We recently ran the second annual La Vida Center Spirit day at Gordon College to promote our Outdoor Education CORE programs: La Vida and Discovery. This year we convinced Professor Dan Johnson to do the Giant Swing outside of Frost and afterwards we opened up the element to students and staff. We introduced “La Vida Trivia” this year which was a big success. Students pulled questions out of a helmet, and if they answered it correctly they got to spin to win a prize- hats, stickers, t-shirts, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! There seemed to be an overall excitement for the La Vida Center on campus that day which is what we were aiming for!
By: Chris Perednia, First-Year Student at Gordon College
Being human means always encountering something new and unforeseen, and that is certainly not a bad thing. Whether it be untapped knowledge, undiscovered places, or unique perspectives, there is always something new for us to stumble across. For me, it was the opportunity to get away from the dorm, and experience the White Mountains of New Hampshire this weekend. I was skeptical at first, as I was unsure whether I wanted to sacrifice a weekend of fun, relaxation, and homework for what would seem like a waste of my time. What I ended up gaining from this weekend, was a refreshing outlook upon my faith, and a reminder that I still have much to learn, discover, and grow from.
Being away from technology feels like being separated from the world itself, but in reality, it is the opposite. Instead of looking down at our phones or laptops, we open our eyes to the wonderful and amazing world God has given us. It’s easy to get wrapped up in trivial matters involving social media, but we are really missing out when we limit ourselves to what technology is able to capture.
This weekend I had a nice “workout” and relaxing hike, while experiencing some breathtaking views. It really just makes you appreciate how amazing God is, and how beautiful his creation is, and makes you want to see more of what he has created. I was able to see the land below from the top of Mt. Major, some beautiful lakes, the picturesque backdrop of the mountains, as well as a few beautiful miles of woods near the cabin we stayed in.
I attempted to use the time I was given as an individual away from the group to truly enjoy God’s gift to us in nature, as well as reflect upon my relationship with God and my faith as a whole. Upon embarking upon the beginning of my two hour walk as an individual, I encountered a dog, whom ran up to me with more enthusiasm and energy than I can say I had myself.
The dog began following me, as well as exploring the near-by landmarks which included an artificial dam, a shed, some stumps, bushes, rocks, and some construction equipment. I noticed how the dog was exploring these objects just as any dog would, but tried comparing this to how a human would treat these landmarks. This dog is very open, and curious, and is eager to discover what the inherent purpose of each thing he discovers is. What is just a stick to me, is a means of exercise and excitement for the dog. I believe that if we each approach life as this dog did, there is no way we could ever lack appreciation for God’s creation, nor should we, as it is ultimately deserving of the attention the dog has given it. This made me realize that maybe I was not as appreciative of God’s creation as I should be, and that if I was to approach nature with as much openness and curiosity as that of this dog, there would be no way I could ever be indifferent to it, and I would truly appreciate it as it should be appreciated.
Another thought that occurred to me while I was standing on top of Mt. Major, was I had never seen this exact view before, and I would probably not see it again. God provides us the ability to see such sights, and sometimes, we do not even take advantage of this fact. I believe as I was looking out upon the mountains of New Hampshire, that I could parallel this to a metaphor for life, as well. Despite the heights we’ve climbed so far, there’s always so much more waiting for us, if all we are willing to do is open our eyes and see it. We may have climbed the mountain, but God has so much more planned for us, and it’s beautiful to see. While we may not yet be able to touch or experience what has been laid out in front of us, all it takes is a little bit of trust, faith, and effort, and soon, we will be able to experience what we previously only looked upon from afar, and its all apart of God’s plan.
More photos from the trip by Torri Plank and Kaelie Mercado
A few weeks ago, my Discovery class and I traveled up to New Hampshire for our weekend outing. The first day we drove to Mt. Major and made the cold (and at times snowy) trek up the mountain. A beautiful view of Lake Winnipesauke awaited us at the top. The weekend was a beautiful time of bonding as we hiked, marveled at God’s Creation, shared meals together, and told our life stories to the group. Something that really stands out about the students in this class is their genuineness and how much they care for each other. Though they have only known each other since the start of this class, God has used this time to build community and a space where each person feels comfortable to be themselves. We are near the end of the quad, and will spend our last few classes at the high ropes course!
Photo Credit: Amber Dvornski and Caroline Dally
Getting ready to hike Mt. Major.
Time for some group selfies!
You’re never to old to play in the leaves!
We had a fun time throwing rocks into the half frozen lake.
