Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where in the world is God?

Last month, Joy and I attended a mission conference held by a church that supports our ministry. Speaking to the congregation about what we do with the CCO, we were impressed with the effort the church made to welcome its missionaries and maximize face-to-face time with church members. This church has a global view of its mission and wants to hear about what God is doing through the folks whose work it supports.
It was such a mutually encouraging weekend. We were able to share that God is on college campuses and God is in the wilderness where college students go on spring break trips or summer discipleship programs. Others shared about how God is at work in other parts of the US and around the world.
I think this is how it is supposed to work. We are not all called to the ends of the earth. Some students are called to build God’s kingdom in offices, schools, laboratories, and courtrooms while others will be called to use their skills in places far, far away. Like the mission conference last month, the service-learning and wilderness trips offered by the CCO seek to expose students to new ways of seeing themselves, the world, and where God is at work so they might more clearly discern the call for their lives.
Thanks for being people who make it possible for us to be out there with students.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Freshmen are here.

Yesterday, Joy and I went down to Seneca Rocks, WV to help out with Ohio Wesleyan University's Fresh X program, a 3 day pre-orientation trip for 50 first-year students run by CCO staff. Through hiking, rock climbing, canoeing and rafting, the students get a chance to build relationships with their new classmates and together reflect on some key issues involved in a successful transition to college.

In case, you don't have a high schooler near you, here is Benoit's annual list to introduce you to the class 2013, also known as the on-demand generation because they've never had to wait for anything including Saturdays to watch cartoons!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ministry is on the Rocks, literally!

As first year students move into college life for the first time, our staff take them out on various experiences to get oriented to a new way of life and meet the people with whom they are starting that journey.
Francois and I had the chance to join them for a day at Seneca Rocks, WV where we led 9 first year students in rock climbing and rappelling. The theme question for the day was, "Why am I here?" Many students expressed excitement to meet new friends and start taking classes that really interested them. We were glad to be a part of setting the stage through rock climbing to enter college with similar gusto. Some needed to face fears, others to explore their options, and we encouraged all to ask for help and support from those around them.
Check out Francois in action:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Joy's work at Westminster stuck!

The CCO is doing a series of stories about how it is transforming college students to transform the world. Check out the story by Allison, where Joy's work at Westminster is mentioned.

(Picture: Allison climbing at Joshua Tree National Park, CA. Spring Break '02)

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Staff Training 2009

I saw a billboard yesterday that said, "Face time is better than Facebook". I was driving too fast to see what it was promoting, but it was catchy... and true. That is why I am driving an hour to Grove City and back - spending each Tuesday and Wednesday with our new staff... face to face.
The Outdoor Leadership Team is bringing on five new staff this year at various outdoor program sites! I am partnering with the New Staff Training Team to help in the on-boarding process as it directly relates to adventure activities. I'll be setting up these five staff with mentors who will help them get certified to lead activities, training them in the ever-important paperwork trail, and developing their professional development plan for the upcoming year.
Please welcome William, Amanda, Matt, Dan and Tom!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Leadership and Discipleship in the Wilderness (LDW) Wyoming, a six-week expedition to the Wind River mountains, left the CCO equipment room yesterday. Seven students and four staff will spend the next 40 days in the wilderness learning about leadership, outdoor skills and having their character shaped by God as He reveals, in the midst of his creation and this tight knit community, what was in each of their hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2).

Hat tip to Phil M. in the CCO's communication department for creating a wonderful interactive map of the LDW itinerary. Check it out. It's got pictures and everything. Also The students will be tweeting weekly updates via satellite phone that will be posted here.
You got to love technology.
Joy and I have led this trip several times and it holds a special place in our hearts and in our ministry. It's good to see the next generation of CCO staff take over this amazing opportunity for students to be transformed in the wilderness.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Undercover at an evangelical university

I heard about this during the semester when the author reported on an evangelistic spring break trip to Daytona Beach. I appreciate the commitment to learning by experience. In its own way it echoes the findings of the Murdock report on the state of campus ministry (more about that in a post to come): off campus experiences are what make faith development stick beyond the college years.
A story about a student showing a commitment to learning.


This comes to us from Good News Messaging
Hat tip to our friend Chris Cooke for his great argument for CCO's raison d'etre.

Click Here
to view the
MTV music video

That party last night was awfully crazy (i wish we taped it)
I danced my (face) off and had this one girl completely naked
Drink my beer and smoke my (stuff) but my good friends is all I need
Pass out at 3, wake up at 10, go out to eat then do it again
Man, I love college, ay!
I love drinking, ay!
I love women, ay!
I love college, ay!

Asher Roth is a 23 year-old "rapper" from Morrisville, PA. His single, "I Love College" hit the charts a couple months ago (currently at #15 on the Billboards) and has been downloaded (purchased) over ONE MILLION times. The music video is set at a fraternity house party and features numerous college students binge drinking, playing strip poker and beer pong and hooking up. Drinking, Women, Staying up Late and that really all there is to life? Unfortunately, for many students the answer is yes.

