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When it became clear that my first idea of a trip to the remote northern wilderness of Canada wasn't going to be feasible, we immediately saw Gods provision and direction. Our chief ranger and his family whose boys have been involved in CSB had previously lived nine years at a youth camp in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Their connections and knowledge of the Adirondacks (ADK) made the idea of a remote, northern wilderness summer trip a possibility and because of their strong ties with the camp they graciously and enthusiastically granted our Battalion permission to set-up base-camp on one of their undeveloped, lake-front properties on Upper Saranac Lake for free.
Even with this enormous blessing, I still had doubts about the trip’s success.
There were serious logistical concerns not the least of which was the fact that both I and the Lance Corporal who were spearheading this trip would shortly be departing to volunteer at our region’s Brigade Camp only to return a week before the trip. In response to this we saw the importance of a strong team of people. My dad (a Brigade Lieutenant) and another father graciously took the baton and with much prayer thoroughly fleshed out and brought to completion the rest of the preparation for the trip.
Even when all of the logistical hurdles had been cleared I was still really concerned that there wouldn't be anyone willing to actually go on the trip. But even in this we saw how God brings together precisely the people he wants. We ended up with an intimate yet very diverse group of participants including some guys from another battalion.
After 12 hours of driving we arrived at the amazing lake-front wilderness of our new home. After church on Sunday we did what Brigadiers naturally do, we served the community: stacking firewood and praying with an older woman suffering from cancer, preforming maintenance on the trails leading up to base-camp and building a tent platform. With our service done we rounded off the day by enjoying ourselves at a natural water-slide.
We had planned to summit Mt. Marcy (5,344 ft), the tallest peak in New York State, on Monday, but we were disappointed when the threat of thunderstorms cancelled this overnight backing trip. Instead, we opted to take a day hike up Cascade Mountain (4,098 ft). This change of plans that we initially thought was a disappointment was actually a gracious act of Providence.
It turned out that this more moderate hike was still strenuous enough that many of us were pushed to our limits. The combination of some over-packed backpacks, the bite of new and unbroken-in boots, the pain of my dad’s gout, and the questionable fitness of some of us, made us thankful that we didn't have to add another 1,200 feet of elevation to the already unbelievably steep, boulder strewn, muddy terrain of that area.
The rest of the week we spent swimming, cliff jumping in a secluded pond, canoeing in Upper Saranac Lake, eating pizza in the Town of Lake Placid, canoeing to our campsite up some rock bluffs on Tupper Lake, eating at a local Lumber Jack diner, hiking Ampersand Mt. and celebrating at the popular ice cream stand at the bottom of the mountain.
When it finally came time to end our trip we tore down camp, loaded up the trailer, and drove the 12 hours back to our church all the while in a euphoric daze. The trip was incredible; the adventure of unfamiliar wilderness, the physical challenge of the hikes, the incredible beauty of the largely unspoiled wilderness, and the unmatched degree of camaraderie, really made it our Battalion’s “Best Battalion Trip Ever”.
But what really brought our trip to completion were the lessons God taught each one of us; lessons on ourselves, each other, his creation, God himself, and His relationship with us through Christ. To keep the spiritual focus ever before us, we would typically start off each day with a deep topic oriented devotion. Some of the topics included knowing God’s will, depression, stress, perfectionism, and self-image. Each evening around the campfire we had guest speakers come to challenge us on topics such as vocation, knowing God’s will, stewardship, or to share their personal testimony.
Whether a trip of this magnitude is common place for your Battalion or if your Battalion is like ours and attempting a trip like this seems really ambitious, I encourage you to have your own BBTE. Take that next step, reach toward that next level, try something entirely new and bold, take heart and press forwarding, praying and trusting God that he’ll bring it all together in the end.
Sgt. Jacob Daniel Brunk