SROM Blog: Wilderness, Ministry, Leadership

Disconnect More Than Just Putting Your Phone on Silent.

July 20th, 2017

In this day and age, we can all see people , ourselves included, talking or texting on cell phones, tablets, computers or other smart gadgets. We understand that technology has come a long way in the past decade, but it often seems that these tools are isolating us more and more from experiencing true connection with those around us. Although technology has amazing attributes to our society, it can be detrimental as well.

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Social media, cell phones, and internet connections can make us feel as if we are connected to others. In reality, we are all suffering from a lack of deep, authentic heart connection to others. Not only have we insulated ourselves against vulnerability in personal relationships, we have distracted ourselves from the most important relationship we can ever experience: our relationship with God. At Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, you will be able to leave all of your technology behind, and welcome in God without distractions. We have Wilderness Ministry courses for teenagers and adults of all ages. Our courses are perfect for those who are struggling to keep up with the revolving and evolving world around us while keeping God in the forefront. The cool thing is that you don’t need to be a Christian in order to come on a course with SROM! Just know that the core of SROM is Jesus Christ and the mission that He has called us to and that is discipleship and spreading points of light across the world!

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Are you someone who wants to leave technology behind for 7 to 10 days or even longer? We have the perfect solutions for you, your friends and even your entire family. With our wilderness expeditions, you will be able to revitalize your soul and you connection with God, while leaving all of the distracting technology behind. Go ahead and put your trust in God and let Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries help you in resetting your priorities and leaving technology behind.  Check out SROM’s  courses: Click Here!

Have questions? Contact us! We look forward to speaking with you!

To learn more about us: Click Here!

Biblical Perspective on Wilderness Ministry

July 13th, 2017

 “Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.”
 With joy you will draw water
    from the wells of salvation.

 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
    and proclaim that his name is exalted.”

-Isaiah 12:2-4

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Wild places can be intimidating. And with in that intimidation we are continually humbled in all that we see and experience in the wild places of Gods creation. Where God calls us to he will prepare us, strengthen us and help us! We often put boxes around ourselves and put God in a box as well with what we believe he is capable of doing. But if you look deeper into the wild places both physically and spiritually, you will find yourself all the more blown away and humbled by what The Creator has to offer.

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The Mountains Offer Benefits

July 6th, 2017

We can often easily tell when someone needs medical attention. But what happens when you feel that you need a different type of healing? Spiritual healing is something that so many of us need. At Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, we’ve seen and experienced radical spiritual healing in the wilderness.

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Accredited by Association of Experiential Education

June 29th, 2017

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We are proud to be accredited by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), but what does that really mean? AEE strives to enhance the education of students and organizations through experiential learning. For Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, this means AEE believes we are benefiting Christian ministry by taking you into the wilderness.

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How to Combat Homesickness While On Your Wilderness Journey

June 22nd, 2017

More than once, we’ve had students experience homesickness while on a SROM expedition. It’s not uncommon for students to realize how blessed they are by their friends and families back home, and to wish to be able to communicate parts of their outdoor adventure with their permanent communities. Even some of our instructors will miss loved ones while on course!

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If you begin feeling anxious on your course, remember that homesickness is a sign that you have a loving community that is supporting you. It’s a beautiful thing to have friends and family who you miss sharing life with! But don’t let missing home distract you from the amazing adventure in front of you. Enjoy the moments that you are experiencing and focus on putting one foot in front of the next. Try to be more intentional in connecting with the other people on your course. Part of patience is having a positive attitude. A positive attitude isn’t always the easiest thing but our instructors are there to help you through these feelings providing room for you to speak and process where you’re at on your journey. Function with an attitude of gratitude, and feel the difference that it makes on your trip. You are going to face new challenges and have to experience things that you don’t necessarily agree with, but remember that the way that other people do things isn’t wrong, it’s just different. Keep an open mind about other people’s activities and feelings. Another solid way to cope with homesickness is to keep a journal. Journal about the great things you are experience and the not so great things. Whatever you express in your journal, happy or sad, is shaping you and your experience.

Choose from our full list of Wilderness Ministry courses and apply today!

Have questions? Contact us! We look forward to speaking with you!

To learn more about us: Click Here!

