For the past several years, I have had the chance to go to the Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) put on by our church (LDS) in our region. This year it included all of Ontario, which means about 600 youth between the ages of 14-18.
Every year, it’s been a fantastic experience. The kickoff is Wednesday at 9am, so it’s an early start as I drop my kids off at the bus leaving from our area at 6am (they prefer to bus it with their friends) and I continue up to to University of Waterloo where it’s held. I am a “houseleader” which basically means I am in charge of a “house” of 10 girls (5 dorm rooms). Then everyone is divided into branches where there are 2 girl houses and 2 boy houses together. You travel around with your branch, attend workshops and activities with them and do devotionals at night with them.
(I had to snap a pic when I saw Zach below scratching the backs of two friends (girls). Finally he is doing some work!): We start each day with a general assembly for everyone where there is a keynote speaker, followed by a couple of workshops (usually 3 branches per workshop), and lunch. In the afternoon there is either sports/games, or a big service project (one day you do sports, one day you do a service project – packaging 150,000 meals for a local food bank). I was with the younger kids, so I got to see Josh on occasion.
Zandra sent me this one of her group:
This year we had a couple of interesting speakers, but the highlight was David Archuleta. Not only did he inspire us with his music, but he gave an incredible keynote address. Being only 26, I think he was especially sensitive to the challenges teenagers face.Another huge part of YLC is the emphasis on social. In our branches, when we go from workshop to workshop, or head off to the assemblies or activities, everyone is encouraged to go with an escort. Traditionally the boys ask the girls, but guys can be shy! Basically you are encouraged to walk with a partner to get to know them better. It’s a great opportunity to work on your conversation skills (something that most teens really need to learn how to do. Snapchat gives the illusion that you have conversation skills…) It’s especially fun when your big sister wants you to escort her…The last night is the formal. There’s a lot of hype about this! The guys in the branch prepare a “special ask” to the girls in the branch. We were in group “Enos” and our boys did a fantastic job! They spent a lot of time learning the dance, and making the puppets for the puppet show:The formal itself is fun, where you get all dressed up, have dinner with your escort, then head to the dance. My kids know that the “mamarazzi” in me comes out so they geverally are good about posing: alone, with dates, with their group, with friends and with each other:To choose their dates, they picked a tie:I was only around for pictures of Zach’s group (I did have to spend time with my group too!)
My favourite people all together:Then they get annoyed with me:Dinner: The first dance is dedicated to your escort. Ok, this is not her escort, but I love how Zandra stands out looking even more beautiful in red! : My roommate and I took puppets as dates (the boys in our group had made them for the ask):The kids always have such a great time at formal because they’ve gotten to know so many people over the last few days.
I love stalking my kids; it’s one of my favourite past times! Luckily, they are pretty chill about it ( I try to stalk from a distance and only occasionally get in their face – like for formal photos) or when then want them at the end: ^^^Gonna miss this girl in particular as she heads to BYU! I love getting to know their awesome friends too! I have to say my kids are pretty awesome, as are their friends! We have the same picture of these two every year, except they keep getting older!!: My absolute favourite part is the end… where I get to drive my kids home! We stop for McDonalds and then debrief about everything. I love hearing their funny stories, strange stories, inspirational stories, spiritual stories, and then compare notes on what we liked and didn’t like.
Its always a truly awesome few days and this year was no exception!