How to Live Wilderness

By Scott Schill


At 6:30 a.m. on the day of this writing, I was paddling my canoe on the Newcastle Reservoir. The breeze was light and cool and the sun still beyond the mountain. The only sounds were the gentle rhythmic swish of the paddle and soft droplets hitting the water with each stroke of the paddle. This was accompanied by the soft purr of dozens of swallows as they swooped over the water feeding on the most recent hatch of insects that lay sprinkled about the surface like snowflakes that refused to melt.  

I deliberately kept from clunking the paddle on the side of the canoe because the sound seemed irreverent. It was serene and peaceful. I loved just being on the water, connecting with nature and my Creator. It was a way for me to get myself centered and refreshed before plunging headlong into a busy day. It was a time for me to reflect on my value as a person, a husband, a father, a son, a friend. What do I have to contribute? How can I serve another? What talents or gifts do I have that I can use to lift or inspire? Who can I forgive? Who can I teach? From whom can I learn today?

Using Nature to Spark Change

At RedCliff Ascent, we utilize the wilderness as a catalyst to reveal potential, inspire hope and heal families. We believe it, and we live it.  It’s easy to believe what we see. We believe it because we see children from all over the world discover their potential. We see with our own eyes, the hope that is inspired by children who had none. They came to us in despair, depressed, hopeless, and they found hope. We see families healed every time they are reunited, which in turn, inspires us to continue what we’re doing.


But what does it mean to live it?  Stephen R. Covey would call it, “Sharpening the Saw.”  For us, it means that we take a dose of our own medicine and use the precious resources of the wilderness environment to inspire ourselves and to heal our own wounds. Our Wilderness Guides bike, kayak, fish, camp, hike, canyoneer, climb, slackline over canyons and do other outdoor activities to feed their souls when they’re not on shift.

Living it means we take time out to fill that emotional bucket and maintain balance in our own lives. This aids us in keeping a healthy perspective so that we can help and lift others. If we have tension in a personal relationship, often solutions to the problem present themselves as we take time to be still and listen. If we are being selfish, this too can manifest itself when we’re removed from distractions of our busy lives long enough to see the value of sacrifice and selflessness. Much like my canoe experience this morning, being still in the wilderness allows us the opportunity to ask ourselves the right questions and prepare our hearts for more fulfilling human connection with our students.