A dozen young adult challengers gathered around the campfire along Little Beaver Creek in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Ohio. They took turns reciting Psalms one night and poems another as their peers contemplated the flickering flames and listened attentively. Campfire time is reflection time at Challenger East.
These chosen few came to learn to do things with their hands—things like flint-knapping (also known as arrowhead and stone tool making), fire-starting with the pioneers’ flint and steel, fly-tying and then fly-fishing with their own flies, cooking from scratch over the campfire in cast iron, carving longbows, and the art of on-the-spot sketching in their journals.
The weather carried its own hot, humid challenge, so the Challenger East resident naturalist, Matthew Smith, offered a “cool” river hike. Using seine nets, the participants netted, identified and released numerous small fish of various species, as well as crustaceans and insects. Challengers came away with the wisdom of new skills and confidence.
The Challenger (East and West) program’s main purpose is the spiritual challenge. The 2016 theme for East was “The Faith Once Delivered.” The morning leadership-focused messages by a male staff member and the evening Bible classes and discussions had a profound impact.
Challenger East director Randy Stiver and assistant director Dan Dowd presented segments on the history of God’s true Church from the time of the 12 apostles to the present. Understanding the sobering challenges faced by all those generations of God’s people provided powerful insight for this year’s participants who desire to overcome the false values of today’s world.
If you’re interested in this kind of a personal challenge, remember that Challenger East will seek a few more good young adult men and women for 2017. We hope to see you there!