Approximately one hundred young men and young women, along with their respective auxiliary leaders, traveled from every branch of the Georgetown Guyana District and descended upon La Grange meeting house. They were an excited and anxious group of 14 to 18 year olds, all dressed in T-shirts, jeans, flip-flops and sneakers of all colors and types.
The youth conference and youth camp was held between July 23rd and August 12th, 2014 with a special District Conference on July 26th and 27th. The chosen theme for the youth conference was, “Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.”
At the youth conference, the youth were divided into teams, bearing the names of tropical and non-tropical fruits such as Pineapple, Apple, Strawberry and Frost Berry.
The youth conference began at the La Grange meeting house with “Gospel Jeopardy” and then other spiritual activities followed, wherein many important values were taught. The youth then learned temporal skills such as; how to perform first aid, hydroponic gardening, becoming familiar with PEF and learning to be prepared for the world of employment and the need for proper education.
A service project took the form of a scavenger hunt in the Community of Sophia in Georgetown. Although some citizens viewed the service project with suspicion, many accepted the offer to have their homes cleaned, hair combed and a general clean-up of the environment.
Next, for the young women, it was off to camp, boarding buses at an early hour, to arrive in Splashmins, on the Linden Highway, many miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Many of the participants reported on their experiences. Tassia Bacchus, of the Georgetown Branch, and one of the youngest participants, noted that she, “enjoyed ‘Gospel Jeopardy’ and even though our team lost, it was fun. During camp, I like ‘Dear Time’ which was when we would drop everything, no matter what we were doing, to read the Book of Mormon and then bear our testimony. When the bell rang, we would hug the person who was nearest to us.” Tassia won an award for the “Most Creative” hairstyle which was plaited and designed by her sister, Gabriel.
Olivia Chin, of the Diamond Branch, benefitted from the hydroponics and organic gardening experience. The youth participated in this activity by planting lettuce and nurturing it throughout their days at camp. According to Olivia, “I learned about faith from this exercise. The ‘Tree of Life’ experiment was great. Many fell away from the path but it was fun to get to the tree where there was greater light. Ten percent of the young women fell away due to temptations. I also learned to dress dolls in banana leaves, sequins and gift ribbon. I swam in the creek and went on a treasure hunt. The prize was a jar of multi-colored jelly sweets.”
Gabriel Bacchus, another member of the Georgetown Branch, said she benefitted from the young women’s camp. According to Gabriel, “It was a nice experience to socialize with people who had the same values, to make quality friends and my testimony was strengthened. With the ‘Tree of Life’ experiment, I was relieved to make it to the end and to be congratulated by my friends. I had fun!”
The young women showed their approval of the tasty food that was prepared by the perennial camp cooks, by requesting second helpings. These perennial camps cooks are the relief society sisters who joined the church in its formative years in Guyana. Sisters Johnson, Rawlins, Nurse and Goodluck were the faithful camp cooks. Traditional Guyanese meals, such as cook-up, bake, plantain and eggs, made for balanced meals during the three days.
An exercise regime was carried out by Sister Nirmala, with a variety of fun games orchestrated by Sister Marisa Khan, Young Women’s President of the Georgetown Guyana District and assisted by her counselors.
Each night was made special as Sister Christine Rawlins of the Garden Park Branch, shared traditional bedtime stories in typically dramatic Guyanese style. Under the starry sky, campfire coals glowed and marshmallows were toasted as Sister Rawlins played the drums. Folk songs were sung and games were played, by the glow of the fire.
When the activities came to an end, the youth returned safely home, marked with sand flies and mosquito bites, but much wiser, happier, friendlier and blessed to have taken part in a wonderful camping experience.