SROM Blog: Wilderness, Ministry, Leadership

Backcountry Nutrition: An Introduction

January 10th, 2019

Maintaining good nutrition while in the backcountry is essential to good health, peak physical performance, and trip enjoyment. The SROM food system is designed to optimize nutrient quality. Taken into consideration are the unique physical demands of the outdoor experience, weight and bulk of food, ease of food preparation, stove fuel, instructor/participant feedback, and cost. The essential nutritional categories considered are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Additionally, water, vitamins, and minerals play key roles in physical performance, as well as awareness and adaptation to extreme outdoor conditions.

Outdoor Nutrition

Proper nutrition in the outdoors requires different nutrient combinations than regular life because you will not only be more active, but while backpacking you also often carry an additional 40-60% of your body weight in equipment and supplies. This extra activity requires 500-1,000 calories per day more than the normal recommended daily allowance (RDA). While our bodies have stores to weather short-term decreases in nutrients, a wilderness course is not the time for dieting! Muscles need fuel to perform. Without appropriate fuel, muscles will break down their own tissue to function, leaving the body progressively weaker. Adipose fat and glycogen stores, which provide cushioning for organs, heat insulation and that last reserve of energy to prevent “bonking,” will also be compromised if the body does not get the fuel it needs.

According to Dr. Braaten, noted outdoor enthusiast and nutritionist, “muscles engaged in long duration moderate intensity exercise burn:

  • 25% Fat within the muscle (triglycerides),
  • 25% Fat from diet or adipose tissue storage (free fatty acids)
  • 25% Carbohydrates within the muscle (glycogen), and
  • 25% Glucose (carbohydrate) delivered from the liver (either recycled or from the diet).”

Increasing intensity results in the burning of more carbohydrates.

A balance of all nutrient categories is important. Experts agree that a nutrient ratio of 50% carbohydrates, 35% fat, and 15% protein (50:35:15) is optimal for endurance activities.

Food Types

Food comes in three basic molecular types: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  Each food type is broken down differently in the body (metabolism) and serves different purposes in keeping a body functioning in a healthy balance.


The maintenance of carbohydrate/glycogen stores in the muscles is what determines the body’s endurance. This can be accomplished most efficiently by frequent snacking (20-30 g/hour) on complex carbohydrates and fats. Unlike fat and protein, there are relatively small stores of carbohydrates in the body so it is important to frequently renew these stores through food intake.

Carbohydrates can be classified into simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches and fiber). Complex carbohydrates are better for maintaining steady energy levels. Never eat simple carbohydrates before exercise because they trigger the release of insulin which causes glucose/blood sugar levels to drop. This is particularly important to keep in mind for hypoglycemics and diabetics.

Carbohydrates within the body are represented by three types of fuel: glucose, lactic acid, and glycogen. Glucose, or blood sugar, is important for brain and muscle functioning during high intensity exercise. Lactic acid is half a glucose molecule due to lack of oxygen during combustion.  Lactic acid is converted to glucose by the liver as oxygen levels increase. Glycogen is made up of many glucose molecules joined together and stored in the liver and muscles. Glycogen is the body’s energy reserve. To avoid glycogen depletion, snack often throughout the day and within 1 hour after reaching your destination.

In a SROM food ration, examples of foods that contain complex carbohydratess include oatmeal, grits, brown rice, hash browns, pea soup, and lentils. For gluten-free rations, complex carbohydrates can be found in the garbanzo bean flour, quinoa, and rice chips. Examples of foods that contain simple carbohydrates in a SROM food ration include animal crackers, cheese crackers, pretzels, “bear mush” hot breakfast, pasta, and rice.



Not only is fat the most energy dense nutrient, but it is also a preferred fuel for exercise. A diet high in fat will spare muscle glycogen, a critical component for endurance.  For endurance athletes, half the fat burned is from storage while the other half is from diet. Also, a high fat ration weighs 20% less than a high carbohydrate or high protein ration.

There is little concern that higher fat consumption in the back country will lead to weight gain or clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) because activity levels are increased. In fact, a high fat diet slows digestion, which aids the absorption of nutrients and helps the stomach to feel full longer.

Examples of foods that contain fats in a SROM ration include nuts (e.g., in GORP, granola, lunch mixes), peanut butter or sunbutter, cheeses, butter, olive oil, Snickers® bars, hot cocoa, summer sausage, and other meats (i.e., canned tuna, canned chicken, fresh caught fish).


Protein consumption only comprises 10% of the body’s energy needs.  Its primary use is the building of muscle tissue. Since most Americans consume two times the RDA of protein, you may find the SROM diet lower in protein than what you normally eat. However, the SROM ration will still be sufficient for your muscle building and energy needs. Athletes should consume 1 g protein/kg body weight (12-15% of the diet). To calculate protein needs for strenuous activity (in g/day) multiply the participant’s weight in pounds by 2.2.  This amounts to 4 servings of protein per day. Protein can be found in nuts, beans, cheese, or meat.

