Find out more about our expeditions, trips, and activities.

Local Trips & Activities

Our outdoor trips are intended to be fun, exhilarating and somewhat challenging. Although in general no experience is required. What we offer varies slightly from ministry team to ministry team, as different areas of the country provide the ideal settings for a variety of adventures. Here are the main activities Lifelines offers:

Rock Climbing | Hiking Backpacking | Canoeing | Sea Kayaking | Whitewater Rafting | Ice Climbing | Mountaineering | Paintball | Mountain Biking | Sailing | Rappelling | Snowshoeing | Cross Country Skiing | Indoor Programming




Lifelines currently has resource teams in the following geographic areas.

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

– Bear Grylls –



We are seeing God’s kingdom advance all over the world as students encounter Christ through adventure and experience.

    With more than 15 years of experience, Lifelines has a rapidly growing team of more than 25 full-time guides, a proven outdoor curriculum and locations in four different regions of the US.

    Lifelines is part of the interdenominational Christian ministry called Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), which has a presence on more than 1,100 campuses in the United States. Our purpose is to help people grow in relationship with God, in relationships with each other, in character and in leadership. Our main audience is college students, though we also take high school students and faculty on trips.

    The outdoors has historically been an effective venue to connect with people and with our increasingly media-saturated culture it can be even more transformational. Now we resource Cru with the vision of seeing outdoor experiential learning change lives throughout our organization.

    Our method is experiential learning and many of our concepts can be adapted for any venue indoors or out. Yet typically with Lifelines the outdoors is our passion and our classroom.   In short, we take people on adventures like rock climbing, snowshoeing or whitewater rafting—not just for adventure sake, but also to help challenge how they think about themselves, others and God. Our programs encourage participants to take physical, emotional and relational risks, placing them in a position to grow.

    We believe that all people have the same needs: physical, emotional and spiritual. This provides common ground for us to reach out to all types of students and faculty.  It is our goal for people to experience the grace and truth of the Gospel as they connect with each other and God. Learn more by following the links on the left.

  • Lifelines began when a college student and two Campus Crusade for Christ staff members at the University of Maine wanted to take their non-Christian friends on whitewater rafting trips. But the venture soon turned into more than just outdoor trips.

    Through an idea by former staff member Doug Palmeter, the rafting trips became a way to use experiential learning to help people grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally as they played on the river.

    The three who first lead the rafting trips were Joe Cousins and Dan and Heather Litchfield. Along with Doug, these three soon found that students from whatever spiritual background were eager to participate in free rafting trips. They soon earned trust with these students and were able to share about their relationship with God in a relational and non-confrontational way.

    In the summer of 1999, Lifelines hosted The “Leadership Adventure Project” —a few trips combined with the School of Leadership at the Campus Crusade U.S. Staff Conference in Colorado. A member of the Campus Crusade leadership, Dave Sander, was critical in helping make this venture a reality.

    In 2000, Lifelines hosted its first summer project in Acadia, Maine. More than 30 staff members from the Northeast and were trained in Lifelines ministry. Following that summer, our projects became dual purposed: developing both staff members and students.

    In 2005, Lifelines expanded to the University of Virginia through John and Kelly Kidd. A year later, Dan and Heather Litchfield started a ministry at The University of Vermont.

    Soon Lifelines also expanded to Northern Arizona University, multiple campuses in Utah and eventually Cornell University in New York.

    In 2008, Lifelines started its second summer project, Rocky Mountain Lifelines in Estes Park, Colorado.

    In 2009, the Campus Crusade Board of Directors adopted Lifelines as one of the first emerging national strategies under Dave Sander’s direction, and officially became “the Outdoor and Experiential Learning Ministry of Cru” (formerly,Campus Crusade for Christ).

    In 2012 Lifelines became a resourcing ministry within Cru. Most of our staff moved to 3 key locations in New Hampshire, Colorado and Oregon. Our full-time staff are focused on coming along side existing Cru staff and accelerating their ministries, launching movement of Grace and truth. Beyond these teams we have Lifelines staff that work with us to reach out to students in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Kansas and Alaska. Lifelines has continued to grow rapidly in the past few years with 33 full-time Lifelines staff and six interns.

