For high school graduates ages 18-25

One of the most difficult times in life is the transition after high school. It's a time when you're trying to discover what you want to do with the rest of your life. You're seeking to discover your gifts, passions, and direction in life. Perhaps you find yourself in the all-too-familiar position of not knowing which way to turn. If this sounds like you, then we invite you to explore Exponential.

Exponential is a one-year gap year program between high school and college to build a firm foundation in God’s Word and to equip for a life of personal success and impact. Through experiential education, mentoring, classroom instruction, small group interactions, and community living, students will develop valuable disciplines and servant-leadership skills.
Spiritual Growth

Experience spiritual growth through worship, prayer, and Bible study. Growth through the Word of God is cultivated through scripture memorization, group discussions, and daily devotions. Teaching by the Doe River Gorge staff as well as outside instructors will build and challenge you in your walk with Christ. Through the teaching, ministry experiences, and personal mentoring, you will begin to discover your gifts, abilities, and passions.

Skill Development

You will develop practical skills to be used the rest of your life. Skills in ministry, team-building, administration, carpentry, outdoor education, working with the public, finance, and a host of other opportunities will equip you to handle needs that arise in daily life.

Personal Relationships

Living in a community of other like-minded believers, you will have the opportunity to develop valuable friendships. You will learn how to keep short accounts, forgive and accept forgiveness. Whether you are having a conversation over coffee or strumming a guitar, you will develop friendships that will last a lifetime.

Physical and Mental Discipline

You want your life to count. The choices you make daily have eternal results. Through personal coaching, you will begin to develop disciplines to become what you want to be so that you can do what you want to do. Disciplines as simple as getting out of bed, personal devotions, Scripture memory, and being on time for appointments all have significant impact. Working with teammates, you will learn to push yourself beyond what you thought was possible.

Fun and Adventure

You will not only have the opportunity to work hard but also to play hard. You’ll be around some of the most active people in your generation and have plenty of free time to relax and enjoy life. Exponential offers a combination of fun, adventure activities, social activities, and day-to-day fellowship with others designed to foster deep, life-long friendships.

The goal of Exponential is to help students develop in the following areas:
Spiritual Life Formation:
  • A passion to intimately know God
  • A heart of worship and thanksgiving
  • Christ-like character qualities
  • Servant-leader spirit
  • Biblical wisdom and discernment
  • Apologetics skills
  • Skills in Bible Study methods
Personal Life Development
  • Basic life skills through daily personal disciplines:
    • Personal health and cleanliness
    • Financial management
    • Biblical stewardship
  • Personal gifts, abilities and passions utilizing tools such as:
    • DISC Profile
    • Practical experiences
  • Quality work ethic
  • Biblical social relationships
  • Personal Mission Statement
  • Wilderness and Remote First Aid (16 hours)
  • Lifeguarding, includes CPR and First Aid (28 hours)
Ministry Leadership Skills
  • Principles of Servant Leadership
  • Ministry Training:
    • History, Mission and Vision of Doe River Gorge
    • Organizational Structure (Board, Constitution, Bylaws)
    • Operations (Food Service, Buildings and Grounds)
    • Administration (Ministry and Small Business Finance)
    • Fundraising
    • Marketing
    • Risk Management
    • Staff Recruitment (colleges, camp fairs, etc.)
    • Programming
    • Exploring the possibility of ministry as a career path
    • Develop a Christ-centered strategy for life and ministry
Exponential is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week experience that will include (but not be limited to) the following:
  • Experiential and classroom training
  • Ministry at Doe River Gorge
  • Assisting at a local ministry
  • Morning Group Devotions
  • Meal Preparation
  • Personal study times
  • Free time and group recreation
  • A two-week mission experience at our sister camp in Costa Rica
  • DRG Adventure Instructor: leading team-building and adventure activities with groups and retreats of all types and ages
  • Maintenance
  • Retail Sales
  • Food Service
  • Administration
  • Teaching Outdoor Education
Josh Laughrun

"The internship allowed me to take a step back from school, from my job, from the pressures of the outside world. It grounded me in the Lord and firmly in Christ Jesus."
~ Josh, 2016

Hailey Scott

"I don’t even know how to put to words how much of a blessing Doe River and Exponential has been to me. I have grown with my fellow interns and we’ve just become a huge family. God has really grown me and taught me a lot of things about Himself."
~ Hailey, 2016

Peyton Brondos

"The way that Jesus taught was through discipleship: living life with one another, teaching, and mentoring with multiple people - iron sharpening iron - to make them an effective weapon for Christ. In this day and age, there’s nowhere that I’ve seen, that I’ve found, that I’ve even been offered, to do discipleship like it’s done here at Doe River."
~ Peyton, 2016