Do not supplement with amino acids or eat excess protein. The body does not store excess protein as an energy source for later use. Your body can break down muscle for energy if it needs to, but your body only keeps enough protein to repair muscle damage and dumps the rest.  Your body processes all excess proteins through the kidneys. This means the kidneys will only have to work harder eliminating the extra nitrogen and require more water. Excess protein consumption has been found to be harmful to your health.

Examples of foods that contain protein in a SROM food ration include beans, lentils, peanut butter or sunbutter, nuts, powdered milk, cheeses, hummus, summer sausage, and other meats (i.e., canned tuna, canned chicken, fresh caught fish).

So it doesn’t matter whether you are going for 40 days or 4 days. Your nutrition on your trip is one of the key factors in how successful you will be during your time in the wilderness. And, just because you are in the wilderness, doesn’t mean you still can’t eat well on your journey!

**Copywrited SROM Instructor Handbook**


Braaten, B.L. (2004). Retrieved March 2009, from Pack Light, Eat Right:

Kailey, P. (n.d.). On-Trail Nutrition 101. Retrieved March 20, 2009 from

Mytys, A. (2001). Backcountry Kitchen. Retrieved March 2009, from Andy’s Lightweight Backpacking Site:


Fun For All Four Seasons!

January 3rd, 2019
By: Daria Holler
I have had a request to write about seasons and the sports that I have weathered, dialed, and grown to truly love throughout the year. I love living in an area of the world where I can experience all four seasons. For me it is extremely refreshing to embrace and be fully in each season while it is present. Many may disagree with me, but I really do appreciate sub-zero temps in the middle of Wyoming because it makes the mildness of spring and heat of the summer all the more appreciated.
I believe that we humans are meant to endure. If we did not endure, we would simply become spoiled and aggravated that the control we thought we had never actually existed and then we are just left with meaningless resentment for something we really can’t control… Weather, seasons and life. Just as isolated seasons or highly successful seasons ebb and flow, I see the physical changing seasons as a beautiful symbol of hope and anticipation for where we are everyday… I could talk about this subject for a long time… BUT- Let us save that topic for another entry. As the seasons change, the anticipation of swapping sports also transitions. Some spend their year in constant training for one specific sport. Some simply take on training for multiple sports in rotation as one season comes to a close, perhaps that closing seasons sport was helping prepare for the up coming seasons sport and so on. I like to participate in activities that have the latter flow.

MY sports!


Downhill Skiing/ Mogul/Telemark: Winter, Spring

By far my number one favorite sport! There is something about gliding across creation and having a deafening silence pierce your ears as thick flakes fall silently to the ground at the top of a run. When you begin your descent, NOTHING beats a good deep carve and company on a chairlift is some of the best company I have ever had the pleasure of being present for. This sport is my Nitch and I am thankful that God uses this sport to bring my heart alive and the delight he gains from how much joy it brings me is mind-blowing.

I currently really suck at this sport but it makes be extremely excited for when the season rolls back around because it is another opportunity to progress.



Cross Country Skiing:Winter, Spring

I have enjoyed this sport more in recent years and it helps me with continual endurance training that transfers into Spring and summer!



Running: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

I don’t love running on a hamster wheel (treadmill) or running in sub-zero temps on slick surfaces, However it is worth it to me because it keeps my endorphins up in the low light and lack of Vitamin D this time of year.


FUN FACT: Majority of the state of Wyoming is Vitamin D deficient! People take your vitamins!


Continually training and mixing it up in my running I have realized is very important on improving. If you literally run the same mileage every day at the same pace, eventually your body is going to hate you and you really will not progress in anything. Spring means race season is upon us and throughout the winter into spring, it is crucial to get those fast twitch muscles sharpened and stoked. I have only realized the potential in excelling through speed training recently. Game changer!


Rock Climbing: Spring, Summer, Fall

In some places in Wyoming, like Sinks Canyon, you can actually climb year around. Spring is for waking up Winter arms and getting back up to where you were last Fall. My year-round time in the gym usually helps in this transition (so I tell myself). I love climbing. Something about getting vertical distance and pushing yourself in, learning to read the rock, but also figure out and strengthen technique and sequencing. It’s so much fun!


Road Cycling: Late Spring, Summer, Fall

The roads in winter in Wyoming and even sometimes into the Spring can be rather dangerous and unmaintained. The first ride of the season is exhilarating! Especially because you feel the different in gaining your bearings for NOT being on your road bike for a season and a half. It’s like riding a bike, but it’s also like learning to ride a bike again.


Mountain Biking: Spring, Summer, Fall

When the ground finally drys up a bit I get really pumped on being able to get back into any saddle! My time during the winter skiing often helps in transitioning to Mountain biking because the flow and techniques are very much the same. So between this sport and Skiing, I am able to cross train for these sports year around and I love it. Rolling hills, pin turns and technical trails in the trees via single track is probably my number 2 sport. Can’t get enough!



