Strengthen Your Faith in the Great Outdoors

By Josh McGuire
Finance Major, Honors College

A group of students outdoors exploring

After speaking with Jordan Montgomery, a sophomore at GCU studying electrical engineering, I wanted to pack up and make for Colorado. During summer 2017, Montgomery interned for Sonlight Adventures, a Christian camp for middle and high school students in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. She told me about dazzling mornings and beautiful hikes in the mountains – a little piece of heaven on earth. Montgomery learned a lot at her internship, including how to chop firewood, repair bridges, build shelving and avoid collisions with middle schoolers on a broken golf cart (which she later repaired). Although Montgomery learned all these new life skills and developed a number of friendships with fellow staff members, she told me the biggest takeaway has been growing her relationship with God.

Experiencing Fresh Air and New Aspirations

“I think this experience has led me to want a job where I can work both indoors and outdoors as well as [be] hands-on.”

Fresh air must inspire a great attitude. As a coworker with Montgomery in the GCU Honors College, something seemed different after her internship: She had a certain excitement and energy about her. It may have been the time away from Wi-Fi, perhaps the fresh air.

I asked her what this work experience meant to her, and she said the time of reflection has refined what she wants to do. “Before this summer I wanted to be a CEO of an engineering company and spend most of my time in an office, but I realize now I want the best of both worlds. The outdoors inspire creative thought and practical hands-on experience is such a joy. Don’t get me wrong, I want to have some time in the office and manage people, but I want to enjoy the world around me as well.”

Learning New Life Skills

I have learned so much from not only this job, but also the people here. I have fixed electrical wires on a golf cart, built a new deck when the old one was rotting, split wood for camp fire and so much more. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”

There’s something about getting your hands dirty that builds character. Montgomery shared a few stories about the practical use of her time at Sonlight: “I’m up by 6:30 every day. Staff breakfast is at 7 and then I work in the office until lunch. In the afternoon my role on the BTS, or Behind the Scenes team, kicks into action. We’re a close-knit team of five and we have a lot of fun.”

Montgomery applies her engineering background in a thoroughly practical manner. She built shelves in a staff cabin, repaired a walkway that was rotting away with age and built a fire for the first time. Although the fire was used make a nice set of s’mores, it wasn’t about the finished product. Sonlight is about the process: engaging as a student of life.

Learning Through Experiences

“Getting away and trying something new is always good. This experience has changed what I wanted to do, and that is amazing.”

One day Montgomery and a fellow BTS team member were driving the camp’s golf cart to the Dog House, where they kept a lot of the more sensitive equipment, like gasoline and power tools. They got to the top of the hill, turned off the cart, got what they needed, sat down again and … nothing. The cart was dead.

Pushing that cart down the hill was an interesting endeavor. A few trees and a Sonlight middle school camper may have suffered. Get out of the way! Montgomery told me it was scary, but a lot of fun. They fixed that golf cart with the help of the camp director after pushing it quite a distance to their workshop. “It’s about the process. We learned how to rewire a golf cart that day and appreciate the little things we take for granted.”

Experiencing the Outdoors

“I know I have felt God’s presence here. Some call Sonlight a little piece of heaven and I would agree with that.”

As Montgomery experienced the camp for herself, it left a powerful impression. She told me: “After this experience I see beauty as an important factor in how I live my life. It’s about the snowball fights on ice-capped peaks in the middle of summer, white water rafting on the blue rapids of the Colorado, loving the weather you exist in, the people who surround you and engaging with life’s greatest joy: a relationship with God.”

Reinforcing Faith

“My uncle and aunt are going to become the directors of Sonlight.”

Montgomery shared a critical part of the experience for her: Her uncle is about to become the director for Sonlight. On many occasions, he sat and talked with her about life, the past and the difficulties she faced. “He’s a pastor so he’s done this with a lot of people. We think through the past, discovering the why’s and God’s plan in every aspect of my life.”

One night the anger she had been holding onto for years was gone. It’s amazing what God does when we reflect for a few moments, experience His beauty and appreciate the relationships given to us.

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More about Josh McGuire:

Josh McGuire is a finance, entrepreneurship and Christian studies student at GCU. He works for the Honors College as an event planner and interned for SEED SPOT and Operation Angel Whings. Additionally, he serves as a senator on ASGCU and club president for Defenders GCU and Circle K International.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.