Columbia’s newest team-member is John Sherk, who starts his new role as male residence director this summer. We sat down with him and found out he’s an alum of Columbia’s Quest (2006) program and likes interesting/weird things like camping in his backyard in -40 Celsius. Here’s John – in his own words:
What is a great memory about your year in Quest?
One of the greatest moments was building snow caves. We did some avalanche awareness, rescue training, and learning how to build a good snow cave. Unfortunately my partner and I built a very poor snow cave so coincidentally we didn’t sleep much that night as we were freezing. But having a good cooked meal and doing some sledding with our crazy carpets while the sun was setting on the horizon was a great memory.
What drew you to your new role as the Male RD at Columbia? What drew you back to Columbia?
Coming to CBC is like coming home. I really recognize the necessity in the world for mentors and disciplers. I had a chance to work with the Outtatown program, leading young adults travelling across Canada and Guatemala. I wanted to continue along that path, equipping people to learn how to live well and leading people to equip others to do the same.
Where is your hometown? Where did you grow up?
I say I grew up in Saskatchewan, but I have actually lived almost a decade in every province; Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
You have an undergraduate degree in Environmental Design. What is one project you have done that you were really proud of and why?
I worked on a project with a group of engineers where worked on sustainable design initiative in Honduras. We built everything from stoves, to water filters, to roof systems for clay houses. Installing these things in a community that was impoverished and had no electricity was very impacting for me.
Can you tell me a bit about your faith journey?
My church influence growing up and the teaching I received at Columbia had a great impact on me. Through those influences I developed an understanding that the Christian life must be deeply rooted in a person and is lived out daily. It is much more than just a Sunday morning thing and cannot be contained by a neat and tidy Christian box.
What do you like to do on your days off? What are your favourite past times or hobbies?
I really like winter camping. I enjoy camping at the extremes so sometimes you may find me in snow, bundled up, trying to fight the -40 degree weather. I have some great memories testing out the best way to safely fall asleep in that temperature, making sure that you will survive and wake up in the morning. The key I found is goggles, you have to sleep with goggles otherwise your eyes are freezing even when they’re closed. It’s so fun though.
What is your favourite sport?
I played football in high school and enjoyed that but I am a big fan of the explorers or adventurers like Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first person to summit Mount Everest. I like adventurists that conquer mountains or ski to the North Pole and push the boundaries of what the body is capable of in extreme conditions.
What is the most extreme outdoor adventure you’ve ever done?
I got to summit Pico de Orizaba while in Mexico, which is the third highest peak in North America at 5,700 meters. It was one of my first experiences in high mountaineering. It was really fantastic and extremely difficult and one of my favourite expeditions.