Young women, ages 12-18, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the greater Chattanooga area – from Ringgold to Cleveland – held their annual camp, this year at Camp Dogwood Lodge in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. About ten congregations and 100 young women participated. It was the largest Young Women’s experience, to date, for the Chattanooga Stake (area) of the Church.
Girls Camp always includes far-ranging activities like swimming, kayaking, arts and crafts, self-defense, survival skills, life skills, car mechanics, skits, Dutch oven cooking, basketball, soccer, Frisbee and modest fashion workshops. But the intent of camp is to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ. Girls Camp 2018 included activities like how to prepare for a full-time mission, the Value Color Challenge, a Walk in the Light Faith Walk and testimony meeting.
The Value Color Challenge is based on the Young Women values of Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity and Virtue – values that help young people become all that Heavenly Father wants them to become, officials said. After accomplishing value activity challenges, the young women were covered in that value color powder. The challenge led to a giant powder color celebration at the end.
The Walk in the Light Faith Walk took place at night and the young women started out blindfolded, without any light. Then they had only the light of their eyes. Then they added light along their path with candles, flash lights, etc.
as they read scriptures. The walk culminated at a tree in a large field that was covered in bright lights. The young women sang the song they learned in advance – Keepers of His Light – as they held their lights and looked upon the tree of light, representing the Light of Christ and also the love of God in giving the world His Only Begotten Son. The young women quietly and reverently picked quotes of scriptures off the branches of surrounding trees to keep, officials said.
A testimony meeting was held close to a large campfire down by a lake on the last night of the camp where the young women had the opportunity to share their feelings about Jesus Christ. “It was a beautiful and reverent experience,” Cindy Wolfe, assistant Stake Young Women Camp director, said. “Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the Light and the Life, the Savior and Redeemer of the world (John 8:12). That’s why ‘we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ…that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins,’ (2 Nephi 25:26). It is worth every effort to teach the doctrine of Christ,” Ms. Wolfe said, “because Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father” (lds.org).
Shauna Hatch, president of the Young Women organization for the Chattanooga Stake of the Church said, “Girls Camp is such a great place for any young woman, whether a member of the Church or not, to step away from the world (cell phones and all) and be out in God’s beautiful creations and feel the peace and love of God. I love these girls, and they love each other. And, year after year, they are coming to better love The Lord who is our Advocate with the Father. Through Christ, all mankind may be saved, ‘by obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel’” (Articles of Faith).
“In our homes and at Church, we do our best to teach these truths everyday, but there is something special about Girls Camp, about getting away for one week out of the year to receive more light and be a light. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, ‘Everything Christ taught, He taught to women as well as men.’ One thing Christ taught is that ‘Ye are all the children of light’ (1 Thessalonians 5:5). As children of light, ‘we walk in the light and choose the right and stand for the right,’ as Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. Or, as Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles put it, ‘We need to protect our families and be at the forefront together with all people of goodwill in doing everything we can to preserve light, hope, and morality in our communities.’ Girls Camp prepares young women ‘to let their light so shine’ (Matthew 5:16). My counselors and I, and our young women leaders and camp directors, are blessed to be a part of this divinely inspired program.”
Nori Batman and Susan McGrath serve as counselors to Ms. Hatch. Stephanie McGuire serves as the Stake Young Women Camp director. All serve without pay, as the LDS Church is a worldwide organization of volunteers. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has held Young Women camp around the world for over 100 years.