Maintaining competency in the leadership of VOW has been a priority since 1973. Through continued experience in wilderness skills and programming, by maintaining the up to date emergency medical certifications needed for these trips and also training and study in biblical principles, the staff of VOW is truly committed to excellence in Christian backpacking.
Our dedicated staff maintain their employment in various professional careers, including the medical profession, petroleum industry, computer technology, various business, and financial occupations, as well as ministers and teachers. Each guide is handpicked based on his or her background, experience and training in wilderness activities and adventures, his or her desire to serve and teach others, and conviction to communicate the reality of Jesus Christ and the principles found in the books of the Bible. In addition to their experience in wilderness skills and leadership, this unique group offers a wealth of knowledge in life experiences that can relate to the roles of the business professional, parent, and student.
"I've loved the outdoors my whole life. After my first trip with Voice in 2013, I immediately wanted to become more involved with this wonderful organization. I had an amazing experience hiking from rim to rim in the Grand Canyon while learning to appreciate the awe inspiring relationship between myself, nature, and God. It is refreshing to get away from the chaos of everyday life and experience worship in the peaceful wilderness. These are the reasons why continue to serve as a guide. I now lead the Boundary Waters Canoe trip in Ely, MN. I currently live in Indianapolis, IN where I own and manage a painting company. I'm excited about my engagement to my wonderful fiancé, Haley, and I'm looking forward to our wedding in October 2016. I'm excited to start my life with Haley, and I hope to be able to bring her on Voice trips in the future."
Father Daughter Adventure
Originally from Texas, she is now an actress living in New York City. Her degree is in Musical Theatre and is passionately pursuing those dreams. When not singing and dancing, she splits her time between working at a gym and taking care of wonderful young children. She has been leading trips with VOW since 2012 and so enjoys the time she gets to spend out on the trail, escaping from the concrete craziness to reconnect with the Lord, the Word, and those along side her for the journey. Is so thankful to have the experiences she's had with VOW and is excited for all to those still to come.
Married to Tom since 1991 and the parents of Ross (21) and Sara (17), I stay busy with running our household and as a 5-year cancer survivor, growing in my passion and niche to serve those walking through breast cancer and other life struggles. Together we can all discover the beauty in our lives through a variety of unique ministry avenues,including time in God's creation.At a very young age, I discovered a deep comfort with the outdoors and felt a powerful connection with God and a comforting awareness of self while outside with my true Father. I had the opportunity to help lead my first VOW trip in 2013 as a guest speaker. I was quickly taken back to days of my youth as I reflected on the need to break the pattern of busyness and make time to ponder my Creator and His majesty through nature at its finest in the mountains of Colorado. I am thrilled to join the team as a leader and as one who loves to serve the needs of others, it is a match made in heaven!It is a gift beyond measure to learn, grow, and share this love with fellow guides and participants of VOW adventures.
Ana and Tracy Bennett
Mountain Light Music Festival
My wife, Meredith, and I have been married since 1995 and have two boys Anderson (15) and Keyson (13). I studied trombone performance at Rice University and graduated in 1991 with a BM and 1993 with a masters. I won a position with the "President's Own" US Marine Band in Washington DC. My most memorable performance was a private church service at Camp David for the POTUS and family following 911. Upon leaving the Marine Corps I began a teaching position at Baylor, teaching trombone, pedagogy, chamber music. I perform and tour with the Dallas Symphony as well as the Houston Grand Opera. I am principal trombone of the Abilene Philharmonic and the Waco Symphony Orchestra. I have been participating on VOW trips since I was in the 8th grade. I am an avid fly-fisher and bow hunter. My family and I have climbed several of the Colorado fourteeners while I have climbed two of the largest volcanoes in Mexico and Orizaba. My boys and I race dirt bikes in the Texas Off-Road Racing Nationals (TORN) and enjoy mountain biking in Cameron Park, Waco TX.
Brian serves as Associate Pastor at Dallas Bible Church and has served since 2010. Before joining the team at DBC he served as Family/Men's Pastor at Northwest Bible Church. He and his family moved to Dallas in 2007, prior to his move, he served as Youth Pastor for fifteen years in the Houston area. He is married to Jennifer and they have three children: Nicole, Kylie, and Connor. He enjoys baseball, cycling, reading, hanging with his family, Hiking and pretty much anything outdoors. Brian is also the resident Cal Ripken Jr. look alike. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sam Houston State University in Speech Communications.
One of my favorite things to do, is encourage leaders. I love this quote by J. Oswald Sanders: "If those who hold influence over others fail to lead toward the spiritual uplands, then surely the path to the lowlands, will be well worn. People travel together, no one lives detached and alone."
