Survival--B.Y.U. Youth Leadership 480

(showing off my red long johns the morning we left)



(a fast and testimony meeting during the final days)












When I was 20 I packed an army blanket, a pocket knife, my toothbrush, a couple of books, a journal, a primitive camera and a few changes of socks and underwear and headed for the desert of southern Utah with this motley group of strangers. This experience was affectionately known as Survival, but on my BYU transcript it comes up as the somewhat sterile Youth Leadership 480. A bus dropped us off in the general vicinity of Green River, UT, and picked us up in Escalante, UT, exactly 30 days later. We filled that month with walking, starving, climbing, walking, bonding, huddling around campfires, hiking, orienteering, losing one another, finding one another, eating cactus and wild berries, talking ad nauseum about food, and generally having the time of our young lives. A few of us started the trip with drug addictions, a few of us were on the trip to escape troubles, and at least one of us joined the Church and took up a whole new lifepath as a result.

We read a lot of books, discussed even more, and at the end of the trip we spent 3 days entirely alone figuring it all out. We cooked a couple of snakes and learned amazing culinary variations using only flour, salt, a little cheese, and rosehips if we could scrounge them out. We held Church services and passed around a canteen and some nuts we found rolling around on the ground for sacramental purposes We drank some pretty rank water out of the Dirty Devil River--after we'd rung it out of our bandanas. But most of the time we just walked. Lots of walking. They estimated we covered over 500 miles in that month. The amazing part of this story is that I carry this experience so deeply in me that it rarely surfaces in conversation--yet it has colored the very lenses through which I view life daily. Go figure. This picture shows us at the gathering we held at the "Cookie Jar"--my place of residence for one year--a day  after we returned. We've cleaned up obviously. Notice that all the girls pretty much insisted on wearing dresses. What I wouldn't give to wrap my arms around just one of these necks...and drop back for awhile. Where are you all? Oh, in case you haven't found me--I'm the head on the back row under the right arm of Donn perched above the group looking off into the distance.

I have transcribed the journal I took on that trip if the reader would like the beefier version of this excursion.  About a year ago (September 2017), I felt a pressing urge to find these people. We were coming up on our 45th anniversary, and it seemed critical to me to round them up.  I started with facebook.  I met up with Craig (my survival brother who joined the church from this trip.  He and I were especially close.) in St. Paul, Minnesota, and he gave me a handwritten address roster we had created at the end of the trip.  From that roster I made inquiries at the B.Y.U. Alumni House and doubled down on my internet research.  A few I found had contact for a couple more.  By spring 13 of the 34 had been found!  One student and one leader were known dead.  We formed an email chain, began to exchange pictures and journal snippets, and in October of this year four of us met at Bethany's home in Salt Lake City.  We were overjoyed to see each other and drop back in time to re-create as many memories as we could.  Dan brought a map and helped us retrace our steps.  We'd like to meet again and find more of us.  This is not the end of this story.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Marilyn Taggart Hadd, people smiling

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

West Caldwell, New Jersey

Pleasant Grove

Provo, Utah