I just got back from a fantastic two-day gap-year round-table forum in Manitou Springs, CO. The forum was a group of 11 gap-year program and non-traditional educational leaders, some of whom have been directing their programs for a few years, others who are just now launching. Somewhat of a surprise to me was the fact that IMPACT 360 was one of the senior citizens at the table, and we’re not even five years old.
The round-table program in Colorado was co-sponsored by Summit Ministries (a long-time friend of IMPACT 360), John Brown University, and an organization I didn’t know about before but with which I am super-impressed: The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, “a nonprofit organization committed to building strong families by serving to bridge the cultural-generational gap between parents and teenagers.” Derek Melleby, the director for the center’s College Transition Initiative was at the forum and offered insights on our target age-set that was worth at least five times the price I paid for my plane ticket out there.
My two main takeaways from this forum? 1) The gap-year concept is beginning to get some real traction in the United States, in part due to parents and students who are increasingly willing to look for outside-the-box-like higher education, and 2) Evangelical Christians are leading the way in this effort. Sure, there are a lot of non-faith-based gap-year programs out there, but the truly missional Christian programs are the ones on the cutting edge of this innovative type of higher education. More to come on this in future posts.