Having fun by doing good
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SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
It was a record-breaking 104 degrees on Saturday, June 18, when hundreds of San Antonio area youth gathered for a service project at McGimsey Scout Park. It was the culminating event of a three-day youth conference, and these youth were breaking records of their own. For starters, it was the first time the five San Antonio stakes had combined for youth conference. It was a massive undertaking, with 800 teenagers in attendance. It was also the biggest Church-led service project at the Scouting facility.
"I was surprised they could find a project that 800 teenagers could do all at once," said Sarah Cross, a young woman in the Canyon Springs Ward, San Antonio Texas Hill Country Stake.
There was plenty of work to do at the 140-acre Scout park. The youth split up into teams to complete several projects including priming and painting the pavilions, repairing tent platforms and cleaning up brush on the property. They also assembled 3,000 hygiene kits to be sent to U.S. service men and women in Afghanistan.
"It's fun to work with each other. Not just having fun the whole time, but actually contributing," said Ethan Gifford of the Sonterra Ward, San Antonio Texas North Stake.
The service project put into action the values that were emphasized during the conference. The theme — "What Are You Broadcasting?" — focused on the messages that the youth give to their peers through their daily actions and through social networking sites, such as Facebook. The teens were encouraged to live the 13th Article of Faith, namely, to seek after and be examples of honesty, truth, chastity, benevolence and virtue.
Many of the youth said the highlight of the conference was getting to hear from Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, who gave several talks and conducted workshops.
"I think it's cool that she had time to come down and talk to us," said Isaac Trussell of the Braun Heights Ward, San Antonio Texas West Stake. "She taught us to seek eternal exaltation daily and that we should make it a constant goal. Not to just be virtuous on Sunday, but we should live virtuous lives seven days a week."
Kicking off the conference, San Antonio Texas Stake President Angelus Vasquez encouraged the youth to fully participate, to feel the Spirit, to sing, to laugh, to make friends, to dance and to have a good time. The youth did exactly that. Many said being with 800 other youth helped them realize that even though many teenagers don't share their values, they are not alone.
"I've seen people here that go to my school that I didn't even know were Mormon," said Ruben Herrada of the Windcrest Ward, San Antonio Texas East Stake. "It feels good to know there are others out there."
Austin Moore of the Canyon Springs Ward, San Antonio Texas Hill Country Stake, agreed. "I can feel the unity. I didn't realize there were 800 youth here and to know that there are that many of us with the same standards feels good."