President Monson to Dedicate Ontario Campground Named for Him
Heather Whittle Wrigley and Lauren Call, Church News and Events
On Saturday, June 25, 2011, President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will dedicate a campground named in his honor near Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The 398-acre (161 ha) Thomas S. Monson Camp—the name was inspired by President Monson’s time as mission president over the Canadian Mission from 1959 to 1962—will be used primarily by eight stakes in the area that have helped develop the camp since construction began about three years ago. Other local stakes, families, and Church groups—Young Women organizations, priesthood quorums, and so forth—will also have access to the camp.
Members from several stakes will attend the ticketed event, as will Anne M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
A heavy stormrolled through the camp on the morning ofJune 9, downing trees and cutting power, but little or no damage was done to the facilities. Volunteers from the surrounding stakes helped clear debris and clean up the area over the next several days to prepare for the upcoming dedication.
The camp was created to fill local members’ need for an area conducive to Church activities including camping, according to Terry Spallino, director for temporal affairs for the North America Northeast Area, who oversaw the camp’s development.
There are more than 153 Church camps throughout North America, and they all serve a common purpose. According to the Church’s Young Women website, “Camps are an important part of the Young Women and Young Men programs and are an excellent way to strengthen testimonies.”
Keeping Youth on the Straight and Narrow
“One week at a well-orchestrated camp or high-adventure activity with a focus on the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood can accomplish a comparable amount of success as a year of Mutual weekday activities,” said Larry Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency.
For instance, during the Bulawayo Zimbabwe Stake Young Men’s camp in 2009, young men were able to interact, sharing experiences, testimonies, and feelings, thereby strengthening one another, said Tasara Makasi, Bulawayo Zimbabwe Stake president.
As the young men came together, they realized how many of them there were and that they all shared the same desire to live the gospel, President Makasi said.
Youth camp activities are equally as important and essential for young women in the Church, as they help them “learn skills, be still, experience the beauty of nature, and get away from the influence of the world,” said Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president.
“A young woman’s testimony is strengthened at camp by seeing others live the gospel daily; learning from her leaders; and praying, singing, and sharing testimonies together,” she said.
Experiencing God’s Creations
Youth camps are typically held in an area that is secluded from distractions of the outside world.
“It is important to get away from the noise of the world, cell phones, text messages, music, and Internet and to just “be still,” Sister Dalton said. “It is when you hear the still, small voice and when you gaze at a star-filled sky that you know that all things testify of Christ.”
Located about two hours northeast of Toronto, the Thomas S. Monson Camp is situated on the shore of Little Bald Lake and includes a dock, tent space, seven small shelters with picnic tables, several fire pits, a main central pavilion, an amphitheater, sports facilities, and hiking trails.
The shelters and the pavilion carry the name of one of the Young Women values: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue.
Like other Young Men and Young Women camps, this camp will provide an opportunity for youth to talk about the gospel, learn from their leaders, and strengthen their testimonies.
A Time to Teach
“A campfire setting can be one of the more effective ways to teach gospel principles,” Brother Gibson said.
Activities conducted during camps often require youth to participate in challenging activities that test the mind and body and encourage trust and teambuilding.
These challenges show the youth that they are more capable than they thought and will prepare them to accept spiritual promptings, Brother Gibson said. “When young men are tested to their limit, they become more teachable and more susceptible to listening to the Spirit and their leaders.”
At the Bulawayo stake camp in 2009, young men participated in activities that helped them learn the value of teamwork.
“Activities . . . such as rock climbing allowed them to see how they need each other—how each of them can make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others,” President Makasi said.
In the future, the thousands of young men and women, Scouts, and family members who hike the Thomas S. Monson Camp’s Serenity Trail will find a place designed for reflection and introspection. Future young women who attend the camp will have the opportunity to develop and beautify the Young Women Memorial Garden.