A small group of children played with a plastic car, pushing it around in circles on the dining room floor. Their voices rose sharply as they disagreed on some minor point, then settled back into cheerful chatter, their differences quickly forgotten.
I love to watch Bighorn’s little ones at play as it reminds me of my own childhood growing up in a tight-knit community. Coming to Bighorn has felt like coming “home” in a way. Upon arriving and observing the sense of community that existed between staff members, their families, and the students, I immediately thought, “Bighorn must be the best part of the Explore program!” A month later, I am more convinced then ever! We are one big Christian family and the sense of community present provides a great learning environment and facilitates our growth, both spiritually and physically.
While in Explore, the first-year students are divided up into color-coded teams for the duration of the program. I have the privilege of being part of the Orange Team. I remember “Leadership Training,” a three-day camp-out in the Montana countryside. On the last night, a thunderstorm rolled up and poured rain down on us just as we were falling asleep. We (Orange Team) had set up a tarp shelter that was open on the sides and the wind was blowing the rain in sideways. We were soaked in minutes! After huddling in the cold for awhile, we had had enough and devised a way of tying the ground tarp to the roof tarp, effectively blocking out the wind and rain. We stayed up for another hour, hoping for warm weather the next day and laughing about our misfortune. While we could have seen that first hardship in a negative way, we as a team joined together and enjoyed the moment, working together towards a common goal and later laughing about it. I believe that night strengthened us to function better as a team for the future hardships we were to encounter.
Orange Team community is a smaller, more “intense” version of Bighorn community. We have had to learn how to function and work with each other’s differences whether physical, mental, or spiritual. So far we have remained a team, no matter what our differences have been. We have learned to trust each other’s judgment, even though we have all made mistakes that have led to larger problems. Though our voices may occasionally rise in disagreement, when the dust settles, we are friends and we are community.
Michael is a first year Explore student who grew up in Mexico. His careful and mature presence is a great gift to the rest of his team and his fun loving excitement has brightened many a day.