Last month, the Michaux State Forest was transformed to the 1840s as 120 youth accompanied by 34 adults of local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were re-enacting the great migration of the saints from the Eastern United States to the Western frontier. The youth, all from the York Pennsylvania Stake which includes the areas of York, Dover, Dillsburg, Hanover, Gettysburg, Fairview, Chambersburg, and Waynesboro, were dressed in pioneer clothing as they headed out of camp with 12 pounds of personal belongings packed snuggly in their authentic pioneer handcarts. The three-day, 12-mile experience allowed them to connect with their pioneer ancestors in a physical and spiritual way. During the trek experience, the youth and their adult leaders pulled and pushed handcarts along the trail, cooked all of their meals in Dutch ovens, sang, danced, and participated in pioneer games.
On Friday, July 13, the youth participated in pioneer activities to help them appreciate the hard work and self-sufficiency of the pioneers by learning the skills of black powder rifle shooting, candle making, toffee pulling, and outdoor meal preparation. The experience was not all about hard work and suffering through the elements. The youth also held an authentic square dance with a live band and square dance caller. The Carroll County Ramblers played live music as Bob Engel called the square dance. They capped off the evening with a quiet fireside program under the stars. During the fireside a quote was read from President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which said "It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in the world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. They are tremendous examples to us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in trying to establish a gospel foothold in distant parts of the world."