Orcas Island Conference


For some 300 young Latter-day Saints from northern Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, a youth conference at beautiful Orcas Island culminates a year’s exciting Aaronic Priesthood MIA activities and a year of planning for this event. Although many adult supervisors and chaperones are present, most of the planning and the day-to-day governing of the camp is handled by a youth advisory committee made up of boys and girls from each stake and district. The boat dock looks inviting from the upper trail, but first it is sign in and orientation time at the lodge. Then everyone is assigned to his quarters, the girls in frame bungalows and the boys in large tents complete with their own nautical name plaques and wooden floors.

Everyone understands from the beginning that the Orcas conference is a place for spiritual growth. They also enjoy canoe racing in which hands are used for paddles, swamping canoes, and blind man rowing races during the water carnival. Other activities include horseback riding, tennis, volleyball, various crafts, and, of course, a dance every evening.

The facility on Orcas Island is privately owned and used during most of the summer as a very elite youth camp. However, ever since the first group of young LDS stayed here, they have been invited back because they are such good guests.

Seminars on everything from the local flora and making your own granola to skiing, writing for the New Era, or learning how to become a Canadian Mountie are enjoyed in the mornings.

The food is always good, but a special barbecue of 250 pounds of salmon fillets go a long way to restore the energy lost during the water carnival.

Meeting in the amphitheater with hundreds of other young Latter-day Saints for an open-air testimony sharing is the highlight of the conference. The privilege of sharing your testimony with new friends in the gospel is an unforgettable experience.

There is even a little time to just sit and think.

The trip home includes another ferry ride and a goodbye to the pine trees and beaches of Orcas Island for another year.

From the lookout on Orcas you can see the mainland and home, whether you are from Canada or the United States. Then the theme of the conference, “It’s a Small World,” hits you.

It is a small world when you share the love and fellowship of the gospel.

[photos] Photos by Brian Kelly