Adventure with a purpose has always been a passion for me. I enjoy introducing others to a new side of life-one that usually requires them to backpack through a remote wilderness, dangle from climbing ropes on the side of a cliff, or live out of a canoe for a week. These adventures are great fun, but they hold many teachable moments that offer life-changing lessons…and that’s when you get an adventure with a purpose.
Guiding others on outdoor adventure trips such as backpacking, rock climbing, and canoeing have been a part of my life for the last 12 years. I have guided these types of excursions for friends, churches, corporations, and schools with the intent to instill teamwork principles and teach a variety of life lessons.
Getting people away from what they are comfortable with is an important part of why I believe these adventures are so powerful. New environments offer new lessons about oneself, about one's relationship with others, and about one's perspective on the world around them. These outdoor adventures create a unique learning experience by exposing folks to the power that is inherit in principles such as character, perseverance, trust, communication, and a deeper sense of community.
For the last three years I have been using these adventures to help shape the lives of the young men at Three Dimensional Life (or 3-D for short). Three Dimensional Life offers a 10-month residential recovery program where the goal is simple: provide hope for students dealing with destructive behaviors.
The young men of 3-D have voluntarily entered this program after having served jail time for participation in destructive behaviors such as drug & alcohol abuse or gang violence. The life they lived prior to coming to 3-D was ruled by their addictions to drugs and alcohol- addictions that easily led them down paths of violence, theft, and the degeneration of their families. Three Dimensional Life is now trying to offer them a new path in life, and with a little help from me, this means a literal path in the woods.
My role as a volunteer for 3-D is to offer these guys Character Building Adventures, or CBA's as we refer to them. The guys need to know that they are more than the sum of their addictions or past mistakes...and that they can experience a life of success once they are freed from their destructive behaviors. And the CBA's are a great way to help them begin building a new character…which will assist them as they seek to reorient their lives.
Whether it's a rock climbing trip atop Currahee Mountain in Toccoa, GA, or a 9 day backpacking trip across The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, each CBA offers a mixture of challenges, encouragement, counseling moments, and fun. We want these young men to realize that there are healthy ways to get thrills in life, but we also need to use these adventures to get into the deep conversations about the struggles of overcoming addictive behaviors. That’s where wisdom and healing begins for them.
I plan many rock climbing trips and other, shorter CBA’s throughout the year but there is one large annual trip called the “Hike for Hope” that is the highlight of the CBA schedule. This backpacking trip traces the Appalachian Trail as it meanders from the southwest corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the northeast corner. It is approximately 75 miles of rugged mountains that challenge the young men from 3-D with physical and emotional obstacles. Preparing for this trip requires me to prescribe an exercise program to get the guys in “trail shape” as well as help them understand how to prepare mentally and emotionally for such a long trip.
The bottom line is that these young men need hope and direction for their lives, and my involvement in these CBA’s are just one way that 3-D can help them.
If you know of a family or friend who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, please contact Three Dimensional Life. Although they are located in Gainesville, GA, they are able to take in young men from all over the country who are between the ages of 14 and 20 years old. They are a non-profit organization that truly wants to empower young men with the hope that they can overcome their past mistakes.
For more information on Three Dimensional Life, go to http://www.threedimensionallife.com