I wish the MyFamily History Youth Camp had been around when I was a teenager. I would have LOVED it! The camp is in conjunction with the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy and when I was there last year, I saw that there was a youth camp going on at the same time. My curiosity was piqued!
The youth camp is July 24-28 this summer and it’s a one of a kind experience. I’ll be attending parts of the camp this year as a break out speaker and observer. I interviewed the camp’s director, Annie Merrell all about the camp. Here’s what she had to say.
How did myFamily History Youth camp get started and how many years has it been going?
BYU’s myFamily History Camp started 3 years ago. BYU Continuing Education was exploring options for new youth camps. In recent years there are have been many talks in General Conference about youth and family history. We spent much time pondering Elder Bednar’s invitation:
I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories. As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.
With the increase in counsel for youth to learn and participate in family history work and the many new resources available to improve research, we felt it was the perfect time to offer a family history experience solely for the youth.
Who is the BYU myFamilyHistory camp for?
The BYU myFamily History Camp is for youth ages 14-18 who want to learn more about how to find their ancestors! It is great experience for youth who have never done family history and it is an equally wonderful experience for youth who already have a passion for family history.
What is the purpose of the camp?
The purpose of the camp is to help youth learn the tools they need to find their ancestors and help others to do the same. We seek to first touch hearts and then work on the family charts. Some of our objectives include:
-Prepare the youth to successfully fulfill callings as Ward Family History Youth Consultants
-Teach foundational genealogical research skills
-Learn how to use different tools to find new names to take to the temple
-Give back to the community through family history service activities
What kinds of activities can youth expect to do at the camp?
This is our third year of camp and every year keeps getting better! Some of this year’s activities to look forward to include:
– A field trip to Salt Lake City complete with a trip to the new FamilySearch Discovery Center, a scavenger hunt at the Family History Library, and free time on Temple Square and in the library.
-An EFY Dance
-“Records Rescue” with Kindex- a fantastic project where the youth will digitize and transcribe orphaned records donated to local thrift stores
-A Family History Service Project!
-Consultant Training with FamilySearch
-A night of bowling and Karaoke
-One-on-one time with a trained genealogist
-Lots of great classes to help youth hone their skills, including master classes for returning and advanced participants.
Do the youth come because they know nothing about family history and want to learn more? Or do they already know and love family history?
We have youth who come for many reasons! Some already have a strong love for family history. They have been finding their own names for LDS Temple proxy baptisms, learning stories from relatives, and building connections with those have gone before. Other youth come with little to no experience. They are often excited and a bit apprehensive to jump into finding their ancestors. By the end of the week, all of the youth leave with greater knowledge and extra enthusiasm for family history work!
Who is teaching and keynoting this year?
We have some incredible speakers and keynotes lined up for this year. Our keynote speakers are:
– Rhonna Farrer –FamilySearch Social Media Missionaries. Creator. Teacher. Storyteller.
– President Cecil O. Samuelson – current President of the LDS Salt Lake City Temple, former President of Brigham Young University
– Jeff Marks – Pediatric dentist and wilderness EMT. Husband and father. He enjoys high-altitude mountaineering and high-attitude genealogy. His story is about an ordinary person searching for answers who experiences extraordinary miracles along the way.
– Al Fox Carraway – Blogger, award-winning speaker, and author of the best-selling book, More Than the Tattooed Mormon. Her passion is to tell everyone that happiness exists, and it comes from the gospel!
We also have some amazing teachers for our breakout classes:
– Nicole and Diana from Family Locket
– Melissa Finlay creator of the Little Family Tree app
– Amanda Terry and Devin Ashby – our FamilySearch experts
– Jill Woodbury, Loretta Evans, and Michael McCormic – accredited genealogists and extraordinary teachers
– Lauren Wake – BYU Family History Graduate and Spanish research professional
I went to EFY as a young woman. How is this similar and different?
myFamily History Camp is similar to EFY in that it offers a week of spiritually uplifting and testimony strengthening activities and classes. Each day starts and ends with a devotional, youth develop great friendships, and they get to participate in an EFY dance.
Unlike EFY, the entire week is focused on family history and finding your ancestors. Family History Camp is also smaller with about 60 participants. We have a special keynote speaker each day and we take a field trip to Salt Lake City to visit the Family History Library and Temple Square. It’s a perfect camp for youth who love their families and want to find new names for temple work and for those wanting to try out a new camp this year.
What were the experiences of the youth at last years’ camp?
We asked the youth what some of their favorite experiences were. Here are some of their responses.
“I loved going to Temple Square and going to the different museums and looking at the different artifacts.”
“My favorite activity at camp had to be when we went into the class about the family history technology lab and playing geneopardy and figuring out my family history through that. Now I’m going to learn all of this and take it to a family reunion and beat everybody. It was so much fun.”
“My favorite part of camp would have to be going to the discovery center and we got to see the timeline of our ancestors, what happened when they were there, how common my name is, and where all of my ancestors are from.”
“I like learning new things. I haven’t ever really got into family history, so I like learning all of the new stuff we can do.”
“I loved two things: looking up the microfilms and also being able to research my family history ancestors while there were all of the counselors in the room ready to answer any questions.”
“I really liked the AncestorGo activity. I thought that was really fun. I liked the selfie with Brigham Young.”
“I really like the speakers. They’ve really brought the spirit. They’ve really made family history seem important to me. I think that was one of the number 1 reasons why I realized it was really really important. The speakers really did bring the spirit. They get it.”
Do you know any youth ages 14-18 who would enjoy this camp? Please share with them!