“A” Is for “Adventure”
How can our students live in the outdoors for 9 days, carry around a 50 pound pack, sport greasy hair and claim that they are receiving an education? What are they learning? Besides skills like orienteering, cooking outdoors and hiking, we believe that our students are also learning about an aspect of life that will always be present regardless of their location: Adventure.
Explore, and our partner Camp Bighorn, define adventure as “Any experience with an unknown outcome.” In a backpacking experience this translates into questions like, “Will it rain today?,” “Will the group find me unattractive with my greasy hair?,” “Do I really need to follow So-And-So’s lead if I believe that is he getting us lost?” While each of these questions is different, they all stem from the common awareness that the student is not in complete control of his environment or situation. The student is confronted with the knowledge that he does not know what will happen on the backpacking trail that day. The only thing a student can control in his situation is his chosen response in light of the circumstances.
For instance, when “So-And-So” gets his group lost, the student member of his group needs to choose how to respond. Will she lash out at “So-And-So”? Will she decide to help the group members figure out where they are? Will she sulk, and refuse to participate in the group’s efforts to problem-solve? Each choice the student makes will form her character and affect her group.
When students encounter adventure, we believe that each person is presented with the chance to grow and change. As students learn how to choose in a positive, Godly manner, their character is shaped into positive habits; confidence is built, good judgment develops. Each student can build confident habits of positive responses that reflect a trust in God’s character and commands in his or her life, so that after the backpacking trip, when confronted with frightening adventures like “cancer” or “loss,” the student knows how to make choices that represent trust in God.
Explore backpacking trips are fun and exciting; they are also laboratories where students experiment with the combination of Bible knowledge and real life challenges. In the “adventure lab,” a student is able to interject her knowledge and acceptance of God’s truth into an immediate, experiential situation, and then see how trust in the Lord translates into her decision-making and leadership. The chance to make good choices during adventure is another bridge that helps our students to experientially connect their Bible education to their lives. Backpacking trips and other adventures are the places where a student becomes educated about the power she has to choose well.
Hannah M. Landon