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Summer offers 'Time to Blossom' for young women

By Cecily Markland

For Mormon Times

Published: Saturday, April 30 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

MESA, Ariz. — For teenagers, summertime typically promises vacations and video gaming, carefree fun, rest and relaxation. Yet, for nearly 500 LDS young women, ages 11 to 16, this summer holds much more.

For them, it is "Time to Blossom," time to experience a host of fun activities, bonding and spiritual moments, all while learning a new way of looking at themselves, their goals and their plans for the future.

The inaugural "Time to Blossom" young women's conference event, held in the Phoenix area last year, received glowing reviews from organizers, young women and parents. One mother called it “way more than successful,” and a girl from Mesa said it was “the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Conference organizers Debbie Forrest and Carla Jorgensen, both from Mesa, say they have taken the things that worked well, expanded from there and have created an even more amazing offering of classes, entertainment, interactive experiences and service opportunities.

The intent of the conference, they say, is to bolster confidence and help young women discover their own strengths and creative abilities.

“We want girls to know they can create a life of joy and happiness," said Forrest, who, as a BYU student, was co-founder of the BYU Women’s Conference." Yes, there will be challenges along the way, but as they stay focused, have faith and confidence in themselves, they can create a powerful future and become and do all they desire.”

“The overarching mission of 'Time to Blossom' is for girls to be able to follow their mission in life, dream big and turn these dreams into reality,” Jorgensen adds.

To help the girls put principles into practice, the conference organizers have planned a number of hands-on activities, service projects and interactive workshops taught by a star-studded lineup — including American Idol finalist Brooke White, motivational speakers Brad Wilcox and John Bytheway, etiquette specialists Nanci Wudel and Vivian Cline, and body image specialists April Price and Rachel Stewart.

Girls will learn how to create modest wardrobes, coordinate outfits, make wise clothing selections and accessorize inexpensively. Directed by internationally known scrapbook specialist Jessica Sprague, the girls will each create their own “My Awesome Life” album.

Along with the fun and frills, the conference includes strong spiritual underpinnings.

“A big part of the conference is helping the girls learn about the character traits of the Savior during daily, meaningful devotionals," Forrest said. "We help them realize that they can develop these same attributes in their lives."

“As the girls leave our conference, we want them to be excited, with their vision expanded, knowing they can use their talents and gifts to create meaningful lives,” she continues. “We want them to see themselves the way our Father in Heaven and the Savior see them — and to see others in that same way.”

This summer’s two sessions of "Time to Blossom" — June 20-24 and June 27-July 1 — will be held at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Mesa, Ariz. For details or to register, visit www.timetoblossom.com.

Cecily Markland is a freelance writer, book editor, publicist and author of "Hope: One Mile Ahead" and the children's book "If I Made a Bug." A calendar of LDS events in Arizona is at www.cecilymarkland.com.

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