the wussification of our youth

Jun 23, 2011

Especially our girls.

We can do hard things. It’s true, we can.

So can our youth.

So can our youth of the female variety.

It seems like frequently girls’ activities at our church are geared towards pampering them instead of challenging them. Case in point…yesterday was Blythe’s 4th Year Hike, traditionally a fairly rigorous hike and overnight camp where the girls carry all their gear, dig their latrines, lash together shelters, start their own fires, cook their own meals, and work on orienteering skills. At least that is how it was when I was a girl.

This year, our Stake cancelled the 4th Year Hike. How does something that has been going on for decades in thousands of congregations around the world just get cancelled? And why? I don’t know why, but I was none too thrilled when I found out. Well, our local ward (congregation) decided to have their own 4th Year Hike, but instead of having the girls carry their gear, dig latrines, lash shelters, start fires, etc, they carried water, snacks, and a rain poncho. Lunch was even provided for them! Then, instead of sleeping in some remote wilderness setting surrounded by wildlife, fresh air, and the peace that only nature can bestow, they drove back down to town and slept in one of their leader’s backyards…except they ended up not sleeping in the before mentioned backyard because it started raining! Why can’t we expect the girls to sleep in the rain? Blythe has spent her whole life sleeping in the rain…and the hail…and the snow…and the cold of the Wind River and Uinta mountain ranges. It is part of life and in my mind is an essential part of developing toughness…and perspective.

Blythe called and told us to come and get her. The event was cancelled because of the rain.

How can we expect our young people to fight the battles of their lives, to endure the sobering realities of adulthood, to keep going when all they want to do is give up, if we don’t even expect them to carry their own gear and make it through a little rain?

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  1. Cami

    Amen!!! I am feeling the same way. Why do they not let our girls be who they need to be. Just two days ago we we’re discussing as a family the same things and what they are doing is NOT CAMPING!! They need to be strong and know when times get tough that they have the grit to get through it. My concern also is that they’re afraid to go deep spiritually with our girls as well, so everything YW activity is a party with no spiritual depth or effort involved. It makes me want to scream!!!Thanks ! I just needed to vent!
    Love ya!

  2. Rachael Hagge

    Ryan is an assistant scout master in our ward and parents have come to them telling the leaders that walking one mile is too much for their boys. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    • tracy

      It is absolutely crazy! I truly don’t understand this wussification program that is running rampant. I understand that not everyone is going to be athletic, but walking one mile is doable for pretty much everyone.

  3. Kate

    Bunch of pansies. That would turn me into a giant squid of anger.

  4. THANK YOU, Tracy. (Kate, I’m dying here with the Giant Squid of Anger…) The advancing wussification has been an increasing annoyance for Beth, too (don’t get us started on the Scout side of things…)

    No ready solutions, but I’m in 110% agreement. Our kids “rough it” more in our own back yard than they have at church camp. Our stake doesn’t even have the girls set up their own tents! At least this year, Beth made “camp food reformation” a value project, so the girls *will* be involved with every stage of food shopping, prep, packing, and cooking (the leaders had been doing it all for at least the last six years), but that’s just a tiny, minor aspect of the whole potential experience.

    I despised Girl’s Camp. I only went two years, and hated every second of it. It was CAMPING. In tents or shelters we put up ourselves. With ropes we had to lash and knot ourselves. We cooked over the fire, and packed our own stuff. It was awful. I was also very real, and challenging, and girls came home exhausted and happy.

    “Dumbing down” the programs sure isn’t the only option. The program guides have a LOT of scope for application, if groups will go for it. Getting them to go for it is like pulling teeth. The activity this last week was some sort of game show take-off (we don’t have TV, so my kids were entirely ignorant of the point of the games), that neither enhanced social skills, nor any life skills, nor any spiritual skills… so why bother? We can get more out of life without that sort of drivel, thanks. Their time would have been FAR better spent laying on the grass under a tree, contemplating the clouds and God and their amazing place in the universe.

    Fight the good fight!!

    • tracy

      Oh Liz!

      I hear you…loud and clear. I love Beth’s value project of camp food reformation! What a fabulous idea!

      I SO want activities that either strengthen relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus, serve others, or build real skills…hopefully all three. The other activities are not worth my or my children’s time.

  5. jessica

    I hope you let the powers that be know! I’d be foaming at the mouth (LOL giant squid of anger, I’m stealing that). I loved girls camp and how hard and messy it was. I loved seeing the Populars turn into surly, make-up-less, curling-iron-less (these were the days of big bangs) common folk like the rest of us, and then somehow turn into real people.

    What a disaster of a 4th year hike. How sad ;(

  6. LaPriel

    Hey, I’m sending my daughter camping with your kids. She’ll get something out of it!
    Breanna did a lot of hard things in her school this year including several camping trips. She grew so much! Her confidence in her abilities all around increased too. It was a joy to see.

  7. Amen, and I’ve slept in the rain in the Uintas as well . . . and pregnant. Not to sound one-up-ish. I totally agree with you. How CAN our youth gain perspective without those character building experiences. Your post totally changes how I feel about my younger brother’s current situation. I’ll see if I can’t help him have some perspective gaining experiences while we’re together.

    • tracy


      It is SO wonderful to see you on here! I miss you dearly. I am so sorry about your mom and want you to know you are in my prayers.

      Since you brought up your brother, I must know what his situation is!

    • tracy

      Yeah, I have camped at 36 weeks pregnant with both Keziah and Fisher…it builds inner (and outer!) strength!