By Maria Milligan
Jul 17, 2016

Youth Programs and Spiritual Mountaintop Experiences

I recently returned from the first Young Women camp I’ve attended since I turned 18 and joined the Relief Society. I was a little nervous going in, since in recent years the only camps I’d experienced were Scout camps, and girls camp seemed like a rather different undertaking. I wasn’t sure what it meant to be a camp director at a camp with no merit badges and for which “nail polish” was an item on the packing list.

girls-camp-antelope-island-beach-woman-young-women-1246701-wallpaperWhen it came to the testimony meeting campfire, however, I found myself on familiar ground. I knew what being in the mountains without a cell phone, exhausted from a challenging activity and surrounded by people who believed the same things could do for a youth. I listened to young women describe the things they’d learned, the love they’d felt from their Father in Heaven, and their desire to do better. I was surprised when several young women said our daily scripture study as a group was their favorite part of camp. I heard teenagers bear witness to the truths of the gospel and the restoration. I thanked Heavenly Father for that week on the mountain and everything it had inspired.

Mountaintop Experiences

Elaine S. Dalton, former Young Women general president, said this of mountaintop experiences:

“When we think of mountaintop experiences, we think of Nephi who said, “I … did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:3).

We also think of Enos, the Brother of Jared, Joseph Smith, and many others including Moses who went to the top of a mountain or into a forest and there came to know their identity and purpose.

The scriptures teach us that when Moses came down from the mount, he was changed because of the spiritual experience he had there. His face shone. He knew he was a son of God. He knew God knew him by name. He had a basis on which to judge the counterfeit voices of the world. When confronted by Satan, Moses replied, “I will not cease to call upon God … for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee” (Moses 1:18).

Eliza R. Snow once said, “You may talk to the [Saints] about the follies of the world … til dooms day, and it will make no impression. But … place them in a position where they will get the Holy Ghost, and that will be a sure protection from outside influences” (Woman’s Exponent, 15 Sept. 1873, p. 63).

Scout and Young Women Camps

Scouts with Scriptures at CampYouth camps give us the chance to provide these kinds of mountaintop experiences for the next generation of Church leaders. As young men and women challenge themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually, they will be placed in a position where they are humble and receptive to the Holy Ghost. They will learn spiritual truths that will sustain them through future trials, set the groundwork of a powerful testimony, prepare them for missionary service, and teach them to live in service of God.

Don’t underestimate the power of camp as a testimony-building opportunity. Find ways to invite the spirit, always hold reflections, and give your youth a chance to grow closer to God as they get more familiar with the world He created.

If you would like to use a Utah National Parks Council camp as a setting for your Young Women’s mountaintop experience, fill out an interest survey here.

Maria Milligan


Author: Maria Milligan | Grant Writer, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.

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4 thoughts on “Youth Programs and Spiritual Mountaintop Experiences

  1. AvatarMaloree Anderson

    Girls camp was one of my favorite things in Young Women. I made so many friends and I had a lot of opportunities to feel of the spirit whether that be in a group or individual setting. Wish I could go back!

  2. AvatarLeah Overson

    We heard from Young Women about camp too and they all said they really felt good there and loved the camaraderie. It’s so easy to get caught up in disappointment over world conditions that I really appreciated Elisa R Snow’s advice to teach about how to get the Spirit – rather than sharing “Dooms Day” thoughts with people.
    Nice : -) Very Nice!

  3. AvatarJordan Saniger

    Those mountain heights also stirred in me other reflections. I’d like to share some of those with you this morning. It seems to me that the power of a testimony of Jesus Christ is one of the great, untapped sources of direction in our lives today. I am convinced that each of us, however good, loyal, or dedicated we try to be in the gospel and in the Church, could do so much more if we did it with the power and influence of an unwavering faith in the Lord. Let me give you an example.

  4. AvatarDoug Brewer

    Maria, I write this less for you and more for me because I’m compelled to say something and I’m sure you already realize what I’m saying. Perhaps the most memorable and inspiring experience of my life was during a period when I had the pleasure of working closely with genius, Darryl Alder. Early in both our careers, he was assigned to be my “advisor” as Course Director of one of the early Woodbadge Courses (’83) and it didn’t take me long to realize I was blessed with having a brilliant, sincere, colorful and selfless Child of God to rub shoulders with throughout that “Mountaintop” experience. I’ve never seen such an exemplary “Scouter” who knows that program and its values thru-and-thru, but beyond that, who latches on to any leadership maxim or idea or thought sequence with recalling capacity like no one I’ve ever seen. The well-known greats from Nightengale to Covey could be well-taught by this less-known UNP blessing of a soul.

    (I was quite a bit shorter than both he and Lawrence Benson, the other of our “Key Three.” At the end of the course Darryl’s idea I’m sure) they each dug a foot hole in the ground to stand in at the head of Gilwell Field so I’d have my due.)

    I envy you and know you also appreciate what I’m saying. Just a reminder to enjoy it while you can. You think, Oh, I’ll meet a few others like that in life, but you won’t. Not one like this one. I have very much enjoyed your series and am glad I’m not finished reading it yet.


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