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.