Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do the mountains speak? or the importance of experiential design

"Wilderness, in itself, makes nothing happen. Saul and David were both in the wilderness. Saul was running after David, obsessed with hunting him down, his life narrowed to a murderous squint. Meanwhile, David was running to God and finding himself in his God-refuge praying, wide eyed in wonder, taking in the glory, awake and ready for God's generous love, for the God who 'makes good on his word.'"- Eugene Peterson

I read this quote this morning (thanks to my friend Gideon for posting it) and I couldn't help be struck by its timing. There is an argument in outdoor education about the role of the instructor in learning. The minimalist believe the mountains speak for themselves and thus the role of the instructor is to take people places where they can hear the mountains. The other side of the spectrum could be called the translators. They believe the mountains might speak but student won't learn much from the experience itself without some guided translation/reflection/ application. This they believe is the role of the instructor.

The CCO's Outdoor Leadership Team has spent a good part of the summer and fall thinking about how to best serve the CCO in its mission to transform college students to transform the world. In the next few posts, I will share some of the changes that have come out of this research and reflection. The first change is our name. The group formerly known as the Outdoor Leadership Team has been renamed CCO Experiential Designs or CCO XD for short. While it doesn't quite roll off the tongue, it is much more accurate to what we do. It highlights that not all of our work is in the wilderness and it also gives a good idea about what we think the role of the instructor is when using experience as education.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Arrival!

We thank God for the arrival of Annelise Sandra Josiane Guilleux. Annelise means "the grace of God's bounty" and indeed she is.
She has been a bit of a distraction from our work so if you haven't heard from us in awhile, here's the reason:

Joy is doing great in her new role and as expected suffering from severe sleep depravation. If you want more news about how Joy or Annelise are doing, drop us an email or a call.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How the CCO's outdoor ministry shapes students' lives

Here is the story of Jim Paul who was on the Leadership and Discipleship in the Wilderness (LDW) trip that Francois led to Wyoming in 1999. He does a great job describing how the different CCO ministry help students grow into men and women who practice their faith in all areas of life.
check Jim Paul's story here.
Jim is another example of God's faithfulness and why CCO plays an important role in the lives of college students.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The class of 2014 is coming

'Tis that time again when first year students arrive on campus and CCO staff prepare for orientation time. Yesterday the Outdoor Leadership Team sent its instructors to facilitate Fresh X, Ohio Wesleyan University's orientation. For three days, the students will hike, rock climb and canoe while getting to know the folks they will spend the next four year living and studying with. Saturday will be Waynesburg University's turn and then Westminter College follows next week.

Here is an interesting article about the benefits of outdoor orientations for students who participate. (Did you know all 8 Ivy league schools have outdoor orientations for their students?) Check it out here.

This time of year is also the unveiling of the Benoit College Mindset list, a list of cultural references about the incoming freshmen class. Check it out here. Be prepared. It can make you feel old to read it!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A new familiar face around the Outdoor Leadership Team

We are very pleased to welcome Sean Purcell to the CCO. Sean will be serving the Outdoor Leadership Team as the event coordinator. Sean brings a wealth of outdoor experience, a sharp mind steeped in his PhD studies in philosophy, and a gift for teaching. His wife Krista and daughter Ella will be joining him in the move to Pittsburgh. While Sean has been working with CCO for many years as a volunteer, we are very excited about having Sean join our team more formally. You may remember Sean from past posts on his teaching at our staff trainings last year or his leadership on Crossings, the sea kayaking trip designed for graduating college students. With Sean coming on staff, we look forward to many great discussions filled with challenging ideas and laughter whether in the classroom or in the wilderness (especially when snow is involved!).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

College campuses and religion

From the Princeton Review, this year's rankings of America's most and least religious campuses.
Most religious Brigham Young University, least religious Sarah Lawrence College.
click here for article.
One of CCO's core value is "We love college students". Wherever they are. From the most religious campus to the least religious campus. Here is an example from the Atheist/Christian roundtable at last year's Jubilee conference. Click here for the video.

CCO: Transforming College Students to Transform The World.

Photos from the Alpine Pilgrimage

Howie getting ready to snap another one.

Joy beginning to display the baby bump met
Howie and I at the end of a long hike.

Howie Shultz, photographer extraordinaire, has started posting photos from the Alpine Pilgrimage. They are amazing! Click on the link below to have your breath taken away by the beauty of creation.
Howie's photo album

If you are inspired, registration for next year's trip will open soon. You can get more information about the Alpine Pilgrimage on the CCO website by clicking here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CCO's Alpine Pilgrimage- pics of a day on the trail

Here is a snapshot of a day on the Tour du Mont Blanc. This was probably one of our hardest hiking days from Contamines Montjoie via 3 different mountain passes to the Refuges Des Mottets.

Getting ready to set out for the day.

A breather on the trail.

Leaving Col du Bonhomme on the way to Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. A little snow school lesson was necessary to prepare for this section.

Finally at the refuge-an old dairy farm. A home cooked meal with our closest 93 hiking companions! Heart food to prepare our tired muscles for tomorrow's climb over the Col de Seigne from France into Italy.

