At Youth-Reach Gulf Coast (YRGC), we provide training in critical, required life skills that equip and enable our residents to achieve their goals. Recently, we partnered with an organization that challenged the guys to think beyond what it means to thrive and learn what it takes to survive.

Kingdom Outdoors is a nonprofit based in Starkville, Mississippi dedicated to helping people reach their full potential and experience freedom. Founded by Josiah Buckner, the organization offers wilderness living courses, adventure trips and outdoor retreats. They believe there is a simplicity in nature that opens our eyes and minds to discover mysteries hidden by the Creator. Through nature, we learn that we are spiritual beings created for a purpose.

Josiah Buckner, Founder, Kingdom Outdoors

Josiah spent three days in the wilderness with the YRGC family, teaching them various survival skills related to the “rule of three”:

  • You can survive three hours in an extreme environment without shelter.
  • You can survive three days without water.
  • You can survive three weeks without food.

Shelter is the top priority when survival is at stake, so the guys learned how to make a ridgeline—a rope tied between trees—to suspend a tarp for a makeshift tent.

“It’s funny because a lot of the guys were saying, ‘I’m never going to use a tent again. I’m just going to get me a tarp, and I’ll always be good!’” Josiah said. “Whenever we do post-course surveys, the tarp shelters are always a favorite.”

Fire is another crucial element of survival, so they learned various methods for creating a flame. Water and food procurement were also included in the training, along with a few simple crafts.

“Often in survival situations, you’re fighting boredom. You might be alone, so it’s helpful to keep your mind and hands occupied to pass the time.”

The course also provided opportunities for participants to strengthen their relationship with God. Each morning started with a devotion, followed by 45 minutes to an hour of solitude. This time allowed the guys to be quiet in creation and listen to what the Father was saying to them.

Connection with the Creator is the heart and soul of Kingdom Outdoors. Before Josiah started the organization, he worked in law enforcement and the military. When he would invite people to church, they turned him down, but if he invited them to go hunting or fishing, his offer was always well received.

Wilderness Living Course

“I started realizing that there are opportunities to do life with people—to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel in a neutral setting. Especially here in the South, there is a ‘gospel immunity’ where people may have grown up in church, but now they are turned off by anything ‘religious.’ Through our survival courses, youth camps and adventure trips, we provide quality outdoor experiences that draw people into a non-invasive, Christ-centered environment.”

But the outreach isn’t just for unbelievers. Josiah noted that many Christians will proclaim and declare that God created the earth, yet they never take the time to understand creation or interact with it.

“I like to use the analogy of building a mansion for my wife. Say I designed this mansion specifically for her, with everything she could want or need. She might give me credit and say, ‘Look what my husband made for me.’ But if she never actually explored the intricacies of the mansion or noticed all the thought I put into it, then she is squandering this awesome gift! Sometimes the Church can be like that with creation. We give God credit for it, but then we don’t take the time to understand that a certain plant can help you if you have a headache.

I really want to see Christians empowered and mobilized to live out the gospel message through our knowledge of creation and by walking out our identity as God’s image bearers, subduing the land and carrying His authority.”

We would like to thank Josiah and Kingdom Outdoors for their support of YRGC. If you would like to learn more about their programs and events, please visit