I recently returned from “Man Camp” – two days of amazing experiences with a group of about 25 youth and some adult leaders. We went up into New Hampshire, far away from quality cell phone reception, and discussed what it truly means to be a man. The idea was based off a talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson called “Let Us Be Men.”
As leaders we put together workshops about dating, getting a job, and cooking for yourself as well as how to prepare to be a missionary, a husband, and a father. We all had some pretty amazing experiences.
The highlight of the camp (for me, at least) was the blacksmithing workshop. We were able to heat pieces of iron in a furnace until they were red hot. Then we were able to hammer them into knives (blunt knives, but knives nonetheless).
As we were doing this I had the chance to help 6-8 young men with the process before trying it myself. It’s hot and noisy work. The hammer that seems so easy to hold starts to feel like a million pounds after you’ve been swinging it for a few minutes. Sparks are flying everywhere and if the person holding the iron loses their grip and drops it, the grass below bursts into flames.
Of course this was only a simple demonstration of blacksmithing, but it gave all of us an idea of how important it is to start with quality metal if you want to create something that will stand the test of time. We learned that it takes time and a lot of effort to craft something that you can be proud of. We learned the care that has to be taken to protect yourself and others.
As we worked I kept thinking about the times that I have been that piece of iron – thrust into the furnace and then struck time and time again. Most of the time I have no idea what the Lord is trying to craft me into, but I appreciate the time and effort He must be expending to do so.