LAA Lions Survive and Thrive

December 22, 2021 | Education | Katrina Koch

Nearly every October for the last 25 years, Livingstone Adventist Academy students have survived a trek into the Central Oregon high desert. Since 2004, when the school became a full senior academy, Chris Sequeira has taken seniors and juniors to Thompson Reservoir, where the wilderness becomes a setting for personal and spiritual growth.

The trip begins with a two-day Senior Survival, during which the seniors craft their own survival structure using supplies they bring. While they can't bring a tent, they can bring sleeping bags. Students also plan and prepare their own meals.

The juniors and their sponsor join the seniors two days later, bringing with them a taste of civilization. It then becomes a junior/senior campout and extends through the weekend. 

But it’s not all about survival. Students and staff share worship time together, climb and rappel on rugged terrain, hike in the infamous “Crack in the Ground,” and complete initiative games together to build unity.

When the students return to campus, stories and memories pass down to younger students, building an anticipation that is years in the making.

Sequeira shares that he most appreciates the bonding between students. “The best place to get to know students is out of the classroom,” he said. The trip gives students both leadership opportunities and life lessons. Kids that some people see as “trouble” can become leaders in a different setting. And each year, the senior class emerges stronger and deeper from their experiences.

As the 2021-22 school year began with fewer restrictions than the previous year, the senior survival and junior/senior campouts were planned with anticipation. Neither the juniors nor the seniors had ever experienced the event, because it had to be canceled last year. There was understandable worry going into it without previous experience. But once the students got there, God’s second book — His creation — didn’t fail to reveal itself. 

Many students learned from the experience, saying that if they had it to do over, they would “bring more clothes” or “pack more food” or “make their shelter more enclosed.” Students found that they bonded with their classmates during worships and initiative activities. Making their own shelters left them feeling “really accomplished.” Plus, it was a lot of fun. 

One student brought enough pancake mix to make breakfast for everyone. Students waited patiently, as one pancake at a time finished frying, allowing them to grow closer during the wait. Another student surprised the whole group with supplies to make s'mores, continuing a spirit of sharing and togetherness.

What if the energy and resilience of our high school students could remind us that there is more to life than merely surviving? Life’s challenges may be difficult, but through them, we have the chance to bond with each other deeper and rely on the God who made us. Let’s meet the challenge!