Backpacking: Summer, Fall

This is actually a job for me in the summer but it doesn’t mean I can’t include it. There is something extremely freeing about putting everything you NEED on your back and wandering through the wilderness. Sometimes I think backpacking is a funny concept because it’s literally just people wandering around with stuff on their backs for no reason other than they love it and choose to do it for fun. Running and year-round gym time helps tremendously with being able to walk alongside students on a course in the backcountry and focus on them and not on my own body.



Geocaching: Spring, Summer, Fall

This is a hobby I have taken up in recent years after discovering it with friends in California. Treasure hunts and the anticipation of finding some little thing based on coordinates is extremely satisfying. And also funny! Because you can be searching for something and people will be looking at you like your crazy for pacing and wandering in a field or just off a trail. I always find that it is good to announce what it is you are doing as to not creep people out. Just this month I found THE cutest little box with a log to sign! I don’t love hiking but I love hiking to find these buggers.


group 3

Sleeping/Resting: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

I really love snuggling up and simply resting my body because in the 3 other seasons to follow, I find that Winter tends to be my least activity filled season. I try to find time to rest in every season. It’s the only way you can continue to persevere through the weather and also through life’s seasons. Pausing, reflecting, and resting in that reflection is EXTREMELY beneficial and a very healthy thing to pursue. In the American Culture especially it is harder and harder to do this because of feeling judged for being lazy. Self care people, self-care.

Having a hard time finding what you enjoy?

Keep trying new things! It’s very rare to wake up one day and go out and be in a routine or a better word would be rhythmic in the activities you enjoy. Perhaps you don’t even know what you enjoy. THIS IS OK! Half the fun is discovering what you do enjoy. If you are looking for ways to get better at your favorite activities year around, do some research and see how you can cross train or achieve staying active in your nitch sport(s) year around! Don’t be so hard on yourself when you have a hard or not so seemingly awesome day! You’re out there! You’re learning and you are improving!

Even though I have been downhill skiing for nearly 30 years I still have rubbish days for sure. But that’s the beauty of it. I am continually humbled by the sports I practice and am awed in the improvements I have seen along the way. I am awed in the connections and friendship I have encountered through them. I am thankful that God created me with this passion for outdoors and for the excitement that I get from participating! I am continually humbled and blown away that it brings Him great joy to see the joy I experience from these activities in His creation. That He created these places with me in mind! That He created with YOU in mind, knowing the mountains, lakes, rivers, meadows, single-track, waves, and snow would bring great joy to our lives.



Keep Adventuring.

Be Smart, Get Trained: Wilderness First Responder

December 20th, 2018

What it is and why you need it

By: Emily Cable

You meet up with some friends for coffee who you consider to be pretty legit outdoors-people. Jack and Jill seemingly “do it all” year-round. Throughout your conversation, they keep referring to this Woofer thing they just did. At first you smile and nod but then are confused because they don’t own a dog, and that sounds like a dog thing?


Jack goes on to brag about the sweet splint he made using his Crazy Creek chair, silk tie, puffy jacket and the remnants of last summer’s Power Bar!  Your puzzled expression does not go unnoticed by Jill. She kindly explains that she and Jack just completed their Wilderness First Responder course (WFR pronounced “Wuf-Fer” in outdoor-ese).


They have enjoyed outdoor activities for years and largely experienced pleasant and safe outings. But recently they had a few close-calls and began thinking about all the “What Ifs”. They concluded they needed some more training. So they decided to get their WFR to better prepare themselves to respond in the event of an accident and gain knowledge to, hopefully, mitigate injury from happening to themselves and those they are with on future trips.   


The WFR is largely seen as the industry standard for an outdoor professional and a mark of a committed outdoorsmen. If you are planning to spend any amount of time in the backcountry, especially if you want to work in the outdoor industry, I strongly urge you to obtain your WFR Certification. Spending time in the backcountry comes with inherent risks. From the weekend warrior to the after work mountain biker to the multi-week expedition leader, for outdoor lovers there is ample opportunity for various injuries and sickness to present themselves during your adventures.


How will you respond when you are miles from cell reception and help is hours away? A Wilderness First Responder has the skills needed to assess the safety of a scene, stabilize the patient, and implement a care and evacuation plan.


What is the Wilderness First Responder?

This course is typically between 7-10 days consisting of 70+ hours of interactive instruction and hands-on scenarios. Although some content is strictly lecture, by in large WFR courses rely heavily on experiential education and repetition. By the time you conclude your course you should be proficient in a wide range of basic medical and environmental skills.

The greatest distinguishing factor separating the Wilderness First Responder from your traditional Basic First Aid course is that you are taught long term care outside the urban “golden hour”. Extended contact time with your patient is common in a backcountry setting as it could take multiple hours to days (depending on location and severity of condition) to transport an injured or sick person to more estqablished care. Improvizing equipment is the other main difference from an urban First Responder course. Instead of all the equipment being all ready for you to use or coming in an ambulance you have to learn how to get creative and utilize the limited number of items that you have been carrying with you. Yet another added value to going through this course is teaching a broader way of thinking about items that we frequently only have one use for.  



