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The Switchback20
Brief overview of the 20 days...

The first 5 days are an introduction to outdoors and survival in the Appalachian forests. Switchback20 campers' come together with campers from our other programs to focus on team building and leadership skills. Camper's teams are presented with unique challenges and scenarios designed to bring to surface character flaws and strengths. Overcoming their own personal battles will help their team advance. While learning outdoor skills and competing in many fun and exciting events, the 5 days are bathed in Bible study, scripture memory, and preaching.

During the next two days, the program slows down from it's intense pace and schedule to allow campers to reflect and focus on the individual areas of their lives where they may need a change in direction. Our 3 to 1 camper/staff ratio provides an opportunity for campers and staff to develop a 1 on 1  relationship where they can open up and discuss their specific life issues and get real biblical direction and advice to help them make right choices. They are given reflection time to think and to also write. Many choose to write down their goals, while others choose to write home or journal. During these two days, campers also get needed rest to prepare for the remaining 15 days of adventure and focus.

Now campers begin the 2nd phase of the program with a week of team building and a focus on why they were created. They are given a wilderness construction task to accomplish together during the next 6 days, such as building a log structure from scratch, complete with cutting and dragging in trees. Many times this brings to surface the character flaws that must be corrected. They also become aware of the value of others and, as a result, less self centered. It is a difficult journey, yet at the close of the six days it is rewarding to be able to recognize the accomplishment that hard work and effort can be.  It's during these 6 days that they are assigned a "buddy" for the remaining portion of the program. They go through a series of training steps to help them learn to work together. This includes taking small hikes blindfolded while their new buddy must verbally guide them down the trail. Learning to listen and to properly communicate quickly becomes the focus.

The weekend arrives and they are rewarded for their hard work with a steak dinner and their first off-campus opportunity. Campers are loaded on a bus and driven to town to enjoy Sunday morning at church. This weekend is also the first opportunity that campers can call home to their parents.

The 3rd and final portion of the program is an extreme week of backpacking, canoeing, and adventure trekking. Campers will load 5 days worth of food and gear into their packs and head off on a life changing journey. Each day campers are in a new location that they have hiked to. They are presented with the daily challenges of working to set up, tear down, pack, carry, cook, clean and more. As a new-found appreciation for home, parents, and material blessings begins to develop, campers are directed to think about their attitude. Gratefulness and thankfulness are often the focus of the devotion time spent around the nightly camp fires. During this 5 day backpacking portion of the program, campers learn to work together with their buddy and the group to accomplish the tasks at hand. They are made aware of the fact that the group depends upon them to carry their portion of the weight and are taught the importance of a trust relationship. They begin each day with personal Bible reading and close each day with a challenge from God's Word. During these 5 days, they are required to keep a personal journal with two entry topics, the trial and their spiritual walk. The isolated time on the trail is a much slower pace and allows them to begin to think and prepare for stepping back into everyday life at home. The staff guides the campers to focus on what "switch" in direction they will need to begin or maintain after they leave this controlled environment.

The last 24 hours of the Switchback20 is an amazing time for campers. The last evening together as a group is spent around what we call a "testimony fire". Campers share with the group what the Lord has done in their lives during the past 3 weeks. They share their new goals and express the change that has been made as well as encourage each other to stick with their commitments. Campers prepare to face the reality that they are going to soon re-enter the environment where they will have to make daily choices to stand for Christ and live right. The program closes with a camper/parent picnic and graduation ceremony. This is a very fulfilling and exciting time for both parents and campers.

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The Wilderness Christian Camp & Retreat Center, Inc.