Category: expeditions

Something About Mountains

Doulos Staff Member, Tim Pack, has blogged about his experience accompanying the 9th Graders to the Caribbean’s highest peak. Source: www.packspen.com

Siri awakened me Monday morning at 3:14 to a groggy beginning of an anticipated adventure.
The coming series of new experiences and discoveries was inaugurated by the discovery that we had no water, so there would be no shower. Oh well, I thought, to hike to the top of the Caribbean’s highest peak, I should think that body odor will likely be my lot for the next five days anyway.

With my backpack stuffed and ready, I rendezvoused with my fellow adventurers at school and prepared for our nighttime bus ride to the Dominican Republic’s famous peak. In the restroom just before we left I noticed a rather large wild-eyed tree frog eyeing me from the opposite wall—just before he leaped on me and made me scream like a girl.

15 hours later I was standing alone, drenched, muddied and exhausted in a cold puddle in the fog and rain wondering if I’d make it to the day’s destination before it was night, and if the symptoms I was experiencing made me a candidate for exposure. Thinking I just had to be close, I was dismayed to be contradicted by the sign that indicated 4.7 km to go. Fatigue, blisters, and the grace of God were my three companions as I soldiered on, reproaching myself that I had let a little miscommunication separate me from the group behind me and the group already there.

When at last I spied lights in the deepening dusk, I knew the joy of a weary traveler finding a port in the storm. My relief was altered a bit by the discovery that the entire contents of my backpack were sodden and dripping. There seemed to be no place to hang anything to dry, so a few selected garments and sleeping gear were hung in the damp communal area and some by the fire. I found them later as wet as ever under mounds of soaked clothing placed over my items by later arrivals. I slept a little, despite the cold, the hard floor and the occasional braying of the pack-mules.

On the following day (Tuesday), with everyone rested, we were eager to ascend the remaining 500 meters and 5 km to the summit. On many other days I suppose one could have seen a spectacular panorama seated by that bust of Juan Pablo Duarte. But we could see little more than he could, perched on an island of rock that appeared to float in a sea of cloud. Yet, undaunted we returned to La Compartición where the sun had been shining and our clothes were left drying. It was raining when we got back and it kept on falling into the late afternoon.

Having already traversed 28km, my feet were angry and not eager to pack up on Day 3 (Wednesday) and hike a rugged trail for 18.5 more km to Valle del Tertero. There we found a quiet wide valley, the forecasted rain held off and we looked forward to a rest-day for Day 4 (Thursday).

Day 5 (Friday) and our weary, battered feet and our rented bus brought us back to Jarabacoa with a renewed sense of it’s value and importance.

And as I reflect now on the experience of these five days, I wonder at the impulse we have to climb mountains. What is it that motivates us to persecute ourselves in this way? What makes a man give up his comfort and buffet himself for nothing more than the glory of enduring the struggle, the joy of hard-forged relationships, breathtaking scenes and pulsating rainbows? Can encouraging and helpful staff and students carrying each others’ loads (literally) somehow make it worth it? Can the laughter of a tight-knit group leaping from rocks in the sun into a cold river balance it out? If not, perhaps, a crystal clear view of the Milky Way galaxy stretched from horizon to horizon across the center of a serenely beautiful valley, interrupted only by streaking meteors, answered by choruses of gleeful screams and shouts of praise?

Would it be considered worth it all if some of those young students overcame fears with courage? What if they showed unexpected patience, acceptance and kindness to one another? What if some responded to the God who made all this wonder by the words of His mouth and trusted his Son? Isn’t life itself a series of challenging difficulties? Who better to guide us up this mountain and take us to the summit?

What a grand time we had!

Servant Leadership

We lead using power, authority, and influence to love and serve others because Jesus first loved and served us.