Remember you are their first line of help. Having the skills to if needed, and the knowledge to monitor them checking for trends in vitals or overall condition could prove invaluable in any setting.  


Wilderness Medical Associates International describes the WFR course as:

The definitive wilderness course in medical training, leadership, and critical thinking for outdoor, low-resource, and remote professionals and leaders.”


The Wilderness First Responder program is the ideal medical training for leaders in remote areas including outdoor educators, guides, military, professional search and rescue teams, researchers, and those involved in disaster relief…. It includes the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments for days and weeks if necessary. If you are already a medical professional you can also earn Continuing Education Hours for your WFR Course.


Why should I get certified as a WFR?

If you are planning to spend any amount of time in the backcountry I strongly urge you to obtain your WFR Certification. Moreover if you want to work in the outdoor industry being WFR certified is increasingly becoming a standard requirement to operate in a guiding position especially. If you are already a medical professional an added perk is that you can earn Continuing Education Hours for your WFR Course.


You may be asking yourself, “If this is the standard for professionals why would it benefit me? I just enjoy going outside with my dog for a hike and the occasional trail run with friends. WFR seems like overkill!”


This may be a fair assessment. The WFR is designed to give specific training for wilderness leaders who are on multi-day backcountry trips. If you aren’t planning to ever be more than a few miles from a road then the less intensive Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness Advanced First Aid may be more appropriate to give you sufficient training to care for more minor medical emergencies.


Wilderness First Responder is a certification with far reaching value. The skills learned through this course can be used on a daily basis and may one day save someone’s life. What’s keeping you from getting trained?

Check out our Wilderness First Responder course offering here.



Tilton, Buck. “Wilderness First Responder: How to recognize, treat, and prevent emergencies in the backcountry.” Morris Book Publishing, LLC. Guilford, CT. 2010

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness Medical Society

Wilderness Medicine Training Center

Wilderness Medical Associates International


New Year, a New Adventure!

December 13th, 2018

Are you looking for an opportunity to grow as a leader, gain professional outdoor skills, and go deeper as a Disciple of Christ? Then you should take a look at SROM’s Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester for the fall 2019 semester.

This can be a life-changing experience for you – as well as give you up to 21 college credits!

Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester 2019

Experiential Education at Its Finest

The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester is SROM’s 96-day outdoor education and wilderness leadership course. This robust learning experience takes place in the context of God’s creation while you earn academic credit from accredited colleges, universities and seminaries.

Your “classroom” will include some of God’s most beautiful creation in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
The course is designed to be a transformational college semester or Gap semester. It includes 5 programming sections that focus on integrating and developing the core course components of every SROM expedition:
  • Spiritual transformation
  • Authentic community
  • Leadership development
  • Character formation
  • Skill acquisition
The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester will focus on developing your heart, mind and body using the wilderness and wilderness programming. Activities like backpacking and rock climbing provide hands-on opportunities for development in discipleship, leadership and academics…and work towards your professional degree.

SROM has partnered with Family of Faith Christian University (FFCU) and All Nations College to create the new BA of Church Ministry program with a Wilderness Emphasis. You can earn 21 credit hours for the entire Rocky Mountain semester with SROM and FFCU.

Financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available through Family of Faith Christian University.

Contact for more information about academic credit and financial assistance.

But don’t wait! Registration for the fall 2019 semester closes May 15!

Email today for more information

Buying a Sleeping Bag: How hard can it be?

December 6th, 2018

By: Jacob Chmielowiec

How hard can it be?

Can’t be that hard to find a sleeping bag right? You just choose a temperature rating that will get you through your backpacking season and pick something within your budget. Seems easy! Well, not quite. A sleeping bag is fairly simple technology but understanding how to get the right bag can be complicated. It can even be hard to know what you want until you know what is available.


The first problem is that some manufacturers rate their sleeping bags using different criteria. They are motivated to offer the warmest and lightest bag possible for the money. Some choose to rate their bag in a way that supports their marketing efforts. Due to these problems standards have been introduced but are not yet universally accepted.


What’s the Standard?

The first standard, EN 13537, was introduced in 2005 and specifies how to test and rate sleeping bags. In 2017, ISO 23537 replaced EN 13537 and further refined the requirements. Some large retailers like REI have chosen to enforce this by only selling bags tested according to these standards. This is good news! It is easier than ever to find an EN 13537 / ISO 23537 sleeping bag at your local outfitter. Selecting a bag with an EN 13537 / ISO 23537 rating ensures the bag meets industry standards for warmth.

In the EN 13537 / ISO 23537 rating there are 3 ranges:

Example if a sleeping bag rating is 0 Degrees F/-17 Degrees C, it’s lower limit is -5 Degrees F and it’s comfort rating is 9.5 Degrees F. 

