BETA

Service shines through smiles at conference for youths

Most teens would rather water ski or backpack than organize and participate in a carnival for young children.

After all, a carnival is only fun for little kids. Or is it?Youths in the Bountiful Utah Mueller Park Stake participated in a different kind of youth conference this year when the stake hosted a carnival Saturday, July 14 for children from homeless shelters in the valley as well as Primary children from northern Salt Lake City.

About 200 children attended the free carnival. Sloppy Joes, hot dogs, snow cones, cotton candy and many other tasty treats were provided to make sure no one went hungry. Each ward was in charge of setting up a booth, such as the nail hammer, the bean bag toss, relays races and face painting. Prizes were given to participants.

Hogle Zoo donated a petting zoo for use at the carnival. The food was also donated by various companies in the area and prizes were purchased from the stake budget. Utah Transit Authority provided transportation to the carnival, held at Warm Springs Park in north Salt Lake City.

Instead of paying $60 or more for youth conference, the young men and women paid only $6 for the weekend's activities, said Pres. Gary Moore, second counselor in the stake presidency.

"I wasn't real sure I wanted to go," said Justin Wilson, a priest in the Bountiful 46th Ward. "That's your first reaction to any kind of service, but when you actually participate, it ends up being much better than anything like skiing or snowmobiling would have ever been."

Tyler Yeates, also a priest in the Bountiful 46th Ward, agreed. "At other youth conferences we have done something fun for us. This time we are helping other people and I think that's pretty neat."

Each youth was paired up with a child to play games with them and to make them feel comfortable.

More than 300 youths from the stake participated in the activity, which began Friday, July 13, with a fireside. Bishop Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and a member of the stake, spoke on the youth conference theme, "Look Inside Yourself." By doing so, a person is able to reach out to others, he said.

The youths completed several major service projects in the city of Bountiful before the conference, and in exchange the city let the stake use its recreation center free of charge for its Friday night activities.

On Sunday the youths attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast, toured Temple Square and had a testimony meeting in the Assembly Hall.

"We saw more youths talking with other youths in the stake than we would typically get during a youth conference where they pair off with their buddy and go," Pres. Moore said.

Lisa Johns, a Laurel in the Bountiful 46th Ward, said she wasn't planning on coming to youth conference, but after she did she preferred it over other youth conferences she has been to. "It's a lot more rewarding and makes you appreciate your family."

Kathryn Kieffer, a Mia Maid in the Bountiful 42nd Ward, said, "This is kind of what Heavenly Father wants you to do. Service - that's what it's all about."

Instead of playing and spending money on herself, Nicole Larkin, a Laurel in the Bountiful 51st Ward, said the activity "makes you feel so much better to see these kids smile for just the smallest things."