Family history work makes ‘ordinary’ kid not so ordinary

Nathan Wallace

Nathan Wallace

Nathan Wallace, 14, of Roosevelt, Utah, is one of the 62 youth who attended the first annual myFamily History Youth Camp at BYU in July 2015. The camp was held in conjunction with BYU’s annual Conference on Family History & Genealogy.

Nathan, who is going into the ninth grade, seems like a pretty ordinary kid. He’s the youngest of five siblings. He plays soccer. He was planning to attend EFY for the first time this year, but couldn’t get into a session.

So he looked for an alternative and discovered the myFamily camp, which teaches youth ages 14 to 18 the skills to become family history consultants in their home wards, if they are asked to do so. It seemed like a good fit to him—and that’s where Nathan is not so ordinary.

He has been working on his own family tree for three years, since he turned 12 and was old enough to start going to the temple to be baptized for the dead.

“Both of my grandmas do genealogy,” he explained. “My mom’s mom helped me to get started. I really like it, so I kept doing it. I like finding the names and taking them to the temple.”

He decided to come to BYU for the MyFamily camp because he wanted to learn more about how to find family names to add to his family tree—which is “pretty big,” he says. “I can go back pretty far. I’ve been working on a line that goes back to 192 AD.”

Back that far, he says, “there are some pretty crazy names that are difficult to pronounce.”

Nathan’s family has long had a big focus on family history. It’s not unusual to find all five Wallace siblings in a room together, working on their family tree.

Nathan has already been able to help his older siblings now and then. “Sometimes we discuss a lot when we’re working on it together,” he says. “My brother Tanner, who is next to me in age, comes to me to ask questions.”

But he knows he still has a lot to learn, hence his choice to attend the conference, where he “learned a lot about like how to find names,” he says. “In Salt Lake they took some time at the Family History Center to teach us, to help us figure out which name is the right one. I’m looking forward to more time on the computer, working on my family tree.”

Nathan also enjoyed the EFY dance that participants in the MyFamily camp attended. “It was fine,” he said. “It was worth doing it. I’ll most likely do EFY in the future.”

Is a career in family history and genealogy in his future? Nathan doesn’t know.

“I'm still learning a lot about family history, and I really enjoy it, but I’m not sure what I will do in the future,” he says,

However, if he is asked to serve as a family history consultant, he's OK with that.

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