Adventures In Leadership 2018 helps students ‘go deep’

Again this summer, like over the past 30+ years, the Northwest Conference made an investment in a select group of emerging high school leaders through our Adventures In Leadership (AIL) camp. Like with the example of the Apostle Paul affirming young Timothy for his leadership calling and gifts, and then pouring further knowledge and insight into Timothy as he grew as a leader, AIL continues to do so with our students each year.

AIL is an intentional partnership between the Northwest Conference and Adventurous Christians. It is an eight day experiential learning adventure in Christian leadership with a defining tagline of: “Servanthood is the beginning and end of Christian leadership!”

The experience is framed in three sections. The first two-and-a-half days provide a base camp training environment to sharpen both Christian leadership insights and potentials for each student, along with providing each student the necessary base skills to negotiate a wilderness canoeing/camping adventure.

The next four days are dedicated to a student-led canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota. In essence, the canoe trip becomes the learning laboratory whereby each student provides leadership for their group during a portion of the trip, and in the process practices, tests and evaluates what they have been learning about leadership. Following their time as group leader each student is then provided feedback from the group on their leadership as a source for their continued growth and learning.

So in summary, over the first seven days students experience:

  1. Exploration/practice of the spiritual disciplines; taking a personality inventory; participating in group leadership simulations; investigating biblical leadership models of the shepherd and the servant; engaging in acclimatization, navigation and orienteering activities, and giving & receiving feedback for the purposes of personal/group growth & learning.
  2. Serving as the group leader for ½ of a day on their canoe trip.
  3. Discover and develop positive team dynamics where each person’s gifts and abilities are uniquely supported, utilized and valued by the group.

The final 24 hours of AIL is dedicated to debriefing and processing the experience and pondering what God may be preparing each student for in the coming weeks/months as leaders. In addition, as the students return home we encourage their church to take an active role in building upon AIL and walking alongside their student over the next year as they assume new or greater leadership roles within their church, school or community at large.

Following are a few brief reflections offered by some of our students this year:

  • “The whole thing was one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of.” – E.
  • “This experience helped me grow in so many ways and go deep.” – A.
  • “This was amazing! I didn’t think it would impact me this much. I learned that I can be a strong leader.” – M.
  • “I will never forget AIL.” – A.
  • “I went into this not really knowing what to expect. I learned and grew so much!” – O.
  • “AIL has changed me forever and I have built life-long friendships.” – B.
  • “I was super scared going into it, and it turned out to really be a life-changing experience.” – T.

We praise God for His continued hand of blessing upon this unique journey that we have taken with student leaders over all these years. And we look forward to our next leadership adventure with students in 2019.