WHY IT MATTERS
Arcadia Guided Outdoor Education (AGO) exists to provide people of all ages opportunities to engage in leadership development, stewardship practices, and spiritual formation through outdoor education. This summer, it looks like local hiking camps for kids and wilderness backpacking trips for youth and adults.
AGO believes the first step in developing leaders is to take a break from technology in order to interact with others, face to face. In both leadership and service, students are a part of a meaningful team. It's not just about leading the way, but about watching out for those who are struggling. On our trips, students will face a variety of challenges, and perhaps even failure. But they will also be encouraged by others, experiencing success and discovering their own resilience. We will teach what it looks like to thoughtfully and critically engage with others, while also practicing compassionate communication. In all of our programs we seek to foster each student's integrity, creativity, and spirit for adventure, believing these are crucial principles to a leader's life, on the trail and at home.
With the increasing environmental crisis, it is important that the current and next generation be equipped with the principles and practices necessary to steward one of our greatest gifts: the wilderness. Stewardship practices are incredibly important to us, beginning with how we can act as stewards of our natural resources and moving towards how we can steward the gifts and talents we each possess.
As a Leave No Trace Accredited Youth Program, Leave No Trace principles and practices guide much of our programming when it comes to environmental stewardship. We strongly believe when people love something, they want to care for it. Thus, we aim to nurture a space wherein students of all ages learn to love the outdoors while simultaneously learning how to care for it. This means we teach and practice all of our recreational activities with minimum impact practices at the forefront of our minds. Each of our students is taught each of the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace and is given opportunities to critically engage with the material, thinking of how it matters both on the trails, mountains, and canyons, but also how these principles can apply to our relationships with each other and our communities as well. On our multi-day trips, students are given the opportunity to become Leave No Trace Trainers, so they will be better enabled to take the passion and information they have learned and to share it with others with whom they recreate. These principles apply to us outside of programming, as our administrative staff works from home, we work to be as paper-free as possible, and we aim to produce as little waste as possible by purchasing food and equipment in bulk.
We also believe each of our students is gifted with a unique set of talents. Students have opportunities to learn about these things through the experiences of successes and failures over the course a trip, leadership opportunities, and the opportunity to share life stories, students are able to not only explore their gifts and talents, but also think critically about how their unique selves can help support the communities they live in now and in the future.
The wilderness has long been a place where humans have had spiritual experiences. From Tibetan monks and early Christian Church mothers and fathers, to person living in the routine of the 9-5 workweek, wild places have long been sought after for their peace, tranquility, and sense of grounding they give us. The wilderness reminds us of who we are: human beings who are only small part of a much larger world, but are so deeply connected to it, ourselves, and each other. The mountains, plains, rivers, and canyons also give us a sense of awe and wonder, often reminding us of the things we value.
On all of our courses, we believe everyone, no matter their journey of faith or life experience (or lack thereof!), deserves the space and respect of others to voice their beliefs and how they dream of living out their passions. As AGO gives each student the opportunity to share their story, they are more willing to thoughtfully hear the stories of those around them. Our hope is that your time with AGO will be a turning point in your spiritual journey of knowing God, yourself, and others more deeply. Instead of polarization or isolation, we will practice choosing community.