Become More with Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries

June 15th, 2017

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’.”  – Matthew 16:24-25

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The Importance of Face-To-Face

June 8th, 2017

As online social media virtually connects the world, virtual relationships are becoming a constant distraction from authentic face-to-face interactions. Dr. Archibald Hart and Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd note this trend in their book, The Digital Invasion: “the digital social media that now dominates our lives tends to foster more self-centeredness than deeper connections.”[i] Not only do virtual relationships distract us from face-to-face interactions, Hart and Frejd argue, virtual connections are becoming preferable to in-person interactions: “Too much dependence on technology also creates new social problems as people become socially withdrawn, disliking real-life meetings, avoiding working in teams, and fearing face-to-face contact and preferring online communication instead.”[ii] Face-to-face interaction takes a measure of control away from us, and we are no longer able to carefully select the most flattering version of ourselves to present. We are given the opportunity to simply be ourselves, which is often the most terrifying part of relationships that can cause us to withdraw and possibly even become more anti social. Social media, on the other hand, allows us to carefully curate the most attractive, talented, and interesting version of ourselves. We become so obsessed with ourselves and our own image that we tend to only notice others out of jealousy when their social media profile is more interesting, more unique, or generates more online attention than our own. This self-centeredness, Hart and Frejd argue, has led to a culture that not only tolerates extreme narcissism, but even goes so far as to encourage and applaud narcissistic tendencies.[iii]

As humans created in the image of God, we have a profound need to know and be known. More and more we see a desperate need in today’s society for intentional and authentic relationship—relationship that is not based on expectation—in order to grow and develop. There is a significant need for people to be drawn out of themselves and to recognize how they affect and are affected by others around them. At the same time, this generation also needs to be presented with appropriate challenges and learn how to cope with and respond to failure in a positive and healthy way. There is an obvious tension between these two needs, and a healthy balance between the two can be found through wilderness ministry.

At SROM, we have found extended wilderness expeditions to be critical in fostering authentic community: community in which participants are embraced and accepted regardless of skill level, performance, or ability; community that is based upon a mutual recognition of Christ within one another; and community that recognizes, affirms, and reminds each individual that they are a beloved child of the Most High God. Authentic community teaches students how to recognize the inherent value of each person, including themselves. Stripped of cell phones and social media, participants no longer are able to choose what image they portray: they must allow themselves to be seen as they are. While this initially feels unbelievably vulnerable, bit by bit students learn to embrace and affirm the authenticity displayed by their instructors and peers, and, ultimately, learn to embrace, share, and delight in the identity given to them by God.

It is only within this authentic community that participants are presented with physical and emotional challenges designed to push them to their limit. If and when participants ‘fail’ at an activity (e.g., are unable to complete a rock climb, are physically stretched by a long day of hiking), instructors have the opportunity to celebrate and value the individual, while still coaching them through another attempt. If participants aren’t allowed to fail and encouraged to persevere despite adversity, they will potentially never experience the deeply satisfying reward of working toward a goal and accomplishing something that could not be done before. In addition to authentic community, SROM values leadership development, character formation, and skill acquisition, each to the purpose of spiritual transformation, as key parts of wilderness ministry. Wilderness ministry provides the intentional setting in which these core course components are able to be used most effectively toward the ultimate end of individual transformation.


[i] Hart, A.D., & Frejd, S.H. (2013). The digital invasion: How technology is shaping you and your relationships (p. 93). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books

[ii] Hart, A.D., & Frejd, S.H. (2013). The digital invasion: How technology is shaping you and your relationships (p. 95). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books

[iii] Ibid., p. 93

 

Choose from our full list of Wilderness Ministry courses and apply today!

Have questions? Contact us! We look forward to speaking with you!

To learn more about us: Click Here!

Wilderness is Necessary: Part 2

June 1st, 2017

While there are clear physical and mental benefits to facing physical challenges in wilderness programming, the Kaplans’ research shows that simply being in creation has the potential for enormous impact on the individual. After reviewing several studies done by multiple researchers, Louv comes to the conclusion that “To take nature and natural play away from children may be tantamount to withholding oxygen.”[i] And yet the cultural shift continues to move away from spending time outdoors! Louv suggests that there are two key reasons that our culture has become reluctant to spend time in creation: lack of time and a fear caused by lack of education about nature.

First, our culture has simply become too busy. Between school, increasing homework loads, college preparation courses, extracurricular activities, and sports teams, children and youth no longer have unstructured free time. There simply is not time to spend an hour wandering through nature for no other reason than to take a breath and be present. In the midst of a culture that is becoming too busy, it is more necessary than ever to set aside time to intentionally be still before the Lord. SROM courses are designed as time set apart to meet with the Father and hear His voice in His creation. Students are separated from distractions and busy schedules, and are given time to sit at the feet of the Lord and be ministered to by Him.

