“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quietplace and get some rest.”-Mark 6:31
Has you life felt like people coming and going more as of late? Or perhaps day to day life, deadlines, and schedules have taken over a normal schedule that brings balance, nutrition, rest and time to process. Obligation often prevent us from pursuing the quiet places that we so desperately need to be able to pause and process. As a human being we very easily get overwhelmed and consumed by everything around us if we do not practice “the pause”. Today there is even more need and lack there of because of social media, longing for white noise, anything to drown out and ignore the things we are not allowing ourselves to take the time to pause, process, heal, grow, move forward.
Pinterest: “Internet Addiction”
As a millennial myself, I understand the wanting to zone out, numb myself and just scroll. As an outdoor professional and someone who has experienced it first hand praise and preach the need for intentional unplugging and solitude in wild quiet places. More and more our minds and bodies become addicted to social media, the corruptions and emotions of what we see on the news and continual needs to go,go,go. In all of this perhaps we loose track of ourselves and loose track of where we are headed or even where we have come from.
There are many reasons why people stray away from this common practice:
Consumed by worries
Laziness (huge one)
lack of prioritizing
There is something extremely rejuvenating and life giving about getting to a quiet place. How often now-a-days do we stray away from the quiet places, from the solitude, the “pause”?
SROM Copy Right 2017
Positive Outcomes in practicing going to a quiet place:
Growth mentally and Spiritually
ability to problem solve
Why rob ourselves of this incredible learning opportunity? To take the weight off our shoulders and give it to Jesus as God intended? Why do we feel the need to own these things, these social status’s or mindless cat videos or songs on repeat? Why is it only when and if things like cell phones, television, computers, fashion design, politics or anything else we find takes up our time instead of centering ourselves with the Lord, why is it only when these things are physically taken away from us, after a little bit of time, we finally see the value in NOT spending all of our time with these things? And why is it that we so easily fall back into old habits? That’s a great question.
To seek God and allow him to take hold of our lives away from these various platforms can save lives! And they do on a daily basis, if we allow ourselves to be encountered by God. If we simply step into that desire of meeting him in the quiet places.
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” Mark 9:2
Need some time away? Check out some of the courses we have to offer to help you refresh, rejuvenate and revive yourself!
SROM has a complete list of wilderness ministry courses to choose from! Apply today! To learn more about us: Click Here!
Grand Staircase – Escalante is over 1 million acres of land that is full of unique and resilient species of plants and animals. It is also easily the largest “museum” of natural and cultural history in the world to date. It has no walls, but those that were laid down and formed by time and the natural elements. And inside its borders it houses centuries of stories from the past that we are still discovering today.
But what about this particular national monument is so controversial? Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument has been a hot topic for over a year now. So you may be wondering, what’s this all about? And more importantly, how does it apply to me and to SROM?
The conversation is not so much about this national monument per say, but rather what we are called to as the Body of Christ.
Here at SROM, we first ventured into Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument almost a year ago. We sent a handful of our amazing staff to explore and “scout” the area as a possibility for future programming. Our staff were gone for almost 3 weeks route finding and talking with locals to get good and up to date information on this land full of high desert scrub and towering canyons.
Because at its initial size of 1.7 million acres, the amount of time, energy, and resources to properly get to know this landscape would take a lifetime! But our team only had 3 weeks! So they improvised and got the opportunity of a lifetime to be explorers and find out first hand what a place is like learning what rumors were true and what were less than accurate.
They were much like the children of Israel wandering through the desert and sending scouts into the land to see if it was occupied (Num 13). And like Caleb, our scouts reported back of an incredible land that was wild, beautiful, and full of the fingerprints of God. So we started planning and preparing to send future groups into the Escalante Wilderness in southern Utah.
But soon after our team returned, a war broke out over this wild place. Not unlike what Israel found themselves in when their scouts returned. See, many people see Grand Staircase – Escalante as the promised land, but for very different reasons.
