With nine weeks of training and education behind us, the Timothy Group Internship, FORGE, set out to put all the outdoor skills training into practice. We went on a seven-mile ruck over extremely rough terrain.
The plan: land navigate to a 30 foot rock face. Rappel at that destination. Build a single rope bridge over a body of water and execute a water crossing on the way back to the start point.
The execution: The ruck march began with a vigorous march along a trail with 45 pound packs on their backs. The pace was a brisk 12-minute mile. This is an extremely fast pace. I am very proud of the young men and their efforts to maintain the standards that we taught during the training. Next, I watched with interest as the boys used their land navigation skills to leave trail and forge into the wilderness on our way to the rappel site. At one point during the hike we encountered several acres of travel through fallen trees. For weeks prior to this adventure, we have been training our muscles through physical training each morning. We certainly needed this preparation today. The fallen trees required us to lunge forward, climb constantly up and over the huge trunks. Soon our thighs were burning from endless stress. At no time did the boys cease from their dedication to the hike. Once on top of Wolf’s Den (the rappel site) we enjoyed a time of great fellowship as we shared our MREs. After lunch the students prepared for the rappel. The students fastened their own swiss seats with no assistance. The rappelling went well. Most of the rappellers had never rappelled off of a nature rock feature. This was a significant time of excitement and application of the training. Once the rappel was over we donned our rucks and headed down the trail toward the van (2 miles away). At a creek we stopped to construct a single rope bridge. We each crossed the creek and retrieved the rope. On the way back to the van we discussed the awesome day. As a side note gallons of water were consumed throughout the day. Always remember and never forget to hydrate. Once we got into the van, there was a long period of silence as we drove home. We were smoked (tired). Once we caught our energy back up, we discussed the day some more…the rappelling, the energetic hike, the rope bridge. We compared bruises. We reminisced about our emotions as we descended the rock face. We even shared stories of how God was present with us the entire day.
The summary: The young men trained hard and executed the training even harder. I have never been so proud of a group of young men. They endured hardship, pain, set backs, and victory, together. When it was time to make up time, they ran as best they could with their 45 pound packs. When it was time to dig deep they found new strength when they thought they were done. They proved to themselves that truly, “ the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” They proved that they really can, “do all things through Christ who strengthens them.”