My name is Eric Armbrust and I am the Discipleship Frontier director in Anchorage, Alaska. Discipleship Frontier is a 10-month discipleship gap year program for post-graduate students. While working with Young Life I have served as a YLC leader in northern MN, worked at Lake Champion Camp in New York, helped develop YL University while living in Bulgaria, and now find my home in Alaska. A huge part of my job is to create adventure opportunities for our students, and I’d love to share some of the key strategies I follow when planning a trip.
First of all, having shared adventures is one of the COOLEST opportunities for us as staff and leaders. We get the chance to walk alongside young adults in uncomfortable situations and just do life together. Adventure can be used as the perfect platform to present the Gospel as many times our adventures parallel the adventures of Jesus and His disciples. The disciples began on a journey with Jesus that was uncomfortable, unpredictable, new, exciting, challenging, and ultimately so life-giving. We now get the opportunity to share those adventures with our college aged friends.
Below are a few tips I would offer as you get started creating your experience.
1. Do Something You LOVE
Why not start with something that you naturally love? Your passion and enthusiasm for camping, hiking, skiing/snowboarding, fishing, climbing, will spread and create a contagious vision. It is important that you are genuinely excited about the experience that you are creating and it also takes a ton of pressure off your back to create something out of nothing. Your knowledge & expertise will help carry the organization and drive of the adventure and it will make it much easier for you in the long run. I personally love to fish, camp, and ski. So naturally I bring my students fishing, camping, and skiing quite a bit. I not only am confident in the activity that we are doing, but I can easily help prepare, teach, and walk alongside people in this activity. What do you love? Invite your friends into that!
2. Don’t Break the Bank
Your adventure does NOT have to cost a lot of money. Don’t have enough gear to bring 8 of your friends camping? No sweat. I am sure you or your friends and family could scrape together enough equipment to make something work. Remember, this “shared experience” doesn’t always have to be some EPIC, “Instagram worthy” thing. Grab some friends, get some firewood, drive to a beach or a state park, and have a bonfire. Some of our favorite experiences this year have been just sitting by the lake and reading together as we reflect on God’s goodness. Start asking yourself what resources do you have around you that you can use to build an experience for your college-age friends!
3. Help People Try New Things
This is where we give an opportunity for our friends to be uncomfortable. This is SO important while doing shared adventure. Get people outside of their comfort zone. Without a doubt, this will spark some incredible conversation, provide some great entertainment, and will help people break through their belief barriers. Giving young adults the opportunity to try something new can bring an incredible sense of accomplishment. It is so cool to walk alongside our friends in these experiences.
4. Keep it Simple
This is probably one of the most important concepts. No matter how hard you try to come up with all of your elaborate plans and schemes, it is important to keep the main thing the main thing. Our main goal is to create an experience so that we can grow deeper relationships with our friends and Jesus. It is extremely easy to lose sight of that when you get too deep into planning some extravagant event. You don’t have to impress your students, you just need to get them to the feet of Jesus. Try to create an experience where there is space for them to think, dream, and meditate on God’s word. Leave margin in your time for God to speak to them. Speak less, listen more. Do less. Our job is to create the platform and the vehicle for them to get into His Holy Space. Get outside, get into the silence, let them feel vulnerable, and that is when God will speak to them.