Meet Sarah Lambert, Vanguard '17 - bright, curious, and a master organizer. Read on to learn about her Vanguard year.
What brought you to Vanguard?
I was touring Wheaton College and I heard about it in an information session. I was immediately fascinated by the idea of living in a camp environment during the school year. I wanted to do a gap year but wasn’t taking any steps to find one. Vanguard just presented itself…
I did Vanguard during the first year of the program so going into the year I didn’t know much about it or what to expect. It sounded fun to live at HoneyRock.
I had a really hard high school experience. Every week I went to youth group and was just like, I wish I could talk with someone about how I feel. For two years. I never felt like I was able to talk about it. So I thought, well, if I go and live in the woods for a year I’ll probably have to talk about it.
The idea of having a year that was focused on helping me understand what I was going through…it felt like it was all I wanted. It felt like a way to set myself up to work through a few things.
During freshman year of college I just saw so many people spending 95% of their energy learning how to live away from home. Since I had already done that, I could focus on school.— Sarah Lambert, Vanguard '16
How did you benefit from not going straight to school?
I benefitted a lot. During freshman year of college I just saw so many people spending 95% of their energy learning how to live away from home. Since I had already done that, I could focus on school. College is a double whammy – you’re away from home but you’re also starting this intense school thing.
I think a lot of people go to college because it’s the next right thing and that’s what they’ve been told to do – of course, there’s there are people who are super driven and know exactly what they want to do – but there are a lot of people who just go to college to go to college.
When you go to college your main focus is surviving and figuring out all of the steps of being an independent human and school becomes secondary.
At Vanguard I learned to be more independent and live on my own. Moreover, I was learning how to do that in a community where I wasn’t just surrounded by of 18-22-year olds. I was surrounded by a lot of people who were 5-50 years older than me. I learned a lot of really good habits of how to take care of myself well that helped me actually focus on school when I got to college.
At college there’s thousands of people – it’s much easier to be invisible. At HoneyRock, being invisible is literally impossible. You feel so known and loved.— Sarah Lambert, Vanguard '16
What’s special about HoneyRock?
The school year community at HoneyRock is special because of how small it is. At college there are thousands of people – it’s much easier to be invisible. At HoneyRock, being invisible is literally impossible. You feel so known and loved. For young people transitioning out of high school into the world – that’s a really overwhelming transition. Doing that in a community full of people who are a little more on their feet…it creates such a safe spot to figure it all out.
I think having an academic break is really important, too. I did Vanguard without knowing what I wanted to study. My purpose in taking a gap year wasn’t to find clarity with my vocation, but it ended up being evident with what I wanted to do with my life. We were exposed to so much in activities and seminars and trips and relationships. I got to explore really safely a lot of different topics that ultimately led to what I study now. I’m an Urban Studies major. I never knew that was a thing you could study in college until I came here.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I’m really controlling…a lesson I learned is that growth happens in all different directions. I’m really high strung. For me, growing usually looks like being less thoughtful and it looks like being less responsible. I don’t know if that makes sense. But growing for me looks like having more fun, staying up a bit later. Vanguard helped me do that.
My purpose in taking a gap year wasn’t to find clarity with my vocation, but it ended up being evident with what I wanted to do with my life.— Sarah Lambert, Vanguard '16
How did God meet you during Vanguard?
God met me through people – through the women who were a few years older and living alongside me. They saw I needed love and loved me. I felt God through that.
You’re not going to get that in college. You’re not going to live with people who are five years older than you. Share a bathroom with them. Sit around at every meal with them 20 times a week for 8 months. It’s incredibly formational to a high school graduate. I think we all need love, especially if you’ve had a difficult high school experience.
What’s something that someone who hasn’t done Vanguard wouldn’t know about it?
It’s super weird. Living with 40 people in the woods is a super weird experience. You’ll probably never experience anything like it again. People might question why you do it. People get nervous about being removed and living in the woods for a year – but I think you have more freedom than you’d ever have at college. The time, the resources, the people who are on your team and want to support you. It’s super cool.
Every group of Vanguards is so different. That’s because the people in the groups are so different. There’s a lot of programming – there’s stuff you’re going to do no matter the group. But it’s all about what each group makes it, what gifts, talents, struggles each group brings.
God met me through people – through the women who were a few years older and living alongside me. They saw I needed love and loved me. I felt God through that.— Sarah Lambert, Vanguard '16