— Mark 10:45

The past six weeks of school we have been focusing on our Servant Leader code of character. This code reflects someone who leads “using power, authority, and influence to love and serve others because Jesus first loved and served us.” We kicked off the school year with a chapel talk from our school director Bob Phelps on the story of The Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-36. This man had compassion and acted upon it. He did not let the cost of time or money prevent him from helping and caring for this traveler.

Servant leader: Someone who puts other people’s needs before their own comfort to bring healing or to help them flourish.

So how have we been applying this concept? We have been striving for our students to cultivate a culture of putting others’ needs before our own. We watched our students go out into the community during Doulos Service week and put their education on hold to lend a hand to students at other schools. They got their hands dirty and spent hours.

Every Revolution, our teachers choose a student from each grade level they feel lives out our code of character in every day life. They are then recognized for their representation of that character trait. Friends of Franciso Mata, an 11th grader, noted that he is always willing to lend a hand in the classroom and often stays after to help the teacher clean up. Jemima, a kindergartner, serves her teacher by following instructions and encouraging her classmates to follow suit. Hanna Abad, a first grader, shows her classmates how to serve with a happy heart and shows God’s love in her actions.

The following list of students from each grade were selected by their teachers as exemplary in the character trait of “Servant Leadership”

12 – Ysmayar Castillo
11 – Frandi Peralta (Francisco Mata)
10 – Mayelin Tiburcio
9 – Brian Abreu
8 – Frayluis Almonte
7 – Robert Castillo
6 – David Ovalle
5 – Sebastian Uribe Pina
4 – Angel David Matos Acosta
3 – Jailynne Fernandez
2 – Debora Ortiz
1 – Hanna Lara Abad
K – Jemima


Service Week 2017


Walls were painted. Art classes were given. Trash was collected. The cafe was stocked. Fences were painted. English was taught. Ministries around town were supported. The community was served and loved on. All by Doulos students and staff.

The very definition of the Greek word for doulos is “bond-servant”. Training and equipping servant leaders is at the core of all things DOULOS DISCOVERY SCHOOL. The students and staff worked hard, served hard and loved others through hearts of service. They stepped out of the classrooms and onto the Doulos campus and into the surrounding community, trading academics for service with the sweat of their brows.

At one of our partner schools, students spent two days loading piles of cement rock out of a newly finished second level. In a neighborhood school with 126 students and four teachers, a group of our students helped teach specials classes to relieve these overworked teachers. At yet another site, students spent hours raking leaves, doing yard work, and pulling weeds from baby trees that will be planted in seven years. Our 6th graders took on major paint projects all over our own campus, and our elementary students helped our staff clean and pick up trash.

Jesus came as a servant, humbling himself to the likeness of man and providing us the ultimate example of putting others above ourselves. The tasks that were completed during service week were important, but the greatest take-away from the week is bigger than that: we serve with joyful hearts in ALL THINGS because the one who bought us with the price of his own shed blood, Jesus Christ, put himself, the very King of Kings, way down low so that we could receive a full future with him in eternity. We serve because we love him, and we long to become more like him. Above all else: academics, sports, cross-cultural experience, etc., THIS is the most vital piece of cultivating hearts and minds that will transform this country.

We hope that through service week, our students gain a greater understanding of what means to lose our life in order to save it. We are also reminded that education at Doulos is a gift not to be taken for granted. Until next year!

It wasn’t always pretty.
It wasn’t always easy.
It wasn’t always glamorous.
But it was always worth it!

Outdoor Education Showcase [PHOTOS]

OED MONTH HeaderWe recently wrapped up our Outdoor Education Month—one of the most exciting, interactive and adventurous months of education at Doulos Discovery School. empty classIt’s also a month in which many of our classrooms are empty (besides the occasional lizard that finds its way in) because our students are out in nature putting their learning to use; experiencing God’s creation in a hands-on, guided environments.

Matt Brown, our Expedition Specialist (and All-Around Swell Guy) gives us a sneak peek at what OED Month is all about.

[For those of you who just want to see photos of our precious students learning about God in His very creation, skip down to the PHOTO GALLERY at bottom.]

