This week I volunteered to help as the “priesthood” on staff for a couple days at Young Women Camp. Perhaps this is all old hat to a lot of you, but it was my first experience. I was very impressed. It was both fun and tiring. I never knew girls could be so crazy!
The Young Women took the time-honored tradition of Snipe Hunting to a level of professional theater never seen in all my years among the Scouts. The girls had the “weenies” (first year campers) apply tooth paste to their arms and legs to help attract wild mountain Snipe. Apparently there is a chemical in tooth paste that is similar to the mating scent of the species common to my region. The older girls had some of their comrades positioned in the woods with glow sticks. The glow sticks were wrapped up and covered so they looked like a pair of eyes in the dark, made to blink by covering them temporarily. The green eyed ones were the female snipe, the red eyed ones were the males. Snipe sound a little like teenage girls growling, but don’t let that fool you. Of course they were only hunting the males, per normal hunting protocol. One especially theatrical young lady even played up a previous cut on her leg as a “snipe bite,” and was carried limping and wailing to the infirmary. She went back out to help the new girls after she had been properly bandaged. I think girls were still running around screaming at 1am in the morning.
I learned an eternal truth at YW Camp: men take out the trash. Growing up, the boys in my home took out the trash. I carried that tradition on in my own family as a father. What was my main duty as the “priesthood” serving at camp? Yeah, taking the enormous amounts of trash in a pickup truck down the road to a dumpster three times a day. We were also fearless spider killers and snake charmers. The mice were smart enough to run when they heard we were coming. If the Church programs are all “true,” just like the Church, does this give me a glimpse of what I will be doing in the Celestial Kingdom some day? I wonder if spiders share a different kingdom or something. I’m thinking it will be hard to kill resurrected spiders. Do they make a spray for that? At least they won’t be gross and gooey when crushed I suppose, having a perfected body of flesh and exoskeleton (no blood).
One of our other roles was to be there in case someone needed a priesthood blessing. We didn’t get much sleep… The second night saw the need for 5 blessings. One girl had a bad dream, which then set off a chain reaction in her friend, and neither could sleep after praying and singing hymns to chase away the evil spirits. So those were the first two. Another girl later on was sure she was dying from a snake bite to her ankle, from a little baby snake we had “extracted” earlier in the evening from outside her cabin. It was after midnight, and she wouldn’t get out of the pickup truck she was occupying. We couldn’t find any marks on her ankle, or anything else physically wrong with her, so that was a blessing of comfort. An adult leader needed a blessing for an unspecified lack of wellness, and a new girl had one in the early morning for a slightly sore throat, probably from screaming all night at the snipe hunt.
I finally caught on that the camp leaders in the infirmary were pushing every single girl that came in to them to ask for a blessing. I later confirmed this by way of my oldest daughter. She said they were kind of ridiculous about it. You know what though? I might be one normally to roll my eyes, but it was a nice experience for everyone involved. It was a positive experience. OK … some of the ailments were a little silly, but it was camp. The girls are crazy there!
I hung out for two days with a member of our bishopric. We had a lot of chances to talk about the Gospel. Wow … it was interesting to spend so much time with an uber Iron Rod Mormon. I decided to make up a new label: Iron Grip Mormon. That is someone who holds fast to the Iron Rod, with an Iron Grip. It’s like iron squared, dude! He was noticeably disturbed by the fact that I brought Persian Islamic poetry (Rumi) and a modern Bible translation as my reading material. He fell asleep within 10 minutes each night though dutifully trying to follow his “authorized” scripture study program.
I learned from him there are only 4 things in life: Pray, read scriptures, attend all your meetings (yes, all of them, not sit in the halls outside the meetings either), and be obedient to ALL of the commandments. If you miss any of those for even a split second, Satan will get you! The dark lord is waiting to snatch you in his fiery clutches the moment you slip up. The answers to any question you might ever have are all in the four standard works. Everything else is tainted, being “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.” If it ain’t in the standard works, it is probably not an appropriate question.
We had fun talking about Gospel topics. Really. I don’t harbor ill will towards people like that. It was kind of refreshing, in a way, to be exposed to hard line Mormon literalism again. It got under my skin a little bit the first night. I started wondering if I wasn’t actually going to “make it” and get the biggest, shiniest trophy at the finish line of life. Maybe I will fail the test and never ever ever never see God again… I like this brother though. He is a nice guy really, and has a good heart. He is just wound up a lot tighter than me.
It was probably good for him to get a little agitated and pushed out of his comfort zone by me too. I had him running in circles trying to tell me what was scripture and what was not. I found out the Journal of Discourses is not even though they were talks given by leaders of the Church. The Ensign is definitely scripture since it contains talks by leaders of the Church, and the Lectures on Faith are scripture too even though they are no longer in the D&C. The Bible is scripture as long as it is translated correctly. Modern versions (non LDS KJV) are not scripture even though they are more accurate and “correct” translations. Go figure … it all made perfect sense to him somehow. In the end though, the benefit was mutual. I enjoyed our conversations. I love heart-to-heart talks about religion and spirituality, and really like hearing how other people see the world.
I had a great time at YW Camp. I had a good time talking to my daughter and her friends. They were really funny. My daughter doesn’t always want to talk to her parents at home. You know how teenagers are, they are way to cool and omniscient for lame old parents. So it was nice to spend some time with her when I had a chance. The YW leaders did an awesome job planning fun activities and also more serious spiritual programs. The food was good, not like the prison food they serve at the scout camp dining hall. My next youngest daughter turns 12 later this year, so I will have two girls at camp next year. I think I will volunteer again.