Just got back from the 12th Annual Yosemite Summit! The forecast was for storms and rain all week, but God’s unmerited favor was upon us as we hiked in clear skies avoiding the stormy areas and even saw a bear along the trail!
When we visited the Giant Sequoias, it snowed and a few guys were sure they saw Aslan or a Fawn off in the distance!
Then, the following day, while hiking around Mirror Lake and the Tenya Canyon Loop, a 77 year old lady tipped us off to a major water fall just a short hike off a side trail at the end of the loop. The Snow Creek Fall isn’t even listed on the official Yosemite website list of waterfalls! We took her advice and what an amazing waterfall it turned out to be:
Enjoy this video I made for my kids at church Sunday morning:
Guys, pray about joining me next year on Yosemite Summit – the UNconference for Children’s Pastors! As I like to describe it:
No workshops – Just God working.
No resources – Just relationships.
No networking – Just God Working.
It will be the best investment you can make, not only in your ministry, but your walk with God, your marriage and your parenting. I can’t describe what this week does to rewire men. You just have to experience it for yourself. There is a reason nearly 50 men have gone, and many three, four or five times!
There are no updates yet about the 2020 Summit, but there will be one! Poke around the site and read about this year’s Summit to learn more about it. Be sure you are subscribed the Kidology Newsletter so you can be the first to know when Registration Opens this fall for the next Summit!
These are the guys headed to the 2019 Yosemite Summit! Pray for Doug, Frank, Matt, Ted, Paul and I as we set out to meet with God. Pray for safety, beautiful weather, release from everything we leave behind, our families without us and for God’s agenda to be accomplished!
So, just HOW excited would you be to get AWAY from your job for a week?
You can only IMAGINE… no e-mail, no texts, no meetings, no phone calls, no to-do lists, no boss dropping in with some new task… how excited would you me? Maybe as excited as this guy from Yosemite Summit last year:
Yosemite Summit is a week long sabbatical retreat for men in the heart of Yosemite National Park. This is not camping. This is a week at a relaxing lodge for refreshment, renewal and recharging away from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced ministry life. You can leave your watch behind as there is no schedule other than eat breakfast, hike, chill, and return for home cooked dinner in the evening enjoying fellowship with other men during the day.
Oh, and there is only ONE SPOT LEFT for the 2019 Summit. Explore this site to learn more or register here!
I’m praying for that one guy who really needs to join me on this 12th annual Summit. Will it be you?
The 12th Annual Yosemite Summit is now OPEN for registration. This unique sabbatical event for men in ministry is unlike anything else you have ever experienced. Limited to a small group of men, Yosemite Summit is a chance to walk away from everything, quite literally, and spend a week in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth enjoying focused time with God with some other men who share your passion for ministry.
Yosemite Summit 2019 will be limited to six men, so register soon if you would like to join Pastor Karl on this incredible event.
The dates are May 19th to 24th, 2019 with travel on the 18th and 25th. Complete details are on this site. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Karl.
Every Summit is amazing. There has never been a “bad” Yosemite Summit. Each is unique, but the 11th annual Summit was uniquely special. The weather was great, the hikes spectacular, the fellowship rich and we had some hysterical fun! Some of the crazy memories aren’t even for sharing here on the website, they are just for the guys who attended to cherish, which is probably why so many guys have come on the Summit year after year – several have come three to five times! As I head into the second decade of leading these, I can’t help wondering how many of these I will do until I head to the final eternal Summit.
The annual group shot at the Yosemite Entrance Sign
Of course, we always try for what we call our “Album Cover Shot” too.
But the fun starts well before we get to Yoosemite, we meet up in Sacramento and everyone is eager to get to In-and-Out Burger
Ever seen a bunch of guys in a giant warehouse store stocking up on food for a week of cooking? I’m sure our wives would find it very entertaining as we wander the store with walkie talkies making sure we have everything. No, worries – we’ve got it down to a science after ten years. The first year I had my wife on the phone the whole time we were shopping!
Soon we are in Yosemite and ready for some great fellowship and prepared to see some amazing things you just can’t see at home!
