Trekking Part 2: Find Pioneer Trek Stories Online

Contributed By Carolyn Call, LDS.org staff writer

  • 9 May 2016

A pioneer wagon.

Article Highlights

  • Strengthen and inspire youth leaders by sharing inspirational pioneer stories.
  • Invite youth to study and learn from pioneer experiences.
  • Do research to ensure that stories you'll be sharing on trek are historically accurate.

George Cunningham, a 15-year-old boy, doesn’t let taunts and jeers deter him from his faith. Amy Loader helps her daughters press forward with encouragement and humor despite their surrounding circumstances. Emily Hill, a 12-year-old girl, gains a testimony and joins the Church despite harsh opposition.

How familiar do these challenges sound to today’s youth?

Whether it’s 1856 or 2016, these pioneer experiences resonate with the challenges and trials that youth face in their daily lives. Learning from the experiences of handcart pioneers is one of the ways youth and leaders can receive personal inspiration during trek activities.

Walking for a pioneer

There are several ways leaders and youth can incorporate pioneer stories into their own trek experience. One suggestion is to assign each person a handcart pioneer to learn about, or invite the youth to choose a handcart pioneer on their own and learn more about his or her story of traveling on the trail.

Youth can take this invitation one step further by “walking for a pioneer.” According to “Handcart Trek Guidelines,” here’s how:

“In advance, youth could research or be given the name and brief biography of a handcart pioneer. They could be asked to study the biography with the idea that they will walk on trek as if they were that person and will try to do the things that he or she would have done on the journey to Zion. They could also share their pioneer’s story with the other youth.”

For example, in the video “Tracy’s Trek—Getting Ready,” Tracy and her friend Miranda decide to learn about and walk for two handcart pioneer sisters named Emma and Sarah James, ages 16 and 19, respectively.

Reenacting stories

Reenacting firsthand accounts of handcart pioneers’ experiences can be especially effective in teaching youth about the faith, obedience, and sacrifice that pioneers exemplified. Leaders should make sure that any stories that are told or reenacted during the trek are historically accurate.

If time and resources allow, consider calling someone to be the trek storytelling coordinator. His or her responsibilities would include researching and preparing handcart pioneer stories to be shared or reenacted during the trek. Scripts for reenactments can be adapted from historically accurate accounts.

 

There are several ways leaders and youth can incorporate pioneer stories into their own trek experience.

Handy resources

Several Church websites contain numerous historically accurate accounts of pioneers’ experiences. For stories from the Martin and Willie handcart companies, visit treks.lds.org and click on “Pioneer Stories.” The Overland Travel Database is another resource with pioneer stories from both handcart and wagon companies. They might also find accounts from their own ancestors or others on FamilySearch.org.

As youth study and ponder pioneers’ accounts of faith, sacrifice, and obedience, they too can be inspired to overcome the trials in their lives. Perhaps a young man is facing taunts and jeers as he strives to live the gospel. Perhaps a young woman is facing feelings of inadequacy. Despite the obstacles in youths’ lives, they can find the strength to face their trials as the pioneers did—with faith and hope.

Visit lds.org/news again for the third article in this three-part series, where you’ll discover how visiting pioneer sites both on and off the pioneer trail can make history come alive.