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Adventure recreation gearing up at conference centers

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Jim Strickland slides the tip of his pen across the fuzzy black and white satellite photo of LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center and can see things his guest can’t.

“Right here is where the adventure course will be and back here will be three different paintball ranges,” he says. “Our shelter facilities with classrooms will go over here.”

Strickland, adventure recreation manager at Glorieta, talks as if he can actually see what is now only a dream. But it is a dream that is coming true. Beginning May 1, new adventure recreation opportunities will be launched at the New Mexico conference center owned by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Phase I of the adventure course, also known as a ropes course, will consist of a tower and high and low elements. Phases II and III will add additional high elements, a zip line and multiple shelters for instruction. Phase I is nearly complete.

Three paintball ranges, a climbing wall and a nature trail also will complement an environmental education program Strickland will create.

“Our purposes for developing adventure recreation are to increase recreational opportunities for our guests here at Glorieta and to attract groups that want to participate in these activities as part of team-building exercises,” said Strickland, who has an extensive background in teaching leadership through adventure recreation and has earned degrees in biology and outdoor education administration. He joined Glorieta’s staff in December to expand the conference center’s ministry opportunities.

“We’ll have opportunities to help everyone from junior high through adults develop their leadership abilities and become more cohesive as a group,” Strickland said. “I’ve seen youth groups develop unity through working together on an adventure course. This is something that can be incorporated into our Centrifuge camps as well.”

A similar course at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., also will be completed by June 1.

Adding the adventure facilities enables the conference centers to offer specific programming. Hal Hill, national events planner for LifeWay, sees it as a significant opportunity for participants.

“By having the facilities and having an on-site expert, we can intentionally design a program exclusively for individuals or groups,” Hill said. “It is as simple as fielding a call from a group, finding out what its desired outcome is and developing a plan for getting the group’s members to realize their goals. The intent is to have a way to help people build relationships and teams in an environment that also helps them grow spiritually.”

Hill said organizations, departments within organizations, church staffs, youth ministries, men’s and women’s groups and a variety of other groups and organizations can be accommodated.

The environmental education program, still one to two years away from development, will satisfy school requirements for most students across the country, Strickland said. Most of the core elements of an environmental education program are similar among school systems, although they vary in their extensiveness. Strickland said the program at Glorieta will be flexible enough to adjust for individual needs.

“We’ll have a nature trail and lessons on subjects such as plant life and ecosystems,” Strickland said. “We’re looking at three- to five-day programs. This program will be a great help to home and private schools. Many public schools are looking outside of their systems to get this credit. This is a great opportunity for us to teach environmental education that is God-centered.”
For more information on either Glorieta or Ridgecrest conference centers, call 1-877-LifeWay or visit lifeway.com/conferencecenters. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: TOWER FOR TEAM-BUILDING.