(HIGH COUNTRY NEWS) -- On an early June morning in the early 2000s, I piled into a van with a group of neighborhood girls and headed up to Aspencrest summer camp, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My pillow, stuffed with provisions for the week ahead — pajamas, an extra jacket, scripture — was propped against the window.
We drove up a steep, sparsely wooded mountainside dotted with small farms. The van, supervised by church volunteers from my neighborhood congregation, pulled up to a dusty pavilion in the Wasatch Mountains above Salt Lake City. Aspencrest Camp was barren, except for a sparse grove of its lacey namesake trees. The other girls and I sleepily unpacked our tents.
This was not the wooded wonderland that I — a resolute 12-year-old tomboy — envisioned when older girls described their mystical experiences at our church’s annual all-girls camp. But I was determined to make the best of it. For most members of the LDS Church, camping was a religious rite — a mark of emerging adulthood. I intended to return home a woman of faith, ready to tackle the temptations of junior high.
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