One of the best things about Yosemite Summit is the friendships that are formed and deepened over the years.
No, that isn’t a green screen backdrop. It’s just that incredible in Yosemite.
The variety of the scenery is incredible – sometimes a quiet walk through the forest…
Other times you are standing next to a thundering waterfall.
Later, you are on top of the world!
And then later, you are chillin’ next to a peaceful river.
(This is actually called Pastoral Valley, seriously!)
It’s a time for quiet reflection away from the constant interruptions from smart phones, meetings, and yes, even people… so you can hear from God.
When is the last time you got to just sit and think. And ponder. And reflect. And pray.
….without distraction or interuption?
When you gave at God’s magnificent creation that is pretty much unchanged from how it looked when Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt gaved upon it, it gives you a powerful perspective on God’s timelessness and demonstrates just how much not in a hurry He is to accomplish His purposes in your life.
I can’t even describe how nice it is to read God’s Word while enjoying His Creation.
Or to just take a nap listening to the symphony of creation.
A few guys have brought hammocks over the years.
Finding that perfect spot each day to pause, meditate and reflect is the goal.
Everyone wants that mountain top experience, even if it really is just a ten foot rock that makes a great picture. But spiritually, there are many mountain top experiences that occur!
Walking with God and walking with others who share your passion for ministry and discipleship makes for insightful conversation.
I love to chill and just take in the vast vistas. I’ve been trying to figure out how to freeze time while I’m there, but so far I’ve had to settle for just living in the moment and savoring every minute knowing that the experience is rich but limited. It’s amazing to me how long the week feels when you take in every hour deeply. The week truly does not feel like it rushes by as normal weeks do. I am so refreshed at the end, I feel like I’ve had a month off.
Yosemite Summit is a time of reflection – on your own life, relationships, ministry and future goals. It is a time when you can hear God so clearly because all the normal noise of life has been removed.
Yosemite Summit helps you gain new perspective on life and ministry!
I can’t believe that next year will will be the 12th Summit! I’m so curious who God will send with me on the Summit – it’s always so fascinating to me to see the group that God assembles. I enjoy my primary ministry as a children’s pastor, and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunities I get serving leaders in children’s ministry through Kidology, but I must say, Yosemite Summit has got to be one of the most surprisingly enjoyable blessings in my life. It was born out of my own need for renewal and refreshment over a decade ago, and the fact that it has since impacted over fifty other men is both humbling and an honor.
Recently, I was going through some old personal papers in the garage – much of it was useless and finally was tossed out, but hidden in the ancient folders, binders and loose papers I found an art pad with some drawing in it from when I was fourteen years old… that would be 34 years ago. While I’ve never been much of an artist, I was surprised at how good these were. I obviously must have spent some focused time doodling these. I now commit them to the Internet for Eternity!
Here is another:
Half Dome from Mirror Lake
I am so thankful that I dated these, otherwise I’d have no idea when they were drawn. I am so thankful for this incredible place that has become my Sanctuary where I travel every year to spend some focused time walking with God and listening to what He has for me. I’ve always known that Yosemite had a special draw for me… now I know that I did a special drawing while I was there as a young boy falling in love with my Creator and His amazing displays of beauty He collected here.
Know what might be the best thing for your ministry right now?
A new resource?
A new program?
A new book?
A new curriculum?
A new conference?
A new idea?
A new volunteer?
A new senior pastor? :0)
This may surprise you – but the best thing for your ministry right now may be to get as far away from it as possible – and to get a close to God as possible.
That is what Yosemite Summit is all about. It is about focusing on what matters most to your ministry: your walk with God. Your soul. NOTHING is more important and nothing will impact your ministry more than your private walk with God. Come join a few other children’s pastors and walk with God for a few days and let Him speak you directly. Through nature, though worship, through fellowship, through the Word, through the quietness you may only find at a sun rise at Glacier Point or in the midst of a thousand foot water fall.
You will never be the same after meeting God here. Cast off the excuses, and allow God to provide if He is hinting in your spirit that He wants you to get away with Him soon.