Some people in our country view this national monument as the promised land for recreation. A place to get away from the crowds in both city life and many National Parks these days.
Some people view this national monument as the promised land for scientific research. There are treasure troves of archaeological discoveries yet undiscovered as well as the discoveries of new plants and animals living in this vast wilderness area.
Some people see this area as a promise land for commerce. A place where natural resources that our culture consumes can be harvested providing for residents of this area and an increase in economic opportunity where previously the recession has impacted them exponentially.
So many views of hope for one large section of land! And yet each of these views are in tension with the other.
A Command from Heaven
As you may know, SROM is an active provider and believer of Leave No Trace ethics. But, we also are on fire for Jesus and believe that the Bible is the Living Word of God. How do these two schools of thought come together? Actually, very easily! You see, because the idea of Stewardship was first commanded at the beginning in Genesis. (Gen 1:26-28)
The first man and woman are commanded by God to have dominion over all the earth, animals, plants, water, air, etc. Now most schools of thought think that dominion means to dominate, take over, and use however the user pleases. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
The root of the word dominion is Latin dominus which means “master” or sometimes it means sovereign. Another word that uses this same root is domain. A domain is defined as a region or section of land that is owned, most often by a royal party.
But English can be a finicky language, and all translations are not created equal. In researching this concept, I looked for wiser minds than my own and at the source: The Torah. Here is the original text from the Torah and the translation that accompanies it for Genesis 1:26:
26And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth.” (source)
The Hebrew word that is being translated is radah (וְיִרְדּוּ)pronounced “raw-daw.” It means to rule or reign (source). In certain contexts, it can also mean to chastise, tread, dominate, or subjugate when used elsewhere in scripture, usually in reference to a people or population. (source)
Ok, so how does this apply to me, stewardship, and Escalante you might be thinking? It is the essential and yet missing link in this conversation and many others like it. It gives us the answer of what exactly are we commanded as God’s people to do with the resource known as Earth.
We are commanded to radah: rule and reign.
We are all aware of the qualities of good rulers and despotic ones. Good rulers take care of their domain. They take into account all the resources within their domain and they manage them to the benefit of the land and the people who live on it so that everyone will thrive.
Bad rulers do not care for their domain. They use the resources and the people for their own gain and purposes. They use and abuse the people and resources to increase their own power, authority, and wealth. In short, they take what they can for themselves.
I’m sure we all can think of many stories like both of these examples both biblical and in more recent history. And this is where we as believers need to start being a part of the conversation now.
We are all commanded by God to rule and reign on the earth. To use wisdom and manage all of the resources we have been given for the care of both the people and the land within our communities and our country. Does this mean you should go around hugging trees? Well, no. Not unless you really feel the need to hug one that is.
What it means for us is that we need to take into account all sides. We need to seek to understand the bigger picture and more long reaching consequences of our actions or inaction. And, we need to start thinking of the land as not just for use as we want in the moment, but how we can be good and wise stewards over the course of time.
This may seem like a huge undertaking, but don’t worry. God doesn’t expect us to be good at it overnight. That is why, in the parable of the talents, He says, “Because you have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” (Matt 25:14-30) I know I am constantly challenged to be a wise steward over what God has given me now, knowing that in turn He will continue to provide me with more abundance to manage wisely for His Glory.
Outdoor professionals in an often seasonal setting or any professional in a consistent setting, the profession can sometimes cause seasons of burn out. So what can we do about preventing this and other potential mindsets that come with the experienced or seasoned professional experience?
As I was listening to a friend tell me about a course she had instructed recently, she mentioned that her team was able to participate in a 4 hour solo. To her that didn’t seem like a long enough processing time to be able to dig deep and seek what all the experience had brought her as an instructor and outdoor professional. She was used to 48 hour solos that were very remote and even full day solos or 12 hour solos. She had become numb to the little things that for her students were extremely catalytic and impactful.
