Spending time in the wilderness can be a life-changing event. Ask any Montreat student who participated in Discovery this past summer. The goal of spending twenty-one days backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater canoeing, and camping (both as a group and solo) is to help the group grow and develop in four core areas: stewardship, discipleship, community, and leadership.
Andrew Bobilya, an outdoor education professor and Discovery instructor, says some of the highlights of this past summer’s expedition included “watching God work in each person’s life as we traveled together, paddling on Lake James at 5 a.m., watching the sun come up over the mountains, looking down Linville Gorge from Short Off Mountain, [and] hearing the students share their life stories.”
What makes the Discovery experience so special? Bobilya says that sensing God’s presence in a new and real way, getting to know the students outside of the classroom, watching students’ reactions to the challenges they’re faced with, and the unpredictability of the weather is all “an amazing adventure.” He strongly recommends Discovery “to every adult – not just Outdoor Education or Outdoor Ministry majors.”
How can a potential Discovery participant prepare for such a journey? “Students need to be in decent physical shape, be willing to live in a small community for twenty-one days while traveling in the wilderness, and be open to exploring how God might use this experience to shape them,” Bobilya says.
Bobby Wilund says his Discovery adventure can best be summarized by an early morning canoe paddle across Lake James: “The red-yellow-orange beams of light climbing over the mountains, the reflection on the surface of the lake, was gorgeous – like you see in professional photos. The only sound you hear is the sound of the paddles lightly stroking the water as the canoes gently glide across the water’s surface. It was three of the best weeks of my life and I didn’t want it to end. It will be an experience that I cherish for the rest of my life.”