National Alumni Board (NAB) member Jennifer Franklin loves the outdoors and connecting with Adventure Unlimited alumni. So as part of her volunteer work on the NAB, she organized an event in May at Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, Colorado, for all Adventure Unlimited alumni from A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound programs (formerly A/U chapters).
Jennifer, along with Kristi Gessler, an alumna and staff member who attended the event with her family, shared what they loved about the day – including two memorable proofs of God’s care.
Jennifer: The inspiration for the Denver area alumni event came from the organization’s focus on living generously. And, with my work on the NAB’s Program Outreach committee, I’m committed to being in touch with alumni in the area to give them a sense of belonging with the organization, whether or not they are still practicing Christian Science.
In preparation for the event, I asked the practitioners supporting Adventure Unlimited – one each in April and May – to work with me in knowing there were no barriers to our alumni feeling the warm embrace of their membership in the alumni community. The calls I made organizing the event and lining up the activities, food and event location were all done with this – and the blessing it would bring to the individuals and the organization as a whole – at the forefront of my thought. Volunteers showed up to help set up, lead activities and welcome alumni as they arrived. The day simply seemed to flow. Each new arrival was greeted warmly and with a great big Adventure Unlimited hug!
Kristi: It was clear, even before getting to the park, how much thought our organizer, Jennifer Franklin, had put into the day with the simple directions and informative updates on the Evite (invitation). We arrived late as my five-year-old son had played soccer that morning, but just in time for lunch! The National Alumni Board had provided a great assortment of sandwiches, as well as snacks, fruit, drinks and cookies – perfect for all ages.
After hearing briefly about all the great programming the A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound had forthcoming, we set out on a 6-mile bike ride with both kids – our son, as well as our 10-year-old daughter, with Jennifer leading the way. The route was well thought-out and led us around the beautiful park. Near the end, our daughter fell off her bike and hit the ground pretty hard. She and I were in the back, so we took some time to pray. There was a palpable presence of peace, as we stood by a fishing dock listening to and watching the spring birds go happily about their business. We knew that nothing could stop her from being about her business, too – of finishing the ride! Soon, she was back on her bike. As we met up with the group, we felt their support and love as they had patiently waited for us.
Then, it began to rain a bit. However, Jennifer was so upbeat, saying these rains usually just pass by, which it did within minutes. I’m sure we were all knowing that nothing could interrupt our day together, expressing God in right activity.
Jennifer: When the cyclists arrived back at the pavilion, we were made aware that one young boy was missing from the group. The alumni spread out quietly, praying as they went all directions from the pavilion, looking for the boy. His grandmother drove to the entrance and spoke to the park rangers. Within a very short time, three park rangers arrived to assist in finding the boy. However, at that same time, an alumna walked back along the path, accompanying him. She had seen him walk away on his own and ran to catch up with him and to walk along the river with him. He was in loving care the entire time – just as each of us who were involved were quietly expressing. His grandmother was excited to see him escorted back to the group without his knowledge of any concern for his whereabouts.
Kristi: I could tell by the quiet that all who were there were praying, and when my son asked what was going on, I said this boy was lost – but God knew right where he was. And indeed He did! It turned out the boy had been cared for by an adult the entire time. We were all so grateful, including the park rangers!
Jennifer: I believe that it is when we are in activity with one another, we have deeper connections. I think both of these experiences illustrated that foundational point during our alumni activity.
The feedback and input from the alumni were a huge encouragement to make this an annual event for all to enjoy for years to come. We will look for ways to improve the event and make the day one in which alumni can connect and enjoy our beautiful Colorado environment.
Kristi: Healing, peace, friendship and joyous activity characterized my day at Bear Creek Lake State Park. Thank you to Jennifer Franklin and the alumni board for all they did to put this day together!
A big thank you, too, to our alumni event sponsors, whose donations made it possible for this to be offered as a free event: Jennifer Franklin, Steve Chitwood, Ed Gondolf, Glenn Grow and Kimberly Veazy.
Alumni events are happening around the country! Contact an alumni board member in your area if you’re interested in planning or attending one. Can’t find a board member in your city? Email Amie Chitwood about connecting with alumni near you.