Pioneer treks are a common summer activity for Church members around the world, allowing them to experience, if even partially, the challenges the earliest pioneers faced in searching for religious freedom in the 1800s. Opportunities abound to learn how suffering and sacrifice brings one close to the Savior. Walking in the pioneers’ footsteps, participants can feel empathy for those who heeded the call to gather to Zion.

“It’s important to remember the pioneers and what they did, because without them, we wouldn’t have the Church like it is today,” says 15-year-old Jenna Rasmussen, who embarked on a pioneer trek with her stake in June 2012. “Being able to see the struggles that they went through and sacrifices that they made for the Church shows you that we shouldn’t take it for granted. That was a big part of the lesson for me: you have to appreciate what we have.”

Rasmussen encourages every youth to participate in a trek, if possible.

“Go into it knowing that it’s going to be hard, but go into it knowing that it’s not about you. It’s about the kids who are on the trek,” she says. “It’s about how big of a difference you can make for them, and how real of an experience they can have—and most importantly, how much their testimony can grow in the time that you’re with them.”