My stiff arms begin to buckle as I lift myself from one rock to another rock, crossing the raging river beneath me. I’ve been alone for a total of five hours, but it’s felt like a full day. I finally reach the perfect boulder to rest on. I lay with my feet out touching the shivering water, back flat against the cold stone, head still, and eyes shut. The sound of the water swimming in and out of branches and bedrock clears my mind to focus on just being present with God. My sore body suddenly becomes relaxed. For an hour or two, my brain is clear of all thoughts. At this moment carved out in time, I am honestly sitting with God. Not communicating, not talking, not speaking to or with Him. Just sitting with Him. It feels nice to finally gain composure after hiking about 15 miles over the past three days.
This is Walkabout. From the outside, it’s not showering for eight days, being surrounded by bugs, the fear of an encounter with a bear, awful food, and walking without purpose. But to us, it’s being our most authentic self, being surrounded by intentional people, the fear of encountering the Lord, food that’s never tasted better, and walking with real purpose.
This is Walkabout. It’s being literally in the woods with no way out. It’s forcing ourselves to get out of our comfort zone. It’s making friends with our group members because if we don’t, we’ll have a really lonely eight days. It’s forgetting what your parent’s voices sound like because you’ve heard the same voices repeated for the past week. It’s incredibly beautiful.
This is Walkabout. Some people hate it. And you should know that I am not one of those people. A chance to form new relationships and grow deeper in my relationship with Christ? Sign me up! It might not be everyone’s favorite thing, but it’s at least something that everyone should experience. It’s a disconnected lifestyle that is rare.
This is Walkabout. All the GU student leaders are required to go on this trip to the Smoky Mountain National Park, but any student is welcome to join. We are split into groups with two leaders in each group and divide gear into each of our packs. On average, it’s about 50 pounds on your back. Groups tend to hike anywhere between 30 and 40 miles. Each night, we set up camp under a tent or in a shelter. The days are filled with hiking, the afternoon and evening include filtering water, cooking dinner, setting up camp, and stories.
This is Walkabout. What are stories? Each day a different person in the group is the leader for that day’s hike. When it is your turn to lead, you also get the chance to share your life story with your group at some point during the day. This sets you up to get closer to the people in your group. After you gift your story, your group members gift you a trial name. This is a name each person comes up with, specially made just for you.
This is Walkabout. It’s being with nature and being away from the world. It’s about learning who you are and who God is. It’s about leading, growing, sharing, pushing yourself, and being vulnerable. It’s physically challenging, disgusting at times, painful mentally, yet rewarding, holds beauty within, and satisfying.
This is Walkabout. Are you in?