Trek is a rite of passage for many American Mormon youth. For those not “in the know,” Trek is a re-enactment of the westward migration of Mormons in the mid-19th century. It gives Mormon youth—and the adults who lead and chaperone these treks—the opportunity to connect with their history, and appreciate their 21st-century blessings.
Trek the Movie explores this uniquely Mormon experience. It follows a group of youth through their pioneer trek.
As the movie began, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I admit to sometimes being a skeptic of LDS entertainment, as sometimes it lacks in production values. However, as I watched Trek, I liked it more and more as it went on. It started out with some overly stereotypical caricatures and one-liners, but they soon smoothed themselves out, and the caricatures turned into more well-developed likeable characters.
As it started, I thought it would be a comedy, but as the story developed, the writers skillfully transitioned into drama, kept light with regular comedic elements. Trek addresses some common themes of adolescents everywhere, dealing with personal and family conflicts, wrestling with personal faith and belief in the aftermath of tragedy.
One of our goals in producing the movie was to create a story that would honor the wonderful tradition of this hands-on experience unique to our faith. Trek provides a critical chance to connect with our past. Why is this important? I’ll let Elder Russell M. Ballard explain:
“I have a deep conviction that if we lose our ties to those who have gone before us, including our pioneer forefathers and mothers, we will lose a very precious treasure. I have spoken about “Faith in Every Footstep” in the past and will continue in the future because I know that rising generations must have the same kind of faith that the early Saints had in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.” (General Conference, October 2017, The Trek Continues!)
It is too easy to forget what our pioneer ancestors sacrificed for their faith and for our good. I hope families can sit down together and share the movie and talk about how grateful we should be for the men, women and children who marched into the unknown following a prophet of God so long ago. And, I hope they will talk about the challenges they face today as members of the church as we march forward into the unknown. Do you feel like Tom and wonder where God is? How do we connect with Him? What do we do when we feel weak and alone? Hopefully, TREK helps us know that our Heavenly Father is there and that He cares.
Overall, the movie is uplifting without being sappy or cheesy. The ensemble cast blended well, and the mix of drama with light-hearted comedy was appealing. It kept the tone of the movie light and fun in addition to having an uplifting message. I recommend this for families, for young teens and up, and for anyone who has ever been on trek.
And, yes, I have participated in a Pioneer trek—as an adult leader. If you’d like to know more about my trek experience, you can find it here. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.