Mormonism in Pictures: What Do Mormon Teens Do?

Beliefs & Practices — August 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormonism in Pictures is a photo essay feature from MormonNewsroom.org depicting the Church and its members around the world.

Pacific_Samoa_Youth_Conference2

Samoan Latter-day Saint youth gathered in the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa recently for a two-day interdenominational event complete with spiritual encouragement, music, dance and sports. © All rights reserved.

Samoan Latter-day Saint youth participate in rugby during an interfaith conference.

Youth in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are like many other young people around the world. They go to movies, participate in sports, watch videos, text their friends, study for school, attend church and play musical instruments.

Girls_Volunteering_Cannery

Youth are given opportunities to look outside themselves and consider the needs of others. These girls are helping in a Church cannery with food that will be used by people in need.© All rights reserved.

These girls are helping in a Church cannery with food that will be used by the poor and needy.

They also are given opportunities to look outside themselves and consider the needs of others such as their family, friends and neighbors — to be a source of support for life’s challenges just as Jesus Christ showed with His example while on the earth.

YM_Haiti

Young men in Haiti meet together for religious instruction to understand their duty to serve others.© All rights reserved.

Young men in Haiti meet together for religious instruction to understand their duty to serve others.

As members of the Church, teens participate in the Young Men and Young Women organizations. Youth ages 12 through 17 meet in classes each Sunday for religious instruction and once a week for social activities including service projects, sports, camping and dances. Young men and women are also given leadership positions in which they learn leadership skills such as setting goals, planning group activities and solving problems.

Youth_Beach_fun

Having fun in the beauty of a beach.© 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Girls enjoying a group activity on a Pacific Ocean beach.

McKenna, a 16-year-old girl from Farmington, Utah, commented on her experience of being a young woman leader. “Since I was a YCL (youth camp leader) I was able to become closer with the girls my age as well as our leaders.”

Girls_camp

Girls refine their climbing wall skills during their week of girls camp.© All rights reserved.

Young women learn the intricacies of climbing a rock wall at girls camp.

Girls camp is a summertime highlight for many young women in the Church. For most of a week in the mountains, the desert, on beaches and other locations, they enjoy activities that refine their outdoor skills and strengthen them spiritually to stay firmly connected to the values in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

South_Jordan_YC1

A highlight of girls camp is the opportunity young women have to share their belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ with friends.© All rights reserved.

Young women meet to share faith experiences in a “testimony meeting” on a hillside.

“My favorite part about girls camp,” explained 14-year-old Andrea of Farmington, Utah, “is always testimony meeting [voluntary expressions of a member’s feelings about their belief in Jesus Christ]. It’s where you get to listen to your friends’ testimonies.”

South_Jordan_girls_camp1

Paddling a canoe; one of the many activities young women participate in at girls camp including adult leaders (Angela, one of the adult leaders, is the middle person in the canoe).© All rights reserved.

Paddling a canoe, one of the many activities young women, as well as adult leaders, participate in at girls camp. (Angela, one of the adult leaders, is the middle person in the canoe.)

The Holy Spirit has a way of touching the hearts of the young women at girls camp, said Angela, an adult leader in the Young Women program in South Jordan, Utah. “Each time I am a part of testimony meetings, I feel that special, heartwarming emotion the girls seem to feel as well! The girls are inspired to share something about their families or the gospel, which is often life-changing.”

Youth_Conference_Abu_Dhabi2

Latter-day Saint youth in Abu Dhabi attend youth conference in the desert. Their theme was the Book of Mormon and their clothing depicts the period of time in the Book of Mormon.© Photo courtesy of Tony Murray. All rights reserved.

Teens in Abu Dhabi participate in a youth conference with the theme of stories from the Book of Mormon. The youth wear clothing which depicts the period of time in the Book of Mormon.

Mormon boys and girls also participate together for three to four days each year in an activity called “youth conference.” Teenage members in all parts of the world use their school vacation time to join in educational workshops, cultural presentations, service activities, dance festivals and spiritual discussions. At these summer conferences, young men and young women connect to learn more about each other and the beliefs they share.

Samuel, 14, from Salzburg, Austria, observed this about his experience at youth conference: “I am now much stronger spiritually because I know that in the German-speaking area there are a lot of young men and women who are striving for the same things.”

Trek_New_Hampshire

Young men and young women participating in a “Trail of Faith” youth conference sponsored by the Nashua New Hampshire Stake.© 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Young men and young women participating in a “Trail of Faith” youth conference sponsored by the Nashua New Hampshire Stake.

