COMMUNITY - Group Dynamics

We believe that community building is one of the great strengths of wilderness adventures. With that in mind, we aim all of our experiences toward opening the mind of the youth to their place, role, and gifts within their community.

Backpacking is a great community learning tool, as well as cooking, cleaning, camp set-up and tear-down, caving, and even white-water rafting. AS each of these activities takes place, the AAI staff will point out it's effects (good and bad), on the community as a whole. In the evenings, during debriefing, we will draw on those experiences to teach the building blocks of a cohesive Christian community.

Your group will not come away unchanged.

The week starts off with the group preparing a Covenant:


"A usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement, a written agreement
or promise under seal between two or more parties for the performance of some action." (Webster)

"A way to verbalize and mobilize our commitment together." (R. Malone)

A covenant is a promise which is made, followed and upheld by the whole group. This is a serious vow which says that during the time limit described we as a group will decide to follow the stipulations of the agreement. This is the group's covenant alone- they come up with it and they enforce it.

Things are included on the covenant if, and only if each group member decides that he/she can and will abide by that stipulation for the duration of the contract. If a single group member will not abide, then that stipulation must either be changed slightly until the person will abide, or it is left out of the covenant.

In other words, each member has the ability to say no to any stipulation which is included in the covenant. Each person need not love each stipulation, they simply need to agree to abide by and live with them for the duration of the contract. All group members sign on the paper that they agree.

Why do a covenant?
1. Establishes the intentions of the group.
2. Defines expectations of group behavior in all areas (physical, spiritual, social, mental)
3. Provides accountability for all of these expectations.
4. Enhances commitment.
5. Provides a basis for vulnerability.
6. Serves as a reference for evaluating.
7. Puts love into actions. "Let us consider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24)
8. Makes everybody a team, everybody works together (there's no "them against us").

Common things which have been included in covenants in the past.
* no junk food for the week
* no cut downs or making fun of others or yourself (maybe 1 cut-down=2 sincere compliments)
* good attitude about all of the safety rules and regulations
* no complaining
* we do everything as a group (either everyone or nobody)
* be positive and encouraging to one another. (never negative)
* everybody share in the group worships/discussions (at least a short something).
personal disciplines during the week (quiet time, journalizing, etc.)
being on time for all scheduled events, meals, etc.
prayer partners for the week
no romantic pairing off during the week.

Hints for a good covenant:
Try to make these as specific as possible, some of these are even too vague! (i.e. Love one another)
Gently lead the group towards some of these, particularly the asterisked ones. If you get no bites though, you must accept that the group as a whole doesn't want that one to be included.