Pioneer Children Walked

I’m about to walk out the door to JoAnn Fabrics. I shall be buying fabric and sewing a pioneer outfit for my oldest daughter for the Pioneer Trek this weekend. It’s a tradition of Mormons to recreate  a pioneer experience for the teenagers every few years. Of course starvation, death and cholera will be omitted but sunburns and blisters will certainly be on the menu. From what I can gather, handcarts will be included but, sadly, conestoga wagons and oxen will not.

The kids are supposed to dress “pioneerish” while still being practical. Boys have to wear long pants (no jeans) and button-up shirts. Girls wear ankle-length skirts and aprons–bonnets optional. Basically they look like sloppy Amish people. Shoes are expected to be sturdy and comfy. We bought hiking shoes for all three kids last month and have been making the kids wear them to break them in. India has been particularly incensed that she wear hiking shoes to school. Better than than blisters, though.

Because Texas summers are killer, we do our Trek in the winter-time, unlike most of the church kids in other parts of the country. Realism is only taken so far; We don’t want them dropping like flies. The highs this weekend should be in the low 70’s. Perfect. The kids and equipment will be taken a couple of hours away and everyone will walk around pushing carts and doing other pioneer-y things for a couple of days. The Mormon kids in Utah will often times get to travel the very same wagon paths the original Pioneers followed. But this is Texas so the kids will wander around some nice rancher’s property. If you want a visual watch the movie True Grit. It was filmed close to the ranch where they’ll be staying. (Plus True Grit is just a fantastic movie.)

Mormons have a pioneer heritage but so do a lot of other people in this country. I think everyone in the Western half of the U.S. should have to reenact some sort of migration. Maybe someone should start a tourism company that does treks over the Sierra Nevadas or maybe up the Oregon Trail. The super adventurous could even do a recreation of a winter time Donner Party expedition. It would be like those PBS shows “Texas Ranch House” or “1890 house” but shorter-term. I wonder if people would do that.

Maybe there already is such a thing? I, of course, would not do it. Instead I will make some pioneer  garb for my daughter and wave goodbye. And go to sleep in my nice Tempurpedic bed.

| Filed under Church, Family, Kids, Texas

6 thoughts on “Pioneer Children Walked

  1. We went on trek 4 yrs ago and will go again this summer. It is a fantastic experience! I loved wearing my long skirt and apron. BTW They told us to just wear tennis shoes and we were fine. They can’t take that handcart up a mountain.

  2. I like the Donner Party idea. And just think, it should be cheaper, since they don’t have to bring much food.

    Sloppy Amish – I love that. Every time my oldest daughter complained about her lack of a decent cellphone, we’d say, “It’s like being raised Amish!”

  3. What a great idea! A trek, AND a TV show, showing the trials and triumphs of people, especially teens, hoofing it though the wilderness with no modern tech stuff to make life easier than the pioneers had it. I’m a tad old, but I might go on a 24 hour trek. I’ll bet people WOULD pay to make such a trip with their families. I especially like the church’s idea of mixing up the kids and the “parents” so no sullen, whiney teen gets his own folks for “parents.” An incentive to a bit more courage and courtesy.

    I know nobody had cameras in those days, and nobody bothered to mention it, but I’ll bet anything those pioneer women either cut off their skirts to calf-length, or WORE THEM OUT to calf-length by the first month. Ankle-length while you are hiking through tumbleweeds or plodding up mountains and cliffs was too stupid for even Victorian modesty. And skirts DO wear out when scraping against vegetation 16/6 (they rested at night and on Sunday)

    Lucky India!

  4. I thought I’d check your idea of Pioneer Treks as tourism. They had two that I found on google (plus, amazingly, YOUR BLOG of today!). You can do a professional Pioneer Trek on the lower slopes of Everest in Nepal, and Southern India has some kind of Pioneer activity. There’s also a big farm in Richmond VA that will let you dress up and do farm chores. Naaaaah. It just isn’t quite the same.

  5. Have you been to the Winter Quarters museum in Omaha? Awesome. Also, I strongly recommend the bonnet for avoiding bad sunburn.

  6. So how was it? Did she have a good experience? I’m really glad I’ve never been nominated to be a “Ma” on one of those treks. Although I fully respect the actual Pioneers and the teenage faux pioneers for doing it, I have no desire to do it myself!

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