Meet the 2018 Team – Zoie

Hi! My name is Zoie, and I’m a 7th grader at Whitehorse Middle School. As a former student on this trip, I chose to come on this trip a second time to build and grow relationships with the community of Alaskan citizens and the members on the Go-Team. I also came for the great views and experiences that would help me to gain a new perspective that I can carry on into my everyday life.

A little bit about me is that 1. Comparing me to a llama is the best thing you could do 2. I play the viola, and currently have been playing for almost four years 3. I’m super passionate about the health of the earth and am anti-straw as much as possible (except for in restaurants bc that’s a little weird to drink out of a cup that’s probably been used a million times) 4. And last but not least, I am the oldest of 3 other siblings, and have about 123456789098765432345678765432123456787654323456789876545678 pets.

I can’t wait to see what the big guy has in store for me this time!

– Zoie

Meet the 2018 Team – Abby

Hi, I’m Abby.

I’ve moved all over the place, from Mongolia to California to Wisconsin. Right now I’m thirteen and I love to play tennis and laugh. I just finished eighth grade. I decided to go on this trip because I had heard from other people how life-changing and eye-opening it was. I’m really looking forward to build new relationships and grow closer to God through this experience.

Love, Abby.

Meet the 2018 Team – Craig Stevens


Hello Blog reader!  Welcome to the Middle School Alaska Mission Trip Blog!  If you can’t guess, I’m not a Middle Schooler or student going on the trip.  My name is Craig and I’m one of the leaders going on the trip.  This will be my third trip headed to Sutton, AK to see what God had in store for the team.  Each year is a different experience and brings joys and challenges that we don’t plan for.  Our Blackhawk Students go on the trip thinking they are going to be helping – and they do, but they really get to see God work in them!  It is truly an amazing time!

I really connected with the Eaglecrest Missions team on the ground and the Alaskan students that we’ve met over the years.  I’m excited to go back for a third year with my son being part of the group!  The trip offers us an opportunity to serve alongside the Eaglecrest team but it also allows us to witness God’s creation! 

A fun fact about me…  I never wanted to be a leader….  As a parent, I wanted my kids to go on a mission trip by themselves.  I wanted them to experience a mission trip without them feeling that a parent was always looking over their shoulder.  I thought that was what I wanted.  Well…. To make a long story short, God had a different plan.  He called me to be a leader 4 years ago during my first trip…. and what a special plan it was.  I’m so grateful that He nudged me to get out of my comfort zone and become a leader. 

To everyone who helped support a member of this trip – THANK YOU!  We are so grateful and  humbled by your support.   In HIM – Craig



Meet the 2018 Team – Ben Knox

My name is Ben, and I’m on the MSM staff team at Blackhawk. This will be my second time on the Alaska team. Last time (2014) I tore my ACL playing ultimate frisbee, so I’m looking forward to a less-eventful trip this time!

I ❤️ LOVE ❤️ our partnership with Eaglecrest because our students fit a niche that helps Eaglecrest advance its mission in the community of Sutton.

While on the trip, I will miss my wife, Meggan, and our two kids, Andrew (8) and Abby (3). They will be having fun with all their grandparents that week. Upon my return, Abby will be skeptical of my presence for the first couple days, and Andrew will want to cuddle regularly. 😊


Mixed Emotions – heading home

Hey friends and family,

I’m not sure if any of you will be checking in with our blog before we see you tomorrow afternoon, but just in case I thought I’d write a few thoughts.

Our day today was pretty nice and chill. We slept at Changepoint church in Anchorage last night – I’m certainly thankful that we are able to stay at Changepoint, though the floors are quite hard and it’s not always the best night of sleep. Luckily, I seem to be in the minority and heard from many others that they slept great . This morning was filled with church and packing up our stuff. Then we moved on to some souvenir shopping and dinner at a fantastic pizza place called the Moose’s Tooth. After dinner we drove through a park in the hopes of spotting a moose (no luck in that venture today) and then were dropped off at the airport.