Rocky Mountain Marathon
“My name is Chad McWhirter and I live in Tomball, TX with my wife Kim, son Logan and Addison, who we are expecting in May. I grew up attending Tomball Bible Church where I accepted Christ at a young age. My family and I now attend Woodsedge in The Woodlands. I work for a construction company in Morgan City, LA servicing companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. I've known about VoW my whole life back when my father was running trips with Chet, but didn't experience my first trip until 2014. I was hooked!! I've always enjoyed being outdoors whether it’s paddling, hiking, mountain biking, or fishing. What I like about these trips is the camaraderie, fellowship, pushing my physical limits and of course, the scenery.”
First Nazarene, Camp Joshua, Faith Bible, Pastor's Renewal, Adirondack High Peaks,
I camped out for the first time when I was approximately 6 years old and placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ when I was eight. At that time I lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and have been loving the mountains and committed to sharing God's word with others in His wonderful creation ever since. Over the last 40-plus years, I have had the opportunity to guide many on backpacking/mountaineering trips throughout the Rockies (as well as a variety of other places). I taught History, Political Science, and Entrepreneurship in the public school system for 20 years, owned backpacking/mountaineering stores for 25 years, and designed and patented a number of specialty backpacking products. But the greatest privilege I have had is to share God's Word in His majestic creation and witness the power of the Lord Jesus Christ transform and restore lives.
San Antonio Youth for Christ
"Professionally, I went to Texas A&M and now earn a living as a petroleum engineer. Outside of work, I spend my time staying involved at Houston's First Baptist Church, playing sports, working out, and hunting. Voice of Wilderness allows me to serve in a way that combines two of my greatest passions in life, God and the great outdoors. Being able to spend time in the mountains while helping youth grow closer to Christ is a unique opportunity that I'm thankful to be involved in."
Men's Fly Flishing
David Couch is a minister in Burleson Texas where he is responsible for recreation and small group ministries. He and his wife Carrie have two daughters; ages 17 and 8. David participates in endurance sports, and in his free time enjoys camping and hiking with his family. Working with Voice of Wilderness provides an opportunity for David to combine his love for the outdoors and his love for spiritual growth in community.
San Antonio Youth for Christ
As a San Antonio native, Donavan has been actively involved with his church youth group and was asked to lead at 16. However, it wasn’t until he volunteered at City Life that Donavan felt God tugging at his heart that working with youth was where God wanted him. After volunteering at a youth camp with City Life, Donavan listened to God’s call and begin to volunteer more frequently with City life. He developed an awesome relationship with the students. Donavan grew passionate about being involved in their lives and soon realized the deep need for love and the gospel on the Westside of San Antonio. After volunteering, Donavan was positive that City Life was where he belonged. Currently, he serves the team as City Life High School Director.
Adult Challenge 2
Emory Bartolazzi is a teacher and a coach at The Woodlands High School. Providence allowed that placement to provide a place where his path crossed with Chet's. An interest in ministry of voice of wilderness led him to participate in a trip in 2005. Since that time Emory has had the pleasure of being associated with Voice of Wilderness in the capacity of a staff member.
"My name is Jason Gray and I live in Carmel, Indiana. I work as a nurse for Express Scripts. My wife's name is Sarah and we have 4 children: Alex (16), Libby (8), Matthew (6), and Caroline (3). I work as a guide for VOW because I love the Lord our God and I love being outdoors. This role is the perfect opportunity to share both of those things with others."
Girl Scouts of America
My name is Jeannette Gegogeine, I am a wife to an amazing husband, Eric, and a mom to a beautiful baby girl, Abigail. After studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at Texas A&M University, I became a Science teacher. I currently teach 8th Grade and 7th Grade Sciences in Marble Falls, Texas. My main goals in life are 1) To love God and 2) To love people. I relish anytime I get to spend in the outdoors doing these two things.
Camp Joshua, Eyes On Me, We Students, Rocky Mountain High, Trail Blazers
"My name is Jesse Crawford. I am 31. I was born in East Texas and Grew up with a love for the Outdoors. I didn't really understand what a relationship with Jesus was like until I was 20. After high school and into College I realized that my choices were not getting me anywhere and that I needed help. That was when Christ reached into my life and got a hold of my heart. Life has never been the same since. He has blessed me with the privilege being able to love people and experience his creation at the same time!"
Men's Fly Fishing
I have been married to Lisa 11 years and have a combined 6 adult children. I have attended FBC Burleson for 12 years and teach ABF 40+ single class. My hobbies include fly fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, back country exploring,
Being a part of VOW has been a great blessing in getting to do all of the things I love from sharing God with people to experiencing the fun things in life. Roman 1:20 has become one of my favorite verses to share with people and to draw strength from.