As she sat down initially for her 4 hour quiet time, she recalled a letter a friend had written her on one of her earlier courses of the summer. Very boldly her friend stated that “You’re not immune to this.” Her friend reminded her that although spending multiple days and nights in the backcountry and living off of what could fit into a backpack and seeing the views summer after summer, the newness of these skills and places can become mundane and the exhilarating shimmer can become a bit tainted or faded. However just because we have experienced something many more times and even for perhaps longer periods of time like a 48 hour solo experience instead of a 4 hour solo experience. We are not immune to the newness that comes with each intentional moment that we spend with Jesus. We have not become immune to his healing power in mind, body and spirit.
So why is it that we sometimes feel like we have become immune? Perhaps lack of goal setting? Perhaps a lack of motivation and physical tiredness. Perhaps it could even be a feeling of being devalued as a coworker, instructor, staff member. Perhaps it is a distraction of the current season or comfort levels in hard skills.
Not to mention that as a leader so many look to you as perhaps having it all together, really being able to practice what you preach and be seen as an expert in all that you do. Maybe we are afraid of being found out that we indeed aren’t always those things in a grand light. Perhaps we feel overwhelmed by dynamics mixed with memories of past experiences and how they intertwine with you and your old self. There is so much that can go into these feelings of stale, rut, numb, overly stimulated or simply just tired.
Perhaps you’re feeling immune to your environments as of late. How do we get past this feeling and into a new perspective?
Here are some tips:
Get alone with God: Maybe you need to simply step away for 15 minutes and recenter yourself or literally step away from all distractions for a certain, longer period of time. Time ALONE with God means no distractions, no mindless social media scrolling or to do lists. If it seems painful at first, let it simmer. Through the feeling of boredom comes newness, creativity and opportunity for our spirits and ears to attune to what God is speaking.
Leave your phone behind: Don’t allow the temptation of your phone and talking to someone besides God tempt you into not spending genuine time with God. It’s amazing how quickly we realize “urgent” things that need to be communicated when we step into intentional alone time with God, isn’t it? Don’t fall for it. Pursue God as he daily pursues you!
Be intentional about reflecting on what you’re learning in each season of your life: It is very easy for time to speed by and all the sudden your sitting somewhere and realizing or wondering how you got to this moment and what the significance of this moment in your life really holds. Ground yourself with goals, spiritual upgrades you wish to attain and community to hold you accountable.
Pursue and persevere: It’s easy to feel overcome or defeated by harder seasons that come into our lives. These seasons more than ever we need to remember to focus on God and perhaps seek what he may be teaching us. Not just biting the bullet and grinding through it. We are not immune to these seasons. We are not meant to pursue these seasons alone and find our own way. Truly.
There are so many opportunities. You are not immune. Perhaps you have built a skin to life than needs to be softened and shed to help bring meaning and fulfillment back into your season, your profession, your passion. Whatever it is, God is ever present and more than willing to give you all the time you want and need. Will you give Him the time He wants and needs with you?
In our world, there is a dramatic increase in the dependence on media, social media, and technology for connection with each other.
The reality is most people spend very little time together in face-to-face communication.
We here at SROM see an increasing need for intentionality in the generations of students we serve. And, of course, we see the place of Wilderness in that intentionality more and more….
There’s a strong sense of abandonment in the generations we serve through SROM, and a deep need for acceptance and role models. That’s why we continue to be a firm advocate for intentional face-to-face time spent in authentic community. We consistently see this restorative community formed through the time spent and challenges faced on a wilderness course.
This is why we believe wilderness is so essential to every human being.
We believe we’re called to wilderness as context for ministry because it’s biblical, it’s intentional, and it’s necessary. Taking our examples from scripture, we see God took the Hebrew people into the wilderness to use trials and struggles to produce character and community.
September is the anniversary of the Wilderness Act being brought through Congress and signed by the President. This incredible act of legislation brings the importance of wilderness into this modern age, reminding us how wilderness is just as important in our lives today as it was to the Hebrews leaving Egypt.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. It was a historic day for many who had watched the beautiful places of our country continually fall into the hands of those who would seek to destroy and exploit these special and unique lands.
