Tuesday, August 04, 2009


We drove four days and 1500 miles to Twin Lakes, Colorado and back. We spent another five days rappelling, camping, and backpacking. We started at 9,400 feet, made high camp at 12,000, and ‘summited’ Mt. Oxford at 14,153 after leaving camp at 2:50 a.m. to arrive at the peak by 8 a.m. and be back down before the storms hit at midday. We enjoyed no (zip, nada, nyet) showers, indoor plumbing, or cooked food (other than instant) for five days. We experienced a blown rear van tire and ruptured fuel pump that put us six hours behind schedule. We consumed 837 lbs. of snacks and fast food in the van. We killed 28 hours waiting in line at convenience store restrooms. We listened to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits on CD 37 times. We watched all three Bourne movies on the van’s overhead player. We didn’t sleep enough hours any of the nine nights.

We had a blast!

Last week I was privileged to go along with our Senior High group on its annual summer “Trek” expedition. I thoroughly enjoyed being with these delightful kids, who have consistently distinguished themselves wherever they go on trips. The staff of T.E.A.M. Ascend made a point of telling Cory Jones, Joey Ellmore, Neely McCoy and me that our students were “the best group we’ve had all summer.”

We were led up the mountain and in all respects by the legendary Bob Wood, a 70-year old combination of mountain goat, grizzly bear and teddy bear, who, if he were president of the United States would balance the budget, de-nuclearize Iran, blockade North Korea, and make all U.S. government employees begin their day with pushups, sit-ups, and squat thrusts. This guy makes John Wayne look like a J.C. Penney model. The T.E.A.M. Ascend staff of confident, friendly college students and young adults was an inspiration to be around and learn from.

At the end of the week we gave the following awards: The “Manna” award to Davis John, for spiritually feeding the other students; the “Barnabas” award to Jakob Culver, for being such a strong encourager; the “T.E.A.M.” (trust, encouragement, attitude, motivation) award to Miranda Wilcox, for being the kind of student T.E.A.M. Ascend could envision inviting to be on staff some day; the “Proof Positive” award to Whitney Oliver for her consistently positive and cheerful disposition; the “Heart of David” award to Ian Wulf, for his example of earnestly seeking God; the “Rock” award to Luke Pyeatt for his quiet, dependable and selfless service; and the “True Grit” award to Damaris Wilcox, for persevering through pain and discomfort with determination and a complete absence of self-pity. We also honored our three crew leaders: Jakob Culver, Katie Barnett, and Davis John.

I hung with the students pretty well going up and down the mountains, but spent a lot more time recovering with naps in my tent. This is a blatant and unfair advantage teenagers have over middle-aged adults and I resent it mightily.

The point of Trek is to give people an opportunity to experience the beauty of nature and the challenges of camping and hiking to a 14,000 foot-plus summit such that they push through self-imposed limitations and develop more confidence in what they are capable of doing, all while seeking God and deepening their faith amidst a close-knit group of Christ-followers.

I’ll miss some sleep for that any time.


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