“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 an experience that entails 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 they are 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 their environment or their situation. The student is confronted with the knowledge that he or she does not know what will happen on the backpacking trail that day. The only thing a student can control in their situation is his or her response to 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 he lash out at “So-And-So”? Will he decide to help the group figure out where they are? Will he sulk, and refuse to participate in the group’s efforts to problem-solve? Each choice the student makes will form his character and affect his 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. We believe that each student can build confident habits of positive responses that reflect a trust in God’s character and commands in their life, so that after the backpacking trip, when confronted with frightening adventures like “cancer” or “loss,” the student knows how to choose.
Explore backpacking trips are fun, exciting and cool; they are also the laboratory where a student experiments with the combination of Bible knowledge and real life challenges. Making good choices in light of adventures in Explore is another way to help our students meaningfully connect their Bible education to their lives. Backpacking trips and other adventures are the place where a student becomes educated about the power they have to choose well.
Hannah M. Landon