Tuesday, 17 July 2018 03:53

SW Sask. youth pull handcarts across the Prairie in pioneer re-enactment.

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Participants from Swift Current and Moose Jaw. Front: Ulrik Tondevold and Toru Iwaasa. Rear: (L to R) Lorne  Bachiu, Corey Johnston, Adam Bachiu, Hannah Christensen. Participants from Swift Current and Moose Jaw. Front: Ulrik Tondevold and Toru Iwaasa. Rear: (L to R) Lorne  Bachiu, Corey Johnston, Adam Bachiu, Hannah Christensen.

For three days (July 6-9) a group of 80 Saskatchewan teen-agers gave up their cell phones and the comforts of home to don pioneer clothing and pull handcarts for 30 km across the open prairie.

 

Through exhausting heat and driving winds they slept in tents, ate biscuits and stew, and struggled to pull and push a loaded cart over the hills and mud ruts of the Monet Community Pasture , near Elrose.
The participants of Saskatchewan Trek 2018 were 14 to 18 year old youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). They were recreating the experience of the pioneers who crossed the American west to reach the Salt Lake Valley. From 1856 to 1860 many Mormons crossed the plains with hand carts, which were cheaper and faster than a traditional wagon train.
Supervisor Chuck Shugart was uniquely qualified to lead the Trek. Shugart has been involved with all six Saskatchewan Treks over 23 years. A veteran hiker, he has walked 200 miles of the Oregon/Mormon Trail.
As a supervisor at the historic Wyoming Mormon Trail, he and his wife organized treks for more than 40,000 people. Shugart calls Trek “a powerful experience with the potential of changing lives.”
He believes it helps youth appreciate those who went before them and struggled for their faith.
The Trail Boss was PA resident Duane McKay. His wife Donna, a Trek Expert, helped prepare the youth for the rigors of the long hike. Donna recorded steps on her fitbit. By 3:45 on Friday, July 6th, she had gone 38,669 steps!
Eight couples acted as “Ma and Pa” for groups of 10 teens and formed a “family” for the Trek experience. Each family pulled an authentic handcart that featured real buggy wheels made by Amish craftsmen in Ohio. Family groups grew close and learned to rely on each other when pulling the carts became difficult or someone was struggling with the extreme heat and wind. Area youth included Ulrick Tondevold of Moose Jaw and Hannah Christensen and Toru Iwaasa of Swift Current.
Toru commented:”Trek was hard and there was a lot of walking but as youth we understood how the pioneers felt when they did their long trek .”
Toru enjoyed the aspects of pioneer life on the trail and the personal spiritual growth he experienced stretching himself to meet the daily challenges.
Leader Michael Moore of Regina observed “I liked the fact that the youth sang a lot as they pushed the carts. They did things that they didn’t think they could do and were proud of their accomplishments.”
They danced, sawed logs, played at stick pulling, waded streams and they walked. Dusty and exhausted, teens trudged the last few kilometers on the final day to meet their rides back to the 21st century.Teens and adult leaders came home with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices and experiences of the early Mormon pioneers.

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