SWO Staff: Curtis Batten

What is your role at SWO?

Currently, my job at SWO is in the Maintenance Department, specifically on the New Construction Team. I just recently found myself in this position as of January 2020.  I’ve been working at SWO since August 2016 as the Program Manager of the Outdoor Leadership & Discipleship School. Where I planned and instructed backcountry trips, taught biblical and skills lessons, discipled college-aged students, and really anything else that the program needed. I have lived and breathed Old School for the last 4 years. I am thankful for the time I served in Old School and the shared experiences I had with students and other instructors.

Old School closed its doors after the fall semester of 2019, so I transferred to being on maintenance here at Snowbird. Wielding a screwdriver instead of map and compass, carrying lumber on a trailer instead of a backpack through the woods, crawling under cabins instead of into caves. In the summer I’ve worn many hats over the years: Recreation Supervisor, Block Party/Orientation/Fight Night/DNOW MC, River Guide, Medical Contact, Goldy Locks, Fire Team Leader, Angel Diva, and I can play a mean game of pickup basketball. All said and done I’m going on 4 years here at Snowbird and have been fortunate enough to have done a lot of things so far. And, I’m looking forward to what else the Lord has in store for me here.

How did you hear about SWO?

I have never been a camper at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters. I heard about SWO from my wife, Bailey. Back when we were in college at Appalachian State University, we had to do an internship for our major going into our senior year. She chose to do her internship here at Snowbird as a summer camp counselor and Nantahala River Guide. She has always loved the river and ever since hearing about Snowbird she wanted to work there. I remember helping her with her application, which was on real paper back then. After a few weeks of waiting, she got in, accepted to SWO Summer Staff 2013. That summer I was already working at another summer camp that ended just a week earlier than SWO. So just like any other dumb twenty-year-old I called Brody and asked if I could volunteer the last week of summer camp. So I showed up to Snowbird week 10 of SWO’13 for the first time.

Fast forward to March 2016. I was still newly married to Bailey, living and working eight jobs between us both in Newland, NC, and praying for opportunities that the Lord might have for us next. We used to keep a list on our pantry door of jobs that we had applied for and other opportunities we were seeking and we’d cross them off the list every time if the Lord closed a door. Then one day I received a call from Josh Martin wondering if I’d like to come help with the Old School Program full-time.

After much prayer and discussion, we decided we would move to Andrews at the end of the summer, giving us time to finish strong on the commitments we had made where we were. Then, in August 2016, we threw everything in a U-haul and moved to Snowbird—where I didn’t know a soul in the world. We hit the ground running too. I think my second night was spent out on Nantahala Lake for Old School training.  

What is your favorite SWO memory?

This is such a hard question! Working at Old School sometimes puts you on an island away from what was happening at SWO. To make it more fun I think I have three answers. 1) My favorite actual SWO memory (separate from Old School). 2) My favorite Old School memory. 3) My favorite memory that applies to both settings. 

  1. My favorite SWO memory (not Old School related) was leading the river crew last summer, in 2019. It was an awesome experience to be on the river every day with such a fun crew and have a chance to serve them as best I could. 
  2. My favorite Old School memory is also a hard question to answer so I’ll just name one of the many. One that will stick with me for a long time and I still remember so vividly to this day is when we were Ice Climbing in Colorado and I was able to belay and climb with my little sister-in-law. That semester was really important for our relationship and that trip was one of the best of the semester. 
  3. My favorite memories from either setting are hosting groups of people in our home. Whether it’s a small group of interns, a huge group of summer staff, or all of the Old School students we love having them in our home. Those memories last a lifetime. Memories like when an entire Old School class slept on my tiny-home floor the night before their graduation, or times spent around the bonfire with summer staff or serving up a grilled cheese sandwich bar with Glendon Bach. 

What is your favorite camp meal?

Anything Mrs. Barbara Bond makes is worth eating. Bring back fish tacos!

What is your favorite rec?

I feel spoiled that I was able to work for Old School. However, aside from that, I’ve got to say the Nanny (Nantahala)! But if I’m confined to stay on campus… Goliath Swing. 

What is your salvation story?

Christ was calling me to Himself for a while before I accepted Him as the Lord and Savior. I felt that calling but I was rebelling against Him by putting my worth into the things I did well like sports, academics, and social life. I tried to blame my circumstances on God; my injuries, parents’ divorce, death of my mom, etc. To suppress it all I looked to drugs, alcohol, and sexual relationships. I thought those things would help me maintain the lie that I was okay on my own. All of those things failed to fill the void that only Christ could fill. Christ saved me around my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Completely changed my heart where I was disgusted with those things that made me good or bad because none of it was glorifying to Christ. Now I still fight with sin every day, but with the Lord who has already defeated it instead of things that only give temporary false healing. He brought me from death to life. From an angry, depressed loner who sought drugs, sex, and alcohol to a redeemed Christ-follower, husband, father, and teacher whose goal every day is centered around Christ and not my own worth. 

In this season, what is the Lord teaching you?

Right now I am coming out of a season at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters where I was the Program Manager for the Old School Program. In a nut-shell that meant that I planned, trained, prepped, and instructed the many outdoor discipleship semesters and trips we facilitated. Spending time in the woods with college students was my favorite time of the year. This past semester I transitioned to being a member of the maintenance crew when the Old School Program closed down. Through that, I have learned many things that I will use moving forward and negative things about myself that I would like to leave behind. I have learned that much of my identity at Snowbird I thought rested in Old School when it shouldn’t. I also learned to adjust to a more consistent schedule, which has given me more time with my wife and daughter. I’m also learning that I can be an asset to any team that I am on. It has been fun reflecting on my past 3.5 years with Old School and absorbing what all I learned, picking out some real gems to use moving forward in life. I try to be a constant learner so I could go on forever. But, I will say Christ has not been shy to show my flaws lately and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of my own sanctification. 

What are you currently reading?

Currently, I am reading 1 Samuel in my daily study of Scripture. I am also reading a couple of books at a time, something I thought I would never do. First, because my type-A part of me won’t allow it. And second, because really I don’t consider myself a huge reader. Anyways, I have been reading Last Child in the Woods and it’s about what the author calls nature-deficit disorder. Also, I have been reading a book of commentaries on different parables given to me by a close friend. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

This is actually a question that has come up a lot lately since transitioning out of Old School. My answer is that as long as the Lord provides an open door at Snowbird then we would love to be a part of it. Although, this has given my family time to press into what Christ might have for us next, so stayed tuned. 

What is one thing you want the person reading this to know?

I would want people to know Christ. Not in a stiff Bible, church holiday, pray only before meals and tests kind of way but a raw, experiential, reckless abandoned type of way. For the non-believer: I want them to know that Christ can save them no matter what secrets you have and/or things you’ve done. To the believer: the race isn’t over yet. There are some things that all believers should strive for on a daily basis. But, I would challenge any believer to really get into the weeds of who they really are (your personality, flaws, strengths, triggers, passions, friends, habits, pet-peeves, gifts, etc.), and understand how they can be not only sanctified constantly by Christ. Learn what you can offer the world around you for the sake of the Kingdom. You have been uniquely gifted through Christ when at one time your giftings and potential were at best self-glorifying. 

Also, I want people to know that Moe’s is better than Chipotle. Be encouraged by good queso and free chips and salsa!

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