The reality is that there are thousands of "Ashers" on college campuses across the country. Quite a few of them are even student athletes at Pitt. Our work with the CCO is to share an alternative vision of college, and of life, to students during their four years in college. This vision is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ. It is exciting and challenging work, but students are "getting it", coming to faith and growing in their relationship with Jesus.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A College Education?

When was the last you really thought about what happens to students during those four years of college? What does it mean to get an education? What kind of education do students get?
This poll certainly offers some suggestions. Check out the USA Today story.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things to be thankful for...

Over the years, we've had many opportunities to be thankful to work for the CCO. Not everyone gets to work for an organization with a mission you can really believe in. Nor does everyone get to work in an organization where employees trust their leaders. These are just two of the many reasons why the CCO has recently been recognized by Christianity Today. Thank you to the many of you who contribute financially to the work Joy and I do as we try to fulfill the CCO's core purpose of Transforming College Students To Transform The World.

For those of you who are new to the blog, look around for stories of transformation in our work with the CCO. The CCO partners with churches, colleges, and organizations to develop men and women who live out their Christian faith in every area of life.

Check out the CCO website

Click here to learn a little bit more about the trip Francois will be leading for graduating seniors this summer.

Finally, our ministry is made possible by the prayers and financial contributions of a team of supporters. If you want to support our work with students and staff, we love to have you join our team. Here's some info on the many ways to donate to our ministry.
and you can even do it online.

If you have any questions, drop us a line, an email, post on our walls, or eventually we might all be tweeting!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our work is hip!

If there is any doubt that what we do with college students changes lives, check out the cover story of last month's Christianity Today!

He Talked to Us on the Road by Ted Olsen.
"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves," travel journalist Pico Iyer wrote in his 2000 essay "Why We Travel." He's right, but it's much more basic than that, especially for the pilgrim who travels more to find God than to find himself. We travel, at first, to leave. Then, finally, we travel to come home.

Pilgrimage and journeys are a huge piece of what we do with students when we take them to the woods (or desert or canyon or water).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spring Break - OLT Style

There is not much beer pong or keg standing that takes place on Spring Break Trips run by our staff in the OLT.

The OLT offered 13 alternative Spring Break Trips for students this year - 118 college students took advantage of trips to GA, FL, NC, NH, AR, CA, and TN!

Students are challenged on spring break trips to engage issues of identity, community and spirituality. Our staff take students as diverse as the campuses they work on, and have the opportunity to travel and live with them for a week - apart from distractions of campus life.

(Joy's staff Emily Bean led a trip for a campus minister and his CMU students)

Conversations of consequence are had and lives are changed because students are introduced to truths about their identity as God's beloved, within communities that really practice love and forgiveness - all with attention paid to their uniqueness as a multi-dimensional being created in the image of God.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It was about a month ago that over 2500 students came to Pittsburgh for the CCO's annual event - Jubilee. Here are the highlights. Consider what student you know might benefit from a conference like this next year - February 19-21, 2010!

Dozens of plenary and breakout session speakers like author Lauren Winner

Andre Crouch, author of Culture Making

Great music

A huge bookstore by Hearts and Minds Books, specializing in books on EVERY subject from a Christian worldview

Tons of summer opportunities for students to plug into - camps, service projects, and, of course our own Leadership and Discipleship in the Wilderness!
Photos by Andrew Rush

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wilderness Medicine Training

We spend a weekend with a group of 16 CCO staff upgrading their medical certifications. Joy did a great job organizing the weekend and making sure everything ran smoothly while Francois tried to keep folks awake with his teaching and fake blood scenarios. Thanks to SOLO, the oldest wilderness medicine school in the country, for their continued support of our ministry.

Follow this link for more great pics.

Transforming students to transform the world

I got this letter from Grace who was part of the Institute for Adventure Education in Campus Ministry, a two year internship Joy and I facilitated a few years ago. Grace is the one in the white shirt in the photo. She is now nearing the end of her graduate work in architectural design.


[I]n my classes, we often discuss sustainable design, as it is the main issue in architecture and design these days. backpacking has really enabled me to understand what sustainable living really means. because of LNT [leave no trace] and simple rules of living well in the woods, i think i can understand the importance of sustainability and how it can be done a lot better then most people in my classes. i definitely have a much different perspective on the issue that makes it 'real' to me.

last week we read about an architect/theorist that called architects to be holistic in their design. this was written in the context of the 70's when modern design was taking over, designers started giving into capitalism/money and design vs quality work. for me, i can relate back to discussions we've had on not compartmentalizing our lives. architecture and modern lifestyle has definitely suffered because of 'our' lack of understanding of how it is important to think and live holistically. in architecture that means considering how design impacts all the other parts of our lives and considering people, nature, art, etc and not just creating a space that looks cool or is the cheapest.

it's been interesting how much is overlapping between discussions we've had and what we're discussing in class right now.

- grace