high adventure

Once we were down from Snowmass, Craig and I had a day to clean up, rest up, and gear up for our next adventure with our college friends from back home. Monday morning, they pulled up in not one but two church vans and start spilling out into the streets of the small town of Dolores in southwestern Colorado.

I’ve shared some before about the significance of a week together in the mountains. And my friend Tyler spent some time describing what impacted him about this specific trip. But there were a couple things about this week that made it unique for me.

First, the group was huge. In fact so large that we had to divide our group in half to fulfill the wilderness area imposed restrictions. Craig took the college students who already had at least a year under their belt, and I had the group who had freshly graduated from high school plus a handful of adults.

Which brings me to the other thing that made this trip so special. It maybe should come as no surprise that I ended up with the class of 2012. These guys belong to me (well, me and Rob). For about three years now, we have had the privilege of being the small group leaders for the male half of this group. We have watched them (and at times helped them) navigate the challenges of adolescence. Week after week, they would show up in our homes and we would break bread together. Laugh together. Get upset with each other. Learn together. Pray together. Year after year, we would take them on various camps, retreats, and trips. We poured into them. And whether they realize it or not, they poured into us as well.

Of course, there is the actual mountain itself. We climbed Wilson Peak, which like Snowmass is another Class 3 mountain. That means it looks sort of scary, but it isn’t super dangerous. These guys and gals climbed like champs and through perseverance, team work, and the grace of God we made it to the top. The last pitch is especially intimidating, so it makes for a rewarding and emotional payoff on the summit. Of course, once you’re standing on top, you are really only half way there. The return trip, while not quite as strenuous, is no piece of cake either. While we got a little wet and were a lot exhausted, we did manage to all make it back to camp safe and sound. That evening we huddled underneath the “magic tarp” and delighted in the gift of being dry and warm. But mostly we enjoyed simply being together.

While our trip to the high-country brought this leg of our journey together to an end, it also marked the beginning of a new chapter in which they would discover just how high they can climb on their own.

I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this

As you can see, I’ve officially sunk to a new low.  Two days running of Dumb and Dumber quotes for blog titles.  Anyway, no summer would be complete without the Senior Backpacking Trip.  In our student ministry, we take graduating seniors away for a week in the high country of Colorado for a week they will never forget.

The trip is significant on so many different levels that it is hard to really explain, but I’ll give it a shot.

First, it marks this significant transition from high school to whatever is next.  They have generally got eighteen years under their belt and are anticipating the next four (or so).  It gives them a chance to reflect on how life has been so far and what lies ahead.  It is a rite of passage of sorts.

But it also stretches people in ways they didn’t know they could be.  For some, it will be the first time camping.  For many, it will be the first time backpacking.  And for nearly all, it will be their first attempt to summit the mythic fourteener.

However, the challenges aren’t all physical.  Pulling away from civilization, comfort, and convenience can have a disorienting effect that makes room in the heart and soul for God to work and for certain aspects of life to become profoundly clear.  Maybe more so than one has ever experienced before.

But perhaps the most significant thing any of us walk away with is a sense of deep connectedness to one another that can only come from a shared experience that is so powerful that your relationships with one another will never be the same.