail. tuesday's fireside was amazing. we had an area 70 speak to us, which is kiiiiiind of a big deal. we sang "Army of Helaman" as the closing song, and I got misty eyed, again. just being in that setting, with so many brethren that know and can testify of the same powerful, true gospel, was an amazing sight. that song has always been one of my favorites, but now I seem to feel differently when I listen to it. I LOVE this song know. I never really realized how powerful it was. it got me really excited for my mission (which is coming up in about a year!)
wednesday: "crossing the great waters". about when nephi and his family got on the aforementioned boat and proceeded to cross the sea with the help of the liahona. so we got a bunch of supplies and we (which really means ryan) built a raft to row across the lake. at one point we didn't seem to be getting anywhere and someone made a funny joke about us not getting anywhere because we were murmuring and complaining, just like when to liahona would only work if lehi and his family were being faithful. I thought this was one of the funnest activities out of the whole week, even though I got TORCHED. so now my shoulders are red red red red. tuesdays fireside was also fantastic. there was a big simoan football player (he was BIG) that said one of the most fantastic things I think I've ever heard in my life. he said that just as the worst team usually ends up with the first round draft pick, we are our Heavenly Father's first round picks, and he talked about how we are a chosen generation that were saved to come to earth in it's most darkest times (something I've always heard but never really thought about). but putting it in that context really helped me understand it, and after I heard that I thought "wow, as cool and amazing as that sounds, because I've been preserved for these times, it means not only do I have a lot of work to do, but I've got to act for myself, and not be acted upon". I've really gotta watch out, because now more then ever satan will try and get in my head. then he took out his ukulele and sang, which was also fantastic.
thursday: wilderness challenge! bridge building (which I SUCK at, can't lash to save my life). tower building (same thing) and atlatl throwing! yep, that's a real thing. it's basically an arrow that you rest on a slightly curved stick with a little horn at the back end. the notch of the arrow sits on the horn, you hold it similar to a pen or a pencil, and you throw like a baseball. if you do it right (which I can't) your wrist should send that puppy flying. a lot harder then it sounds. thursdays fireside was, again, amazing. gifford neilson spoke to us (also a former football player) about how our choices always have consequences, sometimes years later. and he told a story about how he declined an invitation to a teammates party, and 20 years later, when that teammate wrote a book, and entire chapter was dedicated to this party, and some rather unsavory things that went down. what really drove it home was when he said that had he gone to the party, he would have to explain to his wife, his 5 children, and his 19 grandchildren why he was someplace he never should have been in the first place. pretty powerful stuff.
friday: gps stuff and mantracker. I did the gps in the morning, but by lunch time I just didn't have anything left in the tank for mantracker. so me and a few others went back to camp to help get ready to pack up the next day. all we did was play cards and just sorta hang around, but it was still one of the funnest memories I've got about this camp. fridays fireside was elder beck, who just happens to be the general young mens president. no big deal or anything. he talked about missionary work and showed some videos about why it's so important to serve a mission when the time comes. and that really got me exited. it's so close for me, it's almost surreal. another thing that really made an impression on me was when I was talking to someone about when I would start my papers. I had always thought I'd just wait till I turned 19 to start working on them, and I told him that and he said something I honestly had never even considered. he said that if I wait till I'm 19 to start working on them, that's 8 months away. add that to the rough month or so to get my call, and another month or 2 before I leave, your looking at around a year. and in that year satan will try harder then ever to turn me away. because he knows I'm going, so he'll tempt me more then ever to reconsider and stay home. I said "I'm afraid of not having enough money to go". and he said that's what most potential missionaries say, but I'd be supported both spiritually and financially no matter what if I didn't have enough saved up, because my parents know I'm doing an amazing thing, people in my ward know I'm doing an amazing thing, so they'd gladly help a brother out. so I made up in my mind that day I'd go out and start serving as soon as I could. during fridays fireside Helaman talked about how the 2000 "did not doubt, for their mothers knew". and he admonished us to really ponder our own relationships with our mothers, and I started thinking about her, all the hard work she does, (which is an insane amount. she's always working to help someone else out). and I got watery thinking about just how wonderful that woman is. to be entirely honest, she's probably one of the most amazing people I've ever known and will ever know. the closing song was "Helaman's Army" again, which I thought was wonderful because ever since tuesday I'd wanted to sing it again so badly. I was like "wow, that's amazing. perfect way to end this amazing week". later that night we got letters from our mothers, and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever read in my life. that was one of the first times I got an insight into how she really, truly feels and thinks about me. I cried. a lot. just to hear her say those things and realize how highly she thinks of me and how excited she is to see my life unfold and the potential I have, it's a feeling I can't really describe. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother, and for the opportunity and privilege I've got to be sealed to her!
saturday: we packed up, and hung around till the bus came to take us home. I almost won a hatchet throwing contest on more then one occasion, and we were actually able to make it home before our original scheduled departing time from camp. I was so excited to go home. camp was amazing, don't get me wrong. but it was long. longest camp I've ever been on. it really made me count my blessings and realize just how fortunate I am to have running water, and a bed, and food readily available, and a family. I couldn't wait to walk in my front door again.
overall, this was one of the most amazing things I've ever had the the chance of being a part of. I'll always remember it as long as I live. the spirit was so powerful every single day, and after it's all said and done, I can't help but think how anyone can have doubts about this amazing, true, wonderful gospel. I'm so blessed to have been able to grow up in the church and always have examples in my life of people I want to be like when I grow up. I love this church, I love this gospel. I can't wait to be able to serve a full time mission. this camp was so empowering, and I'm just excited about life in general now. I feel like I can take on the world now, because I know no matter what happens to me, there's someone that knows what's going on and knows just what I need, when I need it.