Youth Conference 2016 Setup

Trip - Palmyra  July 7th and 8th  2016


    We investigated a number of options early on.  We obtained quotes on 12 passenger vans and while they were less expensive than large buses, suppliers were reluctant to guarantee 12 vans would be available.  We also had safety concerns with youth leaders driving that large a caravan over that distance as well concerns about the logistics of coordinating that number of vehicles throughout the trip led us to pursue buses.  We looked at school buses but no org which chartered school buses would agree to charter over that distance.  Our focus then turned to how to afford to charter three large buses within the budget.  We focused on a two day Thurs/Friday trip vs a three day trip to save on hotel and food costs etc.  In addition I was able to work directly with the General Manager of Peter Pan Bus line, Tom Lynch, to arrive at an affordable negotiated price.  Tom was a great partner and understood the constraints of a church trip funded essentially by donations to the church.   The three modern buses each could seat 54 people were chartered at a cost of $3750/bus.

    Other aspects of transportation that were important to incorporate in our plans were the legal limitations in hours that a driver could be driving before mandatory rest periods.  In the future as there may be changes in these legal requirements, it is important to build the trip agenda around this from the beginning.

    In hindsight, the availability of several member mini-vans while in Palmyra were extremely important for moving food, supplies and other logistics related material among various locations in the area.  Several leaders and spouses had decided to drive to Palmyra separately for a variety of reasons.  For future trip of this type it may be important to include several of those vehicles as part of the transportation plan.

Activity in Palmyra, etc.

    For Youth Conference 2016 (Press Forward to Palmyra) I was specifically assigned to plan one activity for the youth during a break between lunch and dinner and to offer some remarks at the Hill Cumorah     before the "hike" up the mountain.  I enjoyed preparing for the "Mormon History Basketball Trivia" game and my remarks at the Hill Cumorah.  Here are some lessons learned:

    - I prepared a packet of information on some of the church sites that we were visiting for each youth; I bet only 10-20% of the youth opened their packet of info
    - I noticed that some of the youth were very excited about a basketball activity -- I also noticed that some of the youth were turned-off by it
    - I noticed that some of the youth had no clue about the answers to the trivia questions; other youth started using the packet as a reference guide, which was good
    - I really enjoyed preparing the remarks that I shared at the Hill Cumorah
    - I felt that I (and a few other adults) should have shared a testimony or remarks on the bus on the way home -- I did not want to commandeer time away from the youth, so I opted to keep quiet

    General to the entire experience:

    - I absolutely loved the experience; having my daughter there and seeing her with the other youth at the Palmyra Temple, the Sacred Grove, the Peter Whitmer Farm, etc. her testimony of her experience at     the temple was a highlight for me.
    - The prayer that Tara Meyers offered at the beginning of the planning phase was a highlight for me as well; that revelatory experience set the tone for the entire effort.
    - It was clear to all of us that the Lord wanted the Nashua NH Youth to "Press Forward to Palmyra"
    - I believe that our objectives were met: The YM/YW's testimonies of the restoration and the Prophet Joseph Smith were definitely strengthened.
    - I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Stake Youth Leaders - we have such an amazing APYW team; each person has gifts and talents that made this effort such a huge success
    - The Palmyra Temple experience was impressive - so much thanks goes to Br & Sis Meyers for making that happen (we should send them a "Thank you" card)

    Some take-aways:
    - I was doubtful that staying only one night was going to be an issue -- but it was fine
    - I was doubtful that not having a dance was going to be a disappointment - but it was totally fine without
    - I was doubtful about the food situation on the ride home - it worked perfectly
    - We needed a few more personal cars/mini-vans to help with transporting people from the church to the pageant.
    - It would be nice to invite Bishop Morey to say a few remarks to the youth since he was from the area.
    I'm glad that we invited the bishop's and their wives -- that is so important to have them there with the youth.


    I was assigned to photograph the youth.   Given that we had two youth groups going around, I needed to split my time between the groups.   I tried to take enough pictures to capture every youth at one point or another.   I tried to capture photographs of them without interrupting or distracting from the activities.   This worked fairly well and I was able to blend in and go unnoticed for the most part and not distract from the spirit.   The youth were aware that I was around but got comfortable with it rather quickly.   I probably could have taken more group shots at times when the youth were waiting for the bus, etc.   Key places that worked well for group shots were the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center, hike to the top of the hill Cumorah, and in front of the large stone scriptures (in front of the visitor's center).

    I also found it useful to be available as an extra hand for food setup and other activities.  Most of my time was occupied just jumping in and helping out where needed.   - Frank