July 2015 marked the inaugural year of the new myFamily Youth Family History Camp at BYU in conjunction with the annual BYU Family History Conference. Sixty two young people from around the world descended on Provo, Utah for four full days of Family History experiences. I joined them during their day in Salt Lake City where they toured:
- the Family History Library
- Temple Square
- The Church History Library
- The Discovery Center at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
Directors said that the youth who attended this first year came from a varied background of those whose parents signed them up, a friend who was going talked them into joining them, youth with no prior experience researching family history, all the way to youth who have an earnest passion for genealogy. Regardless of their background, they were all having heart-turning experiences, based on the daily surveys they filled out each night. These Camper Surveys are vital to planning subsequent myFamily camps and improving and streamlining the process in the future.
I caught up with one group at the Discovery Center with their matching green t-shirts and backpacks. I followed them into the center. It was immediately clear that they were totally in their element in this high-tech experience. A center staff member gave them the briefest of instructions, which they really didn’t need, as they all instinctively knew exactly what to do. This group was warned ahead of time to set up a FamilySearch Family Tree account for this and other Camp activities, so they were instantly ready to go and were able to navigate independently from station to station.
“[I liked] the Discovery Center because the activity with tablets was amazing.” – Kyle S.
They got busy logging on to their personal tablet, taking their personal picture and then heading to one of the stations where they docked their tablet. They suddenly saw their own face and family history on a large display screen in front of them.
One young woman saw a map that showed the migration of her own family from Europe to Canada. She then slid a timeline to show where her family moved from year to year. She enlarged a map to learn more about her family in that country.
Other displays showed information about yourself! You could see:
- Fascinating information about what was happening around the world the year when you were born
- How many people have your last name in the USA
- The origins of your first and last names
“My favorite activity was the Discovery Center, because I learned a lot about my ancestors and my name in a super cool way!” – Emily N.
A fun display showed you how your ancestors may have dressed but it was YOUR face in the display. Or you could see yourself in one of the native costumes of the countries of your heritage.
“My favorite activity from the day was the Discovery Center. I thought it was really fun and interactive for everyone. Every single camper participated which was special.” – Matthew S.
There was a booth where you could record a memory that would be added to your own Family Tree Memories account.
The Discovery Center made it easy to get instant gratification, but also inspired you to learn more about your ancestors and take the time to record your personal history for generations to come.
“The Discovery Center brought my tree/history to LIFE!”
- Auree T.
“The Discovery Center [was my favorite activity], because we got to see what our ancestors did and where they all came from, also it was easier to see their stories and pictures than on FamilySearch.” – Anna S.
When asked what they got out of attending myFamily Camp, I loved this insightful response from Tenley T.:
“I learned that family history isn’t just about taking names to the temple; it’s about connecting our families together in order to live together for eternity.”
The first year of myFamily Youth Family History Camp? SUCCESS!!!! Next year? It will be even better – so, if you will be 14-18 next summer and have a free week in July – you might want to plan now to attend the 2016 camp and get ready to have your heart turned!