What is a Gap Year?
The Journey program uses a small group model where students live life alongside their “team” for the entirety of the program. These small groups include up to 8 students. Two staff will also be a part of each team; sharing in the experiences and facilitating the students' learning process'.
Participation in small groups provides students with identity within the program and fosters community. Within this setting students build relationships, trust for each other, and an understanding of other personalities. These groups provide a supportive community where Truth is engaged and learning can be applied. Life in community can reveal our blind spots, challenges us with new perspectives and gives us a context in which we learn to love, serve, forgive and work out our differences with one another. This aspect of the program provides opportunity for deep growth in ones understanding of themselves as well as their interactions with others.
Journey requires that someone leave the environment they know to enter into the adventure of life in a new place. Changed environments remove us from our comfort zone where our current answers and skills feel sufficient and lead us into our adventure zone where we are faced with the need to grow in our understanding and abilities in order to meet the demands of the new situation. This creates the perfect environment for learning where people desire to grow and seek truth.
The program design of Journey intentionally moves students through a variety of changed environments, keeping someone in their adventure zone. Lessons learned in each environment are able to be tested and applied as students face new circumstances. Journey will lead students into adventure through contexts like white water kayaking, rock climbing, extended backpacking trips, the academic classroom, life away from constant exposure to media, living in community, leading campers on outdoor adventures, serving in the city and in Mexico.
A significant portion of time in the Journey year will be given to academic study. Courses will include subject matter such as Old and New Testament, Critical Thinking, Spiritual Formation, Small Group Adventure Leadership, and Life Ministry.
Truth informs how we live our lives and, without truth ,we are living blindly in the world. The academics of the Journey Program are designed to grow our students’ biblical understanding of God, our relationship with Him, His calling on our lives, and how to wisely interact with the world around us for His sake. The concepts of these courses will be integrated into the adventure, leadership, and service portions of the year. This provides a platform for learning to be applied and acted upon in all realms/areas of life. The hope is that this dual emphasis on understanding and experience will foster the growth of disciples of Christ who not only acknowledge the truth with their minds and words, but whose lives and choices become a witness to the world around them.
God uses people to minister to other people more than he uses programs. For this reason Bighorn has designed Journey to be a community of discipleship where students will be in close relationship with their professors, Bighorn staff, and their fellow students. These relationships are not designed primarily to pass on information, but to help students process their lives and experiences through the lens of truth as gleaned from scripture. This process allows students and staff alike to internalize the lessons being learned so that they will live in light of the truths discovered.
The outdoor adventures will be facilitated to help the student reflect on their experience,in light of the concepts being taught in the academic portion of the program. Journey will also spend time interacting with people of different world views and cultures, and the same practice of reflection will apply to these experiences. Students will learn this life skill of processingexperiences and be able to apply it to their everyday lives in the future, creating a mindfulness of what God is teaching them through their lives and how he is calling them to respond.
Bighorn exists for the purpose of developing Kingdom Leaders. Such leadership cannot exist unless one has surrendered to God’s authority, heard his call to serve him and his kingdom, and internalized that responsibility. As a part of the internalizing process, Journey is designed to hand more and more responsibility over to the students throughout the course of the program. Being given responsibility in a supportive environment helps students work through the fears of failure that can often be present with taking on leadership. Being given responsibility also communicates the God-given expectation that each person is a vital part of the whole called to use the gifts given to them to serve Christ and his kingdom. It is our hope that this progression throughout the year equips students to lead their family, work, church, local, and world communities with a Christ-centered non-anxious influencing presence.