President Johnson declared in his speech while signing the bill:
“This is a historic occasion for all who love the great American outdoors, including me.” (audio clip source)
At the time of the signing, this bill set aside 9 million acres of wilderness for federal protection. There were 54 wilderness areas designated upon the signing of this bill.
The three designated in Wyoming were: the Bridger Wilderness (428,087 acres), the Teton Wilderness (585,238 acres), and the North Absaroka (350,488 acres). The largest wilderness area preserved in 1964 was the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, totaling 1,090,000 acres in Northern Minnesota. (source)
In the bill, the U.S. Government defines wilderness as:
(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value. (source)
Wilderness is a place of wonder.
A place that’s still wild and challenges our more modern way of life. It’s a place where we see the Majesty of God in all of its created glory!
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV)
It’s where the divine nature of God is revealed and stands out like mountains in stark contrast to a city skyline. Paul states in Romans 1:20:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (NIV)
God created the world to be in and of itself a witness to His Glory and Majesty! He created it in such a way that no one could deny His sovereignty.
Wilderness is a place to Encounter God.
It’s where all the “extras” are gone, and we can simplify our lives to hear Him. Moses first encountered God in the wilderness where he tended sheep for his father-in-law, Jethro. It’s when he witnessed a bush burning – but not being consumed by the fire – that he investigated and had an encounter with the God of his forefathers.
“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.” Exodus 3:4-6 (NIV)
God has used the wilderness to draw His children closer to Him.
Even in the times they turned from Him, He constantly pursued them, drawing them ever closer into relationship with Him. We see this all over the Old Testament, but especially in Hosea 2:14:
“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
And speak tenderly to her.” (NIV)
God also uses the wilderness to humble and test the hearts and character of His children.
We see this throughout the Israelite Exodus from Egypt where they wandered from camp to camp, with God going before them. When things became a little hard, they cried out. But within every test He gave them, He also issued a promise and provision to prosper His children and not destroy them:
“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:1-3
He knows that in giving us these tests and challenges in the wilderness we grow in strength, courage, knowledge, and faith.
James says it well when he says:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3 NIV).
God wants us to grow in relationship with Him. He often uses wilderness to teach and enrich our lives without distractions so we learn to rely on Him for our every need. His promises abound throughout the Bible. And it was through their own wilderness experiences the people of Israel knew God would provide for them. The story of their Exodus was told to generations upon generations after the actual event as a testimony for the character and promise of God. His promises never cease and He fulfills His covenant with us daily.
“He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.” Psalm 111:5 (NIV)
“He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever – holy and awesome is His name!” Psalm 111:9 (NIV)
So this September we celebrate our God and what He’s done in our country to protect those special places where we can go to witness the Earth glorifying God…
To encounter Him among the high passes and near the still waters…
To be humbled and challenged in our minds, hearts and bodies…
To be reminded and revive our souls to the good things God has done for us and continues to do for those who love Him.
Solos are a strategic and often memorable component of a SROM course. A ‘solo’ refers to intentional time spent apart from the group in solitude. A solo is important for many reasons: reflection, prayer, time to spend in the Word, an opportunity to hear God’s voice, challenge, rest, further removal from distractions, an important ‘pause’ in the experiential education cycle—just to name a few! A solo is a time when students can withdraw to the wilderness to individually seek the Lord. Some students look forward to the time while others are quite nervous. Regardless, the solo is a valuable time of solitude, and often becomes a highlight of the course.
Among others, God led Elijah and Jesus into the wilderness for a solo experience, and it was in this place that God spoke and ministered to them (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; 1 Kings 19:1-18). Both Elijah and Jesus suffered and endured emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual hardship during their solo experience. Elijah was fleeing for his life, alone, and despondent. However, the result of Elijah’s time in the wilderness was a supernatural encounter with God, physical nourishment, direction and calling for Elijah’s next steps, and comfort that the Father had reserved some of Israel to worship him (Elijah wasn’t alone in His faithfulness to God). Jesus was hungry and tempted by Satan– talk about hardship! However, at the end of His time, Luke says that Jesus “returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” (Luke 4:14). Enduring this hardship equipped Jesus to begin His public ministry.