Teaching Discovery this past quad was a great blessing for me. I was a little reluctant to teach right away after a full summer at Base Camp, but it was exactly what I needed. I was blown away at how God put our group together and how the group supported and encouraged one another. A topic we focused on was finding rest in God even through a busy time in your life. Discovery provided a time for the students, as well as myself, to find this rest in being outside in His creation, laughing and having fun together. Thanks to my class for being a source of joy to each other and to me!
Read on for reflections from 2014 Quad 1 Discovery students and to see pictures from our class:
Photo Credit: Amber Dvornski
Josseline, First-Year Student at Gordon College
“Making the transition from high school to college has been quite a challenge. Some days are amazing, others okay, and in others, stress just takes over your day. It has been tough being away from family, building new relationships, and adjusting to a different schedule. In the midst of all this new craziness when I checked my schedule I remembered that I had to take a class called Discovery. Internally I was complaining that I had to take a class that took time away from my day, and I was not even going to receive credit for it. In my head, I thought it was just another gym class in which you needed to be athletic to do well. After all that fuss that took place inside my head, I have to be honest and say that Discovery has been one of the things that has made my college experience a positive one. Now I can see that Discovery went beyond my expectations and serves a deeper purpose than just a mere course requirement. Discovery has helped me to grow personally in my level of confidence, create new relationships, and widen my perspective of God’s manifestations. Three lessons that I will take with me and apply to my life even after Discovery is over are the importance of communication, the fact that joy and laughter make challenges less intimidating, and that fear is simply a state of mind.
Confidence is something with which I have struggled with in the past, especially confidence in my self. Lack of confidence can take away the joy of many experiences or opportunities. When I met God, He raised my confidence, but now being in a new environment, I felt that my confidence was slowly fading. At first I was afraid that this negative aspect of my life was going to get in the way of my Discovery experience. However God is good, and He always uses circumstances and people to help us grow. I am sure that God has used Discovery to remind me that I am capable of many things through Him. Even better, with the positive encouragement of the group and the fun group activities, He has been making my self-confidence stronger.”
Anonymous, First-Year Student at Gordon College
“I plan to take away the importance of relaxation and alone time with God. I need to find periods of time when I can relax and forget about all of the stress that comes with college. Whenever I was out at the course in the woods, I would instantly forget about everything else going on in my life. I could just concentrate on what we were discussing or what the current challenge was. It was an all-consuming experience. I really enjoyed this aspect. It was simply a community of laughter, joy and light. I need to remember how I felt at these times, so that I might deliberately set aside some time in my schedule for repose. I cannot forget my relationship with God in the face of academic or social distractions. I hope to schedule regular times when I can be alone with God and relieve myself of any stress! Overall, Discovery was an excellent time of community, exploration, and learning!”
Kelsey, First-Year Student at Gordon College
“We must train ourselves to be godly. This is the first, and likely most important lesson that I learned in Discovery (or relearned for the millionth time). I believe, that it is a core desire of God’s heart to be with and engage in the lives of His children. Yet, in the busyness of life, especially in starting a new life at school, most of which is spent doing homework, this is easy to forget. When we forget God desires to engage with us, then we cease to “train ourselves to be godly.” When we stop training in something, we sometimes get a little rusty. Just as I set aside time to train physically, by running every week, and train mentally by studying, I have been reminded of the importance of setting aside time to just listen to God, to train myself to listen each week. Yes, this was a beautiful lesson, one that I have been able to implement into my life through intentional time with our glorious God.
I have also taken away that it is important to enter all that you do with a positive attitude. If we shut things out because we think they are pointless, or a waste of time, or whatever the reason may be, then we lose the opportunity to experience something that could be truly life changing. So now I am walking away from Discovery with the intent to apply this to my life in not allowing expectations to hold me back from something I could truly love in any area.”
One of the great benefits of working in the La Vida Center’s office is having the opportunity to interact with students outside of the classroom. Rich Obenschain, Director of Outdoor Education, and Amber Dvornski, La Vida Center Administrative Assistant, have been team teaching a Discovery class this quad and were recently in New Hampshire for their weekend camping trip. They have really enjoyed connecting with the students and watching the group come together through the various shared experiences that Discovery offers. The Discovery classes start off with team building on the low ropes course elements and progress to doing the high ropes. We also incorporate activities that help the group get to know each other and have fun. The weekend trip is a time of focusing on the community aspect of the group and sharing what God has done in our lives. It’s so great to see the transformation that happens throughout the class as the students come together and support one another.