A Brief history and the Purpose of Heritage Tours
Robert W. Eliason started Heritage Tours in the summer of 1974. This tour was made up of recently graduated Seminary students and some tours later in the Fall were mostly Senior couples enjoying the Fall colors of the New England area and eastern Church history sites.
With the help of many, Bob organized the tour company with a proposed name of “Pioneer Trails”. That name was then changed to “Heritage Tours” before the next tour in 1976. The emphasis for those participating on Heritage Tours at the beginning was one of a “pioneer experience”, hoping that the young people would get a feel for what the pioneers went through and experienced.
Then in 1994 a change was made. Because of severe weather for a couple years and also with a desire to improve the tour, the camping that was done in KOA’s, was stopped and the tour began using hotels and motels.
The emphasis now turned to missionary work and mission preparation. The Book of Mormon was studied daily and students were encouraged to read the Book of Mormon within the three weeks of the tour. Not only this, but students were taught missionary skills of how to present the Book of Mormon to people they would meet in the hotels, eating places, rest stops, and other opportunities during the tour.
The last few years have seen another change in the emphasis of the tour. With the advent of “pass along cards” and the desire of the Brethren to have the fulltime missionaries put the Book of Mormon in the investigators hands, the approach now has turned to the “spiritual preparation” of the individual student. Though we visit many sacred, beautiful and inspiring sites across the Church and the Nation, we want the student to come to understand the principle, “it is not what we see, but how we feel” in these special places. If this is learned, we hope it will be a life changing experience.