Emily's Experience as a 19-Year Old Taking The Backpack Program

Emily's Experience as a 19-Year Old Taking The Backpack Program

Emily McGuinness is a 23-year-old Backpack Facilitator in training. Emily started her Backpack journey in 2018 when she took the course in a young adult summer camp. She recently graduated from University of Florida. Read below her experience of the programs, and how they could help a young adult in your life.


I first experienced the Backpack for Young Adults in 2018 in Ireland.

I was 19. When I first learned the material, my mind was blown. My initial impressions were

  1. I can’t believe I wasn’t aware of such important life skills

  2. Everyone needs this program.

The Backpack combines psychology and spirituality in a simple and transformative way. I was able to learn about how my brain works and that people have the ability to rewire their brains and change their thought patterns. I loved deepening my relationship with God through Contemplative Prayer and learning to effectively calm my mind and body. Realizing that I have control over choosing my own happiness was empowering to me. These and other life skills that I learned through the Backpack have helped me become a better version of myself, which others noticed too. After I returned home from the program, my friends noted that I was happier and “on fire” and my mom told me that I had a light in my eyes.

I’m truly grateful that I took this program before the pandemic, because I was able to practice these skills and incorporate them into my daily life. I noticed that although the world was getting crazier, I was getting calmer. The practical skills taught in the Backpack are easy to learn and implement. At 23, I feel much less anxiety than I did as a teenager. And when I do experience stress or anxiety, I’m better able to manage it because of the calming exercises I learned through the program. I enjoyed the Backpack so much that I repeated the program three times, both in person and online. I’ve also taken other Backpack courses like Adult Faith Formation and the Backpack Facilitator course so I can teach it to others.

There is immense value in taking the Backpack multiple times. Repeating the program helps you reinforce the lessons and incorporate them into your daily life. As I’ve taken it at different stages of my life, different lessons have stood out to me. I know I’ve learned something new each time. The repetition allows me to strengthen the skills I’ve learned and apply them to the season I’m experiencing. The Backpack provides tools you can use continually throughout the journey of your life.

If you are an adult reading this, please take the Backpack for Adults if you haven’t already! Then please spread this program to others in your home, parish, or community. Other young adults like me need this program though they may not all realize it. We need fantastic and willing adult leaders (you) to bring it to others.

If you are a young adult reading this, I invite you to join us for the Backpack for Young Adults virtual immersion program this summer! This virtual program will be held Monday, June 27th through Friday, July 1st. Live online sessions will run from 4pm - 6:30pm GMT (11am EST, 8am PST) daily via Zoom. If you can’t make these times, the sessions will be recorded and available for a month after the program. I’m personally looking forward to this one-week program, and I hope to see you there!

The Backpack Program changed my life.

It affected how I interact and view myself, my family and friends, and God. The program helped me to become a better version of myself by teaching me life tools such as:

+ How to improve resilience

+ How to increase my self-awareness

+ How to manage stress and anxiety as it comes up

+ How to set boundaries (both with myself and with other people)

+ How to practice daily gratitude

+ How to cultivate a daily practice of Contemplative Prayer (this is possibly the most important)

This program has equipped me on my journey as a human and spiritual being, and I know that it will do the same for you.


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