Expectations vs. Reality
Everyone’s solo experience will be different. Often our students expect to bask in the beauty of creation, experiencing intimacy with the Father, truth revealed, transforming prayer time, and revelation during their solo. All of these things can and do happen. However, it is also not uncommon for the reality of the experience to be hunger, bugs, sleeplessness, restlessness, frustration, and/or fear. These sufferings are not new! Christ can relate to our suffering, and the Father works in us through the solo experience regardless of what it looked like. Physical discomfort can be a freeing and empowering experience when we lean on the Father and trust Him to teach us. Coming to the end of ourselves gives Abba more room to work!
Isolation vs Community
Christian life is lived in the world, but not of the world. Though it might be a temptation to seek to live life in solitude, we clearly see that Jesus did not live an isolated life. He had moments of isolation, but He lived in community and in ministry. Just as students must end their solo time and return to the group, they must also end their SROM course and return to daily life and their permanent communities. The solo time is meant to bolster a person in preparation for living in and transforming the world for the Kingdom.
How can you incorporate a solo time in your rhythms of life?
The Lord has been using the wilderness for thousands of years as a place of accelerated growth and training. Leaders are drawn and equipped, and transition from where they are to where God is calling them. The Word says, “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart.”[i] There is nothing that so quickly reveals the condition of our hearts than wilderness seasons. During these stretching times, we plead for God to transform us so that we might become more like Christ.
Jesus Himself valued experiential learning and led wilderness adventures: He brought people into creation in order to facilitate teachable moments from situations that occurred. (Consider the story of the disciples and Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat during a storm.[ii] Could they have learned the same lessons in the basement of a church?) In the New and Old Testaments we consistently see wilderness both as a way for God’s people to encounter Him, and as a setting in which God establishes covenant with His people.
Throughout scripture we see examples of God using the wilderness as a way to teach His people four key things: who He is, what He does, who we are as His people, and what we are to do as His people. From the very beginning, we see God’s original plan to be in close fellowship with His people (Adam and Eve) in His creation (the Garden of Eden) doing His work.[iii] God reveals Himself as a kind and generous Creator who designs a world full of beautifully intricate symbiotic relationships.
From the start, we see that His people are given an identity (they are made in the image of God) and a purpose (they are to steward and cultivate His creation). Even after the man and his wife sin, the Lord speaks a promise that one day the woman’s offspring will crush the head of the serpent,[iv] prophesying that the offspring of a woman will fatally injure the Tempter. Adam, trusting in this promise, names his wife “Eve,” because she is “the mother of all living.”[v] Though they have been cursed and have brought a curse upon creation, Adam understands and trusts the Lord’s promise that from this woman will come One who restores the broken relationship between Creation and Creator.
In the Old Testament, we see slaves and prophets alike encountering God in the wilderness. Abram journeys out from his father’s house in Ur and sojourns with God in the wilderness of the Negeb.[vi] Later, north of the Negeb, the Lord meets with Abram in a vision and promises that from Abram will come a great nation, and that his offspring will possess the land through which Abram is sojourning.[vii] God reveals Himself to Abram as being a God of covenant, of blessing, and of faithfulness. Abram is given a new identity as Abraham, the “father of a multitude.”[viii] God also reveals Himself as a righteous God who will use Abram’s offspring as a holy nation, set apart to do the Lord’s will in the Lord’s timing.[ix]
Hagar, maidservant to Sarai and concubine to Abraham, encounters an angel of the Lord in the Negeb wilderness after she flees from Sarai.[x] It is there that God reveals Himself to her as “a God of seeing,” and who Hagar calls “Him who looks after me.”[xi] Hagar, pregnant with Abraham’s child, is told the identity, name, and personality of the unborn boy. Later in Genesis, we see Hagar and her son Ishmael again in the wilderness after they have been driven from Abraham’s camp.[xii] Here the Lord protects and provides for them out of His faithfulness to Abraham, and the Lord promises to also make Ishmael into a great nation.