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The second reason our culture has moved indoors is fear: “fear of traffic, of crime, of stranger-danger—and of nature itself.”[ii] The less time people spend in the outdoors, the less likely they are to take the initiative to venture out due to inflated reports of the dangers faced outside the house. In fact, this paranoia has become so severe that parents who are trying to encourage their children to spend independent time outside are being accused of negligence.[iii] Louv summarizes this cultural trend well:

Our society is teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature. That lesson is delivered in schools, families, even organizations devoted to the outdoors, and codified into the legal and regulatory structures of many of our communities. Our institutions, urban/suburban design, and cultural attitudes unconsciously associate nature with doom—while disassociating the outdoors from joy and solitude. Well-meaning public-school systems, media, and parents are effectively scaring children straight out of the woods and fields.[iv]

With so many voices discouraging children, youth, and young adults from spending time in creation, it has become even more necessary to experientially educate students about the beauty, solace, and peace found in creation. Bringing students into the joy and freedom found in creation is one of the reasons that SROM chooses to program in the wilderness. When fears about the wilderness are put into perspective, venturing into creation becomes more accessible.  As wilderness skills are learned and developed, students are able to venture outside with a healthy perspective and an appropriate level of confidence. It is our hope that students come away from their course with a newfound love of creation and a desire to meet with their Heavenly Father in the quiet places of His world.


[i] Ibid., p. 109

[ii] Ibid., p. 149

[iii] St. George, D. (2015, January 14). Parents investigated for neglect after letting kids walk home alone. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/maryland-couple-want-free-range-kids-but-not-all-do/2015/01/14/d406c0be-9c0f-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html

[iv] Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods (p. 2). Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Interested in reading more on why wilderness is necessary? Check out our Part 1 of this 2 part blog! Here: Wilderness is Necessary: Part 1

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Choose from our full list of Wilderness Ministry courses and apply today!

Have questions? Contact us! We look forward to speaking with you!

To learn more about us: Click Here!

Wilderness is Necessary: Part 1

May 25th, 2017

There is a clear need to bring people into the wilderness, both for their well-being, and for the preservation of wild places. The more technologically saturated our culture becomes, the greater the need to protect time spent in creation and to protect the wild places of creation. In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv documents the detachment of children, youth, and young adults from the natural world. Louv makes an evidenced claim that divorcing individuals from nature at a young age has developmental consequences, such as diminished senses, attention difficulties, and even emotional illness:[i]

As the nature deficit grows, another emerging body of scientific evidence indicates that direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health. For example, new studies suggest that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and that it can improve all children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression.[ii]

The studies that Louv refers to specifically highlight ADD and ADHD symptoms in children, but there is a solid body of research showing that time in the outdoors (or even in visual proximity to the outdoors) has been linked to an increase in both psychological and physical well-being in adults as well.[iii],[iv] Examples of benefits in the studies include decreased symptoms of behavioral disorders after spending time in ‘green’ settings[v] and decreased recovery time after surgery when patients are in a room with a window that looks out into nature.[vi]

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If time spent in the outdoors is linked to an increase in well-being, then the opposite holds as well. Louv coins the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe what he sees as “the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.”[i] He extrapolates this further and states that “Reducing that deficit – healing the broken bond between our young and nature – is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends on it.”[ii] In support of this bold claim, Louv points to research done by Stephen Kaplan for his attention-restoration theory. Kaplan and his wife, Rachel, accompanied students on a two-week wilderness expedition (similar to those done by SROM). Louv summarizes some of their studies:

During these treks or afterward, subjects reported experiencing a sense of peace and an ability to think more clearly; they also reported that just being in nature was more restorative than the physically challenging activities, such as rock climbing, for which such programs are mainly known.[iii]

 

References:

[i] Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

[ii] Ibid., p. 35

[iii] Kaplan, R. (1973). Some psychological benefits of gardening. Environment & Behavior, 5, 145-152.

[iv] Hartig, T., Mann, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment & Behavior, 23, 3-26.

[v] Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.F., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings. Environment & Behavior, 33, 54-77.

[vi] Ulrich, R.S. (1984). View through a window my influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224, 420-421.


[i] Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods (p.36) Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

[ii] Ibid., p. 3

[iii] Ibid., p. 103

[iv] Ibid., p. 109

 

Choose from our full list of Wilderness Ministry courses and apply today!

Have questions? Contact us! We look forward to speaking with you!

To learn more about us: Click Here!

Our Environmental Ethics

May 18th, 2017

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Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries is a huge advocate for environmental health, and we have partnered with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (The Center). As such, we practice land management principles, and we teach environmental ethics throughout our Christian retreats and wilderness adventures.

Respect for the Environment

Throughout an SROM retreat we strive to grow closer to God, and we use lessons in nature to get closer to Him. The Bible teaches us to respect nature and therefore respect God, and His creation:

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” -Job 12:7-0

SROM instructors are certified Leave No Trace trainers. We teach our participants to respect the land and leave no trace as we travel along our path. We control what we eat, where we sleep, and what we pack into the wilderness. Again, we show respect for the nature that surrounds us; and in this way, we show our respect for God. Throughout our SROM Christian retreats, we’ll dissect Bible verses surrounding nature and man’s place on God’s earth. You can learn more about the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and Leave No Trace certification here.

Choose from our full list of Wilderness Ministry courses and apply today!

Have questions? Contact us! We look forward to speaking with you!

To learn more about us: Click Here!