Yearly, Greenville University requires all Resident Chaplins (RCs) and Student Government Association members to go on a journey in the Smoky Mountains called “Walkabout”. Each person is assigned to a group with little to no familiar faces in hopes that they will create new connections. They are required to live off what they can fit in their backpacks and the land they are hiking. Walkabout, according to Hannah Speth, “is a time where you can learn about God, others, and yourself.”
Hannah came into Walkabout with a few expectations of what her experience would withhold. Beforehand, when envisioning Walkabout she figured she would be severely injured in some way and that time with her group would be awkward because they all barely knew each other. Hannah was quick to tell me that those expectations did not become a reality for her. Her group swiftly became close and she endured no life-threatening injuries.
Hannah elaborated on the physical, mental, and spiritual impacts she encountered throughout the entirety of this trip. Although the trip was physically tiring from walking in wet tennis shoes/sandals and sleeping on the ground, Hannah endured no serious injuries. Hannah said the physical challenges “made me realize that I need those who surround me.” She briefly mentioned that this experience helped her realize she was mentally stronger than she had once believed. Spiritually, Hannah said she began to see God’s calling for her life more clearly. “Though there is still a lot I honestly don’t understand, I have a better idea of where all the confusion is leading.”
Walkabout requires a time called “solo” where each person goes to an assigned spot and stays there alone while fasting for two days. Hannah said on solo, “I was cold, lonely, and hungry because I chose to be, but when I thought about it I realized many people live like that every day. It really humbled me.” During this time Hannah witnessed a patch of beautiful butterflies which varied in color from powder blue and black to orange and yellow. She said she couldn’t help but observe them for hours straight and the best part was that they would land on her. Although, if she went near the patch they would all fly away, but later would return to the same spot.
When it came down to what Hannah learned about herself, she said, “I am way more positive than I thought I was. I didn’t realize how my personality helped people in just the right moments.” This revelation strengthened her understanding of her abilities and how she should use them. She chuckled adding, “I also learned I am terrible at starting fires.”
Hannah lastly shared with me what her favorite part of the trip was. She concluded “I think my favorite part was meeting all the cool people who went and learning about myself. I also liked the butterflies.”
Walkabout is a trip that welcomes anyone to come, not only RCs. While it can be physically challenging and tiresome, its benefits outweigh it all. Hannah said she recommends this trip for “anyone who is physically able.”
Media by Di’Mond Salmond.