October 16, 2011 – Arizona Republic: “The Fire’s Out”

November 2011

This Arizona Outdoor Adventures’ Update is dedicated to the life
& memory of our beloved cousin, Kaye Sturgeon, who now
resides in the unimaginable beauty of heaven.

December 19, 1944 – November 3, 2011

Hello to all –

When we finished the season in some of the lower country north of Antelope Mountain, we nearly checked the calendar to make sure it was really October and time to pack up — the sunshine-filled days were 75 degrees plus and the nights stayed in the high 40s. Elk bugling woke us in the mornings and put us to sleep at night. Arizona is sure a great state and its White Mountains provide such awesome beauty for kids to see for the first time. The Wallow Fire did not devastate it all! We encourage you to get out and enjoy the outdoors – and bring a child with you.

But we did pack up and are now looking to continue the rebuilding and replacing process – especially the larger items such as vehicles and a cook tent. During the post-Wallow Fire portion of our 2011 season, approximately 30 kids were still able to spend time in the outdoors and experience a few days of new sights and activities. We are certainly looking forward to a full and active 2012 season!

During the Wallow Fire, several news interviews were conducted by local TV and radio stations. Five of those news reports are provided here for review. We continue to work on getting a couple radio interviews that were done as well as a couple more TV reports.

Arizona Wallow Fire 2011 – AOA News Footage

Talking about elk bugling – take a look at these two videos and enjoy the sights and sounds of White Mountain wildlife:

White Mountain Wildlife, Arizona – Wild Turkey, Elk, Deer, Bighorn Sheep

White Mountain Wildlife 2011, Arizona – Antelope, Turkey, Elk, Deer

A reminder as we close this update — don’t forget to order your Fry’s cash/gift card from AOA – just send an email to [email protected] and we’ll send one right out. Fry’s sends a rebate to AOA every few months based on the total amount of reloads. It will benefit AOA with no out-of-pocket expense for you. It’s just a matter of loading and re-loading the same card and using it to purchase your regular groceries! Request one today – it comes with a $5 balance as a thank you from us to you.

As always, we appreciate each and every one of you and your care and concern for children!

With thanks to and trust
in The Captain,

Dan & Joanne Priest

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October 2011

AOA’s benefit BBQ at Cabela’s was held on September 24 — one of those famous sunny Arizona days! Thanks to all of you who came by and enjoyed a delicious BBQ pork sandwich. Thank you as well to Josh, Lindsay, and Coleton for not only dishing out food, but friendly greetings to all who came by. Thank you to Pepsi for the soda and use of the trailer and to McReynolds Farms for the tender, mouth-watering pork that highlighted a lunch with a soda and chips. Everyone’s efforts resulted in $1,156.15 so that kids will have opportunities to leave the heat, noise, and concrete of the city and experience the unique beauty and quiet found in the pine forests of eastern Arizona — even after the Wallow Fire!

And, of course, another huge thank you to Cabela’s for the wonderful support that has played an invaluable role in the rebuilding of AOA! To Georgette McNally and all the Cabela’s staff — it is your kind and caring attitudes and work ethic that puts the “wonderful” in Cabela’s. Thank you.

More Kids in the Outdoors!
September 9, 10, and 11 — six kids from Crossroads Youth Intervention were able to spend time in camp and experience new sights and sounds in the outdoors – talking around the crackling campfire, going crawdad fishing, listening to the night sounds, and just experiencing an opportunity to receive encouragement and care from each other and AOA staff and adult chaperones from Crossroads.

