Almost 400 pairs of eyes read over the registration forms for the youth conference in Riverside, California, and there was not a blue pair in the bunch. And that’s what made this a very special and unique conference. It was one of several youth conferences held for young Lamanite members of the Church. They came to Riverside from Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California with all the vital ingredients for a great conference. Good planning, willing leaders, plenty of food, and a well-planned agenda helped make this conference one to be remembered.
Registration for the conference began in the afternoon on a Thursday in late April. The visiting students stayed in host homes with the Saints in the Riverside area. The concept of host families proved an excellent method of strengthening testimonies of both students and families, and many spoke of the warm relationships that were built between guests and hosts during the short period of three days.
Conference attenders rested from their travels in the early evening and then returned to the stake center to view the “Lamanite Extravaganza,” a production involving talented performers from all over the West.
Friday morning activities began with a welcome and theme presentation by Jeff Cody and Rose Bedoni, aided by students from the Scottsdale Region. Jeff and Rose were the host and hostess of the conference and took the responsibility for planning the activities and making certain that things went as they were planned.
The conference included an essay contest that produced two winning essays by Marie Singer and John Mason. The essays were written on the subject of “The Family As a Sacred Unit.”
In her essay Marie said, “The very foundation of the kingdom of God, of righteousness, of progress, of development, of eternal life and eternal increase lies in the family unit.” John stressed the importance of preparing for the responsibilities of raising a family by saying, “I pray that each of us will prepare ourselves to have a marriage and a family that is ordained of God, and that we will remember the importance of prayer in helping to prepare ourselves for this sacred calling.”
In addition to the essay contest, competition was held in the areas of arts and crafts, talent, and speech. Winning arts and crafts were displayed and winning talent numbers and speeches were heard during the conference.
Seminars, good food, a dance, and the talent show were all part of the three days, but the overwhelming success of the conference was that here were gathered young people of the Church with the spirit and ability to lead in the future.
Perhaps Jeff Cody summed it up best when he said, “Planning and being responsible for this conference have been a lot of worry and a lot of work, but it has been more than worth the effort when I see the growth it has brought me and my brothers and sisters in the gospel. We had some problems, but the leaders of the stake and the parents here have been a great help to us. It is a wonderful feeling to know that brotherhood in the gospel can accomplish so much.”
The closing session of the conference was held on Saturday, and the meeting included testimonies. If nothing greater had been accomplished than the bearing and sharing of these strong testimonies, the whole conference would still have been worthwhile.
After the final session, better friends clasped hands and shared quiet words of parting with brothers and sisters who may not get together again for a year. A Lamanite youth conference is dancing, singing, laughing, learning—but most of all it’s sharing testimonies of the gospel through the spirit of brotherhood.