by Bill Blair
Last summer I was able to participate with approximately 80 other handicapped persons in one of the most exciting experiences of my life—a Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp. Because I have no use of my feet or legs and very little use of my hands and arms, I felt a great deal of apprehension about being away from my family for a whole week. But my fears were quickly calmed. Even before we boarded the buses to leave, each of us was introduced to the young man or woman who would be our 24-hour-a-day attendant for the coming week. Then, our wheelchairs and crutches were stowed in the luggage compartment, and we headed north to Arizona’s beautiful red rock canyon country near Sedona.
The site of our camp was the Verde Valley School, a private institution for both boys and girls. In that beautiful setting we had the use of the whole school—its dormitories, an excellently run cafeteria, the gymnasium-auditorium, and even the facilities of a nearby private pool. In addition, we were able to participate in football, basketball, and softball with the assistance of our attendants. We even had our own Olympics with a special awards program. There were daily sessions in swimming and arts and crafts and horseback riding for those who could participate. Every evening we had different kinds of entertainment, including a masquerade party, a disco night, and a talent show.
Practically no camper is too handicapped for this camp. One participant was supposed to be permanently confined to a hospital bed but was taken to camp and wheeled around to see and enjoy all the activities.
But to me the greatest part of the whole program was the association with the attendants. Their dedication and unselfishness helped make the camp experience successful for all of us. Attendant Kathy Hansen, one of five LDS attendants, felt that “it was a very beautiful and moving experience to see the attendants and their campers sharing this time and experience together. If any attendants needed assistance, there were always willing hands ready to help.” Kathy is a member of the Phoenix 38th Ward, Phoenix Arizona West Stake, and I am a member of the Glendale Fifth Ward, Glendale Arizona Stake.
Although there were a lot of meetings, and a lot of speakers, and a lot of reports at the Tucson, Arizona, regional conference last June, there were even more dancers. More than 300 square dancers do-si-doed and allemanded their partners in the colorful opening cultural event of the conference.
And even though none of the young men and women who participated had ever before performed in a Church dance festival, they enthusiastically accepted the challenge. Gathering from the entire southwestern area of Arizona, the dancers met regularly to learn the intricate patterns involved in executing grand squares, grand parades, airplane spins, and intertwining stars.
“Making instructors out of people who had never danced before and then sending them off to teach all the other beginners in their stakes gave me chills,” admitted Brother Dave Walker, a professional square dance caller who choreographed and called each of the eight dances performed in the festival. He is a convert of three years and had never seen a Church dance festival.
“It normally takes 36 weeks to instruct the basic movements in square dancing and then another year of dancing before one even begins to instruct or call. But these stake dance directors did a fantastic job!”
Opening night saw 38 squares from four different stakes colorfully attired in matching costumes. The swirling movements, accentuated by the skillful lighting techniques playing off the bright and vivid patterns, made the festival even more breathtaking to watch.
Brother Walker remembers being choked up near the end of the performance. “That has never happened to me in calling before,” he said. “There just isn’t much to get choked up about in square dancing. But during these last two dances the kids were flying higher than kites, and when they looked up at me and smiled so enthusiastically, I could tell that they felt all the effort had been worth it!”
Produced by the regional activities committee, the show was performed to 3,000 persons and involved more than 300 dancers.
As LuAnn Spidel greeted friend after friend during the opening moments of the Gettysburg Pennsylvania Stake youth conference, she felt warm and happy. “How very lucky we are to have been born now, in this dispensation,” she thought to herself. She and the 400 other youths and counselors who had gathered at Gettysburg College were eagerly anticipating the weekend ahead—three days planned around the theme “Ye Chosen Generation.”
The youth conference was filled with variety from start to finish—beginning with a giant-banana-split-making contest. Four groups of ten each were given three gallons of vanilla ice cream, bananas, nuts, cherries, chocolate syrup, and a set of instructions. Within about three minutes the winning team had completed its construction! Pictures were then taken, after which the yummy banana and ice cream concoctions were devoured by their creators—truly a contest where no one could lose!
Sixty-seven seminars and workshops on a wide range of topics—the millennium, leadership, quilting, dancing, exercising, and communication skills (to name a few)—followed the opening social. Ping-Pong and chess tournaments, volleyball and basketball games, and a swim meet offered some diversion during the afternoon. That afternoon a casual dance was held in the ballroom, with juggler-ventriloquist Barry Jones of York Ward entertaining during intermission.