Moses, fleeing Egypt, becomes a shepherd in Midian.[xiii] It is here, as Moses tends to the flocks of his father-in-law, that the Lord draws Moses to the wilderness of Horeb to meet with Him.[xiv] God reveals Himself once again as faithful, remembering the covenant He made with Abraham. Moses, who has grown up as an Egyptian prince, is also identified by God as a Hebrew, one of His chosen people, and called a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is also in this encounter that God identifies Himself and gives Himself a name: “I am,” from which the name “Yahweh” comes.[xv] The Lord has not forgotten His people, and He calls Moses to free and lead them back to the wilderness to worship Him. Again we see that God often uses wilderness settings to meet with, speak identity over, and establish covenant with His people.
While there are certainly others in the Old Testament (Noah,[xvi] Jacob,[xvii] the Israelites in the wildernesses of Horeb and Sinai,[xviii] Elijah,[xix] David,[xx] Ezekiel exiled near the Chebar canal, King Nebuchadnezzar,[xxi] Amos as a shepherd prophet, Jonah fleeing from God’s call to Nineveh, etc.), the New Testament also provides rich examples of God’s people encountering Him in the wilderness. From reading about leaders spending formative time in the wilderness—such as John the Baptist in the wilderness of Judea,[xxii] the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness,[xxiii] and Paul’s time in Arabia, Syria, and Cilicia[xxiv]—to the many opportunities that Jesus took to teach and minister in creation[xxv] or used creation metaphors in His teachings,[xxvi] we see the wilderness consistently used as a setting for transformation, and creation as rich with metaphors for teaching. Thus in both the New and Old Testaments, we see a distinct Biblical precedent for wilderness as a setting for transformation and ministry.
If Jesus chose the wilderness as the setting to transform lives and shape young people into dynamic leaders in the early Church, then certainly wilderness is equally critical today for young people who suffer from an increasingly distant relationship with creation, and who yearn for a meaningful vision and worldview. Lives filled with video games and reality TV, and obsessions with texting and social media deepen starvation for the Bread of Life and thirst for the Living Water.
When we go into the wilderness today, we are seeking a deeper understanding of who God is, what He is doing today, the identity He gives us as His children, and what He would have us do in our spheres of influence. We also experience that which is expected and promised in scripture: we hear creation’s groans,[xxvii] see the heaven’s declarations,[xxviii] and witness the general revelation of our Creator.[xxix] And the glory in this world is but a glimpse of eternity! This is why we do what we do, and why SROM is called into this great commission with Christ. Because understanding the “why” of wilderness programming helps us to partner with you and with God in the great things He has planned for each an every one of His Children.
Melita Zuck is one of our 40/40 instructors and an all around amazing woman after God’s own heart! When not instructing for SROM, Melita lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and does a lot of fun expedition adventures all over the world. Melita first started instructing for SROM in 2015 and has been a wilderness missionary for the past 3 years. And each year, she is the hands and feet of Jesus to these students in the wilderness. And one of Melita’s trademark “must haves” in the wilderness is a skirt. Melita was kind enough to write to us from the field of this year’s 40/40 about the 20 reasons why a skirt is a “must have” for wilderness expedition travel!
20 Reasons Why a Skirt is Essential in the Backcountry
The user must consider which applications are most desirable for her usage. For example, you will not want to use your skirt to hold food right after drying your feet from a river crossing! There are also many circumstances that I do not use a skirt, such as when I need to wear a harness for rock climbing or mountaineering. These are some of the ways that I have used my skirt in the back country to make it an effective tool for the wilderness and one of my top essentials for any expedition.
The following suggestions have been implemented using a thin, quick dry fabric to create an expedition worthy skirt. The skirt I use goes to just below my knees and is wide enough to not restrict movement. I use a 7″ side zipper and a thin waist band with a small button.
