The 8th grade Milestone: A Mentor Hike is when an 8th grader is paired with an adult member of the congregation to hike alongside. As they hike up Rattlesnake Ledge, the students ask questions of their hiking buddy, which they’ve prepared ahead of time.
On a rare sunny May day, a few of our 8th graders were scheduled to go on a Mentor Hike.
The purpose of the hike is to provide 8th graders an opportunity to think about their own life and faith in the context of our church. Hearing mentors’ stories helps to reveal more of who God is and what He has done in the lives of others, while at the same time providing them with an opportunity to build relationships with adults in our church. Our hope is that by the end of this hike they feel known by an adult at Bethany that they had not felt known by before. They can then say “hi” to one another when they see each other in the halls, sanctuary or fellowship hall of Bethany.
On this May day, the pairs all started up the path two by two, talking. As we got higher up the path, our beloved sun turned to bits of rain. At the top, the students pulled out two sacked lunches – one for themselves and the other for their hiking buddy. (Despite student attempts, bags actually had more than cookies and chips inside.)
I admit, I had sort of envisioned a delightful picnic-type moment of beautiful views and the whole group chatting together. Instead, we were soon greeted by large, painful, cold hail. After someone complained about a turkey and ice sandwich, we all started walking back down under the protection of the trees. Thankfully, by the time we got back down to the lake, the sun had come out again and we stopped to play together. Summer, the Steenstra’s dog, was very pleased with the amount of attention she received.
It was great to see students connecting and talking outside of using their phones. I think for some students, learning how to have a conversation with someone new can be daunting, yet it is part of being in and developing community.