By Ashley Rader
The adventure is well under way at Doe River Gorge as the 2012 summer activity season, which opened at the end of May, continues until Aug. 10.
Summer activities at Doe River Gorge include the popular Adventure Quest and Day Quest as well as the Expedition, SALT and LEAD programs. The College Challenge, father/son challenge weekends and mother/daughter retreats are also available.
The Adventure Quest program is available for youth ages 8-18 and is available for 10 weeks out of the summer. The quest lasts one week, from Sunday to Friday. The youth spend that week at the Doe River Gorge facility.
The program is divided into two different sessions: Junior Adventure Quest for youth ages 8-12 and Adventure Quest for youth ages 13-18. Out of the 10 weeks set aside for Adventure Quest, six are dedicated for the 13-18 age group and four are for the 8-12 age group. Approximately 2,000 youth from all around the United States come to Doe River Gorge for the Adventure Quests with an average of 150 to 200 per week.
Ministry Director Josh Mansuco said that over half of the campers that come to Doe River Gorge come from the Tri-Cities region.
During their time at Adventure Quest, participants get to take part in various “high adventure” activities, such as rock climbing, rappelling, challenge courses, the Leap of Faith, paintball, horseback riding, unimog excursions and whitewater tubing. The Leap of Faith is an activity where an individual, or a pair of people on the Double Leap of Faith, climb to the top of a 40-foot pole that is described as “wobbly.” From there they leap toward a hanging trapeze and try to grab it to prevent them from falling back to the ground. During this activity, all participants are harnessed into a safety system. The activities are part of a faith-based lesson approach that works to teach the students biblical principals and about putting their faith in Jesus Christ.
Not only do the activities aim to teach biblical principals but there is also the goal of building unity and a sense of encouragement among members of a group. Doe River Gorge has a “no put down” policy in place. The policy was put in place as a way to teach youth how to encourage one another and to champion each other in the challenges.
Those taking part in Adventure Quest also attend devotional groups in the morning and afternoon as well as a teaching session at night which features worship bands and music.
Under the umbrella of the Adventure Quest program is Expedition. Expedition is a week-long adventure for youth that will be in grades 8-12. During Expedition, participants are taken out into the wilderness areas of Doe River Gorge. They backpack and carry their own supplies and while in the wilderness they will hike through the mountains, swim, explore caves and still-water kayak on Watauga Lake. They will also have devotional time and group Bible discussions.
There are two other programs for youth, SALT and LEAD, that focus on leadership training.
SALT, or Servant and Leadership Training, is a 19-day program for students who have completed the 9th grade. During the 19-day program, students work in different areas around Doe River Gorge while also participating in adventure and worship sessions. LEAD, Leadership Experience and Discipleship, is a 26-day program for students that have completed the 10th grade. In this program, participants get leadership training and can participate in the high adventure activities as well.
Day Quest is a one-day visit to Doe River Gorge that is held on select Saturdays throughout the summer and is open to the general public. During Day Quest, visitors can enjoy activities in the man-made lake, take a train ride, go horseback riding, ride a unimog through the mountains or play paintball. A unimog is a four-wheel drive vehicle that can easily traverse the mountainous landscape and streams. Approximately 8,000 people will visit the Gorge during the summer during Day Quest.
Doe River Gorge relies on their trained and qualified staff to make sure that these programs run as intended. Tim Richardson, Director of Advancement, said the camp has a staff to camper ratio that is 1:2, which means there is two campers for each staff that is working at the camp during the programs.
The Doe River Gorge brings in a number of temporary workers each summer that are usually college-age employees. Richardson said they are usually former campers that have spent many years enjoying the programs at Doe River Gorge or have heard about the programs through friends.
In addition to the temporary workers, the camp has a number of full-time workers that are at the camp year-round. Richardson said 50 percent of those full-time staff members are missionaries who have worked in the domestic missionary field or internationally.
“They are truly missionaries among us,” Richardson said. “They all have their own unique skill sets that they bring. We could not function without them.”
During the off-season, Doe River Gorge is opened to the public for individuals who would like to hike along the trails or fish in the Doe River that runs through the property. Staff requests that anyone using the property sign in at the main office so they are aware that people are using the grounds.
For more information, visit www.doerivergorge.com or call 725-4010.