Alright, so you’ve enrolled in the Unbound program. Now you are either on the forums, FB group or reading your emails, and you keep hearing about this thing called APEX. You do a little exploring and discover the rather sparkly description on the official APEX website:
“A five-day student event, created by students and for students, where you will experience the networking power of a conference, the learning opportunities of a convention, and the fun, recreation, and friendships of a college campus—all condensed into one all-inclusive, jam-packed week.”
But as awesome as that description is, it still leaves a lot of questions:
- What will I be doing?
- Will I make friends there?
- What will the day-to-day schedule look like?
- What kinds of activities will I be doing?
- Is it hard?
- Will there be extra homework for this whole thing?
- (most importantly) Is the food any good?
Great questions. But rather than answering each one individually, let me give you an overview of APEX from the initial registration, arrival, departure, to your safe return home.
First things first. You have to register. (I know, I know. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could come to an event and then decide if you liked it enough to pay for it?) Once you register, you will be assigned to one of four teams each headed up by one of the APEX Cabinet members. The four teams and their leaders are Team Everest – Riley Maas, Team Kilimanjaro – Isaac (Ike) Linde, Team Vesuvius – Cheyenne Smith, and Team Olympus – Benjamin Osborne. In the weeks leading up to the event, there will be friendly competitions and prizes so use this time to get to know your teammates and prepare for the epic rivalry that is to come.
If you’re like me you’ve been all packed and ready to go for at least a week. If you’re driving, you’ll arrive at the Timber Wolf Lake Camp mid-afternoon. If you’re flying, you’ll meet up with other Unbound students at the airport and take a bus ride. Either way, once you get to camp, you will check in and be shown to your cabin where you can either take a nap or come and meet all of the other awesome APEX people at the welcome party. Following dinner and a short session in the evening, there will be a get-to-know-your-team activity before bed.
DAYS TWO, THREE & FOUR:
Sandwiched between the first get-to-know-everyone-and-figure-out-what-in-the-world-is-going-on day and the last day, are days 2, 3, and 4. I can’t tell you too much (because it’s supposed to be a big secret and all that) but here is the general overview.
In the morning there will be a short (and optional) worship service and devotion time led by a fellow student. Breakfast in the massive dining hall will be followed by the day’s first speaker. There will be four keynote speakers split up over the course of APEX this year. They are Eric Metaxas, Jonathan Brush, Phylicia Masonheimer, and Benjamin Hardy. After a short break, you will be treated to a special Blitz Session by four select alumni. In these Blitz Sessions, you will get to hear the stories of fellow students who have had incredible life experiences and some of whom have gone on to be incredibly successful.
Directly following lunch, you’ll get to complete whatever competitions the four team leaders have been cooking up over the past couple of months. These competitions (The Blitz Games) will be a chance for you to get to know your fellow teammates and push yourself out of your comfort zone. And don’t worry, if you are like me: unathletic and unable to throw a ball, a frisbee, or even a book with any accuracy, the team leaders have taken this into account and have devised challenges to suit every skill level. (If you are not like me and you can indeed throw things, then go you! I’m sure the team leaders can use you to throw things at the other teams.)
But I digress. Free time will be for a couple of hours in the afternoon where you can go to the lake, go-karts, zip line, climbing wall, escape room, game room, ice cream shop, or back to your dorms for a nap. It is entirely up to you.
But the fun doesn’t end there! After dinner, we will have our last speaker of the day. Remember, you take away from this event what you put in. Pay attention to the sessions. As you can already tell, the days at APEX are very full and very exciting, so it can be easy to let your mind wander during the sessions. Don’t do it. The Cabinet has spent close to a year carefully selecting speakers who will appeal to a wide audience. Even if you don’t think the topic applies to your life, you can still learn something that you could pass on to others.
After all that learning, you will need something to shake off the stiffness and have a little fun. The evenings at APEX will be just as jam-packed as the days. With everything from a talent show to the official Unbound Graduation, the evenings are a great way to wind down while still having fun and getting to connect with other Unbounders.
Alas, the day has come when APEX must end. As much as we would like it to go on forever, there are plenty of other ways to have mini-APEX experiences all year long. Use this last day to get everyone’s contact information, find out which people are in your area and make plans to get together and continue the APEX experience at home.
Some things to remember:
- You take out of this event what you put into it. Yes, APEX is centered around all the fantastic speakers that will be there, and you will spend the majority of APEX with them, but no one will be there reminding you to put their wisdom into practice when you get back home. Take notes, use the meals to invite the speakers to come and eat at your table, and most importantly, really think about how you can apply the principles you will learn to your own life at home.
- Don’t panic. It might seem pretty scary, especially if you are in high school and you’ve never been to a “college” event. Don’t worry about it. Everyone had to start somewhere, and the majority of Unbound students started when they were in high school. There will be no lack of friends for you here.
- Ask questions. Want to know how you can earn money to afford APEX? If there will be chocolate marshmallows at the bonfire? If there will be a curfew? You can ask all these questions and more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can’t wait to see you at APEX!