Septmeber 16, 17, and 18 — nine more young people with From Gangs To Jobs arrived for a first time adventure – they, and their chaperones, had no idea what was in store for them! But they had a great time as this partial email from one of their staff members testifies:

“When I woke up this morning I told my wife I was listening for the bugle of the elk and the howl of the coyotes. Instead I heard a school bus and yard maintenance guy blowing leaves. Wow what a reality check! But I had to smile and say thank you to God for the peaceful weekend and the opportunity to be a part of this incredible experience with “From Gangs to Jobs”. I had all the kids … on my heart…wondering if they too were listening for the bugles and howls of the night. I know they all were affected by God’s creation and all the hospitality you showed to them over the past 3 days. I prayed that in the reality of their noisy, fast paced, and many times tumultuous world, that it would not interfere with thinking about God and how he can fit into their lives. It must be hard to find a place of solitude and peace in so much dysfunction and pain, yet I have HOPE that the God of all creation is speaking to each of them every day in many ways as they go throughout the day. . . .Thanks a million Dan! Your gentle, calm spirit was a true balm to my soul. Thanks for the hospitality and servants heart you bestowed on us all. From setting up the camp,preparing for our arrival, feeding us all the meals, guiding us on the hike and showing us how to catch “Mud Bugs” it was all done with great patience, and respect for each and every soul that was placed in your care for those 3 days…”

Our thanks to the staff of Crossroads Youth Intervention and From Gangs to Jobs for their love for these kids and their willingness to spend time and effort in bringing them to camp — we hope and pray that they are as enriched as the kids are! and

To all individuals who have brought kids to camp and who will be bringing kids to camp in the coming years — the same thank you. But, of course, it is because you — the individual, the family, the business, the outdoor organization, the Foundation — it is because of your care and passion to benefit children that AOA and other youth organizations are able to provide the experiences and adventures that enrich the lives of kids. Thank you for contributing, not just of your financial resources, but your prayers and efforts to promote awareness of AOA as well.

Hmmmmm – the only “regret” about these two camps?? We have no pictures! We hope to have a few in the next few weeks, though, and will include them in the next update.

Don’t forget to order a Fry’s cash/gift card to use – it will benefit AOA with no out-of-pocket expense for you. It’s just a matter of loading and re-loading the same card and using it to purchase your regular groceries! Email us and order one today – it comes with a $5 balance as a thank you from us to you – see email address below.

Avenues of contributing: Paypal Donation Form or to Mail

With daily trust in and thanks toThe Captain,

and appreciation for each of you,

Dan & Joanne Priest

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September 13, 2011

Once again, Glendale Cabela’s is reaching out to AOA to help and support our rebuilding efforts. Here’s the scoop:

“Please join us for National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 24th from 10am-3pm. We will be hosting a Benefit BBQ for Arizona Outdoor Adventures youth camp from 11am-2pm. You will be able to purchase a pork sandwich, bag of chips, and a pepsi for $5, or three for $12. The food will be provided by McReynolds Farms. There will be partner booths located in the circle drive in front of the store. If you would like to have a booth for your organization or participate in a seminar that day please let me know as soon as possible. I will provide a vendor discount card to those that exhibit or give a seminar.”

If you are interested in having a booth for your organization, please contact Georgette McNally at [email protected]. Hope to see many of you there, and once again, our thanks and appreciation to Cabela’s for their invaluable support.

We are working to rebuild and are in the … well … rebuilding phase. We continue to replace various gear and equipment that had taken so many years to purchase, and also continue to look for a 4X4 truck and older model jeep. But overriding all the decisions and work is the ever present thanks and appreciation for the amazing support from so many people — to say it has been a great encouragement would be an understatement! It will continue to inspire as we walk this path. And as the forest, in time, will heal and emerge with different but just as beautiful and gorgeous sights as before, so AOA is emerging and blooming as well.

We reported in our last update about the first post Wallow Fire camp we were able to provide, and are planning at least a couple more before packing it all up sometime in October. As the end of this season approaches, our sights are set on next year and, with openess to any changes by The Captain, anticipate being back to full steam by May, 2012! Here are just a couple ways to help AOA continue to provide kids with outdoor adventures:

It’s time for United Way Campaigns at many places of employment. If you haven’t paid much attention to it before, take note – Arizona Outdoor Adventures can be donated to through United Way! Some employers will have “Arizona Outdoor Adventures” listed under the agencies to which you can pledge, however, if we are not on the list at your employer, you can still choose AOA — go to “Other” or “Write In” options and enter: “Arizona Outdoor Adventures #2316”. Tell your co-workers!

