Young women, ages 12-17, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will hold camp at Camp Lookout in Rising Fawn this summer. Ten congregations will be represented and about 90 girls will be in attendance. Camp is held each year in July.
For 105 years, the LDS Church has held Young Women camp all around the world. “A camp with the most basic and simple accommodations can become a sacred place where the Spirit of the Lord is present, where daughters of God put the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ into practice, and where the glorious blessings of nature are appreciated in happy ways,” the LDS Church states.
In Chattanooga, Stake Camp Director Laura Smartt and assistant camp directors Kristen McGhie and Rachael Crook are gearing up to make this year’s camp memorable for young women in the local area. Training has already begun for 16 and 17 year-old young women who will serve as Youth Camp Leaders.
In order to serve as YCLs, young women must complete certain levels of certification that include the basics of camping and first aid – which they, in turn, teach to other young women. Fourth level young women have to spend one night under the stars and pitch a tent to complete their certification.
“YCLs plan the majority of camp – including theme, classes, activities, skits, music and t-shirt design,” Mrs. Smartt said. “This year, our YCLs chose ‘Look Up’ as our camp theme.” The theme is based on a talk by Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy delivered at the April 2017 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The talk may be accessed at https://www.lds.org/general conference/2017/04/dont-look-around-look-up?lang=eng
“Inviting others to come unto Christ is our purpose,” Elder Choi said. “And we can fulfill this purpose by looking up to Jesus Christ.” In looking up to Christ and applying His teachings, the young women of the Chattanooga Stake will do service projects as part of camp activities. They will serve at the Walker County Animal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity (Catoosa branch), the Ronald McDonald House, Chambliss Children’s home, Bethlehem Center, the food bank and will also tie no-sew blankets for Children’s hospital.
Other camp activities designed to provide spiritual, temporal and physical growth include family history, crafts, cooking, gardening, art, photography, and/or adventures in swimming, zip lining, archery and high ropes.
“Watching these young women learn and grow and serve is one of the most rewarding experiences of Young Women camp,” Mrs. Smartt said. “And our level leaders are awesome and amazing, too.” Level leaders are adult leaders who train the YCLs as well as other young women camp participants, according to age and/or level. Ramona DeLay serves as the level 1 leader; Rachel Crook as level 2; Karen Judd as level 3; and Janet Mendenhall as level 4 leader.”
Shauna Hatch serves as the Stake Young Women president, and her counselors are Wendy Cuthbertson and Lacey Jones. These women head up the Young Women organization for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Chattanooga stake (congregration). All serve without pay, as the LDS Church is a worldwide organization of volunteers.
Stake Camp Director Laura Smartt is a stay at home mom with five boys ranging from ages 3-14. Her oldest son Liam recently achieved Eagle Scout, the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. Only about four percent of Boy Scouts earn this rank, after a lengthy review process.
“Being asked to run an all-girls camp was like doing a 180 for me,” Mrs. Smartt said. “But I am thankful to contribute to this ‘grand legacy’ of camp. Anytime I can play a part in helping young women build their confidence and strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ, well, count me in. I want to be right there with them – looking up to heaven – for guidance and the purposes of The Lord.”
"And so, like former Young Women General President Elaine S. Dalton said about camp, it is my sincere hope that our young women will grow in ‘faith and testimony of the Savior,’ understand their ‘true identities as daughters of God’ and prepare for the ‘grand future’ that awaits all who look up to Jesus Christ.”