Youth Conferences at Bluff Fort Historic Site


Jed Lyman, HIRF Board Member

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Overview Video

Themes, perspectives, and eternal principles

Youth conferences have long been a mainstay of the spiritual, social, and physical growth of the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Especially recently Church leadership has encouraged activities that will help youth build faith in Jesus Christ, develop testimonies, make new friends, share fun activities, and connect with their leaders and each other. Youth conferences are hosted by the Hole in the Rock Foundation (HIRF) in the summer and fall at Bluff Fort (the Fort) and Camp Stickie-ta-tudy (the Camp) located in Bluff, Utah. Bluff Fort is a dedicated historic site owned and operated by the Hole in the Rock Foundation and staffed by Church Service Missionaries sponsored by the Church History Department. The Camp is a 10-acre 'pioneer' camp just west of the Fort with graveled tent areas, large pavilions, culinary water, electricity, vault restrooms, games, and challenge/ropes courses. Close to the Camp are other activities, including the Fort itself, San Juan Hill, a pioneer cemetery, and other activities of interest. Our theme is simple: 'We can do hard things.' The story of the Hole in the Rock pioneers is an exciting and inspirational chapter in our Church history. It is a story of mighty miracles; a story of faith, obedience, courage, strength, perseverance, and hope. With the help of the Lord, applying these eternal principles, these pioneers did hard things and overcame the challenges in their day. Applying these same eternal principles, we, too, with the help of the Lord, can do hard things and succeed in our day. In a conference address by Elder Dallin H Oaks: 'It is not enough to study or reenact the accomplishments of our pioneers. We need to identify the great eternal principles they applied to achieve all they achieved for our benefit, and then apply those principles to the challenges of our day.' Most of our activities are specifically designed to teach these eternal principles. For example, the Camp challenge courses teach courage, strength, and perseverance; the Find the Route activity focuses on counseling together, faith, creativity, and humility; the San Juan Hill climb focuses on faith, strength, and hope. Other activities are designed simply to have fun. Our youth conferences combine a great story with sacred ground.

Hard things

Before addressing a capacity congregation in Movistar Arena [Bogota, Columbia] on Sunday, August 25, 2019, President Russell M. Nelson greeted a small group of teens from Columbia. 'Anything worthwhile in life is difficult to do', he told them, 'but you can do hard things as you link yourself to the Lord.'


Elder Steven E. Snow: The word 'remember' is used 230 times just in the Book of Mormon alone. 'Clearly God desires us to remember His words, His works, and the works of His people.'

Sacred ground

Elder Steven E. Snow: 'Being in the Sacred Grove is a much more powerful experience than being taught about the Sacred Grove. Families want to feel the spirit of the places, and parents want their children to remember what others did who went before.' These youth conferences provide participants an opportunity to walk on ground made sacred by the sacrifice of these pioneers, particularly San Juan Hill.


Hole in the Rock Foundation website
'Hole in the Rock,' book by U of U professor David E. Miller
Journey of the San Juan Pioneers DVD

Things to Know:

Youth conferences can be non-denominational.

Our information provides specific answers to questions, guidance, and resources for potential participants. This information includes allocation of responsibilities between HIRF and participants, application of Church standards, estimated costs, food, lists of recommended general and specific equipment and clothing needs, rules for compliance with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Special Recreation Permit, safety, documentation, Camp activities descriptions, sample itineraries for 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-day conferences, general instructions for visiting the Bluff Fort visitors’ center and Bluff Fort grounds, and using the Camp.

Contact Information:>/p> If interested, for more information please contact HIRF board member Jed Lyman (435-979-8882, or, c/o Bluff Fort (435) 672-9995 Bluff Fort

General Authority statements
and addresses

Pres. Russell M. Nelson

You can do hard things as you link yourself to the Lord.
(do hard things)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
(pioneer faith)

Elder Steven E. Snow
(remember and sacred ground)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
(last wagon down)

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Leaders and Ministry (Church News, June 6, 2021)

Pres. Thomas S. Monson

Can we somehow muster the courage and steadfastness of purpose that characterized the pioneers of a former generation? Can you and I, in fact, be pioneers?
The World Needs Pioneers Today