Archive: a local church adventure . . .

With Christ in the Rockies

By Eddie Robb

Eight grueling days of climbing through snow storms, fording mountain streams and eating freeze-dried food is not what you’d expect for a typical summertime church retreat. But that’s exactly what 18 high schoolers from Park Avenue United Methodist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota did this past July.

After a 1,118-mile, non-stop bus ride, the youth immediately began two days of intensive training for their alpine odyssey. “We knew the training would be hard,” explains youth leader Art Erickson, “but the kids had to be prepared.”

Indeed they did! One time on the trail, the trekkers were caught in a hail storm. There was nothing they could do except keep climbing. Another time, at 13,000 feet, the group was deluged with ice pellets and blasted by lightning. “It’s sort of eery,” one hiker remarked, “to be in the storm, not below it.”

Days were long and hard. Carrying a 40-pound back pack is never easy. But it was especially difficult for the nine-hour days of steady climbing, and some days were even worse.

“On our next to the last day out,” reported staff photographer Larry Bracken, “we got lost and hiked from 8:00 a.m. until 1:30 the next morning! That’s 15 hours of solid climbing over rugged mountains.”

Not all the kids who go on this mountain adventure are members of Park Avenue UMC—or even Christians. The church uses the summer excursion as an evangelistic outreach, as well as training youth leadership.

Youth are recruited in the Minneapolis high schools and from Park Avenue Church. Since many kids are not from affluent homes, local businesses help pay expenses.

Is the mountain trip worth all the effort?

“Yes!” affirms youth leader Art Erickson. “We’ve seen positive results on each of our three Rocky Mountain outings.”

The hikers agree: the grueling eight days are worth every scratch and aching muscle.

“I have never felt so keenly the presence of God as being Creator-my Creator,” said one worn-out youth.

That’s what an adventure in the Rockies with Christ is all about!


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