Liberty Glen: The First Young Women Camp

Liberty Stake was the first to plan and carry out a summer camp for the Mutual girls. Their success was followed by other stakes.

A New Concept

During the winter of 1911–12, the Liberty Stake in Salt Lake City began planning a new experience for the girls of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association. The girls had begun to attend Mutual during the summer months, but now their summer activities would include something new and exciting: a weeklong experience at camp. This would be the first recorded summer camp for girls in the Church.

Young ladies set up a tent in the glade.

Counseling with Priesthood Leaders

With the help of their stake president, the stake YLMIA leaders located an ideal place for the new camp. It was a spot on the banks of Big Cottonwood Creek, which ran through James Godfrey’s farm in Murray, Utah.

The girls left Salt Lake City and rode the streetcar to Murray. From there they hiked a little over a mile to the camp.

The creek was widened and deepened in one place for wading and swimming.

Planning and Preparing 

Each ward in the stake prepared a campfire entertainment to advertise the project and raise money for it. The stake promoted an outing to Saltair, a resort on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, and activities in the Deseret Gymnasium in downtown Salt Lake City. Finally, the $365.27 was raised toward building the summer camp. The young ladies practiced making nutritious, well-balanced, easy-to-prepare menus in preparation for cooking at camp.

Rules at the 1912 Summer Camp:

1. Girls must be present and ready for meals at the appointed time.

2. Girls must not leave camp without permission of their leader.

3. Camp must be kept sanitary and left clean. 

Activities at Liberty Glen

“By the shores of the Cottonwood, by the shining swimming hole, stood the cabin of the Girls’ Camp,” wrote Clarissa Johnson, one of the first young women to attend girls’ camp at Liberty Glen, where it began in 1912. The Cottonwood Creek was widened and deepened in one place for wading and swimming. During the week, young ladies were taught about flowers, insects, birds, and plants. They cooked and ate in the open. They concluded the week with a hayrack ride and a night to entertain parents and ward friends who visited the camp.

The young women concluded the week with a hayrack ride.

Camp Accommodations

One large sleeping room boarded halfway to the roof and screened with wire netting on top accommodated 12 single cots with straw mattresses. Shelves were placed for toiletries and towels, and supplies were kept in a large box. Additionally, one piano and one old coal stove were placed in the sleeping room. Tables and boxes were outside, and cooking utensils and dishes were placed in a large box and hung in a tree. Clarissa remembered, “Around the fires in the evenings, sat the camp girls . . . while they danced and sang and shouted, to music from the cabin . . . and they whispered and they giggled until sleep had grasped the last one.”

Liberty Glen was used as a summer camp from 1911 to 1915.

Sweet Memories

During the summer of 1912, eighty-two girls from Liberty Stake and fifteen officers attended the camp. At the end of her time at camp, Clarissa wrote, “Thus passed by the week in August, and the girls they journeyed homeward, in the twilight sad and happy, sad to leave the camp and swimming, glad to be at home with loved ones, filled with joy and blissful memories, looking forward to the next year.”

You might enjoy learning the history of your camp, or if you are establishing a new camp, contribute to the record of your camp.

Looking Forward

Since 1912 many young women camps have been established and dedicated all around the world. A camp with the most basic and simple accommodations can become a sacred space where the Spirit of the Lord is present, where daughters of God put the principles of the gospel into practice, and the glorious blessings of nature are appreciated in happy ways.

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