To help youth learn from the experiences of the handcart pioneers, leaders may plan handcart trek reenactments for youth conferences. Handcart treks require substantial preparation to achieve meaningful purposes with minimal risks. They normally require more planning and resources than other youth conferences.
Following are some key principles that can help in the trek planning process:
- Integrate principles of safety and health into the overall planning process to create a safe trek experience for all participants.
- Identify early in the planning process a safety and health leader to work with the trail boss on safety-related concerns.
- Identify early in the planning process a medical team leader.
Many of the key concerns about trek can be mitigated with proper planning. Safety isn’t just the responsibility of one person; rather, the entire trek company should be actively involved. For details about health and safety planning for treks, see Handcart Trek Reenactments: Guidelines for Leaders on the Youth Activities website.
Areas of potential concern:
- Travel to and from the trek location
- Conditioning and overexertion
- Weather-related issues, such as heat stress, hypothermia, and lightning safety
- Safe food storage and preparation
Because handcart treks are held in an outdoor setting and involve strenuous activity, they have inherent risks. Leaders should take all necessary precautions to ensure that participants are safe throughout the trek. Leaders should focus on preventing illness or injury and on being prepared to provide treatment if necessary.
All adult leaders should be trained to monitor the hydration and general well-being of participants during the trek. They should be trained to look for signs and symptoms of possible injuries and illnesses and understand the correct treatment. All participants must act in a way that does not endanger themselves or others.
The handcart pioneers’ trek was arduous. Some of these Saints faced harsh winter storms, inadequate clothing and shelter, insufficient food, illness, and death. Clinging to their faith in God and their vision of Zion, they persevered through the most daunting conditions. If done safely, trek reenactments can help today’s youth learn to persevere, turn to God in their times of trial, and gain a testimony that He will help bear their burdens. However, youth do not need to suffer through these same trials to gain an appreciation for the sacrifices of the handcart pioneers.