A treasure trove of past Climber interviews reveals one consistent characteristic: young people don’t know what to expect coming to Base Camp their first year.
A.J.’s first trip to Base Camp came in 2019. When asked what his expectations coming into Base Camp were, A.J. Shook his head and smiled. “I will admit going into Base Camp, I didn’t have much of an idea what to expect. I’ve been to many youth conferences, but I really wasn’t sure what the Faith Ascent team had in mind.” It seems like almost every Climber has a similar story.
Often, Climbers aren’t exactly thrilled to come to Base Camp. Elise admitted in her interview with us that, “I hate saying this but… I was told I was going to go to Faith Ascent by my parents. At first I was just like, ‘Oh, okay, I’m a Christian, this is what I’m supposed to do.’” Being outgoing and gregarious, Elise decided to invite all of her friends to come to Camp as well, so at least she’d have some friends to hang out with even if Faith Ascent ended up being a dud. That didn’t happen. Having friends with her gave Elise compatriots to talk to and process Base Camp lectures with. Elise noted that a lot of the lectures were “a bit overwhelming”, but it was in community that she was able to unpack all the new information and begin the process of growing confident in her own convictions.
Allison, a first time Climber in 2020, when asked why she came, smirked as she answered: “I’m here because my brother went for three years… I don’t know why he went, but I think my parents, well, not pressured him, but wanted him to go. And then my parents wanted me to go, and he wanted me to go, and then I wanted to go!” Smirking to that question is common. Base Camp has that effect on people. There’s no great way to describe what the experience will be like. Often students come in wide-eyed not knowing what to expect at all. The smirk comes on the other side of the week, when the student knows exactly how important and powerful Base Camp can be.
While AJ loved the apologetics focus and the studiousness of Base Camp, it was the people that made the difference for him. “When I got here, I was blown away by the quality of the speakers. What impressed me the most was the willingness to answer questions that seemingly were unanswerable.” AJ’s last statement in his interview succinctly summarized his viewpoint: “When you come, you can come for the knowledge, but also there are people worth meeting here.”
For Elise, Base Camp was a place where God showed up. “God has really helped me understand how to relate and talk to people with more humbleness. I was very, very critical of what I thought of Muslims. So hearing [a former Muslim’s testimony], it was kinda overwhelming, because… there are people in the world that really want to know God, they just don’t how to get the answers. So with this apologetics, it’s just really great how you can really help people that want to know, but just they don’t know how to get the answers. This is probably one of the best camps I’ve ever been to.”
Allison, who came to camp because her family wanted her to, came out of Camp all smiles. “I really enjoyed it! It was a good experience to learn about forming your own opinions about what you believe in, and I think everyone should come and experience it.”
We agree, Allison. Everyone should come and experience it. Indeed.