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Vanguard: The Gap Year of Wheaton College

Hear From Vanguards

Explore Your Calling with a Gap Year

Vanguard is a gap year program for high school graduates seeking more than the status quo in their higher-education experience.

Build a vision for the future by bridging the gap between high school and college with a year unlike any other: explore diverse cultures, navigate life's big questions, and live in a Christ-centered community. This year of hands-on education and leadership development will prepare you for the challenges of college and beyond.

Why a gap year?

Vanguard looks over Lake Superior during a backpacking trip

Dan Jones '16

"In addition to growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, I wanted to confirm God’s calling for me to enter fire service."

Vanguard at Northwoods fair smiling at camera

Tim Clark '17

"I’ve built meaningful relationships, broadened my global Christian perspective, learned more about relating to others, and formed a firm foundation in my faith – I have a wider sense of how God can work through me."

Vanguard stands in front of wood pile, smiling

Katherine Lehn '17

"I grew up a lot during Vanguard, I grew into a faith and a way of being in relationships with people that has entirely changed who I am."


A Christian Gap Year in a Camp Environment

Vanguard takes place at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College. At HoneyRock, we leverage the camp experience and environment to develop youth and young adults into rooted, courageous, and humble leaders.

HoneyRock is located in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in the Nicolet National Forest on a chain of 28 lakes. It has over 900 acres of facilities and resources for activities, learning, and adventure. Since 1951, HoneyRock has provided college preparation, leadership development, and spiritual formation for youth and young adults.

vanguards on log pile in northwoods wi
Interested in Vanguard?

Sign up and stay in the loop! Hear from our leadership, read stories from past Vanguards, and learn about unique distinctives Vanguard offers high school graduates. 

Benefits of a Gap Year

If you asked our Vanguards to share how a gap year has benefitted them, they'd invite you to pull up a chair and talk for a few hours. Why? Kiama '17 said, "It's simply too grand of an experience to condense into a 5 minute conversation. I can tell you for certain that it was something I didn't know I needed so badly. It was my plan B, something that I had a "meh" kind of feeling about and was sort of on my radar. Little did I know that it was definitely God's plan A."

What makes this "grand" experience? Our liberal arts approach. When looking at other gap years, you'll notice how each program builds their year around a primary theme: community service, travel, work, or earning college credits in an alternative environment. Don't get us wrong - these are all good things! At the same time, we want to prepare students for life - to be able to blend and balance multiple themes at once. 

Hear our Vanguards talk about how the various opportunities impacted their experience:

Cultural Immersion

Community Life

Inquiry-Led Learning

Faith Formation

Work Rotations

Winter in the Northwoods



What are you thinking?

Questions are good! You'll find a few ways to get more information, below. 

  • Check out our "Read the Research" page - we've collected a variety of articles for you!
  • Connect with Charlie Goeke, Vanguard Program Manager - email him to have a one on one conversation.
  • Sign up for a week in the life email series - you'll get a glimpse into the year from program leadership and past Vanguards.

If you would rather email us for more info, use the link below to connect.

That's awesome! We're excited to continue the conversation - use the link below to apply.

That's okay, too. While the benefits of a gap year are numerous, it's not the right fit for everyone. Have you heard of Wheaton College?