Rangely hosts LDS youth conference

HEATHER ZADRA More than 100 teens from Meeker, Craig, Rangely, Rifle, Eagle, Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Baggs, Wyo., completed various service projects, including work at the Rangely Community Gardens, seen above, as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ regional youth conference in Rangely last weekend.

RANGELY | More than 100 youths gathered in Rangely last weekend for the Meeker stake’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) annual youth conference.
The three-day conference brought together 14- to 18-year-old teens from Craig, Parachute, Rifle, Meeker, Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Aspen and Baggs, Wyo., to focus on honoring and serving veterans.
Participants learned from and worked with former military service people, among them Bob Bell, Gary Hinaman, Frank Huitt, Lisa Hatch, Hoot Gibson, Ed Anderson and Mike Englert.
“We wanted to recognize veterans and what they’ve done for us and for everyone,” said Alan Briggs of the Stake Young Men’s Presidency and an event organizer. “And we want the kids to understand what veterans have gone through for them.”
Participants spread out around town Friday morning to complete several projects at local veterans’ homes, including painting, installing chain link fence and digging up trees. Another group weeded and cleared away brush at Rangely Community Gardens while a third went to town hall, where teens sorted bricks from the old town square for donation to the gardens.
“They were great kids; they worked their hearts out,” said Lisa Hatch, a retired Army major and LDS church member who helped organize the event. “When they got done, they didn’t play around. They asked, ‘What do you want us to do next?’”
The group returned to Parkview Elementary School on Friday afternoon, when Desert Storm veteran Hatch and Vietnam veteran Gary Hinaman spoke about their experiences in war and the challenges facing returnees, among other topics. Gibson and a teen with a deployed father also spoke.
“It was emotional since remembering some of the events for both Gary and I can be tough,” Hatch said. “The youth speaker misses her dad and worries about whether he’ll come home or not. It was kind of an uplifting experience, though.”
All of the speakers said that God had guided them through the difficult times, some of which they still can’t talk about.
After the session, several teens approached Hatch and Hinaman to shake their hands, thank them and learn more.
Gibson thanked the youth for their work and encouraged them to continue finding ways to thank veterans for theirs.
The conference, which ran from Thursday through Saturday afternoon, included dances, time at Kenney Reservoir and workshops on “The Armor of God,” put on by church leaders. Women’s youth secretary Courtney Kent said the sessions were geared to help teens make right choices in standing for their faith.