Every year, Mike Fallon leads hundreds of students out of their classrooms and into the wild to be tested and taught by God’s creation.
Away from cell phones, the Internet, Facebook, YouTube, and the busy pace of their day-to-day lives, students learn teamwork, develop servant hearts, and experience opportunities to reflect on God in silence.
“It’s where leaders often are born,” said Fallon, a Christian Reformed campus chaplain at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and founder of Re-creation Wilderness Ministry.
Referring to the Belgic Confession, Fallon notes that God reveals himself in two ways: through Scripture and through the “book” of creation. “We strive to shape hearts to love God and his creation,” he said.
In their daily life, many of the students are cut off from nature and other living creatures. Rock climbing, cleaning up streams, backpacking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and outdoor retreats help students foster an intimacy with God’s creation and cultivate what Fallon calls a “stewardly consciousness.”
For instance, on dog-sledding trips students learn that when it’s time to make camp at the end of the day, the animals, who have worked hard for them and for whom they are responsible, come first.
“The first thing [students] . . . do is unharness [the dogs] and check their paws. They . . . feed [the dogs] and water them before they prepare their own food,” said Fallon.
“We try to plant seeds of stewardship and encourage our students to become agents of re-creation,” he said.