  • Above the highest, or “comfort”, temperature is the range where most women will be comfortable. Like in our example, this would be 9.5 Degrees F. 
  • From the “comfort” to the middle number is the “transition”or “limit” range they expect most men to begin getting cold. In our example, this would be 0 Degrees F or the promoted temperature rating. 
  • The “extreme,” “risk,” or “survival” range extends down to the lowest number. In this range the occupant will likely be actively fighting the cold, shivering, and may be susceptible to hypothermia but will probably survive. Below this range you are in serious trouble.


When shopping for your sleeping bag it is helpful to know how warm or cold you sleep. As a starting point men tend to sleep warmer than women. A warm sleeper may be comfortable at the “transition” or “limit” temperature where a cold sleeper may feel chilled near the “comfort” temperature. Your shelter and sleeping pad will also influence how warm you sleep. If you get cold easily you are likely a cold sleeper.

Location, Location!

Research the nighttime lows in the area you plan to explore. If you plan to be out on an extended trip prepare for weather that is colder than average. It is easy to cancel a weekend trip when the weather turns but if you are deep in the wilderness you will want the extra warmth to stay safe and comfortable when nearing record lows. You should be able to buy a bag with the “comfort” rating at or below these temperatures. If you are a warm sleeper you may be able to get a lighter, less warm, bag.


Great! So I’m ready to buy a sleeping bag right? Not quite yet. There are a few more considerations.


Now that you know the temperature range you need to be comfortable for your trip you need to decide what size, shape, fill, and features you need. The one most people talk about is fill. Fill is what provides the insulating properties of the bag. There are two main camps: down and synthetic.

Down vs Synthetic Fill

Synthetic fibers are heavier, less durable, and less compressible, a highly compressible sleeping bag packs smaller. Down on the other hand is lightweight, compressible, and durable. That seems obvious enough down is better right? Well, down also has some disadvantages. First, it tends to be more expensive, and second when down gets wet it no longer insulates at all. Conversely synthetic bags preserve much more of their insulating properties when wet. With this in mind the ideal sleeping bag is the one that matches the environment.


Backpacking in the coastal ranges of pacific northwest you may want a synthetic bag due to high humidity and frequent rain. Backpacking in high desert of Wyoming a down bag is more appropriate. Synthetic insulation is rapidly improving and some of the new bags are getting fairly close to the performance of down . A high end synthetic 20℉ sleeping bag will be around $200-$300. An equally warm high end down bag may be as much as $500 or more but will be lighter and smaller to carry.


There are cheaper options and prices of down sleeping bags generally correlates with the fill power of the down. Higher fill power down will be warmer per ounce of fill and more expensive. A high end 850 fill power sleeping bag will be lighter and smaller packing than a standard 650 fill power bag of equal warmth and size. I personally find the high fill power bags to also be more comfortable.


Sleeping bags come in sizes? Why yes they do! Length and girth vary within and between models.

Generally it makes sense to buy the smallest bag you fit in but some people prefer having extra room to move around in their bag. For winter camping it is nice to have extra room to keep clothing, water, boot liners, etc. warm for the morning. Smaller form fitting bags will be lighter but also may restrict your movement. Find what is comfortable for you. There is always a trade between pack weight and in camp comfort.


Some bags will also have features such as a phone or watch pocket to keep your alarm near you during the night and others allow two bags to be zipped together. Women’s bags tend to be a little warmer at the feet and are wider at the hips. Many cold weather bags have additional features to prevent cold air from leaking into your bag and most cold weather bags, as well as some summer bags, have waterproof, or highly water resistant, shells to protect the insulation from moisture.


Can I buy a sleeping bag now? Yes, go! Frolic to your favorite outfitter and examine some of the bags that may meet your needs!

Ask yourself:

  • Is it warm enough?
  • Is it EN / ISO rated? If not, am I still confidant it is warm enough?
  • Does it have enough room?
  • Will it take up too much room in my pack?
  • Does down or synthetic make more sense in my area?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Does it have the features I need?


You may not find the perfect bag but it should be easy to find one that will work. Everybody would likely love the $500 sleeping bags but most of us can get a good bag for less than $200.

Is the lightweight and extra features worth the money? That is completely up to you, but as someone who spends a lot of time in a tent, my sleeping bag is one of my most important pieces of gear. My bag is extremely lightweight yet warm. This allows me to carry extra equipment, like a heavy camera while maintaining a reasonable pack weight.


Alternatives and oddities: There are now options on the market that differ from traditional sleeping bags. There are some with no hood to save weight. Some have no insulation on the back of the bag but allow a sleeping pad to be inserted. Some people prefer to use a lightweight quilt instead of a sleeping bag. For most people a standard bag is the best bet, but all of these are viable options in their own right.

What is a Disciple?

November 29th, 2018

It’s probably not quite what you think it is.

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The Problem with Assumptions

Ah, another one of those nebulous terms like “the gospel”. You often hear in Christian circles someone say that they shared “the gospel” with someone else. It is then assumed that you know what that person actually shared with the other person. But you don’t. That’s the problem with assumptions.


