By Forrest McCurren
The rifle shot cracked cold, dry air and echoed off canyon walls.
Three months earlier, Justin Beck ‘11 and Nate Chastain ‘11 sat safely in the classrooms of William Jewell College, graduation just around the corner. Their business degrees were nearly in hand but no diploma could completely prepare them for this moment in the Alaska wilderness.
As graduation neared, Beck and Chastain considered next steps. Chastain recalls thinking, “The natural thing to do is immediately begin a career, but Jewell always encouraged us to be thoughtful and intentional. It occurred to us that perhaps an extraordinary adventure between college and career could be empowering”.
Beck says, “William Jewell College taught us to constantly ask three important questions, ‘What is real?’ ‘What can we know?’ ‘How should we behave?’
Those three questions convinced the friends to put careers on hold and seek answers in a situation completely foreign to their life at Jewell. They decided that Alaska, the last frontier, would be a good place to start.
In preparation, Beck and Chastain made an agreement with a wilderness lodge to trade manual labor for food, accommodations and outdoor adventure. They set out in mid-July.
Amidst the untamed beauty and bountiful wildlife they fished, hunted, chopped wood and repaired cabin walls. In long and inspired conversation they gained a deeper understanding of what it means to live a life with purpose, a life that seeks God. They strengthened confidence in themselves. Their appreciation of friendship deepened. They resolved to confidently embark on new journeys and embrace new challenges.
That earlier day on the mountain trail they faced fear and prevailed over it. Now back home, the two friends are pursuing the beginnings of careers and they contemplate writing a book to encourage college men to deepen their relationships with God. They are ready for the next frontier.