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Outdoor Leadership Student Features: Read About What Our Students Have to Say

The Internal Battle Surrounding Value

Name: Josiah De Leon
Program: Outdoor Leadership (Explore)
     I have always been quick to judge people by their performance. Through Explore, I learned how to value myself and other people. It is a product of how I was raised coupled with the six years I spent in a cadet program. Growing up I thought I had to earn my keep. My parents had four kids so replacing me wouldn’t be a problem. When a machine breaks down and fixing it doesn’t work, you trash or part it. If an animal no longer does what it is supposed to, you put it down or sell it. So I reasoned people were the same. 

     Being in the Civil Air Patrol didn’t help either with ranks and specialties being earned through performance. Hard work got me a long ways in both areas and I naturally assumed this was applicable in all areas of life. Coming to Explore I soon realized I was not the best and not everyone else was. I soon had people grouped into two categories: those who should be here and those who shouldn’t. These groupings changed how I treated people. I either respected them or I ignored them. 

     After climbing rotation I began to realize my values were all messed up. After failing during climbing specialization I finally understood that I valued myself and others wrong. I’m still learning but, as of now I value people based on their effort. I still tend to value myself based on results but, I’m working to change it.

Truth Vs. Lies

Name: Luke Stewart
Program: Outdoor Leadership (Explore)
     Truth versus lies. The ultimate battle. Who will win? For most of my life, lies have been the victor. I was unaware of this until I came to Explore this year.

     During climbing specialization, I did not think that I had the ability to do a certain climb. Tim (one of my awesome instructors) saw my fear but also saw through my fear to a lie that I was believing. He knew that I had the ability to do the climb and spoke truth into my life by telling me that. At that moment I believed him, gave the climb my full effort, and made it to the top.

     “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) These words from Jesus have a very personal meaning to me now. First, I have seen first hand how believing a lie can cripple me and how believing the truth gives me freedom. Second, I have seen that a lie always gives the easy way out of a situation. For me, believing the lie that I didn’t have what it took provided the easy way out. When I didn’t think that I could do it, I didn’t try. Yet all it took to break that lie was someone taking the time to recognize it, and speak truth into my life. Since I learned this, I have been searching my heart for other lies that I am believing and have been replacing them with God’s truth. Truth always wins.

What Does it Mean to Be a Leader Anyway?

Name: Molly Murdock
Program: Outdoor Leadership (Explore)
     The Explore Program at Prairie has been transformational for me, to say the least. I used to think leaders have all the answers and make few to zero mistakes, but after being in Explore, I have realized that all leaders, at some time or another, have experienced failure of some sort. However, failure is not final, and if you have a willingness and the humility to learn from your mistakes, you will grow in your ability to lead others well.
     A person leads out of who he or she is and Explore has done an exceptional job at creating an environment that is conducive to helping each student grow in godly character, confidence, and leadership skills. To lead well, is to submit oneself under the authority of Jesus Christ, have a willingness to learn and serve, and fully depend on Jesus in the task of leading others.
     Some of the skills/lessons I’ve learned at Prairie that I believe will be beneficial for the rest of my life are conflict management, understanding my performance is not equivalent to my worth or value, and that failure is not final.
     Another key thing the Explore Program has taught me is that God meets us in discomfort, whether it be a twenty- one day backpacking trip in the desert, building a shelter for winter survival, resolving relational conflict, or dealing with challenges in the work place. Faith grows most when it is put under pressure. There are many benefits to persevering, and how we approach discomfort can determine how much we grow through it.
     Putting my trust fully in God and depending on Him, is an area of life God has been teaching me in. God has used Explore to prepare me in embracing challenges such as the global pandemic and other life challenges. Psalm 23:1 says, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” When we let God shepherd and lead us, we lack absolutely nothing. When our identity is placed in Christ, we can have a sense of peace, even when the world around us is chaotic.

Outdoor Leadership (Explore)

     Deep discipleship and rigorous leadership development lie at the heart of our highly experiential outdoor leadership program.

     Explore provides an environment that empowers people to lead and influence others for the Kingdom of God. Through wilderness-based team adventures, integrated biblical education and real leadership opportunities, students will discover more about who God is and their role in His redemptive work.

     Building off of their first year experience, second year students have the opportunity to dive deeper into their understanding who God is by expanding their own leadership capacity, academic biblical studies, and advancing in their own outdoor skills with an emphasis on becoming “excellent, Kingdom-focused outdoor instructors.

Outdoor Leadership (Explore)

Want to find out more about Explore? Visit our website!


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