Friday’s activities included a bowling tournament, track meet, tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield, a special event patterned after the Truth or Consequences game show, and a formal dance.
Seminars on gospel-related subjects were presented Saturday morning, setting a spiritual tone for the testimony meeting and the tearful good-byes that followed. As the young men and women piled into buses and headed for home, they felt happy and fulfilled, realizing that although the conference had come to its close, the memories they had made would last forever.
“If there is a general agreement among most high school students that ‘history is bunk,’ and boring bunk at that, a little … exposure to Nibley may reverse the verdict.” So says Truman G. Madsen in the foreword to Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, a collection of essays designed to offer a sampling of Dr. Nibley’s work.
In discussing his studies of the papyrus scrolls that Joseph Smith translated into a portion of the Pearl of Great Price, his work with ancient languages and civilizations, and his defense of the restored gospel, Dr. Nibley also investigates the implications of modern science compared with faith, the role of prophets, the law of sacrifice, and his firm conviction that God is in control of the earth, its history, and its peoples. For high school students, as for others, it is fascinating reading.
Division into individual essays makes it easy to read parts of the book at a time. Dr. Madsen’s introduction summarizes Dr. Nibley’s accomplishments. And an autobiography by the author himself offers valuable insight into fostering a love of learning about both spiritual and secular matters.
Had it been mass-produced on newsprint, the book would be worth owning. But to enhance its contents, the binding, cover, design, paper, and printing are all top-of-the-line. The book is valuable both for what it contains and for the appearance and quality of its manufacture.
When stake missionary Paul Stanfield of the Lakeland Ward, Tampa Florida Stake, travels on speaking assignments as part of his calling as a seventy, he often invites a guest speaker to come with him. The guest is his son Rod, 17, who shares some of his missionary experiences as the only LDS teenager at Kathleen High School.
Participating alongside his parents isn’t a new experience for Rod, who, beginning at age seven, got up at 6:00 A.M. every Sunday for two and one-half years to attend stake missionary meetings with his mother and father, and who placed figures on a flannel board as his parents taught missionary lessons in their home.
“I want to let young people know how great the Church is,” Rod says. “I want them to know they can be proud of it, that they can get along without the bad things a lot of kids think they need to have fun.”
Rod’s commitment is apparently evident to his classmates, who elected him school chaplain. “It’s an office in the student council,” Rod explains. “I help to provide a moral voice for school officers and can also counsel students who come to me for help or advice.”
It isn’t hard for the other students to recognize the chaplain; he’s active in many other school activities as well. These have included playing defensive end on the varsity football team for the past three years (he’s the team member who makes a point about not swearing and the one for whom the coach made sure there was root beer in the locker room cola machine). He attended Florida Boys’ State and was one of 17 finalists out of 600 Florida applicants for Boys’ Nation. He was one of 12 high school students on a panel for the local chapter of Women for Responsible Legislation, a movement to combat the Equal Rights Amendment. He’s the president of the National Honor Society in his school, vice-president of the art club, a member of the lettermen’s club, and the one who presented a paper about Joseph Smith’s accomplishments as his English class project.
Rod’s post-high school plans include a full-time mission and then continuing his education at BYU.
The final miles of a 25-mile bicycle ride can be grueling. But for 120 young people from the Beaverton Oregon Stake the miles were pleasant for two different reasons: (1) their course had been planned so that the last five miles meandered along the scenic banks of the Willamette River in Champoeg State Park near Portland, and (2) they knew that each mile was furthering their goal of helping a family with 13 developmentally disabled adopted or foster children.
The service project was coordinated by youth chairmen Lee Oakley and Julie Haddon of the sponsoring Tigard First and Second wards. Enough money was raised (through pledges from sponsors) to help Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Grisham and their daughter, Jacqueline, to convert their garage into a playroom for the 13 disabled children who share their home with them.
Youths from the Gabriel Park, Mountain View, Tualatin Valley and West Hills wards, as well as from the Tigard wards, cycled through level farmland for 20 miles before reaching the park. Beautiful weather; a lunch of tacos, soft drinks and ice cream; and a chance to meet the Grisham family and talk with them at the end of the ride helped ease any muscles strained during the ride.
The young Latter-day Saints patterned this service project after a walk-a-thon held the year before and based it on the following criteria: the service should help someone residing within stake boundaries; it should include direct contact with those they were helping; and it should include people who were not members of the Church. The choice of the bike-a-thon for the Grisham family met all the requirements, since the Grishams are not members of the Church. Each participant received a certificate for his service.