    We believe that God will double those numbers in the next five years, and we are trusting God for the resources to continue to expand—even internationally. We envision a day where Lifelines can play a vital role on all of the campuses where Cru has a ministry presence. To God be the glory for what He has accomplished through the Lifelines ministry!

  • Lifelines has developed into an increasingly effective evangelistic philosophy as well as an effective means for developing staff and student leaders. Lifelines uses the outdoors as the context for development and a springboard for students to take further responsibility for growth that they would not normally take in a campus setting. The foundational material comes from Cru’s Growth and Leadership Models. Lifelines uses the material and the “outdoors” to help students grow and learn.

    The program experience becomes a mirror for growth and awareness (students cannot argue with their own experience). It is our goal for students to experience the grace and truth of the Gospel as they connect with each other and God. The outdoors combined with a quality, professional program enables the groups to maximize and be responsible for their own growth experience. Staff and student leaders are trained in the art of asking questions, small group facilitation, and the growth process, making them a key part of the success of the strategy.

    Lifelines has seen that through process learning and group activities students can make great strides towards understanding themselves and the impact they have on those around them. Even more importantly we believe that as spiritual beings our relational growth will be incomplete without a relationship with God.

    For further thoughts on nature in Christian outdoor ministry, here is an article written by Lifelines’ Executive Director: Utilization of Nature in Outdoor Ministry.

    • Intimacy- With God and man
    • Risk- Faith risks for the kingdom
    • Ownership- Everyone owns, not rents
    • Teams- Power is multiplied through numbers
    • Process- Life is process: both Christian growth and coming to Christ are processes

Follow Us

Stay in touch with Lifelines. Follow our ministry and hear about upcoming events and expeditions.


There are many ways to get involved...

We are so excited by your interest to join with us in any way you can!  There are a variety of important ways to partner with us in using the outdoors to reach students with the Gospel.  These range from being a prayer and financial partner, to volunteering with one of our teams in the field, all the way to becoming a full time staff member with us.  All of these are vital to the continued success of our ministry, and we’d love to have you be a part of our team in any way that you can!

You can explore all of these options.

Guide Schools

Learn deeper facilitation and backcountry skills.

Join Staff

Apply for a Full or Part Time Staff position with our ministry.

Lifelines Rep

Be trained to help reach your campus or specific mission field.


Serve short term with one of our teams around the country.


Become part of our outdoor experiential learning community.



If you would like to get more information about Lifelines, please contact us. We look forward to connecting with you!





Mark Brown
Executive Director
Dan Litchfield
National Director
Field Teams

Ryan Bethel
National Director

Brenda Brown
National Director
Leadership Development

Every day can be an exciting adventure for the Christian who knows the reality of being filled with the Holy Spirit and who lives constantly, moment by moment, under His gracious direction.

– Dr. Bill Bright –


Here's what people are saying after they have been involved
in our outdoor experiential learning programs.
  1. ” They say the first step in every journey is always the hardest. Well, Lifelines helped me take my first step. If you had asked me what my plans were last semester, I would have told you I was transferring. Now I have my place at UVA. You see, meeting this group, meeting Lifelines, has introduced me to a new world. The Christian community here can only be described with one word: love. These are the kinds of people who never meet you once. You are never just a familiar face or a simple acquaintance.  From the first time you meet, you are a friend. “

  2. “Lifelines is an innovative approach to personal and team development.  I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in growing in character and leadership. ”

  3. “Lifelines does an incredible job of bringing the learning environment to a new level.  The intentional and challenging outdoor experience coupled with thought provoking discussion was a powerful combination.  It was a tremendous aid in brining participants to significant discussion and points of learning.  In addition it provided a common experience that bonded the group, enabling a deeper connection.  All this added together to be a fantastic learning experience that I would highly recommend. ”

  4. Ashley Holleman | Penn State University Grad Student Ministry

    “Though challenging at times, my day with Lifelines was both very enjoyable and invaluable.  I was impressed at how professional the Lifelines team was and how well they created an environment that surfaced some growth issues in my life that I was able to process with my peers in a manner that felt neither forced, nor crafted.  I hope to have them come to our campus soon.  They really are equipped to help our students experience the gospel and develop as leaders in ways we are not able to. ”