A NOTE TO CHILDREN’S PASTORS: My guess is that you haven’t heard the forest break out into uproarious applause or the mountains burst into joyful song. If I were to pry, I’d be willing to guess that, for some of you, you go home unable to hear even the gentlest of whispers from God’s tender love and approval of your service to His little ones and His church.
There is a grind to ministry that if left unchecked will lead to deafness to God’s unending joy in your service to children. Even if this doesn’t describe your current state or you’re feel really great about your ministry and relationship with God, I offer this gem: Join a Kidmin UNconfrence!
I’ve been a part of Karl Bastian’s YosemiteSummit.org for the last three years. It breaks up my crazy hectic ministry routine with one solid week of renewal, refining, refocusing and ultimately a new resolve for God, family and church.
If you’re a male children’s ministry pastor/director and you’ve read this far than YES this is for you and you know you need this! Drop the excuses, don’t stress about the how and just pray on it.
Karl is genuinely passionate about seeing men reconnect to the God who has called them into ministry.
“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thorn bushes, but stately pines— Monuments to me, to GOD, living and lasting evidence of GOD.” Isaiah 55:12-13 MSG
Even as I write this, I still can’t believe that I’m reporting on the 10th Anniversary of Yosemite Summit. When I first got the idea to do this sabbatical retreat for children’s pastors, it was a step of faith. While I hoped it could become an annual event, at that time, I didn’t even know if I could get enough guys to join me to make the event succeed. And now I’m planning the 11th annual.
Here are some pictures from the 2017 Summit – and a highlight video at the end. It is my prayer these will not only encourage guys to join me on a future Summit, but also challenge YOU to set aside time to intentionally plan rest into your busy ministry life. This event grew out of a period of life where I was beyond exhausted even as I was doing what I loved – children’s ministry – and when I discovered that I as much as I love what I do, God needs ME more than anything I do for Him. This annual week is my gift to Him – 100% of me for a full week, ceasing from doing to just BE. And it is a gift I invite other men to join me on.
It is hard for me to even describe Yosemite. While millions of people visit every year, the vast majority only experience Yosemite from the crowded paved roads in the Valley. They miss out on so much that this majestic place has to offer!
One of the most popular hikes we do every few years is the Panorama Trail, which begins at Glacier Point, where many drive to take pictures and then leave – but we hike all the way to the Valley, passing three major waterfalls in the process. It is an incredible day with views no pictures can truly capture.
Peter was back after having been with me on the very first Summit ten years ago. The friendships that have grown out of this group of men is one of the blessings we all enjoy.
Both Tom and Matt have been on several Summits, and there is a reason many guys come back over and over – every years is different (like hiking in ice cold flooded trails for a bit this year due to heavy snow melt) but every year is special and rejuvenates the guys who come.
While we enjoy great fellowship with others who share our love of God, nature and children’s ministry – we also get some precious solo time to just walk. Whether we are enjoying worship music through our headphones or God’s music in the world around us, prayer is never so sweet or personal as it is here.
There are times when we are enjoying the thunderous noise of cascading waterfalls and rivers overcome with the power of God seen in His timeless creation.
Other times, we get to just sit and read, journal and pray in a place where only birds, wind in the trees of the distant roar of water attempts to distract us.
From the moment we gather in Sacramento, through the drive to Yosemite, and of course while we are there – we have so much fun just enjoying a relaxed pace of life.
I love when the new guys ask, “What time do we start?”
I answer, “When we get to the trail head.”
They ask, “What time will the hike end?”
I answer, “When we get back to the van.”
They ask, “What time is dinner?”
I answer, “When we get back to the lodge.”
They quickly figure out – we have left deadlines and schedules behind us. In fact, they don’t even need to wear a watch. Because we don’t need them. The day starts when the sun rises and ends when it gets dark. In between, we just enjoy each other, God’s presence and all that He created to display His glory.
I have discovered many “hidden spots” over the ten yeas I’ve been visiting Yosemite. While I’ve done ten Summits, I’ve also gone with my family, a father-son trip with my dad, and twice in winter – most recently last January with my friend Pat, who has been on four Summits and jumped at the chance to join me in January, even as it meant missing the 10th anniversary trip – but he’s coming again in 2018, now as my co-leader due to his experience with the event.
