One of our greatest joys during the year is taking many of the boys on mission trips, trips to speak about drug abuse to high schools, or trips to enjoy nature or our nation's heritage. Included in the photos above are some of those outreaches. The boys are the ones who learn so much from these trips, even if the goal is to help an orphanage in Guatemala. One of our cadets, Nolan, reported his experience and how it affected him...
"Guatemala opened my eyes to a world that seemed forgotten. I was slapped in the face by the firm hand of reality. The one thing I saw least was hope. But God used our whole team to bring hope and joy to the kids at the orphanage.
I realized how selfish and ungrateful we can be -- how small our problems are to the rest of the world. O saw how spoiled rotten America is. When I got back to the states I was disgusted by all the senseless junk we have in our homes and stores. hearing people gripe about petty things made my stomach churn.
My experience in Guatemala was the final tool God used to change my outlook on life."
Twice annually, small groups of students travel to a large and well-established children’s home in Guatemala, Casa Para Niños Aleluya. Often today’s American youth feel a sense of “entitlement” to all of the best life has to offer materially. Team members have a first-hand look at poverty and hunger. Best yet, they have opportunity on these excursions to help meet the needs for those in crisis.
Annual “tours” are taken to events in other states. Some of the tours past have included our nation’s Capital, San Diego, California, Alaska and Chicago, Illinois. On these tours, students will do work projects, visit children’s homes, Teen Challenge centers, homeless shelters, and in the case of Alaska~ go fishing! The team travels with staff members and sometimes their parents. What a great experience to have fished in Valdez with Dad!
Cadets have chapel twice weekly. Group Bible studies, and individually prescribed character studies give students the biblically-based character-building blocks for successful living. The individual biblical counseling is provided weekly for each student with an assigned counselor.
As cadets succeed in the program, they are given the opportunity to become part of the drama travel teams and Stay Sharp school ministry team. Stay Sharp teams travel to public and private schools to present drug awareness programs. Recently our Stay Sharp team spoke to an audience of more than 3000 students in Oak Park River Forest High School in Chicago.
David and Barbara Rutledge are former pastors from Palm Coast, Florida. Following 14 years in the pastorate, they moved to rural West Florida with their three children to develop Gateway's unique military school program for struggling teens in conjunction with Teen Challenge. Together, David and Barbara lead monthly “boundaries sessions” for the the parents of Gateway Military Academy.