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The Benefits of Elevation

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Elevation … what is it? What is this “thing” that one keeps hearing about after
joining the Burger Universe? Even if you do know what Elevation is, you may be unsure
if it is really a good fit for you. Elevation has many awesome things, many hard things,
and a few things that could possibly be seen as unwanted conditions. This article will
outline a few of those and help you decide ‒ if you are struggling with the decision of
going.
Elevation has many activities which change slightly from year to year. Some of
the more consistent activities include the following: chill time, yoga, meditation,
journaling, workshops (which are impressive), a service project, optional survival night,
sleeping out in the volley ball pit, simulation, pod games, solo time, journal signing, and
the Williamsburger.
Each of these has its merits and drawbacks based on your personality ‒ with the
exception of “chill time.” Chill time is always fun, because (just like it sounds) you can
do whatever activity you want ‒ within reason. In the past people have played athletic
games, rock climbed, explored, played card or word games, had a really good
conversation, or just rested during this time. There really isn’t much to complain about
when it comes to free time!
Yoga may sound boring, laughable, or painful depending on who you are. However, the
yoga activities have been found by students to be surprisingly fun and rejuvenating.
Because of the feeling of belonging that is extremely prevalent and powerful at Elevation,
one doesn’t feel pressure to do as much as the person next to you. Your best is good
enough.
Meditation is another activity that strikes some people as odd. Similar to yoga
though, it is surprisingly enjoyable. It sharpens your ability to feel fulfilled when doing
the other activities. Not only that, but meditation will also be a delectable treat in and of
itself (particularly if you enjoy sleep).
The journaling is also a more thoughtful activity that is done at Elevation. Some
have a difficult time with this exercise because it requires some real personal reflection
which some find difficult. But regardless of its possible difficulty, it has proven very
beneficial to many students and many are later grateful that they recorded both
experiences and feelings during their Elevation activities.
The solo time is one of the most controversial activities at Elevation … at least as
far as enjoyment goes. Most students go into it thinking they will dislike it. Many come
out having enjoyed it, and some come out of the experience
not having enjoyed it. Solo time is a period of three hours or so that you spend however you want ‒ alone in nature.
Some sleep, read, journal, meditate, or just sit back and “drink in” their surroundings. No
distractions, no noise ‒ just peace filled silence. Many people think of it as “blissful.”
Would you enjoy it?
There are some personality types that would not enjoy the meditation, journaling,
yoga, and solo time. But the majority of students find those experiences fulfilling and
refreshing … even students who, for whatever reason, don’t do such activities at home.
The workshops are always different and cater to a wide range of likes. There will
probably be at least one workshop that you would enjoy. Whether you prefer outdoor
activities, or like more quiet mental games, or maybe a science challenge ‒ there should
be a workshop for you.
The service project (like many activities) is not there just to entertain and allow
students to have fun, but is there to help teach, improve, and help students have a
fulfilling experience. You draw closer to the members of your pod (which is like a
“family group”) during these service projects.
Many of you may have heard of a survival night. This can be a great experience
or it can be absolutely miserable. Sleeping out in the open with just what you can fit in
your pockets is what some people call awesome and what others call “the epitome of
misery”! But happily, it is optional. Many people do it, and many choose not to. It is
entirely up to you.
The “simulation” changes every year and always has excitement, challenge, and is
a great bonding time. This is an activity that exemplifies what Logan Christiansen
classified as some of the best things about Elevation. As he said, “Elevation is a unique
experience where you can be vulnerable, learn, grow, and create deep connections with
other people. Each year that I have gone to elevation it has been a life changing
experience because I am able to take time to really take stock of what I want my life to
be, and then I can make a plan accordingly.”
The Williamsburger is a race that two members of your pod can compete in.
Instead of a normal triathlon, the Williamsburger includes running, swimming, rock
climbing, and ascending. You get to cheer your pod member on and watch others
compete.
“Walls” is an activity that is pretty unique. It is an emotional trust fall that both
requires and builds trust in your pod. The details of this you can find more about if you
go to Elevation. Just understand that this hard but rewarding exercise has left many
people in tears … and with some of the closest friends they will make in high school.
People have different likes and dislikes. You will notice that many of the
activities are outdoor-oriented because this is an outdoor program. So if you don’t like
the outdoors, intensely challenging yourself, dealing with weather disappointments, or
doing what it takes to develop relationships in a safe environment, then Elevation is
probably not for you. Elevation is hard, but very rewarding for most people. And
although it may not be for everyone, it is a life changing experience for most of those
who do participate. I would recommend it to most people! You get out of Elevation what
you put into it. For most students, this means they come away with life changing
experiences, strong ‒ possibly lifelong ‒ relationships, and a determination to succeed in
their lives come what may.
Sources:

Christiansen, Logan. Personal interview. 29 Jan. 2019.

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The Benefits of Elevation