The same goes for using the word disciple. I was recently in a church service where the preacher asked the congregation, “What is a disciple?” I remember one person responding something to the affect:


“They are someone who moves in the power of God and revolutionizes the world.”


While that will certainly be the effect of being a disciple of Jesus, that is not a disciple.


So, what does Merriam’s Webster dictionary have to say?

1: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as,


     a:  Christianityone of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ's followers according to the Gospel accounts


     b:   a convinced adherent of a school or individual, i.e. a disciple of Freud

Wow. It’s surprising how well this highlights how our problem with correctly defining this word in English has profoundly impacted us actually carrying out The Great Commission in America. According to Merriam Webster, the twelve disciples were just “accepting and assisting in spreading the doctrines of Jesus.” And, in a sense, that is very true. But that’s not what makes them a disciple.


This definition highlights the problem of taking a concept from one culture and adding the assumptions of another culture. We don’t have a grid in our western culture for what a disciple is. So, we put it into the grid of our educational systems and what it means “to know” or “to follow”. Which, with social media, the phrase “follow” has even taken on different meanings. Should I just like Jesus’ Facebook page and call it good? I’m following him, right?

A Disciple in Jesus Day: A Rabbi and their Talmidim

 "Like other rabbis of his day, Jesus had disciples called talmidim. The disciples' deepest desire was to follow their rabbi so closely that they would start to think and act like him. "

– Ray Vanderlan, “To be a Talmid” from That the World May Know

This is interesting. In Jesus’ day it was about a deep desire to literally following your rabbi so closely that you would become like them. This was the method of education. The closest grid we have for this in our western culture is the relationship between a parent and a child.

How is that Method Different from our Western Way of Education?

Doug Greenwold, Making Disciples Jesus’ Way (Columbia, MD: Bible in Context Ministries, 2007), 36.

A Disciple in Our Day

It’s a little hard to literally follow Jesus around today. However, God made a change of address to still make it possible.


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8


By having the Holy Spirit with us and God’s written word we can still follow Jesus. And the heart of a disciple is forever the same:

In the heart of a disciple there is a desire, and there is a decision or settled intent. The disciple of Christ desires above all else to be like him…


Given this desire, usually produced by the lives and words of those already in The Way, there is yet a decision to be made: the decision to devote oneself to becoming Christlike. The disciple is one who, intent upon becoming Christlike and so dwelling in his ‘faith and practice’, systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end. By these actions, even today, one who enrolls in Christ’s training, becomes his pupil or disciple.”


– Dallas Willard, The Cost of Nondiscipleship, in Devotional Classics

So, in the spirit of the season… What do you want for Christmas?

A Grateful Heart of Thanks

November 22nd, 2018
This time of year, all of us are conditioned to look ahead towards the future: the holidays and the new year. But it is precisely for that reason that we, here at SROM, tend to look back and reflect at all of the amazing things God has accomplished in the lives and hearts of our summer staff and our students. And it is through looking back at the incredible "Ebeneezer" monuments from the summer of the incredible works of God, that this beautiful feeling starts bubbling up in our hearts.


Love & Thankfulness.


It is with great love and thankfulness that we come to you this month as our partners in ministry. We come to you praising God for what He has done! For the amazing harvest that He has reaped from the faithful sowing and planting that you, dear friends, have planted in SROM, our staff, and in our students. The harvest from this 2018 season was abundant and so life giving! We could not and cannot accomplish all that has been without you. So in the spirit of a thankful heart, we want to honor you for your prayers, your generosity, and the faithfulness in which you pursue Christ and pursue His children.

Love & Thankfulness

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to share a few testimonies from our students who were greatly impacted and changed because of you sowing seeds in SROM. Their stories of what God did in them in the Wilderness are incredible and were possible because of the love and support from all of you! So here are a few videos of our 2018 Students in their own words how the Love of God through you made such an incredible impact in their lives.
Thank you for partnering with us in making disciples who make disciples of Christ for His Glory and His Kingdom!

2018 Student Testimonies

Audrey Hancock

Audrey and her husband Britt founded Mountain Gateway an organization that trains, equips, and sends missionaries into some of the most rural areas in Central and South America. They have been training missionaries and their families for over 30 years and took some time to connect and equip themselves and several of their staff on the Wilderness Ministry Professionals Course.
**Click on the photo to watch Audrey's testimony**

Andrew Reitveld

Andrew and his sister both came on a SROM course this year! Andrew went on the 20/20 Teen Boys course and gained incredible insight into himself, but also into the character of God.
**Click on the photo to watch Andrew's testimony.**

Katy Grunstra

Katy is no stranger to SROM as she has had several siblings come on courses with SROM. But also one of her older brothers works here full time! If you've ever called the office, you will have spoken with Tim, Katy's brother.
But Katy initially wasn't really thinking about coming on a course at the beginning of this year. She was actually the winner of our Brew Up art contest this spring and so God presented her with an opportunity to draw even closer to Him in a mighty way!
Katy's experiences and transformation on the 40/40 are incredible so be sure to listen to her story of how God met her in the Wilderness!
**Click on the photo to watch Katy's testimony.**
These are just a few of the stories of lives that were impacted in mighty ways in the Wilderness this summer! To read and view more, click the links below for more student testimonies from 2018.