So, that’s what we did, but what I really want to tell you is how today has felt. It’s pretty crazy to think that this is my fourth summer in a row of spending a week at Eaglecrest. Prior experience has prepared me for the pure exhaustion that today would bring, though everything was thrown for a bit of an emotional loop as the reality set in that this is my last trip to Eaglecrest for the foreseeable future.

This year’s team is an incredible group of human beings and I am so thankful to every one of you for lending your son, daughter, spouse, family member, or friend to this team! Our nightly leader gatherings were always intended to last half and hour or so and would instead stretch into an hour or more as we talked about the many moments we were privileged to witness of our students stepping out of their comfort zones, showing serving hearts, taking initiative, and rocking their roles at day camp. The leaders on this team are incredibly intuitive, caring, and generous souls and I’ve learned from each of them throughout the past week.

Eaglecrest is a beautiful place and I love the quiet moments of looking out over the river to see the mountain on the other side. To me, mountains are such a clear demonstration of God’s power and I cannot imagine a better setting to spend a week. Yet, all of that scenic beauty pales in comparison to the beauty I see in the relationships that are formed at camp. I’ve had the privilege of watching 4 teams of students bond with one another, 4 teams of leaders bond together, and 4 weeks of time to get a glimpse of the relationships that Jim, Lynnae and their kids are forming in Sutton, AK. The work that they do is hard, exhausting, and requires so much sacrifice, but to see the joy that happens in the moment when someone pulls into camp and just gets to say hi and chat with the Smith family – that is clear evidence that God is using them in such powerful ways. I have learned so much about relational ministry in my visits to Eaglecrest because of the authenticity and honesty of the example I see in Jim, Lynnae and every one of their kids.

So, as our trip officially comes to an end, I am full of mixed emotions. I am so excited to get home, see my husband and my dog, and I am really sad to be saying goodbye. Thank you all for your support throughout the many months of preparation and our last 9 days on the ground in Sutton. We will see you tomorrow!


Saturday – Debrief Day

Howdy folks,

Paxton here! Today is July 1st! Yes, yes it is! Believe me I’m just as shocked as you. This week has flown by, and we have all learned so much and grown together as a community.

A little bit about my experience so far, I’ve had a great time getting to know my team members. This trip is full of gifted students and leaders who I have been able to have great conversations with. My faith has grown through these opportunities to speak with and teach them. I’m blessed to have gotten to listen to and share with each person on our team, but here are some highlights. Over pizza, Robb and I were able to share about how to best use our gifts and live out our beliefs. (God is good in so many ways) I also was able to share and hear about the life stories of our team members. Discussions came up about why God allows bad things to happen to good people and what that means for us as Christ followers. How do we best follow God when times get tough? These conversations have certainly helped me to grow in my faith; I know our team cannot wait to take this knowledge back to Madison and share with y’all.

In other news, today we hiked Hatchers Pass, a mountain range and goldmine just outside of Sutton. God’s creation is so beautiful; we couldn’t help but marvel at the mountains and crystal clear water. Check out the photos on Eaglecrest they may be beautiful, but they don’t do justice to what we’ve seen.

Once we’d made it through the pass we went back to camp, cleaned up, and said our goodbyes. Now we are off to Anchorage to stay overnight at Change Point Church. Despite us being disappointed to leave camp, we are all very excited to return to Madison and continue building relationships at home. We cannot wait to see you all.

Best, Paxton & Company

Day 6 – Yard Games and Picnic!

HI! We had 2 groups of students writing blogs for us today! So here is another perspective on today!



Hola my name is Padraig. Today was our 5th day of camp we played dodgeball today. After the game was finished we went inside to make lunch, then once we were ready we headed for the vans and went to the school for games. On the way there we had fun in the vans. Once there we hung out for a while then went to the field to play games.