For the 10th Anniversary Summit, I opened the event up first to repeat guys, and it filled so fast, I never even got to promote it on Kidology for newbies to come. But we did have one first timer, my good friend Jon Mobley who I’ve been inviting for years and he was finally able to come. He joined me and a few others as he made it to the top of Yosemite Falls and then up to Yosemite Point – a daunting hike that only two guys have done in the ten years of Yosemite Summit. It was on my bucket list, and I finally did it!
We love Half Dome – the iconic mountain that attracts hiking, climbers, photographers and millions of others every year. It’s unmoving and unchanging form, looking the same as in old pictures with Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir, is a powerful testimony to the unchanging nature of our Creator God.
Spotting wild life is always a treat. The birds, deer, turkeys, squirrels, chip monks, marmots, lizards and even bears are always a delight to see, and if we are lucky enough – to capture a picture of.
When we have those rare moments where we are all together at the same time and place on the trail, I try to get group pictures whenever I can.
I can look through pictures from every year and so many memories come back – every year is so unique – not only because of the varying weather and the different hikes, but because of the unique combination of guys that join together for this week.
One of the things that amazes me about the Summit, is that while normal weeks seem to fly by, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, it’s almost Sunday again.” The Summit goes at a pace that almost makes it feel like much more than a week. Surely, on the last day, we feel that. “It’s over” mix of sadness to leave, but eagerness to get back to our families and the ministries we love.
This year, due to heavy snow fall, we got to hike in some snow for portions of hikes – and yet it wasn’t cold. A few of the guys even decided to slide down the backside of Sentinel Dome head first, and lived to tell about it!
This is one of my “secret places” – I won’t even post online where it is. It is a place where we avoid the crowds of Tunnel View with tour buses and countless tripods and cameras and get our own private view of the same famous Valley view, and even have some giant boulders to climb on that look like they are about to roll down the mountain – but if they haven’t yet, what’s the chance they will now while we are climbing on them?
The first year it took me several minutes to climb up this huge boulder, now I can do it in seconds after repeated trips. (Here is a video of me demonstrating how to climb it!)
In closing, the guys have come to love these AREA CLOSED signs you see around the park. One of the guys this year got to take one home when they happened to be nearby as one was being replaced and they asked if they could have the old one. Why are they meaningful to us? Because they describe why we are here.
For one week we are CLOSED. No ministry meetings, e-mails, voice mails, texts, lessons to write, events to plan and the countless other things that fill a normal week. For one week we say, “Sorry, I’m closed.” And the reason is, RESTORATION IN PROGRESS.
Guys come to the Summit exhausted, weary, sometimes even discouraged and asking God what’s next? Not everyone is in crisis though – if we are wise, we’ll do something like this before we find ourselves in crisis. But regardless of what is going on “back home,” they all come to hit “pause” on the hussle and bussle of ministry life so they can just enjoy some time with God.
The most challenging ministry secret I was ever given was, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from you life.” It is a constant pursuit of mine, and Yosemite Summit is my annual occasion to hit the reset button and stop the ministry train and rest.
Perhaps you’ll join me on a future Summit?
ENJOY THE HIGHLIGHT VIDEO from the 10th Annual Summit:
By the way, since the Summit has been filling up quickly the last few years with guys wanting to come back, for 2018 as we start the next ten years of Summits, I am opening the Summit up FIRST to new timers – but there is a waiting list of guys who are eager to return, so if this is something you want to do, register SOON – the event always fills up fast because it is the only event of it’s type for children’s pastors.
Yosemite Summit 2016 was an amazing week! Like last year, there was rain in the forecast, but seemed to avoid us. We had to change plans, but the hikes we did were incredible, and the one time we hiked in rain, it was actually amazing as we liked through lush greenery along a raging river. We all ended up saying it was the best way to do that particular hike, and as you’ll see below we enjoyed blue skies for most of the week. We truly saw God’s Hand of provision as we walked with Him!
