[dropcap style=’box’]L[/dropcap]et me start by saying what a wonderful time we had at Summit this past summer with my three kids. Rachel (16), Kyle (9), and Ryan (7) all loved our adventure. We had endured one of the toughest years and were embarking on our new life after divorce this past summer. I knew we needed time to get away and rebuild what we had left of our family.
It all came about in such a timely way. I happened to be out in my yard when a woman from my church walked by my house. We started chatting and she told me about her son working at Summit. She told me all about what they had to offer and their ministry. I knew that day I was going to sign us up for a custom adventure, just for my kids and me. We did just that. We headed to Summit in August of 2014.
Summit Adventure started offering a new course this past summer for single parents and their children. Jana Sheehan and her three kids were the first to experience this new course. Jana was kind enough to let us share her thoughts on the course and why it was so meaningful for her family during one of the hardest times of their lives.
We had no idea what to expect. Everyone I knew thought I was crazy for taking my three kids out into the wilderness and roughing it for four nights and five days. I have to admit I was nervous, but I had to let go of control and let God lead me.
I prepared my kids to have mental toughness. I told them they had to “suck it up” and be strong because we were going to hike like we have never hiked before, eat stuff we had never eaten before, and do some climbing like we have never climbed before. We also had to prepare ourselves for finding our own water, and no showers or restrooms. We had to prepare for the worst.
The first night I almost bowed out. I couldn’t believe we were going to just sleep on the ground with only a tarp over us. There were no sides or floor. Any wild animal could come on into our area where we slept. This absolutely freaked me out. My boys decided to sleep in one tent and Rachel and I slept in another. Our instructors, Nick and Emily, slept in only a sleeping bag just on the outside of our tarp. That was crazy to me. But we made it through the first night.
The next day our hiking adventure began. I couldn’t get over how well my kids adjusted. Ryan, my youngest, amazed all of us. He was carrying about a 20-pound pack and flew up the mountain like a crazy man. Rachel and Kyle had much heavier packs and they didn’t miss a beat. They made it all the way to camp with no problems or complaints.
We set up camp and ate dinner. We ate what Nick and Emily cooked. My kids had no choice but to eat what was offered. They also had to finish everything given to them since we didn’t want to leave any trace of “human” in our campsite. This was hard for them at first, but by the second and third meal they were getting it. It was great seeing them scrape their bowl clean with their fingers and tongues until every last bite was gone.
They got over the luxury of several choices of food real quick. They got over things being “real clean” as well. Nick and Emily, our instructors, were great. They were very patient, explaining the “whys” to all of my kids.
When we finally got to the day of climbing, it was incredible. Nick and Emily had all of us involved in safely assisting one another in a climb. We all had our jobs. They also did a great job pushing my kids and encouraging them to attack a climb in a different way after failing the first time. They made comparisons to real life situations by explaining how you might want to approach a problem differently if you’re not getting the results you desire.
I saw all three of my kids’ confidence explode and all three made it to the top of some very difficult climbs on the side of a 9,000-foot mountain. It wasn’t easy by any means.
Nick and Emily also gave me time with each child alone. We were in the middle of nowhere and I had about two hours with each child. We talked about the divorce, what their concerns were, and what we could do better as a family. We did this in one of the most beautiful settings I have ever seen.
It gave us an opportunity to laugh, cry, and hug and know we were going to be okay. It was priceless.
The last night we were in camp, the best thing ever happened.
I was in the tent with my youngest son, Ryan. Rachel and Kyle were in their own tent. I was lying in the tent with Ryan and we laughed so hard at hearing Kyle and Rachel laughing in the other tent. That was something we all so desperately needed. We were in a place where God was present and we had the time to be away from everything and everybody and we bonded as a family. We may not be the picture-perfect family, but we connected in a way that I had previously lost hope in doing.
We left for our Summit Adventure course so broken and tired. I really almost canceled, but God kept pushing me to do it. I am so glad He did. God spoke to us through Emily and Nick and just the surroundings. He was present and He brought healing to my family.
All three of my kids want to go back, and we will. We cannot afford to miss an opportunity like this.