How you can continue to support SROM:

It's exciting to see what God has been doing in and through each of these student and staff members lives! But it couldn't happen without your prayers and financial support.
Wondering how you can help and be a part of SROM? Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, so here are some ideas:
  • SROM Needs a Suburban! We are looking for a 2008 or newer, under 100,000 miles Suburban vehicle for SROM's use. If you would like to Donate the vehicle or contribute to it's purchase, please email for more information on how to donate.
  • Holiday Shopping using Amazon SmileWhen you do your holiday shopping using Amazon Smile and choose Solid Rock Outdoor Ministry, Amazon donates 1% on all your purchases to SROM!


November 15th, 2018

By: Audrey Stelzer

Will you try something with me for a moment? Will you, please? It won’t take long!

As you read this paragraph imagine what my words are describing.

You are laying down in a field of grass on the most perfect day. The sun is shining on your face as you breathe in the smell of flowers and hear the bees happily buzzing around. There is a stream bubbling in the distance and the leaves are dancing ever so slightly in the breeze. You let out a big stretch and settle back into the soft, pillow-like grass…


  1. What, if any, memories did that bring back for you?
  2. What is “perfect weather” for you?
  3. How did your senses react when imagining these things?


Now, try this:

It is fall, what are the correct answers:

You are laying down on

  1. Grass
  2. Leaves
  3. Cement
  4. Trampoline
What animals are flying by

  1. Bees
  2. Birds
  3. Bats
  4. Chickens
The sky is

  1. Cloudy
  2. Sunny
  3. Partly cloudy
  4. Partly sunny


Thanks for participating! There was a pretty big difference, huh? I dramatized it a bit, but these are contrasting examples of how people are being taught. The first is Experiential Education (EE), and the second is a traditional classroom style. There is much to say about both, but today I want to introduce you to what experiential education is, and its benefits.


The Association of Experiential Education describes both the process and definition of Experiential Education:

The Process:

Challenge and Experience followed by Reflection leading to Learning and Growth

The definition:

A philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities.

The process and definition sound great, but how does it actually work? To understand this, we first need to understand how the brain learns. The brain is constantly acquiring information. In order for it to remain functioning it immediately wants to dismiss or store that information. Initially, the brain will put all information worth storing in its “short-term” memory. Neuroscientists have determined three main factors that aid in acquiring information from “short-term” to “long-term”. These factors include: urgency, repetition, and the most influential, association.



Let’s briefly visit each of these factors:

Urgency– This can be when you are fully immersed in a task that is time sensitive. Looking back on this task, you will remember the feelings, general information, and who was involved. Example: You are writing your final paper at 11:53pm… and it is due at 12:01am.

Repetition– Doing something over and over. Practicing a skill, doing a science experiment multiple times, reading a poem to memorize it.

Association– Moments that you can recall that have informed your decisions of today. Ex: Placing your hand on a hot burner for the first time.





So how does Experiential Education fit in with all of this? Good question! Experiential Education engages all of these factors to get someone to truly learn new information. For example, in my first paragraph I used association to call on experiences you are likely familiar with, and combined it with a new experience I was facilitating. Then, after, I asked questions so that you could provide words to this new experience. I could then use repetition by having someone else read the paragraph to you, and then you do it for someone else, and then you re-read it, so that repetition is happening through different experiences! Urgency? Say whoever recited the visualization first would get $100.


The traditional side of things requires very little engagement with all three factors, and very little depth within the factor it is touching on. Let’s take the third question from above:

It is fall, what are the correct answers:

You are laying down in

  1. Grass
  2. Leaves
  3. Cement
  4. Sand

This calls upon your experience of fall, so association. Great! But… this question implies that everyone has the same experience of fall. Yet, someone in Florida will have a different fall experience than those in Michigan or inner city New York. One of these options has to be right though… right? The experiential visualization is not perfect, but it does allow for questions, it enables others to teach others about their fall experience, and to discuss a new experience.


Overall, Experiential Education is making a new wave. More and more studies are suggesting that the brain learns best through facilitated experience and reflection, and that a lecture with note taking is not benefiting the learner in a significant way. Experiential Education is opening up new doors for creativity, teamwork, long term recollection, communication within an era of technology, and increasing overall levels of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. So why is this important to an outdoor company like Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries (SROM)?

Here at SROM we take experiential education seriously. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” If we do not experience him through the senses He has given us, if we do not taste and see Him, if we do not educate ourselves in more than just reading and religious regulations, how will we know and experience the refuge of God? We must have a personal relationship with the Lord that welcomes the experiences He wants to give us to learn and grow. So, at SROM, we strive to do just that on our courses.Throughout course, we provide facilitated experiential education with pointed debriefs to keep our courses open to God and His movement. Experiences, with God at the center, change lives.


