A special thanks to Mike Taylor for this photograph taken at the site of Masada. Mike was a part of the 2015 Pilgrimage to Israel-Palestine by Shore Community Church of Auckland, NZ.

Choose Your Level of Engagement

If you would like to experience the Bible Lands firsthand, recognize that you may join an announced adventure travel package or help craft a trip of your own. Each year, Mark leads a number of teams to destinations across the Mediterranean Basin. These range in size from two to fifty-two persons. Special care is given to calibrate each experiential exercise with the educational/spiritual goals of the group. In general, three styles of travel adventure emerge.

First, our association with colleges and universities produce highly-focused groups that move with energy, stay at budget-level accommodations, and receive academic credit from their home institutions. Faculty members are encouraged to help shape itinerary design, educational outcomes, on-site teaching, and assessment. Reading and writing assignments augment the experience. These study-tours are, generally, an extension of existing curriculum.

Second, our association with local churches and church leaders produce more traditional pilgrim-style experiences. These travel teams move at an easy pace, lodge in comfortable facilities, and place value on sightseeing, camaraderie, casual cultural engagement, and contemplative exercise. As with educational trips, church leaders are encouraged to participate in the planning and execution of the journey. After all, shouldn't a spiritual pilgrimage be an extension of a ministry design?

Orientation works best when it is given in advance of experience. Image at Sepphoris taken by Adrienne Griffin.

Orientation works best when it is given in advance of experience. Image at Sepphoris taken by Adrienne Griffin.

Third, our association with special individuals produce experiences that are best described as the extreme adventure. Recent small group experiences include trekking (and tent camping) across Galilee (the"Jesus Trail"), scuba diving in the Roman harbor at Caesarea, climbing Jebel Musa (the traditional Mt. Sinai) in Egypt, and climbing Agri Dagh (the traditional Mt. Ararat) in Turkey.

Which kinds of trip excites you? The study-tour? The pilgrim-tour? The extreme adventure? Some combination of all of the above? Perhaps a better starting point is this question: What specific outcomes do you seek? The exercise of head, heart, or legs? If you are a group leader, maybe you should ask yourself: What specific outcomes do I desire for my group? Does it concern spiritual disciplines, team building, personal healing, global awareness? There is value in these outcomes and a hundred others. Narrowing your list to what is best and what is feasible requires planning.

Many questions should be asked of your travel provider before the rush to the price tag. Cross-cultural experiences are far too valuable to be wasted on poorly aligned priorities.

If you are serious about adventure travel, shoot me an email. I'd love to dialogue.

Come on. Let's explore outside!

Dan Blanton, a member of Cincinnati Christian University'study-tour to central Turkey in 2009, captured this exquisite image. While first impressions can appear guarded, rural residents are quick to extend hospitality.

Observe. Engage. Contemplate.