The 100 is a series of posts predominantly about people who have caused my success. It was inspired by Jim Collins. For more about The 100, click here.
During the summer of 1993, I headed to Wilderness North (A camp fifty miles north of Duluth, MN.) for a weeklong leadership camp called Leadership Quest. I’m not entirely sure why I went in the first place. I doubt it was to become a better leader*, but it was something to do for a week during the doldrums of summer.
*It’s like the “Substitute Teacher 3” sketch from Key & Peele.
JACQUELIN: Mr. Garvey, we’re telling the truth. We have clubs at this school. We have clubs for special interests.
MR. GARVEY: OK. What the hell club are you in, Jayquellen?
JACQUELIN: Future Leaders of America.
MR. GARVEY: OK, OK. How would you know if you going to be a leader in the future? Is there a “Stargate” in your bedroom? Can you travel through time, Jayquellen?
MR. GARVEY: Then sit the flip down.
My youth pastor at the time had gone through a program to train up youth ministry leaders. The program was from Tentmakers, and they were also behind Leadership Quest. So, a carload of us headed up to Wilderness North for a week of camp, teaching, fellowship, and mosquito bites. Seriously, the worst experience I ever had with mosquitos was at this camp. I had camp experiences from Camp Calvin Crest in Fremont, NE, but this seemed more like a camp experience. Slept in tents out in the woods, a nearby lake, other campers were from different states (Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota), and it was away from everything. Made a lot of friends that week from the camp. If social media and smart phones would’ve been around back then, I’m guessing I’d still be in contact with most of them.
Dick Amundson was the founder of Tentmakers, and taught throughout the week to us campers. I can’t recall specifics with the teaching. There was an example one night of an individual memorizing a majority of the phone book, and how we are capable of amazing things. We got offtrack then because the discussion diverted to, “Why would you memorize the phone book?” Anyway, Dick had a passionate belief that those of us in attendance could accomplish great things if we put our mind to it. The week of Leadership Quest was an amazing experience.
I can’t recall which day it was, but it was during some break when we were hanging out. Dick was talking to me about what I wanted to do after I graduated from high school. My response was something to the effect of, “I don’t know, go to college I guess.” He immediately responded with, “Have you ever thought about not going to college?” No, not seriously considered. Perhaps as a fleeting daydream, but in reality? No.
This was the first time the daydream became a tangible idea. Going to college was what every one in my world was conditioned to do since they first went to school. At the time, I was getting ready to be a senior at a college preparatory school. It was one thing to consider with myself, but when I started to share with others about the idea it did seem foolhardy. People would try to make me feel idiotic for even considering a path outside of college. What was I going to do? Where was I going to go? I had no idea, because it was something I had never seriously considered. I wouldn’t have answers to these questions for quite some time. It’s interesting to look back on this time and the animus I generated from people for even considering not going to college.
“Have you ever thought about not going to college?” I hadn’t, but the more I did my senior year the more it seemed right. In the end, I did not go to college. There were other experiences and individuals that helped make that a reality, and you’ll probably hear about some of them in future blog posts, but Dick Amundson was the catalyst.