In response to the previous blog linked below by Jacob Marlett
Around this time, last spring, I was a nervous wreck. I had just committed to Mountain Project with no idea what to expect. All I knew is that it was a great opportunity to grow in my relationship with God and have a lot of fun as well. So many people kept saying it was the best summer of their life, so I wanted to make sure I could say the same. I ended up sitting down with one of my best friends Jacob Marlett, a Mountain Project veteran, to get some advice. He could tell I was nervous, so he was nice enough to type up a list of tips for me, and BOY did they help. They were such a huge help for me on my first project, I decided to share my experiences.
1. Try to meet everyone and learn their names the first week.
-This was a tough one for me, but easily the most beneficial. The quicker you meet everyone, the quicker you will become comfortable. Yes, there’s probably going to be awkward conversations and experiences, but those are the things you’ll look back on and laugh about with each other.
2. Ask a room on a Group date early.
Now, this tip I didn’t follow as much. This will depend on your roommates. My room was a little tight on funds at the beginning of the summer, so we decided to wait until we could do something really fun. Other rooms were more creative and asked early on. Like I said, it just depends on the people in your room.
3. Nap occasionally.
BOY, this is a big tip. If you want to have a great project, learn to master the art of napping. There will be days where you just want to sleep all day, but if you want to have a great experience, resist that temptation and go out and do something. There are always people going somewhere. 10-minute naps will be your best friend.
4. Use all free perks that come with working at Dollywood.
You really do get a lot of attractions discounted if not free. There’s tons of cool things like go-karts, mini-golf, petting zoos, museums, etc.. My room regularly took advantage of these for group dates and free time. It’s a great way to save money.
5. Focus on God, not “that guy” or “that girl”.
Obviously, when you’re hanging out with the same people for 10 weeks, you’re going to find someone you’re pretty fond of. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you can’t let that distract you from your walk with God and the reason you decided to go to Mountain Project.
6. Serve. Be a servant to those around you.
Serving your fellow project members is one of the best ways to practice being a servant of God. It can be a little thing like picking up someone’s plate or wiping the windows. My thing was taking rooms’ trash bags over to the dumpster for them whenever I could. I encourage everyone to find some way to serve. It goes a long way for each side.
7. Daily quiet time is a need.
This will be hard to do with such a busy schedule, but it is one of the most rewarding times of the week. I personally set a time at the beginning of each week when I would get away for a little bit. Whether that was going for a run or waking up to watch the sunrise, it was always my favorite part of the week.
8. Set aside a time of prayer each week.
Again, this may be difficult to find the time or make time, but I highly encourage it. Honestly, my prayer life wasn’t a huge part of my walk with God when I showed up, but I made it one of my main goals for the summer. I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked, but when I did, it helped tremendously.
9. Get up early, it helps your day go better.
My three favorite days of project were the three days I woke up before 5:30. Seriously. Seeing God’s beautiful creation wake up each morning is really a remarkable experience. More sleep always sounds nice but trust me, you’ll have a better day when you can wake up slowly, enjoy the peacefulness, and focus your mind towards God instead of rushing to the car with a pop tart in your mouth because you’re late to work. (That will happen though)
10. Be open and vulnerable.
Your D-group is one of the biggest assets you’ll have on project. The quicker you get comfortable with each other, the more fun you’ll have and the more you’ll grow with God. Share your struggles. Be open. When you have guys holding you accountable and praying for you, you’ll feel a lot stronger.
11. Share the Gospel at work.
Work is a great place to practice what you’re learning. You’ll be working with a lot of the same people each day you work, so make sure you get to know them. Ask them where they’re from. Ask them about their families. Build a relationship with them. This will help them be more receptive to you sharing the Gospel with them.
12. Coffee is your friend.
If you want to get the most out of the trainings, make sure you’re awake. Whether it’s coffee, energy drinks, or sodas, try to be awake and ready. One of my biggest regrets was not preparing my mind for each training, especially the morning ones. They’re packed full of useful information that you don’t want to miss.
13. Keep your family updated.
10 weeks is a long time. It may seem like it’s going by quickly for you at some points, but that’s not always the case for your parents. Call them often. Text them. Maybe even send them a letter. They’ll love to hear about what you’re doing, and I can almost guarantee you’ll want to tell them too.
14. Feed the geese off the back balcony ...it's so fun.
So there are these geese that live behind the motel, and they never leave. They’ve probably been to more projects than Chaz. The quickest way to become a legend at project is to catch one (and maybe lock it in someone’s bathroom, but you didn’t hear that from me)
15. Eat at Little Tokyo.
When in doubt, go to Little Tokyo, or sometimes known as "Lil Tok". It’s a Mountain Project staple. Best hibachi you will ever eat. It’s easily my favorite restaurant. It can be expensive if you’re on a budget, but if you go in the afternoon, you can get a lunch special. It’s a lot cheaper, and for most people, it’s two meals worth of food. My room’s fridge was always stuffed with styrofoam to-go boxes from Little Tokyo.
Everyone’s experience will be different. You’ll get out as much as you put in. Just be prepared to let God work in your heart and give Him your all for these 10 weeks. If you do that and follow these tips, you’re guaranteed to have a great experience. Hopefully, you too will be able to say it was the best summer of your life. I think you will.