MEA Holds First Outdoor School in Yellowstone National Park

July 01, 2004 | Eva Phillips

With God’s second book being nature, Mt. Ellis Academy has really been blessed. Surrounded by majestic mountains and fertile valleys that provide an abundance of outdoor activities, the academy family continually offers thanks to God for the wonders of His nature. The beginning of this school year afforded the opportunity to experience firsthand some of these wonders during the academy's first outdoor school.

In conjunction with the National Parks Service, outdoor school was held in Yellowstone National Park, just an hour from the academy. What better place to have a fall week of prayer? The group left behind the comforts of dorm life for tents and sleeping bags during this one-week stay in the great out of doors. Tim Gillespie, Loma Linda Academy chaplain, gave morning and evening worship talks around the campfire, while providing music on his guitar.

Park rangers presented three main areas of study to the students. Prior to the trip, the students were given a paperback to read titled, “Through the Yellowstone Park on Horseback," a historical account of a family who took a trip on horseback through the park in the 1880s. This and a tour of the park cemetery led the students to a better understanding of the park's history. Students hiked to different areas to learn about the geologic and geothermal activity for which Yellowstone is known. There was classroom instruction on the wolves of Yellowstone and their reintroduction into the park in order to reestablish their populations.

September in the park does not always guarantee sunshine and warm days. By the third day, the first snow of the season fell and (pardoning the pun) put a wet blanket on the trip. However, the students' spirits were not dampened despite the uncooperative weather. Freshman Kelly Ree enjoyed “the excitement of getting to sleep outdoors and an in-depth exploration of Yellowstone.”

Tim Delinger, a senior, said, “It was an opportunity to share the outdoors with good friends.” The general consensus was that outdoor school was great, and among the favorite activities was worship time spent around the campfire singing and listening to Gillespie share his stories of a Christ who loves us with such an immeasurable love.

Another outdoor school is planned for this fall.