In August this summer, some 450 young women came to Camp Barnard, a 250-acre Scout Canada camp located on southern Vancouver Island for a five-day BC Provincial Young Women Encampment themed “It's Time”.
Encampment Director, Brenda Molnar, indicated that 175 support volunteers had each contributed hundreds of hours toward preparing for the event. Twelve- to eighteen-year-olds from across the province from Smithers to Sparwood and Fort St. John to Victoria all came to meet their peers, make new friends and participate in a myriad of activities ranging from spiritual development workshops and creative craft making to participating in a humanitarian service project and a mini-triathalon. Special inspirational guest speakers were Elaine Dalton, a former General Young Women President, Area Seventy Elder Paul D M Christensen and runway model Lucy Rizo. Popular recording artists Kenneth Cope and Calee Reed also provided live inspirational entertainment. The young women enjoyed these musical performances, workshops, daily devotionals and nightly campfires. Sister Molnar said, ”All the activities were designed to provide opportunities for the young women to feel the Spirit and receive direction for this time in their lives.”
Program Chair, Lynn Sloan commented, “There are more opportunities available today, than ever before, for young women to be positive influences and role models within their families, schools and communities. The camp activities were designed to allow each girl to stretch herself and discover her strengths and capabilities. Our desire was that each young woman would leave the Encampment feeling empowered, recognizing that her time to shine is now.”
'About a week before the encampment, I saw a picture of a pack of lions walking in the same direction and there was a caption on it saying ‘Surround yourself with those on the same mission as you.’ It didn't really mean much at the time, but throughout the camp I really felt that support and strength from the other young women who had similar goals and standards to me. It really felt like you were a part of something bigger, and you knew you had these other girls on your side. It was deeper than the silly petty things, like whose hair looked the best or whose clothes were the nicest. It brought me a sense of belonging and support. I wish that everyone could have a chance to experience that support in that large of numbers. There is really nothing like it. It almost makes you feel invincible.
It took a 12 and a half hour drive for me to attend camp. When you're at camp with roughly 500 other girls you automatically expect some sort conflict to arise. But honestly, there wasn't one girl there that you felt judgment from; everyone was just super supportive and friendly. You could go up to any person at any given time and have an genuine conversation with her. We’re taught as a society to be careful not to come across as 'weird' or “different,” which makes it really hard to get to know each other. We're too worried that we'll be treated differently or pushed aside. At this encampment, that social barrier seemed to be non-existent. You could be silly and goofy with these girls who were complete strangers. Feeling safe to truly be yourself amongst hundreds of other girls really made my trip worthwhile.
I discovered that it's time for me to be genuinely happy. In this world, we have a lot of outside influences telling us what will make us happy and what won't, but ultimately if you find something that makes you genuinely happy, why not have it in your life? I'm not talking about happy like partying with your friends on the weekend, I'm talking about the happiness that literally radiates out of you and that makes others wonder how it's even possible to be that happy.'
Jayme’s thoughts were echoed many times over during the encampment and its theme song's words “...when you find your reason why, you'll let your light so shine.”