Why I Keep an Outdoor Ministry Journal
The wilderness environment throws so much at us that it is sometimes hard to remember all that we learned from times with God in the wilderness. That is why I like to keep a journal. Here are a couple of reasons you might want to keep a journal as well:
One reason for outdoor leaders to have a personal journal is to keep a catalogue of Bible studies and trail talks or teachable moments you commonly use on the trail. The more you can organize this into a useful system, the more benefit it will be to you in the context of the ever-changing climate of outdoor adventures. In the middle of a pressure-cooker moment, you don’t want to dig around for a piece of paper at the bottom of your bag in the watertight compartment of your sea kayak.
A Small Accessible Journal
It’s better to have a small journal to which you can easily refer. Journaling is also a good way to evaluate and assess your Bible studies and activities to improve them for the future. There is so much that happens throughout a week in the wilderness it would be hard to remember everything without writing some of it down.
- What were the good questions I used to set up quiet times?
- Which ones flopped?
- Which topics sparked memorable discussions?
Referring back to my journal after returning home from an outdoor adventure, I can work to improve how I teach the Bible with more clarity and winsomeness. Improvement is a never-ending journey. There is always something new to master in our pursuit to glorify God through excellence.
Why Keeping a Log Book is a REALLY Good Idea
A second reason I like to journal is to keep a logbook for each trip I lead. This includes:
- The type of landscape in which it occurred
- Skills I used heavily on this trip
- Whether I was training others or being trained on this experience
I like to jot down a brief description of some the notable features of the route:
- The location & distance covered
- Weather conditions
- Date and year
Then I take time to write a brief description of each person on the trip and highlights of what I saw him or her learn and take away from the trip. I include:
- Quotes they said during the trip in the wilderness
- Transformation I saw in their life
- Follow-up I expect being helpful for them as they return to their daily lives in the city
At the end of each trip before we leave the wilderness, I have each participant fill out a one-page storyboard to debrief what happened to them. The stuff people write will both crack you up and make you cry. If you want more help in these areas, refer to my resources page.