American Explorers

Base Camp Reflections, CJ Stewart, Founder, Diamond Directors, L.E.A.D., Inc., Atlanta, GA

CJ Stewart is the founder of L.E.A.D., one of our nominating partners in Atlanta. L.E.A.D. is dedicated to making the dreams of urban youth flourish and thrive. CJ flew to Montana in June with our first group of students and American Explorers had the privilege of hosting him for several days at Base Camp. During his stay, CJ took the time to reflect and give feedback on his own blog about his experience here. These are a few of our favorite highlights. Thank you CJ for your insight and encouragement! Read CJ’s blog here

“Twenty students from metro Atlanta schools will be living with and loving nature for 20 days in Montana. Even the dirt road driveway is 4+ miles long surrounded by trees, peaceful creeks and deer.

This isn’t a camp. This is a place where leaders will practice leadership for 20 days. They will be stretched like never before. The old saying is true that practice makes permanent. The 20 students here will leave with some permanent habits for sure that they will be able to practice back in Atlanta.

Dinner was amazing but prior to that, the students were asked to establish a culture for eating. The do’s and don’ts. We could have just sat down and eaten the food because everyone was hungry but it was important for everyone to be on the same page on how we will respect this time of fellowship with a meal that will provide the needed nourishment for days and miles of hiking. 

Eating and sleeping isn’t done as a formality here. Your teammates are counting on you to bring energy everyday. The energy of the 20 American Explorers can literally light up a room. They know why they are here. There is something new to do and learn each day and it is difficult to do when people are tired because they were up all night. It’s also difficult to do if you are on a chips and soda diet. I haven’t seen a soda yet. Drinking tons of water my friend.

You are really able to lock in on life here at American Explorers. We all have to take a pause to find out who we are and the things that should be important to us. The American Explorers had a great scavenger hunt today on the ranch. They found a lot of stuff on the list and they are also finding themselves here as well. 

Luke and I had the discussion this week in Montana about people being able to do anything in life and the importance of doing what makes you feel good at the soul level. Life is too short to neglect happiness.

American Explorers is not a camp.  It is 20 days of leadership development for 20 students from Atlanta in the mountains of Montana.  In July, another 10 students will travel from Atlanta, joining 10 young men and women from right here in Montana.


I asked 5 American Explorers students what they want to feel in life:

 “I want to feel like I’m changing other peoples lives.” 



“I want to feel like I can accomplish something in my lifetime.” 



“I want to feel like I’m making a change in the world and positively changing other people lives.” 



“I want to feel enjoyment in whatever it is that I am trying to accomplish.” 



“I want to feel happiness. Happiness meaning the ability to smile without faking it. To be satisfied with my life and finally let go of my past and live a better future.”