One Week in the Wild

I’m just getting the feeling back in my two big toes. I’m actually going to miss the tingling sensation — a direct result of wearing hiking boots for seven days straight with a 40-pound pack on my back. It’s the last tangible trace of my backpacking trek on Mt. Zion at Young Life’s Beyond Malibu in British Columbia.

I took an eclectic group of kids to Beyond Malibu this past summer. Our ages, physical abilities and relationships with God were all in very different places. As a Young Life leader, I encounter many kids who lead pretty “normal” lives, and their need for a Savior gets covered up with all the trappings of the teenage world — school, friends, parental pressure, sports, the next big party.

A week on a mountain with nothing more than what’s on your back and the people you share the trail with profoundly changes kids’ understanding of their own priorities and how far they’ve drifted from God’s intended purpose for their life: to love their Creator with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength and to love one another as they love themselves.

On the trail
Each of us was going to have a moment (or 50) when we would want to whine and grumble, but before the trip, I asked that we vent our negative feelings straight up to God. A lot to expect from your average teenager, I know. But when one of our guys was in the midst of some significant nicotine withdrawal coinciding with a hummer of an ankle blister not to mention intestinal issues from the 143 wild berries he ate along the trail, I was thrilled to overhear him murmuring skyward, “You’d think there’d be an easier way to find you, God.

I challenged the kids to open their minds and hearts and allow God to teach them one thing. For me, God’s lesson plan was humility. God brought weakness out of nowhere to overwhelm me. When I couldn’t get my legs moving fast enough, some kids offered to take meals out of my pack to lighten my load. Some sang to me to keep my mind off the heights (which have never bothered me before), while others relayed my pack down a crevasse so I could simply maintain my balance.

The ultimate humiliation was allowing one of our Zeus-like guys to pull me up a wet waterfall chute one step at a time, and then weeping uncontrollably as we reached the top. After the trip, he wrote that helping me up that chute was the most difficult and most meaningful part of the whole journey.

A traveling community
And it wasn’t just me they took care of. When one of the girls slipped and twisted her ankle, someone else emptied her backpack and redistributed its contents before we were done getting the first-aid kit unpacked.

One of God’s great purposes for our lives is community, and I had emphasized this theme from the moment we met at the airport and began our 11 days of travel together. I wanted our group to serve one another and experience God’s love through fellowship. My kids lived out the beauty and purity of community right before my eyes.

The views from atop Mt. Zion are unparalleled, but the views God gave me of His beauty through the attitudes, community and love of those 11 kids will count as one of the richest blessings of my life! Do you see why I want my tingly toes back?
Young Life's North American Adventure Camps
Adventure camping places high school kids in spectacular settings for fun and discipleship. It also gives them opportunities to experience God in refreshing ways by removing them from their everyday routine. Young Life offers two adventure camping opportunities:
Beyond Malibu is 100 miles north of Vancouver in the Princess Louisa Inlet found in the Canadian Coastal Mountain range. It can only be reached by way of boat or seaplane. It’s has been hiked primarily by those on Beyond Malibu trips since its inception in 1970. Beyond Malibu offers two kinds of adventures — sea kayaking and backpacking.

Wilderness Ranch started in the early 1970s in remote southwest Colorado, 25 miles southwest of Creede. The base camp is nestled in a beautiful valley in the San Juan Mountains, close to the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. Wilderness Ranch offers backpacking and adventure tours, a road trip that offers a combination of activities including rafting, rock climbing, rapelling, caving and cycling.
What if I’m not a backpacker or crazy about the outdoors?
Adventure camping is for anyone, mountaineer to hotel junkie. You just need a willing heart. However, spending a few months conditioning your heart is highly recommended. You do have well-trained guides leading your trek.

Who leads and plans the group’s spiritual times?
It’s completely up to the trip leader. You can lead your time completely, share the leadership with the guides or allow your guides to run the show.

Do we travel with other groups?
This is designed for community building. Generally, you don’t have much time with other groups, but you can combine with other groups within an area or region. Contact the property staff for ideas.

Who can go on adventure camping trips?
Create your trip to fit your needs. Trips are also great for committee, leadership teams, alumni, etc.

When do I start planning?
ASAP! Staff at Wilderness and Beyond Malibu can give you a timeline.

How do I get more info?
Beyond Malibu

Wilderness Ranch