Way of the Saints is about connection.
We exist to connect people to God, God’s creation, and each other. We foster these connections through multi-day backpacking trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee and a rhythm of prayer that guides the hours of our lives along the way.
Glad you asked!
Way of the Saints is an outreach of All Saints Church in Durham, North Carolina. We are a group of youth leaders, chaplains, and teachers who met through a shared commitment to investing in students.
As you can see below, we are a mix of brains, beauty, and beards.
As a youth leader, you could do almost anything with your youth group this summer. However, we have found intensive faith-formation, friendship, prayer, solitude, and life together (without cellphones!!!), don’t just magically happen.
Backpacking provides a fantastic vision of the Christian life: walking together, eating together, praying together, working together. Few things show students a pattern for following the LORD and being part of His church quite like backpacking. And watching the sunset from a fire tower with 360° views of the Blue Ridge Mountains? We’re on it.
Way of the Saints began as a way to focus on and live out what we always knew mattered in our church’s youth group: discipleship, community, prayer, and challenging each other to grow. After trying it ourselves we are convinced there are few ways to invite students and other groups into discipleship like backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.
Our trips on the Appalachian Trail create a context for the kind of intentionality, community, and spiritual feasting everyone needs, especially youth. And we’ve seen the impact in our students all year long.Back to top
Everyone will hike together, carry all necessary supplies and equipment, prepare meals, make and break camp, find water, and engage in a daily rhythm of prayer and scriptures together. Battles of wits and feats of strength are part of the adventure (of course) and there will also be swimming.
You probably have a lot of questions. Please check out our FAQs or feel free to CONTACT US.
Of course not! Assuming you are a generally affable group of folks, we would love to lead you on a trip. Contact us and let's talk about what you might be thinking.
The cost per participant is $295. This covers campsite fees and all the meals on the trail. We also allow one adult per five students to join us free of charge.
Our dates for Summer 2017 are all full. Feel free to contact us about future dates!
Our general itinerary is to meet on Sunday night to have a nice meal and sleep at a campground at the trailhead. We then pack up and hit the trail Monday morning, camping Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights (giving ample time for sunrise and sunset watching in the mountains). We reach our destination on Thursday around midday.
Way of the Saints requires a minimum of one adult leader per 5 students, beyond our trip leaders. To help accomodate this, we allow one adult per 5 students to come along free of charge.
As for group size, we want to foster a community focused, contemplative atmosphere so our goal is to have between 7 and 20 participants. If your numbers would be out of that range, please still feel free to contact us and we can see if some accomodations could be made.
All student group participants must be 14 or older and at minimum a rising freshman in high school. Way of the Saints is geared toward high school students, though we welcome inquiries from other church groups (church staffs, vestries, boards of elders, women’s ministry groups, etc.).
A detailed gear list can be found here: Packing List. It is essential to have equipment suitable for backpacking. School backpacks and bulky sleepover-type sleeping bags will not do! We can guide your group to make sure you’re well prepared.
We believe you shouldn’t have to spend a small fortune to experience God’s creation. In most cases, students will already have many if not all of the personal items and clothing needed to participate. Students may bring their own equipment, provided that it’s suitable for backpacking. In many cases past participants have been able to borrow suitable gear from others in their church if needed. We can also help source and rent suitable gear such as sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks to participants if needed, and we’ll be there along the way to make sure everyone is adequately prepared.
The best way to prepare is to get your legs moving now! Go for several long walks each week. Find time on weekends to hike several miles at a time if you can. You’ll find the benefits to a healthy mind, body, and soul extend much further than just preparing for Way of the Saints!
Probably! All joking aside, none of us would have been able to do it without a lot of help from our friends. It may be a breeze for some students, and the challenge of a lifetime for others. We operate with a “challenge by choice” mentality and believe in empowering students to make it. That said, quitting or being left behind is not an option on the trail! We all help each other along the way. Please discuss injuries or talk to us if you are concerned about physical limitations!
We shoot for approximately five miles a day. That doesn’t sound like much but on the Appalachian Trail it can feel like plenty! During the trip, we may suggest or present the option to adjust distances shorter or longer depending on the outcome of a day on the trail and facilitate group decision-making among students and youth leaders about whether to hike on or make camp.
Sleeping outside on a backpacking trip is a lot like sleeping at home in your bed: you do the bedtime routine, you brush your teeth, you lay down and sleep - only it’s cooler. We take every precaution to keep safe on the trail and to set up a safe camp so you can enjoy hard-earned rest after a long day on the AT.
We usually stick with camping staples such rice and beans, trailmix, SMORES!!! (sorry... got excited) and generally delicious fare.
Have dietary restrictions? No problem! We are prepared to handle a variety of dietary restrictions including but not limited to gluten, dairy, and nuts. We all have friends and family with dietary restrictions and can work with your group to prepare meals and snacks that fit your needs.
We rely upon the historic confessions of the Christian faith, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, as the rule and expression of our faith. Way of the Saints is an outreach of All Saints Church (Anglican Church of North America) in Durham, NC.
Often our lives will be ruled by something, whether we realize it or not. We believe a daily source of prayer and scripture is helpful for Christians to be ruled by Christ the LORD. As Anglicans, we at Way of the Saints use the Book of Common Prayer to guide our waking and sleeping hours. It includes prayers for morning, noonday, evening, and bedtime, with guided scripture lessons along the way. In addition to being good for Christian formation, we have found it’s a great alternative “rule of life” to the constantly distracted world of status updates and new browser tabs.
We believe it’s so helpful and beautiful we built a backpacking trip around it! It can take some adjustment, but we have found the structure provided by liturgical prayer allows the cries of our hearts to flourish in the words of the Scriptures. Way of the Saints will also be happy to work with you to incorporate spiritual formation that reflects your tradition.