Each year, the Senior class of All Souls’ Youth Group partakes in an amazing experience: SpiritqUUest. For three days over Fall Break, Seniors and youth board member volunteers head to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in northwest Arkansas. The trip is intentionally designed around two equally important pillars: fostering independence of the individual and creating and valuing interdependence in community. Through outdoor adventures, our Seniors were set up for bonding, community, and breakthroughs.
During our time at the Ranch, we gently pushed the Seniors out of their comfort zones (physically, mentally, and spiritually) to help them discover and identify their unique strengths and to experience struggle and success in community.
Growing Confidence through Challenge
This year, our Seniors experienced a variety of activities intended to push each them beyond the limits of what they thought possible—and into a new zone of confidence.
Physically, in just three days, we rode horses, hiked through mountains, climbed 50-foot rock walls, traversed the longest and fastest zip line in Arkansas, jumped into thin air, and explored the depths of a cave 100 feet below ground.
Each evening, after a delicious meal and some time to rest, we gathered around the nightly campfire to commune, story tell, and worship. In our evening time together, we focused on opening up our hearts to one another. The physical adventures during the day laid the groundwork for trust (and fun) in one another. The evening time facilitated depth to their experiences as we shared what is in our minds and hearts.
The Intention of SpiritqUUest
SpiritqUUest is designed with physical and spiritual experiences for a reason. What one person sees as an exciting and awesome adventure, another may see the same experience as terrifying and utterly impossible for them to even consider attempting.
Whether it is climbing a rock wall, giving up control to an animal, or being vulnerable and authentic in front of peers, when given this variety of activity, eventually each Senior was faced with a scenario that felt uncomfortable and triggered vulnerability. Simultaneously, other Seniors felt comfortable and confident.
This is a key goal of the SpiritqUUest.
In a moment of vulnerability, the Seniors were guided to learn how to lean on the group for support, to draw their own power individually and then to complete the activity in the face of that fear and discomfort.
Faith through Action
To be able to confront adversity of any nature, and to move forward, takes an element of faith. We must quiet our mind and place our trust … somewhere. On SpiritqUUest, we have to trust the harnesses and safety equipment to catch and hold us. We have to trust the training and watchful eye of the person guiding us through the activities. We have to trust the group to hold, support and comfort us as we open our hearts and souls in community.
On this adventure, we learned fear often gets in the way of progress and even joy. We learned the tools to overcome that fear are trust and faith. SpiritqUUest teaches our Seniors that to truly reach their potential and to accomplish what they are meant to achieve in life—they must place their trust in themselves, the systems of support around them and the communities that are there for them.
These tenets of trust and faith have been taught and shown to the Seniors in a variety of ways as they’ve grown up in All Souls Children and Youth programs, but it takes living these lessons “out loud,” in a community of others experiencing the same successes and challenges, for the lessons to take hold in their minds and spirits.
The goal of our SpiritqUUest is to reinforce the message that these youth—youth on the cusp of adulthood—already have the ability and power to push past their limits and fears and to be their best self. It is our hope that they left Horseshoe Canyon and returned home ready to carry that knowledge with them throughout their lives.
Tanner Phillips is the Youth Director at All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To learn more about our Children’s and Youth Religious Education, visit us at allsoulschurch.org.
Read more on BeyondBelief.online from All Souls Children’s Youth and Religious Education Executive Director, Shannon Boston.