So, I have survived the weekend (Applause, Applause!) and have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. To fill in the "what happened this weekend?" readers, I was in charge of our stake's youth conference. And by in charge I mean, I (and other leaders) worked with a committee to plan and put on this weekend-o-fun and, from what I can tell, it was a success. The whole process has really been a blessing and the weight of responsibility really began to weigh heavily on me toward the end, but now that it's over I am feelin' good. Tired, but good.
Friday afternoon we met at the stake center before the rest of the kids showed up for a last minute pow-wow with the committee. My friend, Amelia, gave an amazing talk to the kids, who are mostly seniors, that just really set the tone for the weekend. Ugh, I could gush and gush over everything she said, but she's really talented at talking to the youth and making connections that I am too dense and worldly to pick up on. Anyhow, the normal issues arose once the kids started showing up. "I want a different group," "I want to come, but didn't register. Can you fit me in?," and (my personal fave) "the buses will be late." Okay, y'all know I have this thing scheduled in 15 minute increments, but I let the issues roll off pretty well (considering my type-A, anal, controlling self) and kept saying, "It is what it is." (It really is true, Mom, you know it!) Once on the bus, I had to totally reorganize the rooming list so I could try and save some $$ with rooms we weren't going to use since some kids just decided not to show up. This would be a good time for a sidenote about how rude and inconsiderate it is to not let those know that you won't be coming to a youth conference when such particulars as rooming and transportation are involved. BUT, I don't want to offend anyone who has no issue with SCREWING things up in my life. Anyhow, by the time we got to St. George we skipped the game we had planned and the kids all danced while I reassigned the room keys (shout out to Ethan Hull for his help . . . almost as good as his wife would have been had she not been so pregnant and at home.) The biggest bummer about Friday was the constant grind and work that kept me from the fun stuff and hanging out with the kids. But, I know that wasn't my role this time around. It was important that they had a good time, and that meant the behind the scenes work and, gosh, I cannot say enough good about the youth committee. By the time the kids walked to the hotel, we distributed the keys, got our luggage, got everyone in the hotel, did room checks, got the late-comers into their rooms, and considering the time change and early morning hike, I got about an hour and fifteen minutes sleep for the Saturday marathon day. Really, though, it was like the time when I went to BYU as a leader with the Haven ward when I was, like, 7 months pregnant and ate Kim Chi (spicy fermented cabbage) representin' our ward in the fear factor eating game they played. I know I was blessed not to get sick from that stuff since it was for the kids and all. I really was sustained Saturday with extra energy. My brain was pretty mushy and by the end of the day I was feeling numb and rambly, but not sick or migrained. Anyway. Saturday was a lot with the early morning hike (big kudos to John Crampton for his talk), and the non stop touring and walking of St. George historic sites. The kids all saw "The Joseph Smith movie" at the visitor's center and it was the hit of the weekend from what I can tell from their testimonies tonight. The kids did a service project and we ended the day with a swim party before heading home. There were 161 youth and about 42 adult leaders and it was AWESOME.
There were so many times I stopped myself to really take in the goodness, the sweetness, of these kids just hanging out with each other. It was cool to see so many of them gathered in one place, doing the same things, laughing, and talking, and just being "in the moment." I have some great memories of youth conferences with the 'ol Paradise stake. Sometimes I think the kids look at me (or us leaders) and think we're old and can't relate to what they were going through, but I totally remember the drama of the youth conference romances. Cal Cory asked me to prom at a youth conference, for heaven's sake, and I tried sneaking out of my tent when we went to Podesi and "The Shed" played, which meant my boyfriend was nearby (as were ALL the young men). That same year when we went to Podesi, I remember having to go up early after a choir concert, so I could totally relate to the 7 girls who drove in at midnight after their dance shows just so they could have the experience. When the kids complained, I remembered my own complaints about watching "Alladin" on the big screen and how lame a movie night was. However, those same kids were laughing and having a great time JUST LIKE I did by the end of movie night. Even I complained about my group the year they did a missionary theme. I was even a bratty girl who refused to spend the night somewhere weird with a girl I hardly knew. Anyway. All those memories I have, and so many more, were so real to me as I watched our kids make those same memories. It was like I could see them in ten years saying, "One year at youth conference our leaders made us walk over a mile to get to the hotels at 11pm at night in St. George and by the time we got checked in at midnight (which was 1am Utah time) they made us get up at 4am Utah time and we were SO tired, but the sunrise hike was awesome." Or, I even thought, these kids have so few years before they grow up and get married and I think they'll want to bring their families and relive some of that good stuff they did this weekend.
It's always bittersweet to have such a labor of love come to an end, but I really, really feel so blessed for the chance I had to be with our kids. Tonight I had a hard time controlling my emotions as I thanked them for their work or participation . . . they have such a great impact on my life. Really I feel badly for those who aren't so blessed to work with the amazing youth, and I include the stinkers who have attitudes, or cell phone/ipod contraband kids, or boy-crazy ranters and ravers who are still amazing. I am already excited for next year's youth conference. Really, it was great this year for reasons that have nothing to do with me or my efforts toward bringing it to fruition. I am more anchored in my own faith.