Useful to carry objects or hold your portion of lunch or GORP
Keeps pants or shorts cleaner and protects them from wear
No tissue? No problem! Use your skirt!
Cleaning off or wiping down anything
Changing out of underwear or pants? No need to find a private spot when you have a skirt!
Less privacy is needed for using the bathroom if management is good
Wear during bathing or a solo around the waist or over the bust as a dress
Keeps a light amount of precipitation off your pants or shorts keeping you warmer and dryer
When kicking in steps, provides a shield so snow doesn’t hit your feet
Keeps wearer warmer over the hips and thighs
Can flip it above your waist over your back for an improvised shawl
Dry feet and legs after a river crossing
Dry body and hair after bathing
Extremely easy to wash with limited resources
Tie a knot in the waist and it becomes a carrying sack
Light weight sleeping layer – a personal favorite when it’s clean!
Could easily be torn into bandage strips in an emergency situation
Follows some religions standard’s of modesty
Follows SROM’s Rule #1 (To look Good!) without fail!
Cooking gourmet in the backcountry is equal parts creativity, and science. We live in an age where we don’t have to simply eat freeze dried foods or rice and beans every meal. There are so many options and ways to make your backcountry cooking experience not only one of efficiency, but a delight.
Last summer, one of our staff brought a new recipe to the attention of the instructor pool. Gnocchi pasta!
Gnocchi are a small, potato and flour style dumpling pasta that are super filling and delicious. The word Gnocchi is thought to come from nocca, which means knuckles or from the Lombard word knohha, which means knot -like a wood knot or walnut. Many ingredients were used to make these small dumplings mostly in the northern part of Italy. But it wasn’t until the 16th century that potatoes were brought back with Spanish explorers from South America that they were added to this dumpling pasta.
Here is the recipe for backcountry Gnocchi so you too can enjoy this gourmet dish!
1 c potato flakes
1 c flour/baking mix
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
At least 1 c water to mix (possibly more)
spices of choice
Dried tomato powder or Pesto packet (follow directions on packet)
Parmesan cheese or Mozzarella
In a medium bowl, mix together potato flakes, salt, flour, and any spices you want to add to the batter. Garlic, rosemary, or oregano are good choices. Then add the oil and slowly add water to the dry mix. Keep slowly adding water until you have a slightly sticky dough enough to make small balls with. If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. Once dough is ready, roll into small dumplings with your hands and set aside.
In a large pot, boil water. Add rolled gnocchi to the boiled water and cook until gnocchi are floating on the top of the water. Once all the gnocchi are floating, remove from the water. If making a marinara sauce, use boiled water to make your pasta sauce. Add spices to taste.By using the “gray” water for the sauce, you are able to reduce waste and practice good Leave No Trace ethics in the backcountry. If making pesto, follow the directions on the pesto packet.
Place cooked Gnocchi in each person’s bowl and add the sauce. Sprinkle Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese on top of the pasta and sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!!
Not too long ago, a friend of mine shared with me about how God revealed to her about how her worship is louder than the lies of the enemy. I was blown away! With all the planning, stressing, and all the strong emotions I feel sometimes, I have to go to God in worship and song when I feel emotions so hard that I can’t even pray. It settles my heart and my soul in ways that sitting down and praying doesn’t do. And it got me to wondering, why do I worship
I mean, I like to worship it’s true. I love to sing and play guitar and worship our Lord. But why? Why does my heart and mind need to go there first when I feel so topsy turvy? As per usual, God gave me an answer. During my time alone with God this morning, I was reading in Matthew chapter 4 where Jesus goes into the wilderness after God has proclaimed to the world Jesus’ true identity – i.e. the identity of how God and heaven views Him, not the world.
So I’m reading, and reading, and reading all the tests that Satan puts before Jesus. I’m sure you all know the story too. But at the end, it hits me where Jesus tells Satan to beat it and quotes out of Deuteronomy,
“Worship the Lord your God and only Him. Serve Him with absolute single-mindedness.” (The Message)
Then Satan makes a hasty retreat and Angels came and took care of all of Jesus’ needs.
