North Park Students Backpack Through Oregon

Oregon Backpackers

CHICAGO, IL (March 19, 2008) - A group of North Park University students recently traveled to Oregon over their spring break to take part in the first undergraduate backpacking trip. The trip was modeled after the Seminary’s Faith and Wilderness class. Seventeen students applied and were interviewed, but only eight were chosen. Led by Bree Stairs S'2006, resident director, and Paul Johnson C'97, program coordinator for University Ministries, the trip was a joint venture between University Ministries and the newly formed Office of Sustainability.

Before embarking on their journey, the students and their leaders took part in two preparatory meetings. In the first, Seminary professors Philip Anderson and Jim Bruckner gave the group an overview of topics covered in the Seminary class. In the second, the future backpackers took a field trip to the Chicago Center for Green Technology, where they discussed sustainable living in an urban environment, particularly as college students. The discussion was led by Ryan Johnson C'2005, who now works with the Delta Institute.

The group began their trip in Portland, Ore., where they spent a night at Irvington Covenant Church. The majority of their trip was spent hiking, backpacking, and camping along the Rogue River in southern Oregon. They spent their last few days living out of yurts (felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structures) on the Pacific coast outside of Pacific City.

"The trip was a chance to challenge students to experience God in a totally different way from their surroundings here at North Park. . . . This was out of many of the students comfort zones but they embraced it whole-heartedly and did an amazing job," said Stairs.

A debriefing session was facilitated by Mark Carlson C'98 S'2004, associate pastor to youth at McMinnville Covenant Church in McMinnville, Ore.