“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:8).
Camp should be simple and allow young women time to experience God’s creations and “be still” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:16). Camp should not be elaborate or include staging, events, or decorations that distract from the purpose of camp. Also avoid experiences in which the young women may mistake strong emotional feelings such as sadness or surprise for feeling the Spirit. Appropriate activities, wholesome fun, and genuine interactions will invite the Holy Ghost.
As you plan, study and keep in mind the Safety and Health guidelines, including the annual First Presidency safety letter, and the following sections of the General Handbook:
20.2.6 Funding for Activities
20.5.5 Overnight Activities
20.6.4 Funding for Equipment and Supplies
20.7.4 Parental Permission
20.7.6 Safety Precautions, Accident Response, and Accident Reporting
20.8.2 Renting Non-Church Facilities for Activities
Involve all the young women in the responsibilities and assignments of camp (see General Handbook, 4.2.6). As the young women have opportunities to serve, cook, clean, organize, and lead, they will learn organizational and management skills that will continue to bless their families and the Church. Make sure to apply the principles of spiritual preparation and Christlike leadership and ministry in all stages of planning.
The location of Young Women camp will vary according to your area and needs. Usually, camps are held in an outdoor setting at a safe place away from home. Regardless of the location, the camp should be held in a peaceful place where the young women can feel the Spirit, share testimonies, learn skills, and have fun. In areas where overnight camping is difficult or prohibited, planning a day camp can be a good alternative. Day camps can be held at a location near the young women’s homes, such as a park, picnic area, or backyard.
Camps can include just the young women from your ward, or they can include all the young women in the stake. You can plan a camp for any time of the year, but be sure to consider the climate, season, and the type of camping you and the young women would like to experience. In ideal circumstances, Young Women camp takes place once a year, but it may need to occur less frequently to meet local needs. The typical camp lasts no longer than five days, should not be held on the Sabbath day, and is generally not held on a Monday. Make sure that your camp follows all the local regulations for overnight camps for youth.
Reserve campsites and activities within select areas for Church organizations or individuals at camping.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
As you counsel with others and choose goals for your camp, prayerfully ask yourself this question: What does Heavenly Father want to have happen in the lives of the young women as a result of this camp? The answer to this question should become your camp goal. This goal will guide all other decisions that you make about camp.
A camp theme will help you stay focused on the camp goals. The theme should be spiritual in nature, remind the young women of a gospel principle, and inspire them to live the Young Women values. Your priesthood leaders should approve this theme before you make plans to use it at camp.
A theme may be inspired by:
The annual Youth theme.
A statement from a prophet or apostle.
“I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act” (Doctrine and Covenants 43:8).
Counsel together with the Young Women presidency and adult and youth camp leaders to plan safe, meaningful activities that will accomplish your goals for camp. The best camp activities are tailored to the needs and abilities of all the young women and allow them to feel and recognize the Spirit as they develop friendships, practice leadership skills, increase their talents, improve their health through physical activity, or learn about and prepare for emergencies.
Some ideas for activities that meet these criteria are listed in the “Ideas for Camp Activities” section of this guide. Choose a balance of spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual activities. The following questions may help you evaluate your planned activities:
How does this activity fulfill our goals for camp?
What important lessons will the young women learn from this activity?
What skills will this activity help the young women to develop?
How will this activity strengthen the young women, their homes, and their families?
Does this activity have a greater than average risk of illness or injury? Have we made sufficient plans to minimize those risks?
In areas where the young women have been participating in camp for many years, there may be some activities, songs, and customs that have been repeated each year and have become traditions. Carefully review these traditions to ensure that they are appropriate and meet the purpose and needs of camp.
Following is a sample of a typical day at a Young Women camp. Some of the activities listed below may not be possible in your area. Follow the Spirit as you create a schedule for your own camp that is tailored to your young women and your environment.
7:00–7:30 a.m. Travel to camp, or wake up at camp.
7:30–9:00 a.m. Prepare and serve breakfast. Clean up after the meal.
9:00–9:15 a.m. Have a morning devotional, which includes a hymn, a scripture, and a prayer.
9:15–9:30 a.m. Make announcements for the activities and discuss assignments and safety.
9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Participate in activities: learn about water purification, first aid, and emergency shelters.
12:00–1:30 p.m. Prepare and serve lunch. Clean up after the meal.
1:30–2:30 p.m. Have quiet time for scripture study, meditation, and journaling on a specific topic or theme.
2:30–5:00 p.m. Participate in activities: group games, swimming races, and a nature hike.
5:00–6:30 p.m. Prepare and serve dinner. Clean up after the meal, and clean the camp.
6:30–7:30 p.m. Present a talent show.
7:30–9:00 p.m. Hold an evening devotional and testimony meeting.
9:00–9:30 p.m. Give time for personal prayers and study.
9:30–10:00 p.m. Get ready for bed. Adult and youth camp leaders meet to evaluate the events of the day and to prepare for the next day.
What a young woman learns at camp should strengthen her and bless her family. As you prepare for camp, you may invite the parents to share what spiritual needs and hopes they have for their daughters and also contribute ideas for the activities and skills that would benefit their families. Some parents may have expertise and skills to contribute. Inform parents of the dates, location, cost, theme, and activities that you have planned for the camp. Explain to the parents and the young women the standards of dress and behavior that are required (see 1 Timothy 4:12).
Before camp, ask each parent to fill out and turn in a Permission and Medical Release Form for each young woman. The form can be found at ChurchofJesusChrist.org/callings/church-safety-and-health. You should provide detailed information about the camp and the activities so that parents can give informed permission for their participation (see General Handbook, 20.5.5).
“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:21).
One of your most important responsibilities at camp is to keep the young women spiritually, morally, emotionally, and physically safe while they are away from their families. All conduct and interactions should comply with Church standards (see For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices and the annual First Presidency safety letter) and exemplify Christlike behavior. In addition, leaders may set specific standards and guidelines for camp to ensure safety and create the environment necessary to accomplish the goals of camp. Youth should understand that participation in an activity is not a right but a privilege that can be revoked if they behave inappropriately or if they pose a risk to themselves or others. Leaders should communicate these expectations to parents and participants and counsel together on how to address concerns that may arise.
A sufficient number of adult leaders are required to attend camp. At least two adult supervisors should be present for each activity. Larger activities may require additional adult leaders. Two or more Melchizedek Priesthood brethren need to be present at all times during the camp to provide support and protection (see General Handbook, 20.5.5). All leaders, male and female, should avoid one-on-one situations with a youth unless clearly visible to nearby adult leaders.
Immediately report to priesthood leaders any accident or serious injury requiring more than basic first aid. All who attend camp, especially adult leaders, are encouraged to be alert to any signs of abuse and neglect. Those who become aware of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse should report the matter to appropriate legal authorities and contact the bishop immediately.
Young women and leaders should be prepared for the physical demands of the camp. Minimize danger by obeying all the local rules and laws of your area. Make sure that transportation and communication are available at all times. If possible, invite a nurse, doctor, or other individual with significant first aid experience to attend the camp. Bring first aid supplies. Keep a list of addresses and phone numbers on hand for nearby medical facilities and emergency contacts, such as local law enforcement, fire, or ambulance services.
Before camp, visit with the parents of the young women and get to know each young woman’s unique needs—including dietary, medical, and emotional needs. Actively monitor youth behavior and intervene when necessary. Hazing, pranks, and other unkind, immoral, or disrespectful conversation and behavior are unacceptable. Understand and accept the responsibility to plan for the safety and well-being of the youth in your care. Identify, communicate about, and prepare ways to reduce the risks you expect at camp.