The old man...The Mont Blanc. Keep the mountain on your left and a 100 or so miles, seven valleys, 11 mountain passes, and 3 countries later you will return to where you started but you will have changed as Renee Dumal wrote:

When one has been to a mountain top
One has only to come down again
So why bother in the first place?
Just this....
One climbs...One sees
One descends...One sees no longer
But one has seen
There is an art of conducting oneself
in the lower regions
By the memory of what one saw higher up.

More pics for CCO's Alpine Pilgrimage


Setting your heart on a pilgrimage

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." (Psalm 84:5 NIV)

During the month of June, we got lead a group of 17 participants on the CCO's first Alpine Pilgrimage. Inspired by the CCO president Dan Dupee's experience of a sabbatical a few year ago, we worked with Dan to design and offer a trip for CCO donors and board members and their family. Our destination, the Tour du Mont Blanc, has been named one of the world's 25 greatest treks. The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a 100-mile trail (with 30,000 feet of elevation gain and lost) through France, Italy and Swizterland that circumnavigates the highest peak in Europe.

Our theme of pilgrimage offered a chance for the 17 participants to experience the way CCO staff use the wilderness to help students grow in faith, character, and leadership. The famous trail actually follows in some places old Roman roads used for pilgrimages to Rome centuries ago.

The thousands of photos (literally) taken by the group tell the story of how God's creation still speaks to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see (psalm 19).

The pilot trip was very well received and we have already received request to do offer another one next year.

Here are a few shots to enjoy (special credit to Howie Schultz for the most beautiful pics in the lot).

A moment of reflection on the trail

The group in Chamonix

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New staff for OLT!

We are delighted to welcome Jamie Z. to our team as the OLT Administrator. She graduated from Penn State in December and has a perfect combination of skills for the job. In addition to being an accomplished outdoor leader with a winsome personality, she's organized and gifted in administration. (Not a combo you find in too many people!)

Jamie will be spending about half of her time working in the main office managing communications, record keeping, and a lot of details that go into making it possible for our staff to go on adventures with students. Her acceptance of this job is an answer to a few years of prayer for more administrative help for OLT.

The other half of her time, Jamie will be leading those adventures for freshmen orientations, fall and spring break trips, and LDW during the summers! She has been involved in Crux, a CCO outdoor program at Penn State University Park with Steph Wessel. She was a participant on LDW Wyoming during the summer of 2008.

Please join us in praying for Jamie as she begins to raise significant financial support and attends CCO's New Staff Training in June.

Monday, March 08, 2010

On a personal note...

Francois and I recently found out we are expecting TWINS this October! We are both excited and overwhelmed at this new phase of life. So far, mom isn’t too sick, but needs a lot of rest.

LDW 2010

Does your life have distinct “ah-ha” moment? For me (Joy), it was LDW 1996 in Wyoming. I grew up in a Christian family, at a Christian camp, and attended Messiah College. But, I didn't realize I was living bad theology. I lived as tho’ I needed to earn love by being perfect and independent… until LDW. Living with people who didn’t stop loving me because I hurt them or needed some help from them woke me up. God softened my heart just enough so I could receive their grace. I learned from them that I didn’t need to earn God’s love either. Oh, what freedom!

That is a big reason I’m still involved in LDW. In January, Francois and I facilitated an overnight retreat at our home for the 8 instructors who will be leading this summer’s trips. As the applications are coming in, Francois is spending time coaching and helping the paddling team get ready (including a graduating senior who was on the trip in ‘07). I continue to supervise Kelly, the LDW Manager, whose job it is to recruit students, organize the logistics, and make sure the instructors are ready!

It’s time again for students to sign up for LDW 2010. Would you pray for full trips (35 students) so that many students can be transformed by the truth that God wants to teach them through this powerful experience and for the instructor teams as they continue to prepare for these 4 and 6-week wilderness expeditions? Please pray also for the 12 spring break trips going into the wilderness from Arkansas to Ecuador in the next few weeks. These trips can be pivotal experiences of faith development for college students.

Jubilee 2010

Bob Goff—one of the best Jubilee speakers Francois and I heard. Why? Well, for one his is FUNNY, which helps you pay attention. And he is radical! He lives in such a way as to not be limited by the world’s standards. He has eyes to see the evidence of Jesus everywhere and to join God’s work with the gifts he’s been given as a father, lawyer, and follower of Christ. He challenged students to develop an imagination that can see the fingerprints of Jesus in daily life. To listen to a similar talk, google Bob Goff Anderson College. We’ll give you the link from Jubilee when it’s published.

(photo © Andrew Rush)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

CCO gets great review


We heard that Pittsburgh is nice in February. So we spent a few days there for the Jubilee Conference hosted by the CCO, Coalition for Christian Outreach.

This organization understands the intrinsic value of work. It's not good enough to preach heaven if you create institutional hell. But these folks practice what they preach. Every year, they are voted one of the best Christian workplaces in the U.S.

But more than that, the CCO works to extend God's redemption into all workplaces. As a campus organization, they help college students think about how they will bring Christ into their professional lives. In their words, "Students formed by CCO ministry give unique Christian expression to whatever they do."

