Meant to Be Here at Vanguard Gap Year

October 23, 2020

Meg Wolfe shares about her unexpected journey to—and first month in—Vanguard, the Christian gap year of Wheaton College.

Three months ago, I had no idea that the Vanguard Gap Year program existed. Today, I’m writing this from the Northwoods of Wisconsin a little over one month into my Vanguard experience. In the past four weeks, I have backpacked 36 miles, learned new card games, mountain biked, canoed, thrown a clay pot, and made many friends. I’ve done more in the past three weeks than I had between March and September.

vanguards on their wilderness trip

So, what happened and why am I here? Like many others, COVID-19 derailed my plans for this year. I graduated high school in May and was planning to attend a university in California. In July, my university announced that it was going completely online for the fall semester. Suddenly, I was questioning everything. Was online college worth the price tag? Should I stay at home and work for a year? What am I supposed to do with my life? My mom heard from a friend about the Vanguard program at HoneyRock and mentioned it to me one night. I remember thinking, “No way, I’d never do that.” I’d always been set on going to college after graduating. I love learning and community, and couldn’t wait for the academic, social, and residential aspects of college life. Sticking to my plan, I told myself that I was going to be an online student. But as the first day of classes drew closer, I knew in my heart that I needed more. Zoom couldn’t give me goofy inside jokes or independence outside of my parents’ home.

I wanted so badly to be a college student, but also knew that online school was not right for me. Vanguard seemed slightly better than staying at home, so that’s basically how I chose. I knew that the structured aspects of the Vanguard program such as devotionals, work rotations, and outdoor experiences would develop me holistically. I needed to be busy, to fill my time purposely instead of watching Netflix for hours. When the time came to make a decision, I was absolutely torn.

I wasn’t excited in the slightest to start Vanguard and tried to ignore the fact that I was leaving. I wished I could just freeze time and cuddle my dog forever. I drove up to HoneyRock with my parents on a rainy Saturday morning. As I said goodbye to my brothers, it still didn’t feel like I was actually leaving.

meg participating in a community art project

Three weeks ago, I was terrified and uncertain whether this program was the right choice for me.  Now, even in such a short time, I know that this is where God wants me to be. I feel like I belong. As I was reflecting in solitude on our backpacking trip I thought about all of the love I have received from the people here at HoneyRock. Even though I was physically alone, I felt the love of God and those around me almost like a big hug, saying “This is where you are meant to be.” From making pretzels to deep late-night discussions, I have learned so much and am immensely thankful—the most loving community has welcomed me with open arms. I can’t wait to see what the year ahead holds. —Meg Wolfe

Curious about how HoneyRock is staying COVID-safe? Learn more here.

meg wolfe takes selfie
Vanguard: Year at a Glance

Vanguard, the Christian gap year of Wheaton College, offers incredible opportunities to ask big questions, explore the world, and discover purpose before college. Check out the 30,000-foot view of the year by clicking the link, below!