An illustration of a person holding a laptop and a guitar, wearing a swim cap and a lanyard.

So You Want to . . .

…learn just anything this summer? BYU is the place to be.

Spring 2016 Issue

Walk through a corner of the packed Marriott Center parking lot on the last Thursday in April, and you’ll see license plates from all over: Alberta, New York, Michigan, Texas, Washington, California, and plenty more. Inside the center, an estimated 15,000 women weave between registration tables, snack stands, and photo booths with backdrops featuring words like sisterhood, happiness, kindness, strength, laughter, inspiration, miracles, and service.

Eventually they congregate in the arena’s seats, where they’re greeted by BYU president Kevin J Worthen (BA ’79, JD ’82). “Campus never looks better than it does the week after April graduation,” he says. “The campus never feels better than it does the week after April graduation. Because it’s Women’s Conference.”

For the next two days, participants hike across campus (in comfortable shoes, if they’ve been before and know better), learning about topics ranging from addiction recovery to charity to financial management to the Atonement.

On Friday evening they clear out, making way for thousands more visitors—children, youth, and adults—who will come to campus for the dozens of conferences, camps, and workshops that have become a staple of BYU’s summer months.

Women’s Conference and Education Week—a 90-plus-year tradition that now draws 20,000 to campus each August—are the bookends and the biggies. Sandwiched between them is Especially for Youth, which brings swarms of teens—arms linked, lanyard name tags around their necks—for 11 five-day sessions filled with classes, activities, and dancing.

Also sharing campus are the sports campers, honing skills and polishing moves on BYU’s indoor and outdoor fields, gyms, courts, and tracks. And the dancers, who leap and pirouette and sashay in the halls and mirrored rooms of the Richards Building. And the writers and musicians and language-learners and mission-preppers and family-history enthusiasts and artists and techies.

They’re all looking for something new: new friends, new knowledge, new skills, new motivation. Grab your spiral notebook and highlighter for a sampling of the endless things you could learn at BYU in the summertime.

So You Want to Hit the Family-History Jackpot?

myFamily History Camp

At the myFamily History camp, youth ages 14 to 18 learn how census records can provide a trove of information for family-history research.

The United States began using censuses in 1790, explains BYU family-history major Kelsee K. Jackson (BA ’15) to a group of teens sitting poised at their computers, ready to dig into the past. The records, easily accessible on, can be a gold mine, she says: “You can create a life sketch by just using the census.”

Why? Because census records, though varying some from decade to decade, typically list birthplace, ages, gender, immigration information, marital status, number of children, property, work status, education, ability to read and write, disabilities, and veteran information. In offering secondary info, they also give clues into what primary documents—such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and Social Security Death Index records—you can go to next.

“I like that you’re able to find out so much about a certain person by just one document,” says camper Carissa Gonzalez, looking at a census record listing her great-great-grandmother. “And then you’re able to analyze it.”

So You Want to Support Someone Struggling with Faith?

Women’s Conference

“Even if our own faith seems secure, it is incumbent upon us to provide a safe and nurturing environment for others to rebuild theirs. . . . We must lay aside the harmful stereotype that somehow one whose faith flags is necessarily lacking either the Spirit or, even worse, is somehow sinning or unworthy.”

So You Want to Turn Conflicts into Win-wins?

Education Week

Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, communication expert Kevin R. Miller (BS ’79) reminds his adult audience. Rather than something to be feared or avoided, he says, con ict provides an opportunity for growth—if handled well. He recommends a five-level pyramid for conflict resolution to help disagreements become win-win resolutions.

So You Want to Hop on the Haiku Train?

Nature of Writing Camp

A Japanese verse / three lines: five, seven, and five / capture a moment. —Monique Faust, Camp Instructor

So You want to move it like Messi?

Cubs soccer camp

Judging by the preponderance of no. 10 jerseys worn by the participants at BYU’s cubs soccer camp, the answer is a resounding ¡sí! And to be like diminutive Argentine star Lionel Messi, known for dribbling through multiple defenders at full speed with the ball seemingly glued to his cleats, it’s all about control.

