Learning Leadership at 9,000 Feet

by Jody Godoy '05

Azusa Pacific’s Walkabout Program is full of inseparable opposites. A ten-day trip infused with hardship, encouragement, silence, and laughter, it is an experience that creates strong links in the school's community while inspiring the spiritual and personal growth of the individual. Over the course of its 28-year existence, Walkabout has served to prepare and hone various APU leadership groups: Resident Advisors (RAs) for student living areas have been a consistent part of the program.

The Walkabout experience is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenging, combining wilderness sports such as backpacking, rock climbing and repelling, with activities that stretch the RAs in other ways.

For two days in the middle of their excursion, participants are individually sent into the woods individually for their “solo,” a time spent alone with God. “[Solo was about] getting down to the basics: God, water, sleep,” said Katie Hembree ’04, an RA in Adams Hall. “I loved it.” “I didn’t feel rushed. [Praying was] talking to God, instead of putting it on a list.”

The experience of having to build a shelter, go without much food, and without a sleeping bag for the first night, inspires you to “you pray for things you’ve never prayed for before,” said Bowles RA Nick Lacy ’05.

However, sleeping bags and trail mix weren’t the only things students left behind on their solos. Part of the experience Lacy described entailed creating a circle of stones: “Each stone represents something you want to get rid of in your life. You stand in the middle of the circle and symbolically give it all to God.” The students then leave the stones on the mountain, leaving those problems/struggles behind with God, and “coming down the mountain stronger.”