If you shop Fry’s, you can help support AOA without any out-of-pocket expense – just use aFry’s Fry’s gift card to purchase your groceries. Here’s how:

• Send email to [email protected] to order your card(s) – it/they will be sent to you with a $5.00 balance as a Thank You.

• You then just load the same card with however much you want to add – some individuals will put $300 or more on the card (their average monthly grocery expense) and then just reload it once or twice monthly. Others will load it PRIOR to paying for their groceries each time – no need to reload it at Customer Service as it can be done by the check-out cashier. For example, one individual keeps approximately $100.00 on the card. It had a $10 balance at the store the other day, so after shopping, but prior to checking out (and estimating an approximate cost of $60 for that day’s groceries), the individual had the cashier add another $100 to the card, and then used it to pay that day, leaving $50 to use the next time.

• One important item: if you lose the card, Fry’s will not replace it as it is essentially like losing cash. Just notify AOA and we will send you another one

Thank You!

Always with thanks and appreciation for each of you.

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August 31, 2011

If we could personally meet each one of you face to face to shake your hand and thank you for your specific gift that contributed to the outpouring of help and support for AOA since the Wallow Fire – well, that would be the best! Many of you have faithfully supported AOA in the past, and even increased that support! Many of you were strangers and heard about AOA’s plight via news, friends, or family, and you stepped up and provided help. So many gave – and gave generously and compassionately – all the while during a difficult economic environment. We hope that somehow, through this update, you will know just how much you mean to AOA and sense that handshake meant just for you. It all underscores the concern, care, and desire shared by all of us to see children spend time in, absorb, and encounter nature in His mountains, forests, and streams.

The best thank you is to share with you the great news that with a loaned cook tent, donated perimeter tents, donated equipment, and your financial gifts, we have again made a start to provide children with just that — an open door to experience and absorb a new, fun, and different adventure in their young lives. We welcomed a group from Crossroads Youth Intervention ( – the first post Wallow Fire camp! Please be sure to go to AOA’s Facebook page to see additional pictures:

On behalf of these kids and many more that, in the years ahead, will have the opportunity to spend time in the outdoors because you cared, we acknowledge and thank:

All the individuals and families who gave equipment, gear, thoughts, prayers, and financial gifts. You know who you are!

The Coleman Company
Arizona Elk Society
Arizona Deer Association
Phoenix Chapter SCI
Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society
Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation
Youth Hunting Club of Minnesota

Otto & Edna Neely Foundation
The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation
Bess Spiva Timmons Foundation
The J. Anderson Foundation
The Thunderbirds

Tucson Electric Power Co.
Salt River Project, Coronado Generating Station
Shining Times Carwash
The Hartford
Debra Speakes Enterprises LLC

The Organizers, Table Sponsors, Raffle Donors, and ALL attendees and participants at Casino Nite!

Stay tuned for more updates and pictures coming soon. With day by day gratitude for and trust in The Captain’s plans and purposes, we close with continued appreciation for each of you…

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August 10, 2011

What a wonderful evening of fun in the desert so that underprivileged children can have an opportunity to experience an adventure out of the desert and the heat of the city in the beautiful forests of the White Mountains! Thank you to everyone who attended – for your time and generosity, especially during this difficult economic atmosphere! It was a great success and will enable AOA to continue providing camps for children. There are more pictures available on our Facebook page –

Huge thanks and gratitude go to:

Title Sponsor: Arizona Elk Society

Table Sponsors:
AZ Carpet & Restoration Co.

The Camping Companies, Inc.
Desert Sage Realty

Hardware Unlimited
The Nixon Family

Cafe Rumba
Mast Real Estate Group

Local Union 266

Walt & Judy Camping
Revere Financial Services / Elayne M. Jackson, CLU, ChFC


The hardest working Organizing Committee known to man!
(Putting a wonderfully successful event of this size together in just 5 weeks!)
Kim Freid – Event Coordinator and
Lorri Priest, Deann Potts, Lindsay Forelli, Walt Camping, Travis Mast,
Ed Martell, & Rachel Eblin! You all are truly the best!