WoodsEdge Men's Group
Serve as Men’s and Marriage Pastor at WoodsEdge Community Church Married to Alison Lanzillotti for 8 years. Have two boys Leo age 4 and Chance age 3. Our family is constantly on the go. We love to play outdoors together to include: nature walks, fishing, going to the Zoo, boating, camping, and just hanging out in the sun. One of my passions in life is inviting others into the outdoors and sharing in God’s magnificent creation.
Father Child Adventure
I grew up in Texas and have been married to the greatest wife in the world, Lindsey, since 2011. We have two precious children, Mark and Layla, who are quite possibly the cutest kids in the known universe. I am the Associate Student Pastor at WoodsEdge Community Church and I love getting to teach students what it means that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”. In my free time I enjoy working out, playing sports of all kinds, hunting, fishing, being in the wilderness, and eating meat – especially bacon.
Rocky Mountain High
"I am 33, a Colorado Native, born and raised in the mountains of Southwest Colorado. In 2006 my wife and I took a ‘leap of faith’ and followed God’s call to raise our three children here in Pagosa Springs. We love it. I own my own business, Living Space Design and Construction, building custom tailored homes for discerning clients. Pursuing outdoor hobbies with my family fills our free time. We enjoy hiking, biking, camping, hunting… just about everything outdoors. Serving as a VOW Guide I get to share the backcountry with people seeking God in different ways, it’s a blessing to see them discover Him on the trails."
Adult Challenge 1
Father Son Adventure, Father Daughter Adventure
Rick Wertz, Founder & President of FFIT, has been married to Linda for 35 years and they have a daughter, 29, and a son 27. Rick earned a B.S. Mechanical Engineering University of Kansas, 1980 and completed Graduate Course Study - Dimensions of Fathering Abilene Christian University, 1996
Fall Colors, Girl Scouts of America, Ladies Fall Getaway
"Hey, I’m Sharon. I’m a mom, nurse, teacher, soon-to-be grandma, but most importantly, I am a chosen child of my Father. I’ve been involved in outdoor activities – backpacking, canoeing, climbing, etc. since I was a teenager (you can see from my picture several years have passed). I was active in Scouts, but God kept nudging me to do more and laid it on my heart to be involved with outdoor ministry; Voice of Wilderness was an answer to this calling. It is so fulfilling to take a group out into the mountains and share in the awe and wonder when they experience the carefully crafted world that our Father has created. Psalm 98 talks about praising God for His righteousness, it says the seas will roar, the rivers will clap, and the mountains will sing together for joy. It is so cool that we can join in nature and praise Him in joy."
Rocky Mountain Marathon
Adult Challenge I
Todd Bryant has been involved with Voice of Wilderness since 2011. He serves as a trip guide, and in the off-season he volunteers on various projects for Voice of Wilderness. Todd is involved with Voice of Wilderness because it gives him the opportunity to be in the midst of God’s creation in the mountains and share how God is working in his life and in the lives of others. He believes being in the wilderness and having quiet time allows for a deeper relationship with God – Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”
On the professional side, since 1994 Todd has been involved in the employee benefits arena. He is Founder and President of SB&K Benefits, LLC, a benefit consulting and brokerage firm. SB&K Benefits helps business owners design, implement, and maintain employee benefit plans and commercial insurance protections. In his spare time, Todd enjoys cycling, running, and other outdoor pursuits. He is a former bicycle racer, professional bike mechanic, and has competed in ultramarathons. Todd is married to Pati Bryant and they are raising two daughters, SaraBeth and Kate.
Father Son I
Tom Wertz was born and raised in Texas with a passion for sports and adventure. He has been a part of Voice of Wilderness since 2013, and professionally is a design engineer for OneSubsea in Houston.
“I grew up playing sports and witnessed how competition forms a brotherhood between teammates. Early morning workouts, coaches pushing us beyond our limits, and intense competition has forged lasting friendships. My first trip into the wilderness revealed how the freedom from all the distractions, all the noise, and all the barriers in our lives fosters an ideal environment to heal, form, and deepen relationships. I’m thankful to be able to see and be a part of God using the sunrises over mountaintops, physical exhaustion on the trail, and campfire chats under the stars to nurture relationships between Him and His sons and daughters."
Born in the mountains of Santa Fe, NM, son of an international artist, Warren has always been interested in people, culture, and travel. Warren degreed at New Mexico Military Institute and New Mexico State University. He served in the military as an officer, worked 16 years in retail, business consulting and mid-level management. Warren has led many mission trips to Honduras, Ecuador, Malawi, Kenya, Mexico and has been highly involved in ministry around his community The Woodlands, Texas. Warren is married to Donna for 24 years, and they have 4 children, one adopted, ranging from college age to elementary. Warren has a passion for young adults to find their identity in Christ, a Christian calling in life and to get plugged into ministry as soon as possible.