Getting Lost

Once many years ago I got lost. It was awful- let me tell you about it. It was during my fifth year of girls camp and I was a YCL (youth camp leader). For those of you out there unfamiliar with girl’s camp, all 16 and 17 year old girls are assigned to a different ward and act as assistant leaders for that ward, and for the whole stake. Part of my YCL duties included going on the second year hike with the 14 year old girls and a few leaders. This hike had to be 4 miles long and we had to cook a meal on the trail. We started out at 8AM and hiked for two miles, we stopped to cook breakfast then continued the hike. It was around the third mile that things started figuratively going downhill.

The person leading the hike was a very experienced woman who had spend literally decades hiking the trails in the region both by herself and with her husband. There was one problem though, she has really bad self esteem. So when the girls started feeling tired they started complaining, and the ill-advised cries of “we’re lost!” came from one or two voiciferous girls who hoped that making such statements would get them back to camp faster. The other leaders, who were not familiar with the area (and oddly enough were all men), heard these declarations and ‘held a meeting’ to determine the best course of action. The lady in charge insisted that the trail would get us back to camp, but was ‘less sure’ of how many more miles it was. Finally the woman caved and agreed that we should try to find a different route. This was the first of many such meetings, each more ridiculous than the last.

Over the next several hours we broke every rule of hiking and getting lost that I have ever heard of. We did all of the following at least once:
Left the trail
Jumped a fence
Kept wandering even after we knew we were really lost
Split up (The female leader took off on her own at the behest of the other leaders)

Had I been older and more forthright I would have spoken up. As a youth leader I was given the task of keeping track of the younger girls while the real leaders had ther many meetings, no-one cared to hear my opinions. It was only when the diabetic girl in the group started to complain of feeling faint that the remaining leaders were finally persuaded to stay put and wait to be found. I gathered the rest of the girls and commenced building a fire, thinking that if we did end up having to stay the night we would need a fire, perhaps those looking for us would see the smoke and at the very least it kept us busy (also, who doesn’t like building a fire?).

About a half hour after the fire got built we were found (40 yards or so from a road) and a truck was brought to drive us all back into camp. The other leader who had gone off by herself finally arrived at camp at about 8pm, very tired and moderately dehydrated. (She was taken back to town to see a doctor.)

I suppose there are a few morals to my story. The first is that they really mean it when they say what to do when lost- Stay Put, Don’t leave the trail and Stay together. Had we done that from the get go we would have been found much much earlier. Then again, I wouldn’t have this great story to tell. The second, even though you may not be a real leader, you should still speak up when the real leaders are violating common sense. Lastly, when you know you’re not lost, you know you’re not lost, and letting others believe you know less than you know isn’t humility it is foolishness.


Starfoxy is a fulltime caretaker for her two children.

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7 Responses

  1. I do wish I’d have been able to stay longer at Girls Camp. I was only set to be there for a day, and managed to leave before bedtime partially because I was completely unprepared for camping. Evidently it gets cold at night, and a t-shirt and jeans (not even a coat) is enough to stay warm. Granted I’ve not been camping in at least 20 years, but I should have had sense enough to -ask- someone what I should be bringing, even if I was only there to be the Priesthood support.

  2. Nate C. says:

    Everyone should get good and lost at least once in their life.

    Builds character.

  3. Diane says:

    This is funny,but, could have turned tragic for the diabetic. I think another motto should be carry enough medication/ and or food for an emergency.

    Its stories like these that make me wonder about camp activities for church. Common sense isn’t so common and for the men to make the unilateral decision to split the group up like that puts everyone at risk.

    Lets’ look at this another way, if you were on a ship and the men tried to do with Leader it would be called mutiny.

  4. Libby says:

    This is why girls’ camp should be GIRLS’ CAMP: no men allowed!

    • Emmaline says:

      One note on that….I just got back from being our ward’s camp director (great week, awful drive home, which is why it’s past midnight where I am…long story).

      We had two priesthood brethren that stayed at camp with us the whole week – they managed the food for three of the days of camp. I can honestly say that having that support (ie, not needing one leader whose whole job was to focus on food) was WONDERFUL. I’m grateful for their help. Could I have done it alone? Sure. Would I be as emotionally stable in that case as I am at the end of the week now? Probably not.

      That said, they only worked on what they had been asked/invited for – the food. They didn’t butt in on hikes, setting up/striking camp, games, certification, cleaning up, the days that we cooked as units, etc.

      So maybe we can allow men who are willing to listen to/follow the counsel of the YW leaders?? 🙂

    • Annie B. says:

      I actually enjoyed having the male leaders at Girl’s camp when I was younger, it made me feel good to have the bishop come and support us. The problem is when male leadership doesn’t respect female leadership, doesn’t take time to understand the program or the women and girls, or, in a situation like this, usurps the decision making responsibilities and puts safety in jeopardy. Of course, a female leader could make any of those mistakes as well, but the patriarchal tradition in the LDS church often leaves women feeling as though they really don’t know better than men and should cede authority to them whenever there is a discrepancy.

  5. Annie B. says:

    I’m glad nobody got seriously hurt in that situation, it could have turned out a lot worse. I find myself feeling sad for the female hike leader and wondering what the source for her low self-esteem was. I hope that situation reinforced to her that she was capable, and not the opposite.

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