When I first decided to participate in ACMNP, I was excited not only to live in a national park but also to share God’s love with the people I would meet there. I felt ready to bring light and hope into a dark place. My initial enthusiasm for ACMNP was rooted in what I believed I would offer the people I would work alongside and serve in the park. After serving with ACMNP twice, I found that my initial enthusiasm for ACMNP was incomplete, for my understanding of the impact that would take place those two summers was one-directional.
I thought the impact would start with me and my fellow ACMNP teammates and travel to everyone else.
The impact that took place during my two ACMNP summers was bi-directional, for I was deeply impacted by the people I worked alongside in the parks. Amidst a deeply-divided society that segments people based on religion, race, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic status, and political affiliation, among other things, the national parks served as a common meeting space for people from different pockets of the population. The people with whom I flipped burgers, scooped ice cream, corralled middle-school campers, led worship services, and hiked mountains deeply impacted me. They gave me a glimpse into the beauty of diversity, stretched my understanding of God’s all-encompassing love, and deepened my appreciation for seemingly unlikely friendships.
If you want to impact people in the national parks, do ACMNP. But be prepared to be impacted as well. Be prepared to receive light and hope from the people you will encounter. Be prepared to learn.
Haley A., Rocky Mountain National Park, 2014
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”