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Why Vanguard

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The only Christian, Liberal Arts Gap Year Program.

What makes Vanguard unique? Why Vanguard?

Our liberal arts approach sets us apart from any other program. When looking at other gap years, you'll notice how they tend to build their year around a primary theme: community service, travel, work, or earning college credits. Don't get us wrong - these are all good things! That's why at Vanguard, we weave them together in an unparalleled experience that will launch Vanguards into college.


vanguard '17 cohort
Living in Christ-Centered Community

This is the single-most impactful part of the Vanguard Gap Year.

  • "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." - Katherine '17
  • "I think a huge outcome for me was a greater understanding of relationships - a lot of growth in relational maturity. It helped a lot with an awareness of self, an awareness of others, and how I can resolve conflict." - Morgan '17
  • "I didn't expect everyone to get so close so quickly, which was really cool. I learned how to live in a close-knit community, solve problems, and build close relationships." - Duncan '18
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A Parent's Perspective on the Vanguard Gap Year

In the end, what we loved most about the Vanguard experience is the way that it helped our daughter discern her calling. The Vanguard Gap Year’s international immersion trip to the Dominican Republic was truly life changing for Julianna. For years, she’d dreamt of becoming a missionary in a Spanish speaking country, and this trip was perfect for exploring that desire. The day after she returned, she Skyped us saying that although she loved every minute in the DR, she felt God showing her that He wanted her elsewhere. 

Julianna realized she wanted to teach in a Spanish speaking environment here in the United States, in an inner city or otherwise underprivileged area. She will graduate in 2020 from Hope College with a degree in Spanish education, and she could not be happier.

When asked if the Vanguard Gap Year was worth it, our answer is a wholehearted “yes!” Julianna made lifelong friends. She had time and space to relax, reflect, pray, work, deepen her faith and think about her future—all away from the pressures of "regular" life. She learned new skills in cooking and carpentry. She studied her Bible every day alongside her friends. She shared life with a wonderful group of people, including her fellow Vanguards, their amazing counselors and all of the staff at HoneyRock.

- Annette Burlet, mom of Julianna VG '15

Our situation was unique in that Adam first went to college. While at college, he didn’t find a good fit and stepped back to re-evaluate. Vanguard was wonderful for Adam because it gave him time to grow; both in faith and in maturity. He enjoyed working, serving, and adventuring during his time in the Northwoods. He found a passion for sharing Christ, teaching people about God’s creation, and being present in relationships.

We like to say he found both “a passion and a program” during Vanguard. Our son was provided space to discern what he wanted to study in college and apply to his career: Outdoor Leadership at John Brown University.

A Christian gap year program like Vanguard helps young adults grow their faith, develop good habits, learn the importance of Christian community, and build relationships with role models who speak truth. If your student does not feel confident about going to college due to social, vocational, or motivational reasons, we recommend Vanguard!

- Ann Kepke, mom of Adam VG '16

As much as my wife and I loved our daughter, she just wasn't going to get the message she needed by living with us any longer. Going to HoneyRock and having a trusted group of people that we could turn our daughter to for a year, under the Lord's care, was a great blessing to me as a parent and I am so thankful this option was available. I saw other kids who came in more solid in their faith, and I think in the Lord's sovereignty and providence, He met every one of them with just what they needed to mature through the year for the next phase of their life. 

As far as the cost is concerned, for me, it saved my daughter's life. What price do I put on that? I have a debt I will never repay to the Vanguard program, and I will tell our daughter’s story for the rest of my life. For a kid fresh out of high school who isn't sure about a lot of things, Vanguard is just a phenomenal place to spend a year. If a student knows what they want to do in college, and has it all laid out, then that's fine, they can go ahead with that. But if a kid isn't sure about some things, wants to do something productive, wants to have some good fun and good learning, both contributing and growing themselves, I think this is a fantastic option.

- Vanguard Parent '16

What are you thinking?

You've seen a little about how our gap year program works. Which of these best describes where you are right now?

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.
  • Keep in the loop and sign up for Vanguard emailsyou'll hear from Vanguards right away!

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?

We visited HoneyRock as a family over Thanksgiving, and I saw the happiest, most transformed girl that nearly shocked and overwhelmed me...I have a debt I will never repay to the Vanguard program, and I will tell our daughter’s story for the rest of my life. She was lost, and now she is found, she was blind, and now she sees. — Vanguard Parent '17
My goal as a dad was to encourage my kids not to conform to this world but to be transformed by God. Vanguard was the ideal next step for my daughter to take in her own transformation process. It gave her experiences she will take with her for the rest of her life, built her faith and gave her a glimpse of the calling God has for her. — Gaius Cosman, Vanguard Parent '18
Vanguard offers a technology fast – a 6-week break from phones, TVs, and WiFi. This break from electronics was critical for Adam as it allowed him to develop healthy ways to de-stress. He found activities like climbing, kayaking, and playing broomball. He continues kayaking and climbing to this day. — Ann Kepke, Vanguard Parent '17