Philmont conference is a family event
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Each year, hundreds of local Aaronic Priesthood leaders gather at New Mexico's Philmont Scout Ranch for a week of youth-centered training and Scout development. Most of the men don't arrive at camp alone.
Indeed, Philmont is a family experience. The men's young sons and daughters spend the week at camp celebrating the outdoors in group activities and making new LDS friends from around the country. Meanwhile, the wives of the participating leaders enjoy time away from their own busy lives by being involved in spiritual worship and instruction, fellowship with the other women and plenty of fun.
For many of the sisters, spending a week sleeping inside a canvas tent and taking their meals inside a large cafeteria may not have passed as a dream vacation. But each year the vast majority of Philmont's "sisters" return to their homes with lifted spirits and strengthened testimonies. Many marvel at the spirit of unity and friendship that exists between folks who arrived as strangers but quickly became lifelong friends.
"Philmont was an opportunity to be with friends we had always known — but had never met," wrote Clarlyn Snyder of Worland, Wyo. "We realized everyone at Philmont was of one heart and one mind, just like the city of Enoch."
Dubbed the "Silverados," the women at Philmont's annual LDS training conference enjoyed plenty of family time with their husbands and children. But the sisters also came together to participate in classroom instruction, outdoor activities and tours and to enjoy devotional messages shared by members of the Young Men and Primary general presidencies and their spouses.
"The Spirit was [at Philmont] all week," noted Kara Brinkerhoff of Las Vegas, Nev. "I could feel it as we listened to various talks and attended different programs and activities. I was forever changed as a mother, a wife and as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our family grew, and I am so grateful for the chance I had to go to Philmont."
As with the men, much of the instruction for women at this year's recent Philmont training focused on the revised Duty to God program. As mothers of young men and the wives of Aaronic Priesthood leaders, women play a pivotal role in the success of the Duty to God program.
Heidi Burnham of Montrose, Colo., did not come to Philmont kicking and screaming — "but I was holding onto the door jam with both hands really tight." She didn't know quite what to expect at the Scout-centered encampment.
"I had no idea that I would walk away with a testimony of both Scouting and the Duty to God program," she wrote. "It was a life changing experience for me, especially since I have a 13-year-old boy and another future Scouter. I loved Philmont and would do it again in a heartbeat."