Adventure Camp 2021 was held in the beautiful Bob Marshall Wilderness of Northwest Montana. Thirty-one campers and staff experienced beautiful mountain views—but the scenery was not all we enjoyed. There were encouraging Bible studies each day and we “did hard things,” making the entire experience truly memorable.
On Tuesday, August 3, campers and staff arrived at the Best Western Flathead hotel in Kalispell, Montana, which was our “base camp.” We ate dinner together before discussing the schedule of activities for the seven-day trip. We also discussed the inherent dangers of a backcountry backpacking trip—including bears and possible weather conditions—as well as the importance of staying hydrated and well fed.
The following day, we hiked to Mt. Aeneas in the Jewel Basin of Flathead National Forest. The hike started in lush, green forests, but at higher elevations the trees gave way to shrubs and boulders. There were even small patches of snow as we approached the 7,477-foot summit, which we reached by mid-afternoon. The difficult climb was well worth the incredible view. From the summit, huge mountain lakes below looked like tiny ponds. The mountains all around us inspired a sense of awe and the majesty of our great God, calling to mind Jesus’ statement in Matthew 21:21: “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.”
The magnitude of the mountains also illustrated the encouraging lesson that with God’s power and guidance, we can overcome the “mountains” in our lives, such as trials of health, family struggles, and job stresses. We cannot overcome without God’s divine intervention on our behalf, but He is willing and happy to intervene for us as we seek to please and trust Him.
Through Thursday and Friday, we hiked in the Jewel Basin area again, On Thursday we reached Strawberry Lake after a three-mile hike with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. Though we couldn’t have a bonfire that evening because of August fire prevention regulations, the strenuous hike proved well worth the effort as we enjoyed fellowship and games on the sandy lakeshore. Because of the elevation, it was a cool evening in the 40s (Fahrenheit) and we had to really bundle up in our sleeping bags at bedtime.
On Friday morning, we broke camp and hiked to another, larger lake called Wildcat Lake. It was a good stopping point for lunch before we completed the day at the Camp Misery Trailhead. Once the hike was complete, we piled into vans and headed back to base camp for the Sabbath and warm showers!
Sabbath Rest and Further Adventures
Sabbath morning was relaxing and filled with fellowship before afternoon services were held in a room with an entire wall of windows facing the mountains that surround the town of Kalispell. The setting was a perfect reminder of God and His creation. It made the Sabbath very special as we assembled as He commanded.
On Sunday, we hit the trail again to climb to yet another summit! We drove to the town of Whitefish and hiked the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail up Big Mountain (7,000 ft.). At the summit, we enjoyed snacks and refreshments before taking the ski lift down the mountain. Clouds had partially obscured the spectacular view on the hike up, but on the way down the skies cleared enough for us to see the distant mountains of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies.
On the final full day of camp, Monday, we drove to the town of Hungry Horse to shop and enjoy some huckleberry pie before visiting Hungry Horse dam, which is only 44 miles from the Canadian border. According to the National Park Service, “At 564 feet high, Hungry Horse is one of the largest concrete arch dams in the United States, and its morning-glory spillway, with water cascading over the rim and dropping 490 feet, is the highest in the world” (“Montana: Hungry Horse Dam,” NPS.gov).
On Tuesday, August 10, all campers and staff departed for home, sad for the adventure to end. We had all built long-lasting memories and bonds of fellowship while hiking and facing many and varied challenges.
Physical Tests and Spiritual Benefits
Adventure Camp not only tests participants physically; it also helps them to recognize our God-given potential for overcoming hardship and building faith, as well as to see and appreciate His care for us in all circumstances. That understanding helps us learn to trust in His guidance. While the mental and emotional tests are more subtle than the obvious physical tests, they have a greater lasting impact on everyone who fully embraces the challenges of Adventure Camp.
Through our daily Bible studies, we were reminded that God created us to build strength and courage, both of which must be tried and tested to reach their full potential. While hiking in the backcountry is a tough physical test, it’s also a test of our emotional and mental strength—and everyone passed! We also learned how God can do incredible things in and through us. That knowledge increases our faith, allowing God to use us even more. We recognized that we must give God the credit and not give in to the temptation to think of ourselves as “lucky” or “fortunate.”
Another important lesson we learned was that failure and sacrifice are part of the path to overcoming sin, Satan, and worldly society. Satan wants to see every Christian destroyed. He uses failure and sacrifice to discourage us, but God reminds us that we can actually use trials to find strength and encouragement.
How we respond to difficulties is a good indication of our closeness with God. The book of Proverbs states that “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity” (Proverbs 24:16), and King David wrote, “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14).
We were very thankful for the opportunity to grow together in the beautiful setting of the northern Rockies. Adventure Camp is a special experience that reminds us of our Creator, who we are as His people, and our Christian potential as His creation. The life we live is a training ground, preparing us to rule with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We thank God for His guidance and protection, and for the lessons He taught us this year.