News Story

Mormon Young Adults find cooperation beats competing

Ominous skies didn’t hamper the spirit of 300 plus Mormon Young Single Adults (YSA) of the Church who enjoyed a multistake (or regional) activity day in late 2013.  The ‘Stake of Origin Raw Challenge’ was hosted by Newcastle Stake (diocese) and held at Doyalson on the NSW Central Coast.

The YSA travelled from as far afield as Canberra, Macarthur, Hebersham, Mortdale, Fairfield, Liverpool, Baulkham Hills, Harbour, and Penrith.  From further afield, one participant came over from BYU Hawaii to visit family and ended up at the gathering with his brothers.

Although their activity day was very much of physical nature, there was still an important spiritual component to the event with prayer beginning and ending the day.

What was meant to be a competitive event for many soon became one of helping each other work through a tough obstacle course together.  Those who were stronger helped those who were struggling through mud and water, over scramble nets, monkey bars and walls.  Rather than running by someone who was struggling, they served each other.

The final wall, a curved stainless steel slide which was over three metres high, proved to be the ultimate challenge of the day.  A muddied crowd gathered as those who had completed the course, stayed on to cheer everyone as they neared the finish line. 

As each person threw themselves at the slippery wall, others who had already scaled the wall leaned over, being held by others, reaching down and catching the hand of those who were still attempting to scale the wall.

“It’s all about being there for each other – just like in the Gospel,” said Funaki Fainu, of the Fairfield Stake with a smile.

From the perspective of all of the Young Single Adults, they enjoyed not only the physical challenge, but the cooperative spirit that permeated the day. “Everyone gave it a go,” said John Felila, also of Fairfield Stake.

Sarah Weedon of Newcastle Stake agreed.  She had signed up for the challenge, ticking the ‘competitor’ box along with others who felt they could give their stake the edge. “But that soon disappeared as we just wanted to help each other - that would have to be my favourite part of the day – we forgot about ‘winning’ and just wanted to help.’”

Jennifer Fuggle of Newcastle Stake loved the unpredictability of the course - “I loved the obstacle course – especially when we didn’t know what was coming next. The water was muddy and so when you came over an obstacle and went into the water – you wouldn’t know if it was ankle deep or you’d suddenly go under.”

Lepa Kava, of the Fairfield Stake likened it to the heart of the gospel in action. He said, “Not only did we get to do something physical; we got to help others in the process.” 

He also said, “Sometimes we struggle in real life – and this experience shows us, we can help each other through the tougher times by lending a hand.”

“It’s just like life – you don’t know what’s around the corner, but you just have to keep going, knowing others have gone before who will be there to lend support and help you through it,” said Lepa Kava. 

Damien Fleming, a former state Rugby Union player from Newcastle Stake said, “It’s the coolest – it’s great having activities where everyone not only has some serious fun, but also experiences working together as a team.” 

The  well-known footy player went on to say, “We also still got a major workout - especially as we helped others through obstacles and over walls, sometimes going back several times.”

“It was so good to see everyone banding together throughout the whole course,” said Tenille Howard of Fairfield Stake.  “Groups were forming as members from different stakes helped each other – even though we’d never met before.”

The event was just what Raife Campbell from BYU Hawaii was looking for as well.  As vice-president of the student body of BYU Hawaii, Campbell is always on the lookout for great events for the 2500 students and YSA living in the area surrounding the University.

Campbell was in Sydney for the week on a BYU study visit and heard about the event from his brothers. He signed up and Saturday saw him knee deep in mud and water traversing the course. He said, “It was absolutely fantastic.  We’ve definitely got to do this.” He now plans to take the idea back to Hawaii and work on creating a similar event for the YSA there.

The camaraderie also didn’t go un-noticed by brothers Laurie and Stephen Elliss whose parents own and manage ‘Raw Challenge.’  “We really noticed a big difference with this group,” they said.

“Not only did they have fun – they helped each other. No-one went ahead as we often see in other groups who come here.  Everyone worked together!” said Elliss.  They also noticed how the guys let the girls go through first.   “That’s something that really stood out to us.  We also didn’t hear anyone swear all day – that is really unique compared to others who tackle the challenging course.  The kids were being so positive and encouraging toward each other”.

At the end of the day, the final points were tallied – Fairfield Stake come in first, followed up by Mortdale and then Newcastle Stake. Winner of the day was Newcastle stake president, Jacob Whiting.  Though dripping in muddy water, after being thrown into the tug-of-war trench he still summed up the event as a splendid activity.

Good-humouredly he said, “I’m actually thrilled everyone would come this far north for an activity. It’s been such a great event.  Not only has everyone had fun – they’ve joined together to help each other overcome the obstacles they faced, forging even stronger friendships.”

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