2014: The SHERPA Summer

It’s May 12th. I finished my semester 14 days ago, and I leave for my summer long camp in 18 days. I am so thankful for this time of rest, recovery, and preparation. It never fails that a tough semester doesn’t take its toll on me until AFTER it’s finished, when I enter a few intense days of sleep intermixed with a little bit of TV and maybe even a good book. I have been fighting off a cold for a couple weeks now so my post-finals coma days have been extended into a week long process. Aside from recovering from a strenuous semester, this is also my time to get ready for the exciting summer ahead of me.

For those of you who don’t know, I will be spending this summer with the SHERPA program of Outdoor Mission Camp in Maggie Valley, NC. Sherpas in their traditional context are an ethnic group in Nepal who are known world-wide for their mountaineering expertise and have played a huge role in the success of mountaineering endeavors at Mt. Everest. While the original term sherpa was designated to a guide on Everest, the term Sherpa has come to be associated with anybody who serves as a guide or mentor. Hence, it is a very fitting title for the program I will be taking part in this summer. Essentially, the SHERPA program is a highly intensive discipleship/guiding program. I will spend about three weeks being trained in the incredible adventures of whitewater rafting, backpacking, and rock climbing while being certified in Wilderness First Aid. Coinciding with the training that takes place for these physical activities, and of even more importance, a large part of the training portion of the program will consist of spiritual disciplines such as scripture reading and small group leadership. After this three week training period, I will have a chance to put all of these skills to use as I lead various groups of at risk youth on adventures that will stretch and push them further than they ever imagined. Kids will be taken out of their element, whether that be an abusive family or a neighborhood where it seems like gang life is the only option for success, and be exposed to the rewarding experience that is found in wilderness adventures. Even more important than that, they will be exposed to the beauty of God’s great creation while being led in gospel-centered conversations. Something as simple as a whitewater rafting trip or a three day backpacking trip has life-changing potential. And oh yeah, at the end of the summer, after four weeks of leading adventures with numerous youth, we will head to Haiti for an all encompassing mission trip where we will further utilize our training and gain experience at ministering in a new culture while meeting some physical needs for a group of hurting people.

I could not be more excited about this summer adventure. I have a heart for youth ministry, and feel that God has a call on my life in this area. He has also blessed me with a passion for the outdoors and the ability to connect with Him through His creation. It is unreal to have the opportunity to combine these two passions for an eternal purpose. I am accumulating all the necessary gear. I am in the process of getting a passport for my first international trip. I am preparing my heart for a time of challenge and growth. It is hard to believe the process is finally coming together. Only one obstacle stands in my way: money. Because of the nature of the program and their desire to reach out to at risk youth, in order to finance the summer program there is a tuition fee of $3000 for SHERPA participants. I am in the process of fundraising this money. I have sent out letters and now must play the waiting game and prayerfully think about other avenues of raising money. Some exciting news is that there is now an easy way for people to give directly to Outdoor Mission Camp without having to mail in checks or go through my GoFundMe page! You can now simply go to the following link:

https://securegive.yfc.net/rshackelford

All you have to do is choose the gift amount, fill out the requested information, and designate “Scottie Hill” as the purpose of the gift. I don’t really know who all reads this blog, if anyone. But if you have stumbled across this page and were perhaps moved by the mission of the SHERPA program or feel inspired to support me, I ask that you would prayerfully considering a financial gift. This is something I believe in and something I think can make an eternal difference. If you are unable to give but are interested in the program, I hope to be able to update this blog throughout the summer and document some of my adventures. I look forward to hearing from anybody with feedback and can’t wait for the things ahead of me this summer!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *