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What is the value of outdoor adventures?

What is the value of outdoor adventures?

Most of us have had wonderful adventures in the forest, on the beach or stargazing on a clear night. Others point to trekking, rafting and rock climbing as some of the best experiences of their lives. What is it about being outdoors, coming face-to-face with creation, that has such a memorable impact on our hearts and minds?

Tressa Barnes, Assistant Professor of Calvary University’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL) program, joins Calvary’s Shaun LePage for a conversation about the value of outdoor adventures, the uniqueness of Calvary’s OAL program, and several practical ideas for how you can make the most of your own time with family, church groups and others in the great outdoors.


Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

Daniel Pitts: Creator, Filmmaker, and Entrepreneur

Daniel Pitts: Creator, Filmmaker, and Entrepreneur

Daniel is a successful entrepreneur who is determined to bring people closer to Christ through his creative works.

Keep working, keep practicing, keep getting better.”

In May, Daniel Pitts graduated from Calvary University with a Bachelor’s degree in Ministry Studies and Business Education. Daniel began experimenting with filmmaking at just nine years old; since then, it has become a passion and a ministry opportunity for him throughout his life. He reflects: “When I was a kid, my family got an iMac computer with iMovie on it, and from there I began making video after video. While I did not realize this as my calling at first, over time, I began to push myself further and further in what I could do in filmmaking, which is a process I still avidly pursue today.” After coming to Calvary, Daniel absorbed himself even deeper in his craft. While he claimed that his first film “turned out horribly”, it launched a desire in him to continue his pursuit into the filmmaking industry: “Throughout the rest of my college experience I continued shooting photo after photo, video after video, and taking opportunities to share my work with others and improve my skills.” 

In the summer of 2020, after Daniel created a short film and used it in an application to a video internship in Colorado, he was accepted into the program and was taught through it “many of the aspects and rules of filmmaking and how to make the highest quality videos possible.” After this experience, Daniel says he began working at Fellowship Church as a professional videographer. Over time, he began taking on freelance and passion projects, which have deepened his understanding of filmmaking and business. Today, Daniel believes that he is called to use his filmmaking as a ministry: “I believe I am meant to take my God-given and God-developed passion to share the good news of the Gospel through filmmaking.” 

Daniel also believes that his education at Calvary University has played a crucial role in preparing him for the future: “It’s given me a context to practice my art, it’s helped me learn how to build a business of my own, and it’s given me a spiritual basis for the work that I do.” In Daniel’s free time throughout his education at Calvary, he continually practiced his craft, created short films and other creative content, and his professors, RDLs, and peers supported him along the way. He states: “Being a freelance filmmaker and photographer is more than just doing the craft itself;  it’s a lot of business work. Calvary’s business classes helped me understand how to build a brand for myself, how to do accounting, and how to develop other necessary skills.” Ultimately, through Calvary and other experiences, Daniel says he has learned how filmmaking can be used to “further the kingdom of God,” and that his passion is  “not just a secular job, but can be used to bring God glory.”

One story of impact Daniel had in his professional development was during his internship at Summit Student Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, he was tasked with the job of creating a highlight film over an online worldview conference: “This meant I needed to be able to capture a week of the student’s experience and transform it into a short three minute video. Being entirely online and never meeting a student in person created challenges for me because I couldn’t witness the students’ experiences face-to-face.” After working almost seventy hours in one week on the project, in addition to interviewing eight students via zoom to hear testimonies on how the conference impacted them personally, Daniel states that “All this work came into one video to be shown at the end of the conference–one that truly captured the experience of the students–and even brought tears to the eyes of many small group leaders because it was an authentic representation of their experiences.” 

Daniel states that the “main lesson” he learned as a child about his craft is the same lesson Calvary instilled in him: “Keep working, keep practicing, and keep getting better.” Through classes that taught biblical principles, experiences at Calvary, and other situations that simply demanded hard work, Daniel has grown personally and professionally.

Daniel is excited about future possibilities in his filmmaking career, but says that he is already excited about the opportunities he has gained through Calvary: “Throughout my schooling here, I’ve built connections through Calvary and personal experiences that I’m excited to pursue in the future for all different kinds of potential projects.” He further states: “Much of my work now and in the future will be freelance filmmaking and photography work, which is something that’s always new and different. One of these potential future projects is editing a promotional film for a ministry in Colorado. The variety of possibilities and means of sharing my God-given gifts is exciting, and there are many paths to embark on today, and in the future.” 


Daniel graduated with highest honors, and received the Business Administration Program award, Ministry Studies Program award, and the Who’s Who at Calvary award.

Calvary’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Track

Calvary’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Track

In Calvary’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership track, students learn to explore, grow, and lead for effective ministry impact. 

Calvary University’s Business Administration Department has introduced a course of study that combines biblical leadership, business principles, and wilderness education in the Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL) track. The OAL track offers students with a Business Administration major hands-on wilderness and leadership experience, with opportunities to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually.

The OAL track provides principles and practices for developing, administering, marketing, and managing outdoor programs. It gives industry perspectives on current professional outdoor leadership standards, practices, and risks. In addition, it grants professional exposure in the field while instructing students on biblical leadership, evangelism, and discipleship. 

Designed to transform students both intellectually and spiritually, the OAL track fosters leadership potential, servanthood, and a sense of mission. It empowers students by stretching them outside of their comfort zones while also training them in hands-on leadership opportunities. Unique opportunities for OAL students may include working alongside adventure organizations, learning how to minister to outdoor adventure groups, and trekking experiences overseas.

Graduates of the Business Program’s OAL track can make a big ministry impact. As they serve in parachurch activities in camping, adventure, and trekking, they can expect to make strong, long-lasting connections. These connections will provide opportunities to evangelize and witness to unbelievers, as well as disciple fellow believers in their walk with God. 

Ultimately, Calvary’s OAL track provides hands-on, experiential learning to those pursuing a career in a variety of fields within outdoor adventure leadership. It challenges students beyond their self-conceived limits, transforming them into powerful spiritual leaders in their chosen ministries and career paths.

Questions about OAL? Contact Tressa for more information.

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Calvary Student Takes Second in State Bicycling Championship

Calvary Student Takes Second in State Bicycling Championship

Cheslik (second from right) participates in a cycling competition.

Cheslik is also coaching Calvary’s Cross Country team (left to right: Josiah Stout, Adam Weeks, Cheslik, Bethany Cathcart and Kara Adams).

Cheslik says Calvary course taught him to train his mind for endurance

Tyler Cheslik, a Business Administration and Sports Management student at Calvary, placed second in the Missouri State Championship Criterium. The criterium, a bike race consisting of several laps around a 1- or 2-mile circuit, took place August 23. Cheslik, who has been cycling competitively for five years, “was second in the race in the Pro/Category 1/2… [and] first in the state of Missouri.”

Cheslik said his interest in cycling started when “my youth pastor let me try out his road bike, and I really enjoyed it… so I decided to buy my own.” Now he competes on a regular basis while pursuing his bachelor’s degree, working as lieutenant on Calvary’s security team, and coaching the cross-country club team.

Looking at his time studying Business Administration and Sports Management, Cheslik said, “There’s a lot of things I learned at Calvary that influence the way I race.” He referenced a Sports Psychology class taught by coach Tressa Shoemaker and said, “It taught me about the perseverance of the mind” and how to train his mind for the endurance competitive cycling requires. The 2020 cycling season is winding down, but Cheslik looks forward to the 2021 season, where he plans to “Pursue more high-level events where more pro teams are competing… I’m planning on doing more of the USA [Criterium] Series that all the pro teams are going to be traveling to, and I’ll be at the level now that I’ll be in the same races.”

Dr. Washington Transitions to Chair Business Department

Dr. Washington Transitions to Chair Business Department

“I love teaching courses that can help students to think strategically.”

Dr. Germaine Washington, a professor in the Business Department since 2016, is moving into a new role as department chair. Washington earned her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice from Missouri Western State University, and worked in the substance abuse and mental health field for nearly 20 years before pursuing graduate education in Business Management. She said, “I always wanted to get my master’s, so I was searching around.” When she looked into Phoenix University, her admissions rep suggested she pursue an M.B.A. Washington disregarded the idea, but “she kept calling. And I just gave up. So I said, ‘God, this must be what you want me to, do because she won’t leave me alone.”

Washington dove into the program, graduated in a year and a half with her M.B.A., and came back a few years later to earned her Doctorate. “I ended up loving writing, and research, meeting new people, learning how to network. I felt that I just found me.”

A connection with Dr. Skip Hessel, the chair of the department, brought Washington to Calvary to teach in the expanding program. “Dr. Skip asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about being a college professor and teaching business?’ [I had been] praying, asking God, ‘What do you want me to do with this degree?’ …It was like God just smiled on me.”

Washington came to teach at Calvary in 2016. She said, “I came to find out I had a love for teaching. I enjoy giving back what was given to me when I was in school.” Washington is excited to watch the department grow and watch Calvary alumni building successful businesses. “I’ve had several graduates come to Dr. Skip and I saying they’ve learned so much in the business program.”

As she steps into her new role as chair, Washington is excited for the overall direction the department is heading. “In the umbrella of the Business Department, I love it all. I love teaching courses that can help students to think strategically. I love pulling talent out of the students when they tap into talent they didn’t know they had. And working with the students helping them to master their craft.”

Radio Personality and Theologian Joins Calvary’s Ranks

Radio Personality and Theologian Joins Calvary’s Ranks

After 25 years in radio broadcasting, Dr. Tracy Haney is bringing his radio and business expertise to teach at Calvary.

Calvary welcomes Dr. Tracy Haney as Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Senior Program Producer. In his role at CU, he will teach business courses and partner with the marketing department, utilizing his expertise in radio and podcasting.

Haney discovered his talent for radio many years ago while working for Calvary’s radio station, KJLC. He graduated from CU with a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Studies and Radio Broadcasting. Moving on to work for Moody Radio, he recalled a life-changing experience interviewing people off the streets of Chicago. “We went out at 6 or 7 at night,” Haney said, “and I didn’t return until four in the morning. This was a world I knew nothing about.”

He interviewed people leaving bars in the middle of the night, asking them what they thought of the church, and was struck by the negative responses of individuals who “grew up in Awana” and now wanted nothing to do with the church. Haney felt a deep conviction that, “We’re just playing church. We’ve got to get out of here and tell people about Christ.”

Since then, his passion for teaching God’s word has “morphed into a desire to use Business Administration as a means of penetrating a secular society with the Gospel.” He funneled this passion into 25 years of radio broadcasting, and now brings the same eagerness to his work at CU.

Looking toward his future with CU, Haney is especially excited for the future of ministry-oriented business on campus. “The Lord has used my experience in broadcasting to fuse and mesh a different perspective. I’m hoping to help shape minds and hope to inspire the students to use their training.” He pointed out that, since everyone works, the workplace harbors a golden opportunity to make an impact. “That’s what I’m excited about… there is such a need to teach people how to apply their faith in the marketplace. I want to be the person who gives students that vision.”