Folks, this is only the surface of experiential education. There are so many resources- articles, books, videos, even classes to dive further into! I encourage you to continue to learn about this amazing teaching method and apply it in a Christ-centered way to your friends, families, and communities. Who knows, maybe next time the sun is on your face, you hear happy bees, or are laying in a soft, pillow-like grass, you’ll think of the power of experience and remember to share it with others.


Happy Experiencing.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

-Phillipians 4:9



The Case for Crocs

November 1st, 2018


By: Audrey Stelzer

It is time to bring up the very real and pressing issue of the lack of Crocs in the backcountry. I ask, as a concerned outdoor woman, where have they gone? I realize that some outdoor industries will not allow traditional crocs in the backcountry due to the shoe having holes, and a loose hold around the foot while doing river crossings. Yet, I can only assume they do not know about the large variety of Crocs available! Shoes like the Swiftwater Cross-Strap, Offroad Sport Clog, LiteRide Lace, or LiteRide Pacer are perfect camp shoes after a long day backpacking, crushing at the craig, coming off the whitewater, coming down from a backcountry ski (Blitzen clogs or the Shearling Boot are good for this), or crossing a river while hiking. There are good Croc options for students in professional industries, and for an everyday outdoorsmen!

Crocs dry quickly, protect your feet, are light, have comfort soles, can be adjusted, have a backstrap (I call it the adventure strap), float, are nearly indestructible (my dog chews on them daily), and, contrary to common belief, are very fashionable coming in a wide variety of designs and colors. These shoes are completely functional for the outdoors! Trust me, I can vouch for my Crocs…


In a last ditch effort to my fellow outdoor folk, I have made guidelines for “How to Croc in the Backcountry”.

  1. To reduce sweaty feet on hot hiking days, wear socks with the Crocs. As you put on the socks and slip back into the Crocs, the people left around you are your true friends. Yes, Crocs hold the power to help distinguish true friends.
  2. Use the adventure strap/ankle strap. The adventure strap is an important tool when facing tough sections of a hike. All you have to do is move the strap from above your foot, to behind your ankle. This allows for further stability in the Croc.
  3. Crossing a stream is now a dream! Tighten your Croc, or put the adventure strap on, and cross the stream using whatever safety method is appropriate. On the other side, set the crocs in the sun while changing back into socks and boots. The Crocs will be able to dry quickly and be near ready, or ready to pack once you are back in your boots.
  4. So easy. Since the Crocs are so light, you can easily store them in an accessible area when backpacking and keep them much cleaner than shoes with cloth fabric. The weight will be minimal, and when you get to camp the shoes will be breathable, comfortable, and easy to get on (no straps to worry about going between your toes or by blisters).
  5. Know your limits. Wearing Crocs may make you feel limitless, so remember, they are just a shoe. Still use good judgement calls to ensure safety and fun in your Crocs.


Would You Join Me?

October 25th, 2018

By: Emily Cable

What if I told you my job is to spend 60 days out of each year experientially teaching people how they can safely enjoy spending a few nights outside. What if I told you I frequently don’t shower for 10 days at a time because there’s no faucet in close proximity and the weather is just too cold to get wet sometimes. What if I told you I carry a backpack, which frequently weighs half my body weight, up steep slopes for many miles only to come down them again. What if I told you I still get bruises on my hips and blisters on my toes every time I lead a trip.

What if I told you I like it! What if I told you those few nights hold some of my favorite moments!

Would you believe me?

Would you join me in relishing the thought because you’ve been there too?

Would a longing spring up in you to join me, perhaps for the first time, because the mystery of adventure draws you?

Would you think I’m crazy?!

What if I told you I’ve seen stars too bright to look at for longer than a few seconds; so densely covering the sky they pierced the darkness putting it to flight. What if I told you I’ve been caught in a blizzard in the middle of July while crossing a 12,800’ mountain pass forcing us to hike late into the night. What if I said that was the coldest I’ve ever felt.

What if I told you I’ve stood on the highest point in Wyoming and watched a butterfly flutter overhead in the perfectly still air.

What if I told you I’ve half swam/ half squirmed my way through a muddy slot canyon in Utah so narrow in sections you have to turn your head just so in order to fit.

What if I told you I’ve stood in awe watching God set the sky ablaze night after night from the depths of the Grand Canyon and smelled the honey and strawberry of Monkey Flowers. Or swam an alpine lake fortified by snow and ice, felt lightning so close my hair stood on end, watched a family of mountain sheep graze the hillside, rejoiced when the first rays of morning sun began to thaw my nose.

What if I told you all these wonders are not why I go to the wilderness. What if I told you the reason I spend time in the wilderness is to seek the Lord and be found by Him, to encounter Him in ever deeper ways. I sit in the silence at His feet… sometimes broken hearted, sometimes weeping over the greatness of His love for me, sometimes in joyful song! I need the silence, the pause, to reflect, dream, and just be.

What if I told you every time I return from the wilderness I am never the same?

What if I told you time in the wilderness could change your life?

What if I asked you to join me? Would you?