Rob Potts – thank you for your informative and kind words about AOA!
DJ Slyder – thank you for the use of DJ equipment!
Mistic Designs – thank you for the Invitation and Centerpiece Card designs!
Arrowhead Country Club and Staff – thank you for a wonderful venue and hospitality!
AZ Casino Elite – thank you for a great staff and for donating a table!


Sincere thanks and appreciation from the children, staff, and Board of
Arizona Outdoor Adventures to everyone who gave selflessly
of their time and resources!

Matching Gifts Offer a wonderful success!

To the anonymous donor of the Matching Gifts Offer from July 10-30, 2011 — unexpressable appreciation and gratefulness for your willingness to support AOA and be a blessing to underprivileged children!

To all of you who gave during this time — thank you for being a blessing by giving what we know for many was a real sacrifice during these difficult economic times!

We continue the rebuilding and restocking process at a camp currently in the Greens Peak area and look forward to hosting a few camps yet this season. We have posted a couple pictures on Facebook at, and will continue posting periodic updates. Also, please let us know if you or someone you know has a used 4X4 truck or an older, CJ5 or CJ6 model jeep for sale — AOA would be interested! Regarding the truck, our preference would be a Toyota Tundra or a GMC model, but of course, we are open to any possibility.

We close this update with an informative link regarding Wallow Fire burn area information on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests — visit It contains information regarding what roads are being opened, camping, and other recreational access information. So whether it be in the Apache National Forest, a city park, a golf course, or your own backyard, we encourage you to get outdoors – and bring a child with you!

As always, with trust in and thankfulness for The Captain’s plans
and purposes, and with continual appreciation to each
of you….

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July 28, 2011

Since the last update of July 9, we have experienced great kindness and generosity from so many individuals, businesses, and organizations. It is with heartfelt appreciation that we say “Thank You” on behalf of many children and young people who will be experiencing the beauty of creation and the healthy activities and learning opportunities that are a part of being in the great outdoors.

We have just completed the Cabela’s Friends and Family weekend. A huge thank you to Cabela’s for their part in the rebuilding process of AOA by providing this great shopping opportunity, and by donating the Alaskan Guide tents (see pictures above), and the generous supply of fishing rods and reels. It was great to see those of you who came in and purchased equipment and gear for AOA. Many of the public also stopped by the table and not only learned about AOA, but generously contributed items as well. We are so excited and thankful to even now be restocking an AOA campsite with these wonderful gifts! We will share pictures with everyone soon.

Here’s a link the USFS has provided to view their pictures and videos of the Wallow Fire – it begins with restoration efforts currently taking place. It is about 15 minutes long, but there are some remarkable pictures and video! Click Here

It is because of your passion for kids and the outdoors that AOA is able to rebuild and continue our mission to enrich and positively impact children’s lives – thank you again for all the help that is shortening the long road ahead!

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July 9, 2011

— Ways to Help —

We cannot express enough how much everyone’s prayers, thoughts, help, and support has meant to us during this time. We can only say “Thank You” and move on to the goal of getting not only underprivileged children, but all children and youth, into the outdoors to enrich and positively impact their lives. As each day passes, we move closer to getting back into the forest somewhere and setting up a “bare bones” camp, but one that will be replenished with the items that all of you are making possible.

Below are three avenues of support that have so generously been put in place in order to benefit AOA and children in the outdoors:

The Glendale Cabela’s store has generously donated several Alaskan Guide tents and other gear to AOA to begin the replenishment process. They are also offering a discount July 22-24 to anyone interested in purchasing camping gear to donate to Arizona Outdoor Adventures. Representatives from AOA will be at the store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day to collect these donations. An Arizona Outdoor Adventures wish list is available in store or online.

To view the Cabela’s Press Release: Click here

Please forward the information to all your friends and family!