Some of the games we played where javelin toss: you had to throw the noodle as far as you could, Gavin and I won the one. Egg toss: every time you tossed the egg to your partner the farther you had to go back. Leg race: you and a partner had to cross the finish line first with one of your legs tied to your partners. After that we all had the lunches we made. Then we had an amazing race where each team created a team name and cheer. Then we had to do cartwheels and crab walks to race to the end. Green team won. After we were done we went to the camp fire and then did skill clubs. The skill Clubs were water color painting and cross necklaces. After that we hung until we had the pot luck. We got to meet more the families in our community and have fun. The food was amazing. Most of it was home grown, including the rhubarb crisp, other food was homemade. After we all ate people still hung out, past 10: 00PM!!!!

From the Alaskan students, and Padraig

Day 6 – The Last Day of Camp

Day 6
Hello again! It was our last day of day camp and everyone is sad to see the Alaskan students leave. We were excited to see some new faces and also returning day campers. We spent our morning playing dodgeball and field games with the kids from the library. We returned to Eaglecrest for skills clubs. The activities today were wire cross necklaces, watercolor painting, and improv games. This evening, Eaglecrest hosted a community picnic. It was nice to meet the parents and friends of the campers. We all miss our families, but are sad to see our time hear coming to a close.
Gabi, Misha, Jacob, and Quoddy (Jacob and Quoddy are two of the Alaskan students)

Day 5 – Camp & New Friends!

DAY 5 BLOG – this was written yesterday and again, due to some technical difficulties (on our end this time) wasn’t able to be posted…. here we go again!


Today was our 4th day of camp and we are still gaining more students. This morning we worked on our self-image and meditation. In the afternoon today we had an incredible experience, hiking the one mile trail around Reflection Lake, creating unforgettable relationships and memories with each other and the Alaskan Students. After our hike we enjoyed some ice cream with the Alaskan kids and while we were getting ice cream we made a new friend named Kevin (a fact about Kevin is that he motorcycled across all 50 states and Alaska was his last stop), it was really nice to meet him. Tomorrow we pray for a good last day of camp with the students and for a good night’s rest.

Sincerely: Landon, Bennett, Gabi and Sarahi

P.S. MOM!! (This is Gabi) WILL YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT A COWFFALO IS!?! I’m pretty sure I’m not making this up from a dream. I might have gotten the name wrong, so if you don’t remember what it is, it is a smallish cow/buffalo looking thing with a lot of hair. No one knows what I’m talking about.

Hi friends and family.

Here we are, approaching our final day of day camp here at Eaglecrest and there are so many mixed emotions. We are excited for the campers to come and to watch the final skills clubs take place, but we are also pretty sad that this time has come to an end. The students have excelled far more than any of the leaders thought possible and each one of them have shown a servant heart, veracity (truthfulness), initiative, encouragement, and God’s love.  Tonight we spent a few moments highlighting one another’s strengths in these characteristics. To hear the love pour from one student into another, and watch the team become closer and overcome obstacles together has been a blessing that I don’t think you can explain, unless you were here. Speaking of which…. Have our stories, pictures and journey enticed you to entertain the idea of being a leader next year on this trip? Yes? Great! Find me when we get back, we we’ll talk!

One of the things that has surprised me has been the community’s response when we go out on the town. We have had many people question our sanity, quite a few people laugh at the candidness of our children, and so. many. compliments. (Seriously. Whatever you are doing at home – please keep it up. )

Our friend Kevin (a former law enforcement officer from Ohio) expressed it perfectly when he said, “in a world of so much negativity and brokenness, it is truly God’s blessing to have these kids involved in mission work and a Christian community at such a pivotal age.” I couldn’t agree more.

On this trip I have been not only a leader, but a mom as well. (Talk about an interesting dynamic…) In one hour, I have experienced the FULL range of emotions and have constantly come back to the same thought, “Our leaders are incredible.” Their gifts work so well together with each other and with our children and at times, it is truly unbelievable. To be a parent and leader on this trip, and take a step back and watch the strength, the passion, and the vulnerability of the people who are walking hand in hand with us and our students – it’s something I don’t think I ever appreciated before as much as I do now. As a leader, this is by far the best team I have EVER been a part of. I say this from all of our leaders – thank you for giving us the opportunity to walk with your children on this journey.

Much love,