Here’s Matt Brown on some of the nitty gritty behind our Outdoor Education Month planning, prep, and production…

Outdoor education month is a very unique experience that we offer to our students. As the coordinator of all these trips, it can be easy to get caught up in the details—the planning, funding, food, substitute teachers, any number of things—and forget what a special opportunity it is to offer these experience to our students. Time and again we have been able to challenge, educate and grow deeper relationships with our students through exploring and challenging them in the great outdoors.

kids outsideHighlights & Celebrations

This year some of the highlights include further improving our execution of all of high school and middle school going on their respective outdoor education trips, students leading and taking ownership of their own outdoor trips, and reducing the stress on finding substitutes.
Proudly, we continue to increase our outdoor supplies and tools such as doubling the amount of backpacking packs we have, as well as utilizing walkie talkies to further communication on the trails and increase safety.
Introducing new trips such as whitewater rafting, service in the community, and student planned and lead trips has deepened bonds with students and helped develop tools to overcome fears and challenges.  It’s through applying these skills that aren’t easily learned to every day situations that we can teach them to persevere and be servant leaders, brave and so many other characteristics.
outdoor education

Constant Improvement

We are always looking to improve on previous years’ trips and the specific educational content while outdoors is one of our main areas of focus, along with clearly outlining and planning for future Outdoor Education seasons. In doing this we can minimize the learning period for future student leaders, staff and expedition specialists as much as possible and continue to facilitate safe, fun, and educational outdoor ed experiences for our kids.
Another goal we have looking beyond continually improving our students’ experience and fostering a love for the outdoors, is on supply and gear. We take dozens of trips each year and have (proudly) stretched the use of our gear and need to continue to expand our supply. Our goal of sustainability and continuance of our rich outdoor experiences hinges on our ability to continue growing our inventory of high-performance outdoor good for our students.
[Dan: Matt has done and AMAZING job facilitating in-kind donations of outdoor gear that continues to build on and enrich our Outdoor Education and fieldwork elements of our educational model. If you feel compelled to help by donating or giving gear to this department of Doulos, please don’t hesitate to reach out.]

Outdoor Education Photo Showcase

“It may be one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life.”

“It may be one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life.”

Straight from our very own School Director Danae LeMoine on hiking the 10,164′ Pico Duarte with Doulos’ 9th grade students last fall.

And that’s (part of) the point.

Outdoor education is extremely important at Doulos — not just the valuable lessons learned by pushing oneself physically and doing hard things, but what’s learned experiencing our Creator through experiencing his creation.

empty class

This year as part of our scaffolded outdoor education path where students starting as young as 5 beginning learning skills that compound and complement year over year, our 8th grade students will embark on a three-day hiking trip which dovetails into the larger and more intense 9th grade full-week trip.

Recently these students have started preparing for these big milestone hikes to Pico Duarte (9th grade) and Valle del Tetero (8th grade) by going on shorter hikes every Saturday for the past few weeks and will continue this until their trips begin.

The leaders of these shorter weekend trips consist of various Doulos staff members, so our students are getting to spend quality time outdoors with a variety of teachers and staff members that they may not know very well. Anyone from our finance director, who some may know as “the money guy,” to their middle school teacher whom they know extremely well. It’s a rich time of mentorship and bonding, where our students and staff get to know each other better and lays the platform for discipleship and growth.

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The idea is that our staff is coming together to provide guidance and support for our students as they navigate unfamiliar territory. Some students have never been exposed to anything like this; therefore we want to set them up for success while facing something that challenges them.

As a school we believe in investing time in preparing our students for success (and failure) in various endeavors, rather than letting them navigate these challenges on their own without any prior knowledge or experience.

HikingFlatTop1

Our model for these outdoor education activities is reflective of how we guide and prepare our students for life in general. We don’t want to simply throw them out into the world, but intentionally guide them step-by-step so that they may reach a point in their lives where they feel fully prepared to take on whatever their next challenge may be.