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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.