We were back with the new Adventure Discipleship Program, this time in the beautiful Vancouver Island alpine! At the end of the summer we made some improvements to our basecamp and had a volunteer work crew helping serve our field team. This was such a blessing! These volunteers helped welcome campers and their parents, they cooked for us, and even ran some last minute errands. I worked with teacher James and two apprentice guides on this trip.
What a wonderful group of young men! These grade 10-12 students were beyond excited to get into the hills. After the usual bonding time and equipment preparation at base camp, we drove up into the mountains and punched into the fog. This reduced visibility stayed with us for four full days, and it provided fantastic conditions to build compass/map navigation skills. We moved our camp a couple times, and were able to spend a lot of time working on leadership and hard skill development including backcountry cooking and camp craft. Our daily meetings were an amazing venue for exploring our identity in Christ, and how this changes everything! We worked through passages in James and John, and found ourselves tuned into the shorter days and longer nights. One camper noted how absolutely quiet and still it is away from the noise of regular life. He stated, "it's easy to breathe out here".
Isn't it? This sense of being alive-- fully alive . . . it's what we are all about. Providing space for our campers to know and get a sense of this experience is exactly why we exist. ζάω "Zao" is the Greek word for this exact thing-- not dead and lifeless, but having joy in real life.
We had a nasty cold virus strike down a couple of our young men, and it was astounding to witness what happened with the group. Typically this kind of situation, where the group's objectives (mountain peak) need to be re-evaluated and plans need to be adjusted, results in hurt feelings, conflict, and general discord. But these campers adjusted their preferences and expectations in order to serve each member of the group. We facilitated a beautiful conversation around risk management and internal group dynamics that can lead to increased actual risk, and these guys were genuine about actually loving their neighbour. One of the ambitious-yet-flexible campers stated, "hey, the mountain will be there next year. I'll come back!"
We know that when rigid plans get buffeted by the wind, they'll only get bent out of shape. What a wonderful opportunity for these campers to exercise solid decision-making skills that apply directly in all areas of their life, not just in the wilderness. These young men thoughtfully considered how we extend grace and serve others, all in light of how our Lord extended grace and served us.
Our last two days were majestic; the sky opened, forming brilliant blue pockets among breeze-blown, shifting clouds. We ate lunch high on the ridge and soaked it in, knowing we would be walking back to regular life, not unchanged from our mountain experiences.