A most sincere “Thank You” to the Glendale Cabela’s store!

Click image to view large size

AOA Fundraiser Casino Night

benefiting Arizona Outdoor Adventures

August 6, 2011

A great opportunity to support efforts to get children into the great outdoors while having a fun evening with friends! Dinner, raffle, silent auction —- see all the details:

For ticket information:

Matching Gift Offer!!

AOA has been generously provided with a “Matching Gift Offer” for contributions received from July 10 to July 30, 2011. If you’ve not contributed before, this would be a wonderful opportunity to double the effectiveness of a generous gift!

Go to for information on how to donate.

We also want to announce that we have an author in our midst! Rob Potts, our son-in-law, wrote an article about AOA (pre-fire) and it was just recently published in The White Mountain Outdoors, Summer 2011 supplement of the White Mountain Independent Newspaper — take a few minutes to enjoy his story: Click here

Well, what has happened, is happening now, and will happen in the next few months of AOA’s 2011 outdoor season will surely live forever in our memories — always uppermost is the peace and grace of The Captain that He abundantly provides as we daily trust His plan and direction. The humbling experience of receiving kindness upon kindness from all of you only energizes our desire to pass it on to the children who will be learning about nature and the great outdoors yet this season and in the years to come.

Stay tuned for continued updates……..

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July 2, 2011

Thursday, June 30, was a day of endings and a day of new beginnings. We were able to return to the old campsite and clean up the remains. While the offer of so many to help clean-up the camp was so appreciated, the Forest Dept allowed us only two trucks to return to the campsite. The reality was that the fire burned so hot that the ice chests were reduced to small “blobs” and anything of hard plastic (storage containers, water containers, etc) was basically incinerated. The residue that could be cleaned up was contained in one trailer – though it did weigh 900 lbs! Also, we received help from an Alpine garage business that will go in and retrieve the jeep and truck. We also want to thank the hard-working Forest Dept. escorts, Liza and Jason, who jumped in and helped us. We have posted some pictures of the clean-up on Facebook.

And so we ended the era of AOA “before the Wallow Fire” and are beginning the adventure of AOA “after the Wallow Fire”. The “new beginning” is truly just beginning, and we sincerely thank each and every one of you who has called, emailed, or communicated in some way that your thoughts and prayers are with us. We are also thankful for the many individual and corporate efforts supporting AOA in the short-term and long-term through equipment donations, funding, grant sources, and spreading the word to friends and family about AOA’s plight.

However, we continue to very much need the support of our friends and the community as we get back on our feet – AOA did lose a great amount of equipment and will take time and financial resources to replace what was lost. Again, we do look to continue camps yet this season after the monsoon begins and different areas of the forest reopen. We will continue to update periodically, and would also ask for continued thoughts, prayers, and support as we move ahead. Below are ways to help as well as upcoming fundraising and support events:

1. Donations: Click here

2. Gift cards to Cabelas or any outdoor store of your choice

3. The Glendale Cabelas store is providing an opportunity for the public to buy replacement camping gear at discounted prices on July 22-24. Click here to see our Cabelas Wishlist.

4. Reserve the night of August 6 for a large fundraising event. Details to follow.

5. Any other way you would like to help AOA!

If you haven’t visited AOA’s Facebook page and clicked “Like”, please do so, and thanks. Or, if you do not have a Facebook account, remember you can always view our Facebook page just by going to Our Facebook Page.

As always, we continue to live in and enjoy each day under The Captain’s Smile, and we are thankful for and appreciate each one of you!

The best to you,
Dan & Joanne Priest

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June 21, 2011

As always, we want to begin with our thanks to everyone for your concern and encouragement – it has been truly helpful and meaningful for us.