A pioneer trek is similar to youth conference. However, the focus is on honoring the sacrifices and contributions of the Mormon pioneers. The youth are assigned a trek family with siblings, parents and sometimes grandparents (not their own usually) to travel and work together as a pioneer family pulling a handcart with their belongings.

Soldotna_AK_Stake_Trek-8

The rugged Alaskan terrain proved to be a good place for Latter-day Saint youth to reenact the 1847 Mormon pioneers’ trek west.© All rights reserved.

Alaska youthappreciate more fully the Mormon pioneers’ long journey on rugged terrain and in the heat and cold.

In Alaska this summer, 14-year-old Benjamin was in a trek family that had to trudge through mud. “On our second day we went through some mud and had loads of fun, but once we were done our grandparents washed the mud off of our feet. It was really spiritual and brought tears to a lot of people.”

The experience was life-changing for 16-year-old Dayn from Canada. “It gave me the experience to walk in the pioneers’ shoes and a chance to connect with them and what they were dealing with. … [It] has given me memories to recall for years to come that will help me continue to push along and endure through the hard times.”

South_Jordan_kings_peak

Young men test their mountaineering skills on King’s Peak, 13,528 feet (4,123 m), the tallest mountain in Utah.© All rights reserved.

Young men test their mountaineering skills on Kings Peak, 13,528 feet (4,123 m), the tallest mountain in Utah.

Boy Scouts in the Church in many countries work hard on earning merit badges, achieving the typical ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle and going on high adventure trips. They climb mountains, test their outdoor skills and endure the rainy, snowy and hot weather. They return home from a 50-mile hike dirty but happy for accomplishing something they weren’t sure they could.

Snowcave_BSA

Who would dig a cave in the snow and then sleep in it? Boy Scouts would.© All rights reserved.

Who would dig a cave in the snow and then sleep in it? Boy Scouts would.

In all the Church youth activities, adult leaders volunteer their personal vacation time to spend the week with the young men and women, teaching them, having fun with them and helping them have a spiritual experience along the way.

“I’ve had rewarding times with the youth,” said Stewart, an adult leader in Utah. “From running a river, building snow caves, climbing a mountain and discussing gospel principles around a campfire, I have received much more than I’m sure I gave.”

Watch the youth and the fun they have in this youth conference video from the South Jordan Highland 1st Ward Youth Conference 2014, Logan, Utah.

Group_activity_Australia_lowerres

Youth in the Church have fun with activities that help them get to know others better.© All rights reserved.

Australian Latter-day Saint youth have fun with activities that help them get to know each other better.

Another opportunity for youth is the gathering of hundreds of teenagers from a variety of areas who sign up to spend a week at one of the area’s universities for EFY, Especially for Youth. It takes place in the summertime so there’s a lot of outdoor fun, water games, a dance, uplifting workshops and devotionals and the chance to make new friends.

Seminary_high_school

In addition to Sunday worship and the weekly and summertime activities, Latter-day Saint youth between the ages of 14 through 18 enroll in seminary. Before the school year begins, youth sign up for daily gospel instruction during early-morning seminary or released-time seminary.© 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Seminary is an optional class of gospel instruction for students ages 15 to 18 during the school year.

In addition to Sunday worship and the weekly and summertime activities, Latter-day Saint youth between the ages of 14 through 18 enroll in seminary. Before the school year begins, youth sign up for daily gospel instruction during early-morning seminary or released-time seminary.

Seminary_male_student2

A seminary graduate noted that the program has helped him “figure out what I believe for myself” and “do something hard and follow through with it.”© 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Seminary is a weekday opportunity for Mormon students to understand how the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to them.

A seminary graduate from Charlotte, North Carolina, noted that the program has helped him “figure out what I believe for myself” and “do something hard and follow through with it.”

In Cleveland, Ohio, 19 Latter-day Saint seminary students had a desire to introduce their friends who were not members of the Church to the gospel. More than 60 curious high school students showed up for pancakes and bacon.

Youth_Ghana_Temple

Latter-day Saints in Africa give service by attending the Accra Ghana Temple and performing baptisms on behalf of their ancestors.© All rights reserved.

Young Latter-day Saints in Africa give service by attending the Accra Ghana Temple and performing baptisms on behalf of their ancestors.

Church leaders explain the purpose of seminary is to help youth understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple and prepare themselves, their families and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven.

