I'll start with just an explanation of the Young Women program is. It consists of girls ages 12-18. There are three "levels" of it (can't think of a better word...) Beehive, which is 12-13, Mia Maid, which is 14-15, and Laurel, which is 16-18. This is really confusing to me because I always called it Young Womens, Beehives, Mia Maids, and Laurels, I said them all with an "s" on the end and now I wonder if it's supposed to be there or not.
In the Young Women program, you meet together on Sundays for an hour, and during the week you have a meeting. We would cook things, go sledding, do service projects, all kinds of things.
We also had Girl's Camp. Oh Girls Camp. Heading out to the woods for a week. I've never been camping besides Girl's Camp.
I'll just share a few of my experiences from this program now.
Hmm. First... I came into Young Womens really shy. Really really shy. I was a little kid again and I didn't know if I would fit in, let alone how. That was never an issue. I was immediately surrounded by friends, amazing young women who were my age or close to my age. I looked up to all of them. It gave me a system of friends, really, because I didn't have many friends up to that point. I walked into that classroom on my first Sunday as a 12 year old, and I sat down in a chair in the corner all by myself. Seconds later, the chairs around me were filled. People were talking to me, asking about my life, including me in conversation. I never felt lonely.
We supported each other so much, in so many things, be it school, church, or even dating. I never had a lack of advice, if I wanted advice, it was there, if I didn't want advice, then a there was a listening ear.
And the leaders.
I just need to say that in Young Womens, I developed my testimony of Christ and Christlike attitudes. I developed my testimony of eternal families. The leaders were always so concerned in me and knew when I was having a hard day and they were there. And they knew when I was having a great day and they were there still.
Now Girl's Camp. Girl's camp was a lot of fun. Camping, hiking, swimming, canoeing, rock climbing, shooting, archery... we did it all.
I remember one night when we were at the posh Heber Valley Girl's Camp. We had cabins at this camp. It was on top of a mountain and there were aspens all over. I lay in bed one morning before anyone was awake, reading my scriptures and writing in my journal. There was a small window right next to my pillow and I watched a storm roll in across the valley and thunder rumble through the mountains. It was beautiful. I felt so close to Heaven in that moment. I felt my Heavenly Father's love, I felt his arms around me and I felt of value. The beautiful scene unfolding around me felt created solely for me. I was awestruck.
Young Womens gave me a sense of hope and direction. It helped me transition into High School. It helped me set high standards in who I chose to be around. It helped me realize that I was a daughter of God and that I deserved the best in friends and the best in myself. It helped me develop a confidence in talking to others and sharing my faith, confidence in being a missionary of Christ.
And one thing I will always remember forever was the emphasis on families. Before Young Womens, I was probably like any kid. Terrified at the thought of leaving their family, even if it was to find that happily ever after talked about in Disney movies. But Young Womens helped me understand the joy that was to be found in creating your own families. As a little 12 year old, my leader talked about Temple Marriage and how important it was, how much joy it would bring you. She handed out little post cards saying "I'm going to the Temple on _____ day and I would love to have you there." I kept that post card because it was important to me. I wanted to make it to the Temple and I wanted to have that leader there when I did because she played a huge role in getting me there. I saved it, kept it in a memory box, and last year at about this time, I slipped it into an envelope and sent it to her.
The day Joseph and I were sealed was the happiest day of my life. I walked into the sealing room of the Temple, holding his hand, and we walked into the sealing room, the seats full of loved ones. Each one played a part in us being there together, each one played a part in bringing us to that immense happiness. And on the side of the room was that Young Womens leader of mine, smiling from ear to ear. And I received, in that moment, a strong testimony of the program. It's there to create strong young women and strong grown women who have their eyes set high. Women who have the light of Christ in them. Women who know who they are, daughters of their Heavenly Father.
I hope to work in Young Womens some day. I know that not every girl has as good as an experience as I did, but I think every girl deserves a chance to get it and if I could do anything to return my thanks to Heavenly Father for what was done for me, I would go and do.