Quest: Why We Go Outside

Categories: Quest Blog

Ever wondered why Columbia’s Quest program focuses on outdoor adventure? We asked Quest Director Jeremy Walker to fill us in on how getting outside is the best way to re-connect: with God, with yourself, with Creation, and with people.

Quest Student at Mount Baker

Have you noticed that parts of our society are increasingly distant from the rest of God’s creation?

We live in unique times. Our global economy allows us to buy things that can’t be made locally, to eat what is grown out of season, and to consume resources unjustly. In my own life, I have noticed that these realities tend to diminish my connection to my local place and, ultimately, to creation.

Do you ever wonder what would happen if we closed this gap – if we reimagined and rediscovered our closeness to what God has made?

If we did, I would suggest that more of us would learn to love our neighbors – all of them. This includes the neighbors next door, and the ones we never see or meet, but those that we inevitably impact through our clicks, our possessions, and our consumption.

We go outside to reconnect with humanity.

One of the many reasons Quest immerses students in amazing outdoor environments is to close this gap.

We intentionally enter into wonder-filled places.

We get curious and examine humanity’s connection to the very world that sustains us and to the God who made it all.

Quest also heads outdoors because life can get noisy.

I often feel for young adults trying to discover or hear God’s voice amidst all the other competing voices. Have you ever longed for an opportunity to take a step off of the treadmill of life for minute? I certainly have. As a parent of three kids, and as teacher working with young adults, this desire is often nearer that I want to admit. That said, this desire is not to abandon life, but to pause – to find a vantage point to gain fresh perspective.

What I have learned through my involvement in Quest is that going outside provides a unique opportunity that helps people move beyond the noise and distraction.

Going hiking, sailing, or climbing changes the pace, allows people to get lost in unfathomable beauty, and to simplify life to its most basic elements. Life can often feel manufactured, superficial – even fake. The routine habits and busyness can leave us longing for peace, space, and quiet. Quest adventures allow for a rhythm that promotes solitude and new ways of listening to God. In these outdoor environments students are able to take a step back and evaluate what is truly important in life.

I’ll finish by ending with the remarkable result of going outside.

Once you close the distance and refresh your perspective, it’s amazing the depth of connection you can build with people.

Conversations move beyond surface level chatter, allowing you to really know someone. You get to discover what makes you tick, what motivates others, and explore the questions you’ve been dying to ask. My most memorable moments on Quest adventures are a result of the rich conversations I have had while walking along a mountain trail, sitting down with a group for a long awaited meal, or paddling with them in canoe.

Going outside with Quest provides students with a medium for the kind of human connections we all long for.

The kind where we begin to understand our place in the world. The kind where we develop friendships beyond our likes and dislikes. The kind that transform us. In this way, Quest adventures provide an intentional platform for developing and practicing healthy relationships. Personally, I am indebted to all of our alumni for the ongoing friendships and for the ways they have spoken into my life.

Ultimately, we go outside because it helps us to know God, others, and ourselves more fully.


Jeremy Walker is the Director of Columbia’s Quest program. Quest is currently accepting applicants for Fall 2018.