Local teenagers recently took a trip back in time. Dressed in pioneer attire, the group of about 100 teens spent three days pulling handcarts through Pachaug State Forest on July 19-21. They slept outside. There were no phones, no Internet, no newspapers, no connection to the outside world.
The group of Mormons, ages 12-18, were participating in the Providence Rhode Island Stake Trek 2012. The group included teens from all over Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. The trek, which is held every four years, gives youth an opportunity to re-enact the historic handcart migration of the 1850s.
The members of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" in those days were fleeing religious persecution at the time and headed to Salt Lake City, Utah. Without money for horses, they purchased wooden handcarts and pulled their belongings across miles of rugged terrain to the Mormon settlement in the Great Salt Lake Basin
Our youth got a taste of that original trek by also pulling wooden hand carts through water and up hills and over rocks. There were adults to help but the youth had to solve the problems of their journey just like the early pioneers.
Treks such as this one are held around the world. The purpose is to teach Mormon youth about their heritage and to strengthen their relationships with Christ.
One youth said this about his TREK experience
"It kind of boiled down to my relationship with God and why my ancestors went through what they did, and where I play a part in history. It's really a time where you can think about who you are and why you're here, and what you're doing, and what impact you can make in the world. So that was what I thought about as I pushed myself to the limits."