A Gap Year of Travel, Exploration, and Discovery

Vanguards dig into culture.

Have you wanted to get out from what’s known or comfortable - to experience new situations, perceptions, and ways of living? 

Over the course of 9 months, Vanguards will dive into new cultures, observing and participating in the Great Commission at work in the world, while relating these experiences to a personal mission. Our service within these contexts is seen as learning. We have intentionally chosen partners that allow us to submit, learn, and join with relationally based, ongoing, locally lead ministries. 

Four Distinct Cultural Experiences

Joining the HoneyRock community is a rich cultural experience in itself! The first couple weeks of the program will consist of a wilderness trip and an in-depth look at HoneyRock’s history and culture. 

Over the course of 14 days, Vanguards will engage in vocational exploration and cross-cultural missional experiences alongside international and domestic professionals. Students will have the option to choose between two trips. Vanguards will travel to a.) Costa Rica, partnering with local missionaries through Students International or b.) Mississippi, where they will partner with local ministries and encounter the history and culture of the southern United States. 

While HoneyRock is an incredible community, the greater Northwoods area offers many opportunities to learn and get plugged in as well. We encourage Vanguards to join in the local church and community ministry opportunities. November will provide a week-long opportunity to spend an intensive week digging into the economic, historical, and cultural demographics of the surrounding area. 

There are rich cultural differences and vocational opportunities within the United States. While on the track specific trips, Vanguards will encounter a variety of professions and organizations that relate to the work experience they've explored through their track. Each track (Journeys, Equestrian, and Adventure Programing) will have different trip experiences, the track trips are a week long. 


Purposefully Preparing, Engaging, and Reflecting

Over the course of these experiences, there will be pre, during, and post activities to help participants develop a context, be present within the culture, and unpack the experiences.  

Pre-immersion work won’t revolve around do’s and don’ts or a list of logistics. Instead, group time will be focused on readings, simulations, reflective essays, observation, presentations and round table discussions that explore cultural issues of the context. This preparation is all in an effort to provide ingredients to form your response.  

While present in the culture, we will focus on faith development: building an understanding of how God is honored in other cultures. Vanguards will be challenged to find peace within an unfamiliar context, experience Christian tradition that is theologically and culturally different from theirs, and encounter peace within the ambiguity of not being the dominant culture.  

You’re not done once you return – there’s still the process of re-examining and debriefing your experience. To continue processing, Vanguards will explore unanswered questions, deal with the challenges of reentry, and reexamine beliefs, the church, and the meaning of “loving others” in light of the experience. 

The reason for all of this is to explore things like race, politics, poverty, and wealth. Those things carry through from trip to trip. Undergirding all of that is the idea that the way that we truly begin to experience how huge and wide and high and big and deep is the love of God is through encountering other people with different perspectives and backgrounds. And that’s what it’s all about. — Maddie Johnston ‘15, Vanguard Resident Assistant