With the oak trees already sprouting their leaves out here in central California, summertime will be here faster than you can say “Where are my shorts?” Ready to get summer adventures on your mind, too? Out of all of Summit Adventure’s open-enrollment summer courses, the 21-Day Leadership Expedition (for ages 16+) is the longest course in our roster. If you’re thinking, “Nah, that’s too long for me,” or “too challenging,” or “too” anything, keep reading–because we’ve got 21 reasons to change your mind.
“What’s the point?” I know that question may smack of an apathetically slouched youth, or perhaps the plagued-by-existential-dread 20-something. But forget the snark and cynical connotations for a moment, and you’re still left with an important question: what, in fact, is the point?
Throughout my time working at Summit Adventure, I have enjoyed the privilege of witnessing the marvel of young adults thriving in community together, despite their stark differences. A few years back, Bobbie and Tanya arrived at the Summit Adventure Semester Program, choosing to spend their “study abroad” immersed in close-quarters community. Bobbie, a laid-back musician with little direction in life, came from a highly dysfunctional family. Tanya, however, was a very motivated, self-starting outdoors-woman from a stable, loving home. They couldn’t have been more opposite from each other, and I wondered if learning in such close-knit circumstances would help or hinder them.
For Summit Adventure’s most recent course, we teamed up with eight Bridgemont high school students, led by their principal, Evan Anderson. Bridgemont, a private Christian school in San Francisco, features a Field Studies program as a part of their curriculum in order to implement a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom. Students choose one of four outdoor adventure options to participate in for a grade.
Millennia ago, biblical and historical texts show the Israelites, Jesus, and the members of early Christian monasteries spending significant time in remote wilderness or backcountry areas to improve relationships. More recently, camps and adventure programs such as Summit Adventure have continued this practice by taking participants out on wilderness courses, lasting from a few days to several weeks. While research has long documented the success of this approach in improving interpersonal skills, a new study sheds light on using backcountry living as an integral way to improve relationships between dads and their children. By extension, it is not hard to see how the same approach would also help relationships between mothers and children as well.
“Phil, I have to turn around.” At 19,000 feet on Cotopaxi in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, we could see the summit and smell its volcanic sulfur. Physically, I was strong, but emotionally, I was drained and frightened. After rounding a 60-foot ice column, a nightmarish fear came from out of nowhere, and its shock overtook me, shattering the thin veneer of swagger I had been carefully building since our first day in country.
A third-year student at Biola University and resident of the San Jose Bay Area, Jocelyn Horsager’s winter outdoor experience was limited to shredding slopes and kicking back in a cabin. But despite her anxieties regarding the winter camping course, she found herself pleasantly surprised by each day’s experiences. And when we weren’t calling her back from leaning over the edge of a cliff to snap some killer GoPro fisheye panoramas, she was being followed by a Yosemite-native coyote with a peculiar taste for her foam sleeping pad.
We arrived at Badger Pass after dark, a team of 12–seven members of the Biola University community with five representatives of Summit Adventure. Two days previous, I had just barely moved in to base as the fledgling intern–and now I was stepping out of a van full of backpacks crammed with bear cans and sleeping bags, into a freezing night sky speckled with winter constellations. Though camping and backpacking wasn’t uncharted territory for me, I had never experienced either in the snow–at least, not purposefully (let’s just say I’ve dealt with a few freak snowstorms in my life).