Man that’s definitely not a simple answer by any means. I think the “value” of the trip is going to depend on the participant. Obviously we all value different things on different levels.
In a short answer… I would say that there is unmeasurable value in the simplicity a wilderness trip brings. Your focus of the week is to work together as a team to eat, sleep, hike, and have fun. Our teenagers today are experiencing pressure incomparable to any generation before them. If you just take a quick look at adolescent sports programs, they are riddled with outrageous expectations and commitment the kids must perform to. When on the trail there is no need to perform, conform, or portray in any way but who they really are. Most importantly the simplicity creates an incubator for spiritual contemplation and growth. Without all the distractions and text messaging, a kid can slow down and actually think about his life choices.
The value of being challenged physically beyond what we have done before is hard to quantify. A young teen can some and be pushed past their comfort zone to realize that they have what it takes to accomplish great tasks. The teen heads home with a new sense of self confidence and self worth.
Dan Brass is the Assistant Director for Beyond Timberline & Shift Camp Timberline.