Young Adult Canoe Trip Review

A participant in one of our fall trips wrote a review for her Bible School’s newsletter. Here’s what she had to say about meeting God in the wilderness!

“I had the privilege to go on a canoe trip with eleven other ladies. We chose the theme ‘Beauty in Brokenness’ for our trip. It was our desire and prayer for that to be true in our lives. We wanted to be a group that was broken before God, and allow Him to make something beautiful out of the brokenness.

On Monday, October 20th, we headed to the James River in Virginia. We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time, and now it was finally here! On one hand, our days were mostly the same. Get up, eat breakfast, load up, canoe down the river, find a campsite, unload and set up camp, eat supper, talk about the day, share life stories, and go to bed. “How boring!” some might say. But you see, that’s just outside of the trip. I invite you to come get a glimpse of the real picture. I will show you why I get excited when I think back on those days. There are many things we learned that we will not forget very soon.

The one thing that really stood out to me on the trip was that we did everything together. We were a group of individual girls who became a community. Everything we did was a group effort. We ate together, set up tents together, prayed together, sang together, packed the canoes together every morning, etc. We learned early in the trip how important it is to be unified as a group! We needed each other! We all had different personalities, gifts, and abilities, but when we joined those together, it gave us a strength that would take a lot to break. We learned that we are not made to go through life on our own. We need our canoe partners in life to help us around the rocks and over the rapids (hard things in life.)

Another thing we learned on this trip was the difference that encouragement makes. Some of us hadn’t canoed very much at all… and most of us had been sitting in classes for the last four weeks. The miles got long and we got tired. We were sore and there were times that we just wanted to stop and rest… but couldn’t. The thing that got us through those times was the encouragement of others. It doesn’t take much to help lift someone’s spirit and give them the strength to keep going. You would hear things like, "Two more spoonfuls of grits.” “You can do it!” “Here, I’ll show you again how to tie that knot.” “You’ll get it!” “Hey, make sure you’re drinking your water.” “You girls are doing great! I’m proud of you!” or “Good job over those rapids.” It was amazing to see the difference in our group after we decided that we would make it our goal to encourage each other. It doesn’t take much most times, but encouragement can make a world of difference for someone else.

A lot of us girls came on the trip with a desire to see God. We really wanted to meet Him on the trip. There is something about going out in the wilderness and nature, away from all the noise and business of life. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning with the sun shining through the fog on the river and everything is quiet. I found that you can meet God out there in ways you normally don’t. God seriously blew us away on this trip! We saw His power, but we also saw and felt His great love for us. We experienced first had how much He cares for His children!

The time that sticks out the most to me is when one canoe was stuck on a rock in the middle of a big rapid, with no human way possible to get through without crashing. It was scary, and we prayed a lot! Finally, we watched the canoe slip off the rock in just the right way—the only way it could go without tipping. The canoe continued through the rapids with the front person not having a paddle, and the back person not doing much with her paddle. Amazingly, they made it through at the perfect spot, and all the way through to safety. All I can say is that God is good and He cares about us a lot! He has power and is in control of all things. We certainly met God on that trip, and we won’t forget any time soon.

Finally, as I said, our theme for the trip was ‘Beauty in Brokenness’’. Every evening around the campfire, we shared life stories with each other. It was amazing to see that each girl had gone through some very hard and painful things. But, as we heard her story and what God had done and was doing in her life, it was amazing to see the joy and beauty that God was bringing out of the struggle and pain. Sometimes it is hard to let people see the things that are broken in our lives, but we found on our trip that when we allow God to have the pieces that are broken, He will make something beautiful out of them. It may look different than it originally did, but it will no doubt be beautiful.

Till the end of the trip we knew each other very well. We saw the pain, but we also saw the beauty and were able to speak truth into each other’s lives. We came away very close to each other, but more importantly, very close to God. It was definitely a trip that changed our lives, and we will look back on it with fond memories.”

-by Anna B., used with permission