Why Wilderness?

We believe that a wilderness setting provides an ideal venue for experiencing our living God.

Participants on wilderness adventures find themselves engaging with the rhythms of creation, away from the distractions of busy lives in our built environment.  Spending time in creation allows freedom for spiritual growth, and it allows opportunities for new perspective on life and purpose.

Multi-day wilderness trips build relationships.

Participants spend intentional, focused time together and work together to overcome conflict and obstacles.  Wilderness trips draw out the best in people by confronting fears and exposing the traps of entitlement.  Group members grow in their relationships with one another and in their relationship with Jesus. 

Other day-long activities like rock climbing offer a supercharged experience that can be used to explore these themes, but without the multi-day commitment.

The outdoor environment allows us to reflect on important questions.

Following Jesus' example of wilderness retreat allows us to gain perspective on questions like, "what is my identity?"  Outdoor adventures provide many challenges and obstacles; "do I have what it takes?"  "on whom will I depend?"  Participants have the chance to encounter a real, physical wilderness experience.

What we Do

Zao Outdoor Ministries is based in the Comox Valley, on Vancouver Island, BC. We have a small team of professional guides that we bring in to lead backpacking or paddling experiences—either as a guided camp or as outdoor education instruction and facilitation. 

Zao has achieved the high operating standards required for commercial operators in provincial parks. We hold a commercial use permit for recreation in Strathcona Provincial Park—which allows us to experience some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful locations on the Island.

Local Partnerships

Rather than "competing" with local summer camps, our ministry is serving them by offering staff training and leading professional-level backpacking expeditions for their campers. We have very close relationships with Camp Bob, and Wild Side at Camp Imadene—we want to help them achieve excellence in their wilderness-based program goals. You can read more about our partnerships on the programs page.

Meet our staff and board of directors here.

Backpacking With ZAO

Backpacking With ZAO

Wilderness is not merely a metaphor, but a physical place for spiritual growth and transformation
— Ashley Denton