Maybe you've never heard of the CCO or their Jubilee event. You can learn a lot from their conference videos and their interviews with professionals living jubilee in their work.

Take a moment to watch some of their interviews and celebrate what God is doing through this wonderful organization.

Transformed LivesTransformed Lives
From the CCO

Browse through ten interviews with professionals who are serving God through their work—as homemakers, graphic designers, lawyers, doctors, and more.

©2010, Christianity Today International
465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creating time to think for yourself

A great article about the lives of college students. While this is about Harvard students, I suspect it applies to many students CCO staff meet everyday on campus. The article highlights the powerful role of extra curricular activities in the life of college students (" The way social progress gets made is by learning to work together and the real place where people can learn to cooperate is in extracurricular activities"). This is exactly the kinds of opportunities CCO spring break trips and outdoor activities offer students.

But the article also describes some concerning trends among students and how framing some classic outdoor activities (like the three-day solo we do on our summer trips) need to be adjusted to meet the needs of this new generation.

"Many college students seem to suffer from horro vacui, a fear of empty spaces"

"You don't have time to dedicate to your friends or to yourself--or to thoughts that you haven't been taught to think."

Wow! that last quote is both bewildering and downright scary. Yet another reason the Jubilee conference and the CCO ministry to college students is important.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Faith and Reason in the University

From Newsweek, an interesting read about the place of faith in higher education and another great argument for the work of the CCO. Check it out (ht KH). Quite a propos with the CCO's Jubilee Conference happening this weekend. 2,000 students will descend on Pittsburgh to do the very thing the article discusses: talk about faith and their academic and professional pursuits.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Five Religious and Spiritual Trends for 2010

What do you think about this article about the spiritual and religious trend for 2010?
The spiritual A La Carte is certainly visible on many college campuses but what about the trend we see in Europe. A few weeks ago the Taize community held its annual meeting. 30,000 young people came from all over the world to attend. Take a look here.
How do you understand the response to the worship students find at Taize?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Year end reflection (V)

A little worse for the wear....
We head into 2010 looking forward to what God has in the plans for us including a exciting opportunity for the Outdoor Leadership Team to support the work of the CCO's development department. Check it out!

Thanks for all your prayers and support that make our work of equipping CCO staff possible. Through them, college students get a chance to discover a different way of living, the way of Shalom and abundant life.

Year end reflections (IV)

A little family vacation visiting Francois' dad.

Speaking of resurrecting traditions, in December Paul Harbison, Joy and Francois taught a classic four-day workshop called Working With Groups. The intensive training has been a foundation of CCO staff training for many years but had fallen off the radar. With 14 participants, we explore how groups work and how to facilitate groups from Bible studies to Spring break trips. (picture to come)

Which brings us to the end of the year. Francois defended his dissertation proposal.

A harrowing experience but not as hard as saying good bye to the best dog in the world just before the holidays. We miss her much.

Year end reflection (III)

Speaking of water (you kinda have to read these posts in order!), Francois took advantage of the last days of sun this fall to help CCO staff Becky Snow (on the left) take a group of Waynesburg University students on the water.

The university is looking to find more constructive forms of activities to engage the students and has asked Becky to resurrect the outdoor club. The Waynesburg Outdoor Experience (WOE!) was one of the original CCO outdoor programs 25 years ago!

What a tradition!

Becky was on the sea kayak training Francois led last year and she will leading this summer's Crossings trip for graduating seniors.

Year end reflection (II)

We already wrote about our wonderful visit to Bryce's Creek Church at the end of September here.
October brought staff seminar and the gathering of the Outdoor Leadership Team.

Sean Purcell (on the left) came down from Canada to teach our staff about the philosophical foundations of Christian outdoor education.

We welcomed 9 new staff to the Outdoor Leadership Team. Lots of training and administrative needs to get these folks up and running has kept Joy busy this fall.

November brought the ninth annual kayak-a-thon on the Pittsburgh rivers. A gorgeous day for a 25 mile paddle! Joy was in charge of this rather complicated event. Everything ran smoothly as all her planning paid off. She kept us the 20 paddlers organized and well-fed (Thank you Chick-Fil-A) during this dawn to dusk fundraising event.

End of year reflection (I)

It's hard to believe that the year had ended so quickly and all we have written is a few blog entries. The lack of writing may be a reflection of the busyness of our lives and ministry. Although it certainly does not excuse our silence to the folks who check in on us electronically. So I am going to do whirlwind tour of the last six months, plugging holes along.

Starting with last summer!

Francois taught two leadership classes at the University of Pittsburgh. Joy helped out with the teaching of the communication modules. We have really enjoyed training CCO staff and other students with the Core Communication material from Sherrod Miller.

In September, a few of us headed to Philadelphia to run an orientation program a new CCO partner, Williamson Free School of Trades.

We met some fantastic young men starting their next educational step. CCO staff Dan Hayner is loving these guys as the CCO staff at Williamsom. We look forward to helping them develop their leadership programs using wilderness trips.

A few weeks later, we gathered the outdoor ministry folks and headed to Erie to run an orientation for middle school students for another potential new CCO partner, Family First Sports Park. We spent the day with 200 students!