And so the campers spend the first 45 minutes each day dancing with a ball: pushing, pulling, poking, and rolling the ball in every direction off of every angle of the foot; practicing step-overs and pivot turns; faking left and moving right.

“Players are too often looking to learn the creative and flashy moves without the proper foundation of individual skill work,” says Christopher N. Watkins (BS ’98), BYU women’s soccer associate head coach. “It just takes a little knowledge and a lot of time.”

Photo Bradley Slade

So You Want to Connect with an Audience?

Vocal Beauty Bootcamp

“It’s the vulnerability, not the security, of the performer that attracts us. . . . You have to risk being absolutely stupid and cheesy. Then it has the potential to catch someone and have meaning.” —Clan W. Robison (BA ’62, BA ’70) Emeritus Professor of Music

So You Want to Polish Your Moves?

Follow the path to find the style and camp right for you.

So You Want to Write Your First Chinese Character?

Startalk Chinese Language Camp

Forever (yo ̆ng in Chinese, pictured above at top) is typically the first character taught in Chinese calligraphy, both in China and at BYU’s three-week Chinese Language Camp.

“ot only is it a very meaningful word,” says “Jason” Li Kuan Ni (’18),a camp calligraphy instructor, but the eight strokes in the character yo ̆ ng encompass the strokes in almost all other characters.

Calligraphy—a mandatory activity for all children in China—is not like learning cursive, says Ni. “The purpose of cursive is to write fast. The purpose of calligraphy is to write slow—and very, very nice.”

Sit on the edge of your chair, he instructs, feet at on the floor, back straight, shoulders relaxed, elbows locked to your sides. Hold the brush upright—not at a slant—and watch the ink. The amount applied is precise. “Your arms, your hands, none of them should touch the table at all,” he tells the students— they should hover in the air.

Calligraphy Michael Turner

Start each stroke thick, then skinny, and then finish with a little thickness, says Ni. “It’s never just a line.”

And there’s no retouching. Thousands of years ago “a government official or a person of high prestigious social status could lose their job, their reputation, if they did retouch on their calligraphy.I tell the students, ‘No retouch!’” he laughs.

So You Want to Build an Imaginary World?

Sci-fi and Fantasy Writing Camp

If you’re writing a fantasy novel, you’ll need to understand—and help your reader understand—the world you’re creating. At the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing Camp, Sara B. Larson, author of the young-adult Defy trilogy, notes five areas that authors must develop to make their imaginary world believable for the audience.

While details are important, Larson notes, writers shouldn’t get bogged down on questions that won’t matter in the end (for example, how the people in this world clip their toenails). At some point, she tells her campers, you just let go and start writing.

an illustration of a man sitting at a computer with thought bubbles above his head that have a hat, a scale, mountains, shoes, and a torch in them

So You Want to Improve Your Sense of Self-Worth?

So You Want to Find a Men’s Restroom on Campus That Hasn’t Been Converted to a Women’s?

Women’s Conference

Good luck. (Really, though, in the Marriott Center proceed to portals K or X.)

So You Want to Catch a Big Ball?

Rugby Halfback Academy

Practice with a little ball (Ping-pong and tennis balls work great).

So You Want to Nail It on Stage?

Young Ambassadors’ Singing Entertainers Workshop

After directing BYU’s Young Ambassadors for nearly four decades, Randall W. Boothe (MM ’79) has no shortage of tips for budding stage performers:

Be all in. “Throw yourself into it in every aspect of every rehearsal, and you will recognize you have grown.”

Remember the audience. “Never make it about yourself. . . . Never!”

Love others and the work. “The way to cultivate gifts is to love. . . . If you love each other and you love the work you’re involved in, the gifts will come.”

Don’t look back. “We all, at certain times, judge ourselves in the middle of a performance. Not good. When your voice cracks, pretend that’s exactly what you wanted it to do and just keep moving forward.”