To be eligible, the following requirements must be met:
  • Belief in Jesus Christ as Savior
  • A desire to pursue a lifestyle consistent with Christian principles
  • Completed High School
  • Between the ages 18 and 25
  • Unmarried
  • Be in good physical health
Applicants must be able and willing to:
  • Live at Doe River Gorge in dormitory housing
  • Provide proof of medical insurance
  • Work with your team to cover the cost and preparation of your meals
  • Be responsible for the full payment of the cost of Exponential
  • Travel internationally (valid passport required)
  • Agree to the Doe River Gorge Statement of Faith
Application Process:
  • Fill out the online application (coming soon)
  • Call 423-725-4010 with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Community living with other college-aged individuals who are seeking a deeper walk with Christ
  • Experiential training and classroom instruction
  • Practical work experience
  • Ministry opportunities at Doe River Gorge
  • Outreach in the local community
  • Experience in a foreign missions context
  • Fun and adventure in a Christ-oriented community
There is no “typical” daily schedule, as each day may be a totally new experience. Your days may consist of personal devotions, Bible study, meal preparation, training or teaching, work/ service projects (on site and off), and working/facilitating activities for guest groups, plus fellowship and fun with others in the program, and travel.
Students in Exponential will be housed in dormitories on Doe River Gorge property. Each student is given a bed, desk, chest of drawers, and wardrobe. They are given access to a kitchen where, as a group, they will prepare many of their own meals.
Exponential 2018-19 may consist of one guys team and one girls team. Each team may consist of up to 5 participants, plus a Resident Advisor.
Begins Sunday, August 26, 2018, with registration at 2:30 p.m. and ends Thursday, August 8, 2019. Students will have the following scheduled vacations:
  • Thanksgiving Break: Sunday, Nov. 18 - Sunday, Nov. 25
  • Christmas/New Year Break: Saturday, Dec. 15 - Thursday, Jan. 3
  • Spring Break: Monday, March 11 - Friday, March 15
Many gap year programs can cost ten thousand dollars or more. The cost for the entire 12 month Exponential experience is only $5,000* which includes:
  • Utilities
  • Groceries**
  • Honorariums for Guest Speakers
  • RA Salary
  • Books
  • Clothing/Uniform
  • DRG-sponsored Recreation
  • Trips/Transportation

*Students may be able to earn up to $2,000 if they choose to work guest groups (excluding the Outdoor Education Program) or other income-producing jobs.

**When meals are not provided by Doe River Gorge, each student will be reimbursed from the above fee to be used for their grocery budget.

Each student will also be asked to raise $1,800 in missionary support for their foreign mission experience.

Students are also responsible to provide the following:

  • Proof of medical insurance
  • Toiletries
  • Laundry Supplies (detergent, dryer sheets, etc.)
  • Passport
  • Personal spending money
  • Personal transportation as desired

Doe River Gorge will invest in each student by providing, at no charge:

  • Tuition/Teaching/Training
  • Prepared Meals (equivalent to 4 months of food)
  • Personal mentoring
  • Housing
$1,000 is due 30 days prior to arrival. The balance is due upon arrival. Payment plans can be arranged.
Yes, scholarships are available. Call the Doe River Gorge office for scholarship information.
Students can raise a portion of their fees by asking friends and relatives to support them with a tax-deductible contribution for their personal missionary support. All money is given to Doe River Gorge and is applied to cover your ministry and living expenses, and the missions trip.
Participants will have the opportunity to earn money by working with guest groups. Due to variance in guest group bookings, specific earnings are difficult to project. Outdoor Education is considered a portion of each student’s training and students are not paid when working this program.
Working a regular outside job is not possible. However, on scheduled time off students may work odd jobs offered by friends of the ministry.
Students are required to provide their own meals. Groups typically prepare meals together. Doe River Gorge will, however, provide the following meals:
  • Lunch during Day Quest (if working)
  • All meals offered to Summer Staff during the summer programs
  • Leftovers from guest groups
Students will often be scheduled to work with guest groups on weekends. Typically, but not always, there will be two personal days per week.
Yes, as long as it does not conflict with the Exponential or DRG program scheduling.
One of the critical components of the Exponential is team dynamics and unity. Because of this, time off will be limited to the weekly “personal day(s)” and the three scheduled vacation breaks.
Exponential students will have free time during the weekly “personal day(s)” as well as the three breaks as specified in the Expectations/Guidelines document.
Visits from friends during Exponential will be allowed only with RA approval and as long as there are no scheduling conflicts. No overnight guests/visitors are permitted.
A passport is necessary for the foreign missions trip.