Lost in the Woods

One of the many skills we teach at camp is how not to get lost in the woods. As a remote wilderness camp, losing your way can be a challenging experience for campers and counselors alike. We supply maps and radios, but the best way to ensure you know where you’re going is always to have someone more experienced than you leading the group. A seasoned counselor knows our trails like the back of his hand. They know how to lead a group on hikes through the woods safely, and they know what to do if something goes wrong. Without an expert guide, one can easily find oneself at a crossroads, confused about which path to take.

As a kid, my siblings and I played in the creek behind my grandparent’s house. We’d walk up and down the bank, lifting loose rocks to look for crawfish. One time, I got tired and wanted to head back toward the house. I turned around and began walking in the direction I believed would take me back. However, after a few minutes, I realized I didn’t recognize anything around me. The backyards I saw looked nothing like the back of my grandparents’ house. Fear sunk in, and I stood still–panicking, lost, and bewildered.

The wilderness is often considered serene, peaceful, tranquil, and beautiful. But it can also be a frightful place, especially for the unprepared. To be bewildered is to be led into the wilderness and left to puzzle your way out. We find ourselves caught off guard in the unknown. We’re unaccustomed to the situation, unprepared for the problems, and unaware of what’s coming around the corner. We feel frozen in overwhelming fear.

More recently, my wife told me she was pregnant. Now, this wasn’t a complete surprise. We had been talking about starting a family for a while. But suddenly, it was real. The first thing I did was buy a shelf’s worth of books for expectant fathers. We talked with friends and family for insights and advice. We scoured the internet for blog articles that help first-time parents. But all those things didn’t make it feel any less like the wilderness.

In Scripture, we read of a time when Jesus suddenly found himself in the desert. “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (Mk 1:12). Christ had just been baptized by John in an opening of heaven scene. The very next thing Mark records is that Jesus was led into the wilderness. There, he fasted for 40 days, and then he was tempted in various ways. But Christ doesn’t get confused, and he isn’t lost. He doesn’t fall prey to the wild dangers of the unknown. He stands upon the truth found in God’s Word. With bold confidence, he defended against the devil’s advances. And when the devil gave up and left him, Christ was ministered to by the angels.

I was in the backyard of a stranger’s home—a crying six-year-old. The elderly couple who owned the home saw me and asked if I was okay. I was not. With no concept of how long or far I walked, I thought I might never see my family. But the sweet folks who found me asked me one simple question that immediately solved the problem–”Do you know your home phone number?” Wiping the tears from my eyes, I recited the numbers my parents taught me. Within seconds, I was talking with my mom on the phone. She told them my grandparents’ address, and they drove me back. As it turned out, they only lived about five houses away.

Looking back, I can see how small my problem was that day. At the time, it felt like the sky was falling. But in truth, I had been prepared to deal with the situation. And now, the prospect of having our first child can sometimes seem scary and overwhelming. But the truth is we’ve got older couples looking out for us and the things our parents taught to guide us forward. On top of that, we stand upon the firm foundation of faith in God, who goes before us and supplies us with exactly what we need to keep from being bewildered by the wilderness.


  1. I enjoyed reading this blog. Being lost in the woods is a relatable situation and the analogy to our lives is so fitting. Thank you for sharing a window into your life Capt. Pete! I am so thankful for NF and the “band of brothers” that my son has grown up with. I see the fruit of this ministry…to God be the glory!
    Dorothy Harrold

  2. Thanks for sharing Pete. I relate with being lost in the wilderness also. The first year and first couple days of our 46-R trip back in 2004 we found ourselves having taken a wrong turn in the Seward range of the Adirondacks. Thankful to have had a seasoned counselor to backtrack and guide us out. This was back when the trails there were mainly herd paths and less defined. Definitely a relatable parallel to life itself and how Christ pulls us up and carries us in those wilderness times where we feel lost, but he is really right there by our side. The “band of brothers” idea does resonate with me too. There are a handful of guys who I still keep in touch with and pray for from NF and also get to hike with occasionally. A true blessing.

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