ZAO helps young people gain a deeper experience of Jesus Christ through the outdoors by guiding them in the areas of Skills Acquisition, Spiritual Transformation and Servant Leadership.
Skills Acquisition – everything from teaching creation care to wilderness first aid, climbing skills, kayak skills, wilderness cooking, shelter building, fire starting,, direction finding, map skills, etc, etc.
Spiritual Transformation – through the Word of God and prayer practices. Pointing young people to Jesus Christ as their hope for the future.
Servant Leadership – Humble, effective, Christ-like leadership skills
BRIEF HISTORY OF HOW ZAO OUTDOOR MINISTRIES GOT STARTED AND WHY IT EXISTS
Zao formed in 2010 as a board of directors sought the spirit’s leading after the Sylvan Acres Ministry property was sold. Sylvan ran a bricks&mortar camp for over 55 years and had seen declining enrolment. Zao is under its parent denomination, the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. The board of directors contacted Mattias Morrison, a Vancouver Island guide because someone had told them he was passionate about outdoor ministry. Up until this point Mattias was a full time minister of the Gospel, only he was disguised as an ACMG guide and outdoor educator. Mattias helps develop the ministry and gives guidance for industry best practices, wilderness risk management, and staff development and training. He brings his experience as a youth worker, church planter and professional guide.
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL WILDERNESS ADVENTURE TRIP?
A successful trip has many opportunities to worship God and depend on God and the on-trip community. This is achieved by getting into the wilderness, off trail, where challenges and conflict present themselves. The pattern for our summer backpacking trips: Outdoor camping and travel skills development, teaching/learning, discussion/debriefing, introspection (including a solo).
We will have opportunities where the perceived risk is higher, while the actual risk is low. This sense of adventure and commitment, trust etc will lend itself for more opportunities for growth and connections to how the Gospel implicates every area of our lives.
It must be said that a successful wilderness trip is also one that doesn’t have a near-miss or critical incident!
DURATION OF TRIPS OFFERED
They offer 6-7 days trips!
EXPEDITIONARY LEARNING ELEMENTS TYPICALLY INCLUDED IN THEIR TRIPS
- Daily devotion or quiet times
- Solo experience (either a few hours or day-long solos)
- Teachable moments or trail talks along the journey
- Rock climbing
- Sea Kayaking
- Practicing and Teaching Leave No Trace Ethics
- Other: snowshoeing/winter camping
Trips cost in the rage of $300-$400