Lance Hartland (Co-Founder) grew up in Western Pennsylvania. There in his younger years he spent a lot of time outdoors with his father and friends in activities such as camping, biking, hunting, and canoeing. That was where he felt most alive! After a traumatic family experience he walked away from God and the Church. During this very bumpy journey, he also drifted away from the playful nature of wilderness adventure.
It wasn’t till 15 years after he walked away, Lance realized he needed God back in his life, and God used Lance’s passion for the outdoors to see that. He started hanging with a friend that was involved with a community at his church in the Washington DC area that was active in outdoor sports and adventure. Through the outdoor adventure and fellowship he experienced, his heart softened towards God, and as a result he started attending church again.
In 2003, Lance moved to Austin, Texas and began attending Gateway Church where God really grabbed a hold of him. Austin is a very outdoorsy city, which fit right in with Lance’s passion. So after leading several ministries at Gateway, he felt called to resurrect the church’s outside adventure ministry (we called it Gateway Outside). He believed this ministry was an avenue for others to experience the presence and vastness of God through being in the wilderness.
Lance led the Gateway Outside ministry for 4.5 years and in those years the Gateway Outside (GO) community grew to 7 volunteer leaders and 70 people that did life together by serving the community, attending the outdoor events and participating in small groups. The connection factor was that they enjoyed spending time in the outdoors. The ministry conducted excursions throughout Texas, Colorado and Arkansas, as well as, hosted 3 weekly small groups that met in the same house. The ministry was inviting to both non-believers and Christ followers of all levels of faith. Lance met CJ (Co-Founder) when she joined the GO small groups and ministry events. They became close friends, and in 2009, they got married.
After leading the Outside ministry, Lance joined the staff at Gateway Church as an Outreach Coordinator, and helped the church members plug into local and global mission opportunities. Even during this time, Lance felt that God was preparing him for something bigger that involved the wilderness. In 2011 when leading a group trip to the mountains of Colorado, Lance and CJ felt like they were home in the Colorado wilderness. They sensed that God was calling them to the next season of their walk. Through much prayer, they are stepping out in faith to take the GO ministry concept to the next level by creating the wilderness adventure ministry in Colorado called Sonshine Wilderness Retreat!!!