It was dark and stormy night, but this didn’t quench the spirits of the 34 students and youth leaders as they set up their tents and settled in for a good night’s sleep. The rain continued for most of the night, turning the rising waters the color of Chocolate milk. Monday morning dawned cool and misty, a welcome relief after a long ride across Kansas in a bus lacking air conditioning.
We were very excited to spend the week with this group; this was Journey Quest’s first week-long trip! After a hearty breakfast, we launched into a day of low ropes and team-building initiatives, where simple props like balls, blindfolds, and a good story line are used to challenge students to think about much more important questions such as ”Who am I in Christ?”
Tuesday began with an early alpine start as we split into small groups to ascend three of the easiest peaks in the range, Spring Mountain, Comanche, and Spread Eagle Peak. Gaining over 4000 vertical feet in six miles and reaching more than 13,000 feet, these peaks are far from easy, but with every step students learned what it means to identify with Christ’s body: encouraging and being encouraged, and bearing one another’s burdens. One group even made it to the top!
Wednesday and Thursday were great days on the Arkansas River, with half the group in rafts and half in inflatable kayaks. The rains brought the water levels higher than we’d seen since May, which made rafting and kayaking a lot of fun!
Finishing a couple hours earlier Thursday, we traveled to Hartman Rocks where we camped out among the huge granite slabs and outcroppings – a rock climber’s paradise. There is something special about this high dessert place and kids always love scrambling around on the rocks and finding the perfect place to sleep out under the stars.
After grabbing a quick breakfast, we walked a few minutes to a wall with several great rock climbs. As the students climbed and rappelled on the 150 foot cliff, they were challenged to trust each other, overcome fears and live boldly with an unshakable faith in Christ.
Arriving back at the campground, we learned that the fire ban had just been lifted, so we enjoyed an incredible time of worship and sharing late into the evening around our first campfire of the season. Saturday came way too fast. It was the day our new friends would head back to Kansas, but before they left we sent them out for a two-hour solo, knowing that students rarely get an extended “Jesus time” like this. As this was wrapping up we took some time to sit down one-on-one with each student, learning how God was working, answering questions, and lifting them up in prayer.
“The Strength of Journey Quest is the staff. It is very apparent that they have friendships beyond the job. Their community, and projection of it is very impactful and meaningful. It really helps develop quick relationships with students across the entire staff…I really enjoyed interacting with students in a completely raw environment. We could really cut to their core self and begin building from there. I also enjoyed interacting with the staff to understand the value and impact this ministry has in challenging everyone they guide, both physically, and especially, spiritually.”
-Justin Hoffman, Gardner Kansas.
“This was one of the best weeks of my life,” Timothy wrote, “I have learned so much!” It was a week of firsts for Journey Quest: our first week-long trip, first peak climb, and our first rock day. But more importantly, every student grew in their faith, and one girl told us she received Christ! Praise be to God!
Most of the photos in this post were taken by Reg Hamilton and are used by permission. Thanks Reg!
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