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Ecuador is a playground for the outdoor enthusiast. Snow-capped volcanoes fill the panorama on a clear day, and distinctly different regions of the country provide diverse vistas for anyone desiring to get out and experience God’s creation. Having a deep appreciation and love for creation, we desire to expose as many people as we can to the awe-inspiring settings and peaks that exist in Ecuador.

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Making disciples means teaching others to be like Christ and to live as he lived. Our desire through backpacking is to disciple individuals in a holistic way, addressing each aspect of the person: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally, and missionally. This cannot be accomplished without the involvement of the Holy Spirit in our lives; but we know that the Lord has called us to be a part of this process and to involve ourselves in certain ways.

10484061_10101352372795936_276052594808064201_oKeeping in mind that our end goal is to make disciples, we look at the process of how to obtain this objective. Adventure is an incredible tool to bring about personal growth, because it naturally pushes people outside of their normal routine and comfort. In the world of adventure there are various levels of challenge that correspond to the intensity of the experience. The retreats that we design at El Refugio have their own end and way in which we challenge people. The experience of a backpacking expedition challenges the individual on a much higher level in all of the areas which define us as human beings. At times we as people need to be pushed to go deeper, past the superficial self to the center of who we really are. For this reason, backpacking is a powerful tool, and for some, a necessity for personal growth.

Our backpacking program is built around three key questions:

  • Who Am I?
  • Who Is God?
  • How do I live in that reality?

These questions are integrally related. Transformation begins to happen when you understand your reality and life situation. To understand that we are God’s creation and are entirely dependent upon Him for our existence opens our eyes to see the world differently, His creation differently, and ourselves in a new light.


10628623_10152579727505379_972079115713385871_nImagine hiking with views like those of the pictures on this page. Accompanied by a group of 4 to 8 others, your only responsibility is to keep hiking, help make food, and be with those around you. This setting is ideal to begin and develop conversations of great meaning. Simply being in such an awe-inspiring environment causes one to begin asking questions of importance. Our guides intentionally guide the hikes in conversation, content, and direction. They bring up questions of physical, emotional, and mental state. But they drive deeper and open up conversations with those hiking regarding their relational and spiritual lives. And if the group or individuals in the group are believers, they discuss the concept of living with mission in mind. Just like a backpacking expedition, our lives need direction. God extends a specific calling to each and every one of us. Are we seeking that calling? Are we living with purpose and direction?

‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.   Isaiah 54:10

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