Jesus-and-the-rich-man

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler© Heinrich Hofmann, Courtesy C. Harrison Conroy Co. Inc. All rights reserved.

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

The youth programs align with the purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Download Photos »
  • “From time to time, societies need to be challenged, corrected and improved. And it is often religious voices that awaken our better selves and act as the conscience of society.”

    Commentary, “The Voice of Religious Conscience”

  • Film & Video

    Feature Film ‘Meet the Mormons’ Makes National Debut

    Learn why for the first time, a documentary-style movie, “Meet the Mormons, was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Discover another first for the Church and who turned out to the film’s Utah premiere.

  • Commentaries

    The Voice of Religious Conscience

    Learn how society is better served when we are allowed to pursue our religious conscience.

  • "Charity is more than aid."

    Sharon Eubank, director of Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities

  • Missionary

    Church Expands Use of Digital Devices for Missionary Work

    The Church announces in July that more of its missionaries would use digital devices as they preach the gospel. What missions will go digital and when the implementation will begin.

  • Beliefs & Practices

    Church Provides Context for Recent Media Coverage on Gospel Topics Pages

    See the full list of in-depth essays on points of Church history that gained public and media interest over the past year.

  • Global Church

    Mormonism Online: In Your Own Words (Blog Feature)

    Lindsey Stirling participates in #LDSFace2Face, a live Facebook event for youth around the world. Find out what the world-famous violinist had to say about life’s challenges, her dreams and her faith.

  • “[Recent] court decisions … will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God.”

    Official Church Statement Summarized, October. 6, 2014

  • Global Church

    Church Making Strides Preserving African Family Histories

    Genealogy experts from Africa spoke at this year’s RootsTech, the largest genealogy conference of its kind in the world, on collecting oral histories as family historians grow old. Why they say it’s a race against time.

  • “231 of our volunteers worked a combined total of 645 hours painting, mulching, tree trimming, cleaning, organizing and more at Palmetto Elementary for #MakeaDifference day!”

    Posted on Instagram

  • Interfaith Outreach

    Church Leaders Participate in Historic Vatican Summit

    Religious leaders and scholars representing 14 faith traditions from 23 countries assembled at the Vatican November 17-19. A member of the Church’s First Presidency joined Pope Francis and other faith leaders at the summit. Learn what they said.

  • Beliefs & Practices

    Getting It Right (Blog Feature)

    How does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do what it does with an all-volunteer ensemble? Rodger Dean Duncan of Forbes provides several reasons, one of which illustrates the ethos of commitment and volunteerism common in the lives of Mormons.

  • Church & Society

    Church Responds to Supreme Court Announcement

    See the response to an October U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage by the Church. Read what Church leaders encouraged members to do.

  • Beliefs & Practices

    Mormonism in Pictures: Temple Square Dressed for Christmas

    This photo essay shows millions of multicolored lights on display, crèches and a live Nativity that mark the Christmas season on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. See the splendor captured by creative photographers.

  • Beliefs & Practices

    Exhibit Highlights Women in the Scriptures

    View artist Kathleen Peterson’s paintings illustrating significant roles of women in the Old and New Testaments such as Esther, Deborah and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Learn where the original paintings are on display.

  • Humanitarian

    Humanitarian Efforts at the UN

    The United Nations invites Church representatives to a first-of-its-kind meeting. What the director of Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities presented at the Focus on Faith event.

  • Beliefs & Practices

    Temple Garments

    People of faith throughout the centuries have used particular symbols or vestments to draw closer to God. Learn how the temple garment is a physical expression to Mormons of their devotion to God.

  • "We believe that the young people of this Church will continue to say yes to missionary service."

    Elder David F. Evans, First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department

  • Beliefs & Practices

    Mormonism in Pictures: Preparing for a Worldwide General Conference

    What does it take to prepare for more than 100,000 Mormons who attend general conference in Salt Lake City, Utah? This photo essay shows the tremendous planning effort for the worldwide two-day broadcast.

  • Temples

    The Process of Building a Mormon Temple

    View the video and infographic that follows the painstaking step-by-step process of building a Mormon temple, from the decision to build to finding the appropriate land to hiring the best craftsmen and tradesmen to completion.

  • Global Church

    Apostle Calls for Uplifting Social Media Messages to Sweep the Earth

    Find out more about a Mormon apostle’s call to “sweep the earth” with uplifting messages and the flood of people using the #sharegoodness hashtag on social media.

VIEW MORE