Redefining Adventure

Gregg Reyes January 21, 2021

How would you define adventure? What does the word mean for you?

The dictionary would say:

  • an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity
  • to engage in a hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory

How do these definitions make you feel? Do they get you excited and ready to run out the door, or do they make you scoff and say “no thank you!”

In Young Life, we love to invite kids into adventure. Whether that be craziness at club, making memories during contact work, or a summer out in God’s creation at one of our phenomenal camps, we are always trying to show kids what Jesus is like through adventure.

But…if you have not been raised in an environment of that “stereotypical adventure,” the Young Life culture of adventure can sometimes feel like a tough adjustment. I personally love being in the outdoors and I have a pretty high tolerance for the unusual, exciting, hazardous experience, but that’s not the case for everyone. Adventure is subjective.

“As we chase after kids, it’s important for us to understand that a “one size fits all” style of adventure doesn’t actually fit every single kid.

-Gregg reyes

For some kids, just taking a walk in the park feels even more adventurous than other kids taking a hike up a 14,000 ft. mountain. Depending upon their situation and upbringing, both kids could be seeing creation in a way they never have before.

It’s easy to get stuck trying to figure out some big plans to make with kids, but many memories can be made through simple adventures. John 10:10 says “The thief come only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” How many times have you heard this in a Young Life meeting? And after hearing that, how many times have you felt the pressure of having to be the most creative person in the room with how you do contact work? I know I have. I get it. But we don’t need to pressure ourselves to make every moment with kids to be like a day at Disney.

Jesus came to bring full life to people, but often that looks pretty different from entertaining people.

Last year I read Black Faces White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoorsby Carolyn Finney.

It drew me to rethink how I do contact work with my friends and what does it mean to reconnect them with adventure on their own terms.

I know this has been an unbelievably hard year for us to really chase after kids, but when you can do it safely, go and love kids. This is what we do in Young Life.

If it’s as simple as taking a walk outside, invite kids into simple adventure. Help them notice things they may not notice on their own.

Ask them what adventure is to them. Help them wrestle with this question.

I know if I forced my own ideas of adventure on my Young Life kids, it could lead to paralyzing fear and even trauma. But when we ask them what adventure means to them, you may crack open and door and hear their joy.

Below are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Exploring the woods with them, maybe as they did as young kids.
  • Learning a new skill like woodworking or sewing or playing an instrument.
  • Applying for their first job
  • Serving the needy in your community.
  • Reading the Bible together
  • Exploring a part of their city they’ve never been to
  • Eating a type of food they’ve never eaten before.

When we invite kids to experience something they’ve never experienced before we are giving them a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. He is the creator of adventure and the source of life!

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