Ok, so Jesus faces down all these tests. And hard ones too! Just because He’s Jesus doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard for Him to resist those temptations! So Jesus has all these tests, but then goes and says to worship God and only Him. Worship. What about worship in the midst of incredible testing helps us?
Well, for me, when I’m worshiping, I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m thinking about the music, the words, and how much I love how the words of the song speak to me and how I can offer them up to God. So really, when I worship, there’s no room for anything else in my brain other than connecting with God.
But… I definitely do serve first and worship second. Which, I think is a HUGE reason why I get so agitated in the first place! I will reach out and help others simply out of my love of them and my desire to help, but then I wait to worship Him until after I feel empty and fully drained from my “single-minded” service.
See, this verse reminded me, very clearly, that I have it backwards. Dangerously backwards! Because if I’m serving and doing my thing first and worship God second, I’m committing idolatry. If I am putting anything first before God, I’m doing it out of my own pride and strength rather than being a vessel for His amazing goodness and grace.
And then after all that Jesus went through in the wilderness, Jesus chose to worship God through those trials and tribulations first before stepping into His ministry and serving the people. After all those tests, God sends the angels to take care of Jesus’ needs, and He will for me too! I can’t tell you the joy that it brings me to come to this place of, “I gotta worship” versus, “I gotta get to it.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my “to do” lists because they keep me focused and are a great tool. But I’m really excited to put Worship at the very top every time now! Because as God told my friend, my Worship is louder than the enemy’s lies.
Finding a suitable ice axe for mountaineering is easy. Choose a plain looking ice axe with a straight shaft and no rubberized grip. Avoid ultra light axes as they are often weaker and more difficult to use effectively. Avoid tools intended for ice climbing as they perform poorly for general mountaineering. These are no good substitutes for a basic ice axe. Find the proper length by gripping the top of the ice axe like a cane and holding it at your side; the tip of the shaft (aka, the spike) should be at your ankle bone. If in between sizes choose the shorter ax. You should buy a simple ice axe to begin with unless you have a specific reason to buy something else. The Black Diamond Raven is a great example of a basic mountaineering axe. I still use a Grivel I bought back in 2002 for all of my mountaineering. A good ice ax can last a lifetime.
After gaining experience many mountaineers discover their basic ice axe, while great for most things, is not best for some of their climbing. As climbers venture onto steep terrain many prefer shorter axes. A shorter ice axe provides less security in low angle terrain, less than 45°, because they are more difficult get a good self belay with but are generally easier to maneuver on steep terrain, over 60°. These more specialized axes may also have rubber grips, curved handles, and interchangeable picks that improve performance on steep terrain but the rubber grips and curved handles can make self belay more difficult and technical picks for ice climbing perform very poorly for self arrest. At the extreme end of the technical spectrum we have technical ice tools that are designed for steep ice and mixed climbing. While they excel at these tasks they tend to be poor at self belay and self arrest making them unsuitable for general mountaineering.
It can be tempting for a beginner to buy an expensive ice ax with many technical features but this is a mistake. For beginner and intermediate climbs the basic ice axe is right almost every time. A basic ice axe will take you to the summit of every state high point and far beyond. My highest ascent in the Himalayas was done with the basic ice axe I bought for my first mountaineering trip. If you are still unconvinced look at photos of climbers on Mt. Everest, they will be using a basic ice axe for their climb. This is not to say the more technical tools don’t have a place, they do, but they are for experienced climbers who know why they need the advanced features and why the performance compromises are acceptable.
Thank you for reading. If you are new to mountaineering be sure to find a good mentor or consider taking classes to gain proficiency. You will encounter many hazards in the mountains that must be appropriately managed to mitigate risk. An inexperienced mountaineer will be unable to assess many of these hazards. Stay safe and have fun out there.