10 things you should know before going on a trip with Wilderness Ranch

Hey campers!  I’m talking to you, yes you!  You signed up to go on a Wilderness Ranch trip, huh?  Well I am unbelievably excited for you and the adventure that lies ahead.

Here’s what has been happening the past couple of years with campers + Wilderness:

You’re signed up, you get really excited to go on the trail, and then at the beginning of the summer you searched some instagram hashtags like #wilderness2014.  A lot of you made that search and found this picture:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.30.58 PM

Afterwards, you were terrified and wondering why that girl looked so sweaty and sad.  And the rumors began…”do we have to pass running tests!?” Panic ensued.

Let me explain: the running tests are for guides, so that we can be the best and most capable guides for you.  The running tests are not for campers, although they are so dang fun I wish everyone had the opportunity to run them.

So now, I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if when campers searched “Wilderness Ranch” on google searches and social media, they found a cool letter that was meant for them, instead of this terrifying picture?  And I’m thinking, “yes, that would be really cool.”

So here it is:

10 things you should know before going on a trip with Wilderness Ranch


1. Your life will be changed.  Like really, truly changed.  Seeing the world from 14,000 feet does something to people.  You cannot look out upon the world from that height without feeling something new and incredible and life altering.

2. It will be really hard.  Hiking is hard work.  Heck, even walking at that kind of elevation is hard work.  Your pack will be big and heavy and intimidating.  You are going to have some really long days and you’re going to be really tired.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that this is going to be easy.  But…

3.  It will be really worth it.  At the end of the week, you will celebrate so big, your heart might just burst right out of your chest because you just spent a week climbing a freaking mountain.  Every drop of sweat and every tear and every swear word your guide had to endure will be worth it.

4.  Only 1% of the world’s population ever gets to do this.  You are doing something big and incredible and awe-inspiring and brave.  These are the stories you will tell your kids and your grandkids about.

5. You will be safe.  So many fears come along with spending a week in the Wilderness.  Here are a few fun facts to reassure you:

  • your guides are medically trained & can run really fast
  • the San Juan mountains are not bear country.  In 14 trip1517704_10204247887778457_8344551537281882575_ns, I have never seen a bear.
  • this guy will pop up on trail occasionally  to protect you & check in with your group


6.  Your guides are BAs.  Honestly.  These people are incredible (I can say this humbly now as I’m no longer a full time guide) and have gone through so much training and have sacrificed so much to do what they do.  They are in love with the mountains and they are absolutely head over heels about the idea of experiencing this week alongside you.  They love Wilderness Ranch so much that they have dedicated two summers to do this without any pay.  Listen to them and learn from them.

7.  You have been prayed for.  You are being prayed for right now.  Everything that happens at Wilderness is intentional and meaningful.  Your leaders and your area directors and your friends have been praying for months for you to sign up for this trip.  People prayed that you would get here, and every day you are on trail, people are praying for you.  You are never alone in this.

8.  Every trip is different.  Forget what you’ve heard and be excited for a trip that is unlike what any of your friends have ever experienced.  Every trip has different guides, goes on different trails, and experiences different things.  No two trips are ever the same.  Walk into this week with an open mind and a heart ready for adventure.

9.  You are already brave.  Signing up for this trip is big and scary, and you did it.  You are already brave, and you will be able to face anything that comes along during your week on trail.

10.  Jesus has some big things planned for you.  I don’t know where you’re coming from, I don’t know if you’ve been following Jesus for years or if you only come to Young Life because your friends do.  Maybe you’re Jewish.  We’re cool with all of those possibilities, honestly.  Either way, Jesus has known for all of eternity that you were going to go on this trip, and He has been anxiously awaiting everything He is going to reveal to you.  You will be changed, and it is not because of the mountains or because of your guides, it’s because of Jesus.  He’s about to blow your mind.


Wilderness Ranch is the best thing you will ever experience.  It has changed me forever and I hope that it will do the same for you.


As you eagerly await your week, here is a sweet video from Katie Smelko to get you pumped:


Did you like hearing about Wilderness Ranch?

Here are some other posts you might be interested in:

A Letter to You, Adventurers

Surrender and Embrace

Willow Creek

Further up and Further in

They Shall Run and Not Grow Weary


One thought on “10 things you should know before going on a trip with Wilderness Ranch

  1. Pingback: A Year in the Books: My First Blogiversary | Erin Taylor Green

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