National Training Laboratories

The year was (?) I was working at the Wilkinson Center on the 4th floor with the students and doing some counseling on the side. At one point I was told that they wanted me to go to Cedar City to take part in a conference or something called the NTL. I didn’t have any notion what it was all about, hadn’t even heard about it, but it sounded interesting. We stayed at the College of Southern Utah, (now a university) in the dorms and met the first morning with people from all over the United States. We were divided into groups and sent to separate rooms, each with a leader or trainer or whatever they were called. In my group was a tall fairly good looking fellow with salt and pepper hair, a ‘bigwig’ from Nese who was one of the problems of the group, another woman, can remember her name or where she was from and several other men. Our leader seemed like a nice person but we didn’t accomplish much and about the next day he became ill and had to go to the hospital and they had to send him home later. So, they rushed another leader for our group, and this was the best thing that every happened to us. I can’t even remember his name now, but I had heard of him and knew he was an accomplished psychologist, author of many books and a great reputation.

And the group began making progress. For the first week, we just sort of sparred with each other and didn’t know the purpose of the whole ‘schmear’. One fellow said that he came from the East somewhere and had never heard of Cedar City and when the train stopped here and he saw this little ‘burg’ in the middle of the mountains, he wondered what in the world he was in for. Several others of the group felt the same way, but since my masters had been in psychology and counseling, I knew what

it was all about. And when the rest finally found out and knew that I had known all along they turned on me and wanted to know why I hadn’t told them, but I said that if I had told them, they wouldn’t have believed me that I knew they would find out soon enough and needed the time together before the group would come together as I knew they would.

Over the weekend the group of students and leaders from BYU decided they wanted to go camp in Zion National Park for the weekend. They said the students couldn’t go without one of the leaders with them and no one wanted to go, so I finally offered and was very glad I did afterwards.

So the school gave us sleeping bags. It was the middle of summer so we would be plenty warm, and some food and we bought some more and Saturday morning drove to the Park. We spent the day hiking all over the place. I had been there before briefly but hadn’t seen it like we did that day and it was wonderful. The night in the campground, we sat around and ate cold picnic food, and then played card games by flashlight. I guess we were making quite a bit of noise because the first thing we knew we heard a siren and saw the flashing lights of the Park Police. We heard a man say, “They’re right over there. and he pointed towards us. So we quickly shut off the flashlights and jumped into our sleeping bags and pretended we were asleep. The policemen looked all around us with flashlights, but couldn’t see anything to get upset about so they left, but since it was late, we decided not to continue our games. The next day we did more exploring of the Park and then back to Cedar City.

Beginning on the second week the participants began to see what this whole thing was about, and they began opening up to tell why they were there and out group became very close to each other. They asked me at one time why I colored my hair and I said I didn’t like ’salt and pepper’ colored hair and since coloring for hair was so good now, I thought it was foolish not to have a nice colored hair. They accepted that and we went on with getting down to the nitty gritty of why most of them were there. They were mostly high priced executives in the army, business, etc., except for the member of the faculty from BYU and a group of our students who were there. However, none of our students were in my group.

One fellow started telling us about his family and said that he had a son who was rebellious and he had had serious problems with him and he finally left home and was wandering. He didn’t even know where he was. He started to cry as he told the story and began to tell us of his childhood. He said his father died before he was old enough to barely remember him, but he remembered that his father loved him and he missed him. Then his mother remarried and he was overjoyed to think he would have a father, but the new one couldn’t relate to him at all, even though he felt he tried to get close to him. When he turned 18, he joined the army and his mother, step-father and sisters went with him to the bus when he was to leave. Just as he put his foot on the step of the bus his step-father came up and put his arm around him, and many thoughts flashed through his head, “Maybe my Dad loves me.” “I can’t leave because maybe he loves me.” And then he decided that he probably didn’t so he got on the bus and left.

Now he said he was doing the same thing to his step-son and how could he change. We assured him that this is why he was with us and he was learning how to change and when he got home he could get close to his step-son.

Another big, burly fellow in our group who said he had clawed his way to the top in his company was now over a large group of workers, said he also had been a failure with a son, who was now wandering and he also didn’t know where he was. He said that he knew now that he hadn’t loved him enough. That he had been so immersed in his business and getting ahead that he had neglected his family.

The tall fellow with the ’salt and pepper’ hair asked me why I had said what I did about the kind of hair and I said I just felt that way and maybe it didn’t bother anyone else. But he broke down and told how he was married to a very beautiful woman that he loved dearly, but wondered if he looked too old for her, etc. It came out that he really didn’t have any actual proof that she didn’t love him, but he felt inadequate and not good enough for her love. With the help of our therapist, he learned some ways of dealing with this situation and getting to feel better about himself. By now our group was exceptionally cohesive and we felt, not only compassion for the problems we were hearing, but all felt love for all our group. In the rest of the time, many of the group worked at resolving some of their worst problems.

On the last day of the two weeks, we were such a cohesive group that then they called that it was time for lunch, we just didn’t want to break the group up and leave. The love that we shared in the group had nothing to do with romantic love, but just as fellow human beings.

One fellow ho hadn’t shared much of his own life, left the group when we finally went to lunch and several of our group asked where he was. One of the fellows who had sat by him much of the time said that he had gone to telephone his family to tell them how much he loved them.

These two weeks had turned out to be two of the most interesting in my life. I learned a lot and all in all it was a tremendous experience.