This is a post I have waited a while to write because I needed some time to really soak in everything I just went through… because it was a lot!! If you know me or have been reading my blog you know I went to JH Ranch last year with my dad and had the best time. I was so excited to go back and really didn’t think it could get any better than last year but of course, it did. This summer I made so many lifelong friends and did things I never imagined myself doing.
The first week we stayed at the ranch to do all the activities, and we learned everything we would need for the second week when we went out on all our adventures. There are a lot of ropes courses and different challenges that really push you, and are honestly super scary. There were multiple things everyday I absolutely did not want to do, but they all taught me a different lesson and how I can apply it to my life. The first day we did the Odyssey, which to me is the hardest thing at the ranch. You have to walk across wires that are super high in the air, but you physically can’t do it without leaning on others. Since we did this the first day no one knew each other very well so getting others help was hard. It quickly taught me, you have to put trust in others to live a successful life. You can’t do anything on your own. Ironically, we had to do this activity again on the last day. At first, I was dreading it since it was so hard the first time, but since I knew if I leaned on my teammates I would do better, it was so much easier. I never knew that if I faced my fears, I would learn so much!
I think the biggest thing I learned in every activity and challenge was you HAVE to trust and lean on God no matter what. He will always be there to catch you when you fall and then lift you back up. The whole time I was also with my team (btw some of the best people in the whole world) and having such a supportive and loving community makes the two weeks a million times more fun.
The first part of the second week we went to the river and went rafting. We slept outside under the stars and just got to enjoy God’s creation. I don’t think we set enough time to do that in our crazy lives, but I have learned not to take anything He gives us for granted. Rafting was so fun, and a lot more relaxing than the second part of our week! We came back to the ranch for one night then the next day completely changed gears, and got ready for the wilderness! This was probably the hardest two days at JH, but also the days that impacted me the most. My team and I have to find our way to the campground using a map and compass, and we can’t have any help from our coaches. It was fine until the end and then we all started to disagree on what way to go, but eventually, we found our way once we worked together. The first night we were with our team and just hanging out, but the next day we did a 24-hour solo.
The 24 hour solo in the wilderness was completely different than I thought it would be. I was expecting to be scared, uncomfortable, tense, serious, the list just goes on, but in reality, it was the exact opposite. The 24 hours is supposed to be time with just you and God. It was a time of reflection, but also a time to think about the future. In the beginning, I did feel pressure about hearing God. During the first week, everyone was talking about all these huge crazy things that happened to them, and how they could hear God speaking directly to them. I hadn’t felt that and started to get discouraged, so going into the 24-hour solo I had very high expectations with God. I was focusing too much on the concept of God speaking to me, and not why He was or what it even meant. After about two hours of trying to force it I basically just told God I know you are going to speak to me in whatever way you want to and in whenever you want to do. That’s when it all changed. All the pressure and fear went away. I simply asked God why did you bring me to JH Ranch? He told me so I could experience joy, over happiness. Joy is having complete trust in Him and His plan for my life. Hearing this gave me so much clarity. The rest of my solo was amazing, and I just continued to talk to God and reflect on my life. I think I learned that the more you talk with God, and have a relationship with Him, the easier it is to hear Him. Since I have been home I spend time with God almost every day and the difference I can see in my life is incredible.
As I am trying to summarize these two weeks, I am realizing I cant. I can’t just describe it in a few sentences. It’s so much more than I can even explain. I can’t even imagine my life without some of the people I met at JH. If you want two weeks of fun and crazy adventure, but also two weeks of life-changing experiences and a lasting relationship with the Lord then go to JH Ranch. I am planning on going next summer and I am counting down the days already!!!