In our church, we gather the youth together every so often in what we call a “youth conference.”  These conferences are to help build faith in Jesus Christ, learn, be inspired to be the best they can be and get to know each other better.  (Lots more about youth conferences over HERE.)  In our area we do this on a stake level (a group of congregations all gathered together), and it usually happens every other year.
This year it was held the same place it was a couple years ago:  in an old abandoned high school.

How’s that for a little spooky, adventurous-sounding??


Ok, so it’s not totally abandoned, apparently some people bought it, and lend it out for things like this, but still…spooky-ish, am I right?

Last time they went I wasn’t working in the Young Women program so I just sent off Max and Elle with their leaders, and thought it was a little interesting that it was in a high school, but it was kind of cool to get to be there in person this year and see that it was a pretty perfect venue.  (and the people who bought it let the church use it for free, so that’s always a bonus)

This is where we ate, just to give a little more feel for the place:

Pretty beautiful all nestled in there to those mountains.
My carload arrived after the dinner had started out in that same place pictured above.
We have some people in our stake who are from Hawaii and are so awesome…they wanted to help put on a luau to start the opening night out right, and we arrived half-way through.

It was pretty impressive…such good dancers.

After dinner and the luau, we headed inside where everyone was divided up into different groups.  I was asked to be the photographer so I got some shots so show some of the activities:


Glow-in-the-dark volleyball:

Some other kind of relays:

There was also a Skittles game and a game where you had to pass an object down a row of kids…hard to explain and no picture…

Then they had a big meeting to kick off the rest of the time we’d have there.

The theme of the conference was FOCUS and I love that every activity was trying to help the kids realize how important it is to Focus on what’s most important.

I think especially in this world filled with so much technology and so many things that stimulate all our brains in so many different directions.

Then it was off to the big dance:

As I looked around at those close-to-500 youth I couldn’t help but feel so lucky my kids get to be surrounded by them all.  That gym was filled with pretty great kids.

And pretty spectacular leaders.

I was just there to “help” on the sidelines (and take pictures), I didn’t do any of the planning and organizing, which made me particularly grateful for all that those stake leaders did to pull this off.

I know it is no easy task!

Little by little the kids filtered back to their sleeping quarters…

…the classrooms in this old high school.

…and the leaders slept out here in the hallways.

My friend Kristie was pretty smart to bring her whole cot get-up 🙂

My spot is over there with the green blanket on top above…comfy little spot if I do say so myself.

We stayed up late talking…one of my girls was sweet enough to bring some hand-warmers for me which kept me toasty in my sleeping bag all night.

The next morning we had breakfast and individual ward devotionals followed by a huge service project making hygiene kits for needy kids in our local hospitals.

The girls wrote sweet notes to go in each of them.

Then it was lunch:

Followed by everyone rotating to different spots.

We listened to a few really excellent speakers:

And my favorite thing was that they made up an “Escape the Room” based on the Book of Mormon.

This is the only picture I got because our team was so focused on getting out of the room the quickest.

I could not believe how clever the leaders are who put that together.  It was very well-done.

We gathered at the end for one last speaker for everyone together.  It was an older couple who just got back from serving a mission.  They had so many great stories to tell, helping us all remember how important it is to FOCUS on what’s most important in life.

The closing ceremony involved a bunch of dancing storm troopers who felt the light of the youth and changed their hearts…

…despite Darth Vader trying to keep them on “the dark side.”

The youth council were jedis.

Everyone separated to clean their hearts out, pack up cars, and we were off.

Love that I got to be up there with this girl of mine.

…as well as with all those youth and leaders I learned so much from.


  1. Oh my incredible! We would die to have 500 youth in our stake. That is a LOT of kids and a LOT of leaders who are so amazing to dedicate so much time, not only for big events like this but week after week, year after year, to help these beautiful young women through their teen years! Hooray for the Youth and their Leaders!

  2. Is there any way I can get contact info for the leaders who put the Escape Room together? My husband and I were just asked to be in charge of the activities for our upcoming Youth Conference. I remember reading about this on your blog and it sounded so fun. I'm freaking out a little because we were just given the assignment and ours is in June.

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