The seniors returned from Senior Survival at Glacier View Ranch this past Sunday, having slept in shelters they built with their own hands and eaten meals cooked over an open fire. Ultimately, they encountered God and gained a greater understanding of their class identity. Kyle Rushold, a 4-year senior, said, "We learned who is willing to work together when the going gets tough."
What does he mean by "tough going"? The class tackles many challenges presented by chaplain Nick Clark and other Campion faculty--some of them mentally challenging, others just grueling, like the death march. Some students may simply be referring to camping for 5 days without a shower. But, the greater purpose is not to just survive.
As Nick Clark explained, the purpose of Senior Survival is for the Seniors to grow closer as a class and encounter God. The weekend is filled with team-building initiatives that help them learn more about themselves and others. "Every morning they have time to read Scripture, journal, and pray. Each night we have worship together around the campfire and learn what it means to follow Jesus as a community of believers. In other words, we talk a lot about the communal aspects of faith rather than just individual aspects."
Senior Stephanie Tolalu explained that the trip is all about bonding with classmates and learning to trust them. “There were some people in my class that I didn’t expect to check on me, but once when I was crying, one of my classmates asked if I was ok and spent a couple hours listening to me. I realized that people in my class care about me. I learned I could count on these guys,” she said.
Both Rachel Hammond and Destaney Bohlender thought the trust fall challenge was the most impactful part of the trip. For this activity, students fall from a height backwards into a “basket” of their team’s arms. Hammond thought this was so powerful because “Physically falling and actually giving something to God was matching your intentions with an action. It was a commitment, just like getting baptized is the action that matches your promise.” Bohlender also remembered the spiritual significance of the challenge. “When I fell, I gave away all of my worries. Those worries were a giant brick wall between me and God,” she said.
Bohlender, along with Cameron Sellers and 12 others, decided to be baptized or re-baptized in the lake on Sabbath. Sellers said, “My spiritual experience is different after Senior Survival. Pastor Nick told us he hoped we would have an encounter with God. I didn’t expect it, but it definitely happened. I can’t tell you how or why, but it did. I ended up being baptized. I was able to let things go, and trust my friends and God—something I haven’t done for a while.”