La Vida, A Visionary Idea
Back in 1969, a Young Life leader from Northern Virginia named Scott Dimock was challenged to go on an Outward Bound trip in Colorado led by Jim Kielsmeier. He and John David Borgman, also a Young Life leader, went along and while on that trip they were asked many spiritual questions by the younger participants. This prompted Scott to think what a great tool this kind of camping could be for encouraging young people in their faith. This was the inception of La Vida, a program that has impacted thousands of lives for 45 years and is now housed in the Gordon College La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership along with five other outdoor programs.
When Scott got back to Virginia, he began serving on Young Life staff and shared his ideas with others. Early the next summer of 1970, through the committed involvement from other Young Life staff like Steve Oliver, Pete Weaver, Rob Robinson and George Sheffer Jr., the Adirondacks were explored for canoeing and backpacking routes. Some of the first groups were from New York City where Scott had been part of a Young Life training program with Dean Borgman and Bill Milliken and funded by the Lily Foundation. One of those groups was from the lower east side and the kids who spoke Spanish began calling the program “La Vida” and that’s how we got our name.
Scott helped out in many ways those first few years and has been involved with La Vida ever since and remains on the Advisory Board today. He went on to have a very successful career in Young Life primarily focused on urban youth and mentoring and encouraging other YL staff. When you visit Scott and his wife Marilyn’s home, you get a sense of just how much impact they have had on younger staff. You can witness pictures of all the weddings Scott has participated in of those he mentored. More recently, Scott is one of the founders and a partner at the Southeast White House in Washington, DC, a program to help urban youth excel in high school and in life through mentoring. Scott and Marilyn have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
Visit the La Vida Center’s website at www.gordon.edu/lavida for more information on programs for you, your kids, and your family.