So You Want to Foster a Childlike Approach to Creativity?

Exploring Writing through Art

“Adults need to exercise their creative muscles even more than children. Children are constantly creative. They haven’t lived through years of criticism or embarrassment— they don’t have these voices telling them their ideas are stupid or foolhardy or unimportant.

“As adults we tend to dismiss our wackier, less-conventional ideas. Who wouldn’t after so much criticism? But when we do things like draw and write and imagine, our creative headspace is friendlier. We come up with things we wouldn’t otherwise come up with—we don’t chuck things out the window quite as easily. This makes us better thinkers and better problem-solvers.” —Rebecca Jensen Ogden (BA ’08, MA ’10, MFA ’12)

So You Want to Feel Peace About Your Path?

Women’s Conference

“One sister may be inspired to continue her education and attend medical school, allowing her to have significant impact on her patients and to advance medical research. For another sister, inspiration may lead her to forgo a scholarship to a prestigious medical institution and instead begin a family, allowing her to make a significant and eternal impact on her children now.

“Is it possible for two similarly faithful women to receive such different responses to the same basic questions? Absolutely! . . . That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices.” —Elder M. Russell Ballard

So You Want to Triangulate Like a Pro?

Chip Camp

“We’re panicking!” shouts 13-year-old Aiden Reeves, adding, “I love panicking!’ Time, you see, is ticking, and his team of five teens has just minutes to finish constructing a straw-and-tape tower that stands at least 24 inches tall and can bear 3 pounds.

The challenge is just one of dozens the 9th-graders-to-be face at Chip Camp, which aims to upload enthusiasm for the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Teetering and askew, the tower built by Aiden’s team is remarkably strong, thanks to a lattice structure made up mostly of squares and triangles. The latter, they were taught, are particularly effective at remaining rigid while distributing forces across a structure.

Did their spindly structure hold up under pressure? Almost.

So You Want to Run Your Best?

Cross-Country and Distance-Running Camp

Women’s cross-country coach Patrick E. Shane (BS ’71) has plenty of running advice for the teens at Cross-Country and Distance-Running Camp:

1. Get nine hours of sleep.

2. Put in high-volume, low- intensity mileage.

3. Trust your coach.

4. Manage your stress.

5. Track your resting heart rate.

6. Finally, “Don’t expect too much too soon. Be kind to yourself.”

So You Want to Fuel Your Creative Fire?

BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers

“To be creative,” says Gene Yang, cartoonist and recipient of Printz and Eisner Awards, “you need to cut out all of your TV and half of your friends.” But, he adds, be sure to keep three important people in your life: someone who helps you meet deadlines, someone who gives you honest feedback, and someone who cheers you on no matter what.

So You Want to Avoid Insulin Resistance?

Education Week

More than one-third of people in the United States have insulin resistance, including half of all adults, yet 90 percent of them don’t know it, says BYU physiology and developmental biology professor Benjamin T. Bikman (BS ’03, MS ’05) at Education Week. Insulin resistance often leads to type 2 diabetes and is a factor in virtually every chronic disease. Fortunately, says Bikman, we can do something about it. He suggests exercise (even walking helps) and the following diet controls:

1. Eat less sugar. Sugar increases insulin more than almost anything else, and it’s found in more than 70 percent of processed foods. Eat as little sugar as possible, says Bikman: “We [Mormons] trade our vices….We don’t go to the bar to drink and smoke, but we have a brownie bake-off. We can’t be ignorant about what we are doing.”

2. Eat less starch, and recognize that “not all carbs are created equal,’ he says. Be cautious of white bread, pasta, white rice, and potatoes. Complex carbs like yogurt and whole grains are better; fruits and veggies better still. Though, Bikman adds, “eat your fruit, don’t drink it.”

3. Eat more fat. “Dietary fat is the one nutrient that won’t increase insulin,” says Bikman. And keeping insulin levels down is so important, because having too much increases the risk for developing insulin resistance and related disorders.

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