I marvel every year how God brings together just the perfect group of guys. It is now always a great blend of repeat Summiteers (as I call them) and guys who are experiencing this for the first time. While Yosemite never gets old – it is fun to see the awe in the guys who are seeing it and experiencing it for the first time.
As always on this site, you can click any image to see it larger.
I like to say, “It’s hard to feel down, when you are on top of the world.”
If you could see where this rock sits, you might think twice about climbing up on it. But we do anyway. If it hasn’t moved in thousands of years, would it really today?
After over a dozen hiking trips here, I have discovered some of the most amazing places. While literally millions of people visit this National Park every year, most of them remain in the Valley looking up. I have discovered the hikes where we can enjoy not only solitude, but spectacular views. This particular location (I won’t post the name online) provides a better view than the famous Tunnel View without the buses and crowds – and this rock that appears to be about to roll down the hill to crash in the Valley below.
A selfie on top of this amazing rock!
And here is the picture they took!
Yosemite Summit offers the time, place and atmosphere to just soak in the presence of God – unlike anywhere else.
Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets… Habakkuk 2:2
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
It is like God places cool things to find all over the place. This perfectly round and hollowed out hole was fun to jump into for a picture, but not so easy to get out of!
Of course, hiking is a big part of Yosemite Summit – but the goal is never to finish the hike – it is to enjoy fellowship along the way, to marvel in our Creator, to listen to His still small voice, and to spend time in conversational prayer as we walk.
The variety of landscape, climate and geography is simply incredible. We can be hiking on snow for a bit, and then not much longer be stopping to remove a layer because we are getting warm. You have to dress for a range of temperatures from the 60’s to 80’s on most days in Yosemite in May.
One of the things you gain in Yosemite is a sense of perspective. Both literally on the heights, as well as about life, ministry, family and our walk with God.
A group picture as we walk among giants.
I was excited after several years of changed plans, to finally get to see the Indian Rock Arch. My creative climb up the back side resulted in a dead-end and back tracking, but I still enjoyed it.
Pat followed the designated path and was able to get all the way into the Arch. Hmmmm…. there is an object lesson there somewhere.
On our rainy day hike, it stopped at lunch time so we could relax and eat. Is that a cool tree or what?
I always knew Doug had multiple personalities – but I finally got photographic proof. When we got to this tree I showed the guys how to do a panorama picture that you are in twice by running behind the photographer after he starts and get into the end. We must have spent 20 minutes taking fun pictures!
The funny thing was, when we got to this tree and wanted to do a group photo, there was a family of four also enjoying it. We kindly asked if they would mind hiding behind the tree for our picture. They were happy to do so, but then we got to doing our panorama pictures and forgot they were behind the tree. Fifteen minutes later the dad politely peeked out and asked if they could move on? We were so embarrassed and apologetic, we had forgotten they had ducked behind the tree for the first picture!
Glacie Point is always amazing. As you approach it you are overcome with awe as Half Dome begins to tower above the skyline – I’ve been accused of photo-shopping when I have posted pictures from here. It just really is this amazing, in fact, more so when you see it in person.
It’s a popular and so crowded spot – it took some patience to get a group photo without others in it.
This was Pat’s 4th Summit – you can tell he is pretty excited to be back in Yosemite!
I found a nice place to sit and enjoy the view away from the crowds, since not many are willing to go out on the ledge at Glacier Point. Yea, it’s about a mile straight down.
Pat bravely venturing where many have gone before for at least a century. Well, the daring ones anyway…
The final day of Yosemite Summit is bitter sweet. It has been an incredible week – half of you wants to never leave while the other half is eager to take back into daily life the Peace and Resolve that was gained here. Family is missed, but when you leave Yosemite you take a part of it back with you in a deep place where it is never lost. It is why so many have come back to Yosemite Summit more than once.
We always end the Summit at Yosemite Chapel, a still functioning church that has been a part of the Valley since 1879. We enjoying singing hymns about Our Mighty Fortress, Our Help in Ages Past enjoying songs that fit the setting – As the Deer or Higher Ground – as we rejoince that It Is Well With Our Soul.
Perhaps one day, you’ll be singing with us when you join me at Yosemite Summit.