Seven states, thirteen days, 3,500 miles, 50+ hours in a minivan, seven camp services, two church services, nineteen Periscope broadcasts, multiple God-encounters, divine appointments, great food, awesome friends, one cabin, two houses, six hotel rooms, too many Starbucks, lots of writing, new moments, special moments, scary moments, crazy moments, hysterical moments, and one long roadside pee in the middle of the desert by yours truly = one epic road trip!
Myself, my wife Annette, my daughter Savannah (10), my son Ashton (7), and our student pastor Cory Vance set out for Arizona on July 4, 2015. Cory and I were featured speakers at a youth camp (Emmanuel Pines) in Prescott for Phoenix Christian Assembly (the church I attended as a child).
Here’s the story in pictures.
Since we left on July 4th it was only fitting to drive by this flagged out dude reppin’ USA in style! #Merica
What’s a road trip without an iPhone charging station?! #AppleAllTheWay
It’s easy to believe in God while driving through Colorado. #CreationShouts
I wasn’t sure if we were about to go through a tunnel…or into a life-size video game.
The Old West isn’t complete unless there’s a train zooming by a mountain.
We didn’t have time to drive the 15 additional miles to see the arches but we made time for Savannah & Ashton to showcase the sign at the Visitor Center.
This is the road (on the side of the cliff) that leads to the famous Utah arches.
This is me broadcasting live video via #Periscope in Utah. I got yelled at by Cory and my wife after almost slamming into the car in front of us. They made me promise not to Periscope the rest of the trip while driving. Lol.
This is actually called Church Rock Valley…which is kind of cool considering we pastor Rock Church. I guess we should add an Arizona campus here. “Welcome to the ChurchRock RockChurch campus!” Huh?
This is me peeing in the middle of the Arizona desert. The only reason you even get to see this is because my wife thought it would be hilarious to take a picture of me…in a moment where I couldn’t defend myself. It was either this or ruin the minivan we rented.
Morning View | Sedona, AZ
This is a collage of pictures from the drive to Arizona after safely arriving at camp.
Emmanuel Pines Camp | Prescott, AZ
Day 1 of camp was my fist opportunity to run on the roadtrip…and in the mountains. Uh, the view, though. #FitByFall
Our theme for camp this year was #Selfie so it was only fitting to take a selfie with some of the campers!
Cory gave his life to Christ at RockChurch 10 years ago. Now he’s our student pastor so it was a privilege to have him with us on this trip. He did the morning sessions and I did the evening sessions. #YourStoryMatters
Every year we play hide and seek in the dark. The staff hide one night and the campers hide the next night. Meet Dalton. He obviously came prepared. In fact, I think he’s still out there in the woods somewhere.
This collage highlights special moments. Kids were at the altar each night and worship was led this year by the pastor’s grandson, Mitchell. A few years ago at camp I shared a vision of Mitchell leading worship. It was fulfilled this year. So proud of this young man.
One of the reasons I believe kids get rocked by God at camp…is because they can’t leave! This was my 6th consecutive year and the best group of kids. The Holy Spirit was present. In this picture, the campers formed a prayer circle and completely took over the service. #BoomSauce
Meet Dayne. Dayne is autistic. He blew our minds and brought down the house when he entered this year’s talent showcase and performed several spot-on impersonations, including Daffy Duck, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Bane, Joker, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Darth Vader, and an Englishman! This one was one of my favorite moments of camp.
Lake Lynx | Prescott, AZ
Cory doesn’t swim – so can you tell he was a slightly freaked out to be in a boat? BTW, in the upper right-hand corner I am pimping my friend – Pastor Bob Beeman’s new book, Seriously?! It was for a promotional project.
This view is one of the many reasons why I love camp and Prescott, AZ.
This is the cabin that Cory and I stayed in. We forgot to turn off the window A/C unit one night, the temperature dropped (since we were in the mountains), and the heater kicked on automatically and began burning up the cobwebs. This caused the smoke alarm to go off at 3:00 AM. Picture Cory running around the cabin with the fire extinguisher looking for a fire…all the while I slept like a baby. #StuffYouCantMakeUp
Another highlight of returning each year is the opportunity to bring my daughter, Savannah (middle). She attended junior camp for the fifth consecutive year. This is extra special because it’s the same camp I attended when I was her age.
Cory had everyone sign #TeamJesus contracts – committing to following Jesus even when life gets hard. This was an awesome moment. #NoTurningBack
Slide Rock | Sedona, AZ (If you want to see me jump from a 40 foot cliff – click here.)
I was honored to preach at my childhood church – Phoenix Christian Assembly – on Sunday morning and we also participated in the camp highlight service on Sunday night. Pastor Don Grosvenor (pictured above) baptized me when I was seven years old. [You can click HERE to view a video recap of the entire camp experience.]
Our good friends – Jon & Jennifer (and family) drove down from Queen Creek to be with us at PCA. Before moving to Arizona they attended our church (RockChurch) in Illinois. My wife (Annette) and son (Ashton) stayed with them while Cory, Savannah, and I were at camp.
This is the reason Ashton skipped camp to stay with Annette at our friend’s house. #PoolFun
I was very intrigued that the Starbucks drive-thru in Phoenix features a video feed. Our barista was gracious enough to pose for this picture. Notice she is pointing to my drink – which is “goodness in a cup.” 🙂
I’m pretty sure it’s a sin to visit Arizona and not eat at In-N-Out. Yes, I heard angels singing.
Pastor Don Grosvenor is 80 years old and has pastored Phoenix Christian Assembly (with his wife, Gerri) for 55 years. PCA recently opened and dedicated a Memorial Library that features those (musicians, celebrities, politicians, athletes, etc.) who were connected to or impacted by the ministry of PCA during the last 55 years. It was a very special moment to have Pastor Don give me the personal tour and share PCA’s history and his legacy.
One of my proudest moments on the trip (and as a dad) was finding my boy reading the Word.
Upper left corner – PCA Prayer Tower
Upper middle – Ash in front of PCA fountain
Upper right corner – My girl
Lower left – Hotel pool fun
Lower middle – Pastor Don’s grandson, Mitchell ( sunglasses are hiding tears because we are saying “Good-bye.” It’s always hard to leave.
Lower right – No explanation needed
On the road again – heading home – see you next year!