Yesterday, June 20, Dan was escorted by the Apache County Sheriff to the campsite and we learned that indeed, the entire camp had burned – actually incinerated may be a better word because the pictures that are available on our Facebook page do not truly depict the number of tents that were there (6 perimeter tents with hard plastic storage boxes containing many years worth of camping gear, clothes, etc.); 2 tents and tarps still in duffle bags; and the cook tent (with ice chests, 5 tables, large 2-burner stove, pots, pans, 6+ hard plastic boxes of canned goods and nonperishable food, first aid kits, AOA banner, containers with lanterns, and boxes of odds and ends collected over the years such as sewing kits, glues, batteries, etc. etc etc.) We will probably be making a list for a long time, and saying “oh yeah, that was in camp, too!”

The perimeter tents with sleeping bags, pads, mattresses, personal clothes, gear, books, and much more are basically piles of ashes only. In the camper of the above truck were at least 8+ more hard plastic boxes containing camping gear and also a brand new tent – the fire burned so hot that there is really not any sign of the hard plastic containers in the camper, around the cook tent, or around the perimeter tents. The chain saw is a black melted mound. Two dutch ovens and two iron skillets were not burned, so we’ll look forward to some dutch oven cinnamon rolls again!

The fire did not crown from tree to tree in the campsite area – it burned on the ground and about 10 feet or so up the large pine trees – look closely at the pictures on our FB page and you can see from about the middle down, the pictures are brown/gray/black, and green and blue sky in the top half, but the portion that burned was very hot and destructive.

We will again update you as we move forward with extracting the burned jeep and truck and a small amount of metal trash and poles from the tents’ areas. We do not know when that will be, but we are moving ahead with starting again – somehow. The prior update provided a “preliminary” list of needs and ways to help – we are making that same list available and changing it to “finalized”:

1. Contributions (see Our Donations Page)
2. Gift cards to stores such as Cabela’s, Walmart, Sportsman’s Warehouse
3. Any other way you would want to help. We will welcome any assistance with open arms. Just email or call us using the contact information in the box below.

And so we close this update with an affirmation of our continued rest in The Captain’s Smile and trust that indeed, this too, is being worked together for good, and are looking forward to whatever adventure lies ahead on the journey for the kids, staff, and Board of Arizona Outdoor Adventures.

The very best to all of you,
Dan & Joanne Priest

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Update #2

Once again, we first want to thank you for the many, many notes and e-mails of encouragement, support and offers to help. This is very meaningful to us and the future of AOA. The extent of damage to the camp, truck, jeep, and equipment continues to remain unknown, but entering the area just as soon as possible is essential, and this continues to be our focus. In the meantime, we do know without a doubt that the camp has been severely damaged in some way, and that new equipment and supplies will be needed.

Dan was interviewed last week (June 8) by Channel 3 and Channel 10 and many of you hopefully were notified and able to see their news reports that night. We are working to get copies, but we do have this link to Channel 10’s website article:

The following is a preliminary list of general needs and way to help at this time:

1. Contributions (see
2. Gift cards to stores such as Cabela’s, Walmart, Sportsman’s Warehouse, etc.
3. Any other way you would like to help! We will welcome any assistance with open arms. Just email or call us using the contact information here.

AOA plans to resume the 2011 camping season near the White Mountains after the summer monsoon season sets in to avoid further forest closures and fire restrictions, and hopefully by that time as well, we will have been able to visit the campsite to assess damage, remove it, and obtain new equipment/supplies.

We certainly ask for your continued thoughts and prayers for Arizona Outdoor Adventures during this difficult time. With your help, AOA will be making a difference in the lives of kids again soon.

With Deepest Appreciation,
Dan & Joanne Priest

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Update #1

We have been so blessed and encouraged by the outpouring of everyone’s thoughts, prayers, concerns, and offers of help in the last week or so. A heartfelt and sincere “Thank You” to all. We especially want to thank Terry and Jan Hoeschler, who have gone above and beyond the definition of hospitality by providing their cabin to us so we could stay near the fire area during these initial days of uncertainty. It has been a great blessing.

We understand that definite plans, needs, and ways to help AOA continue its mission are necessary, and we will certainly provide this information within the next few days. We believe that it will more than likely be a long time before we can get back into the camp area to assess damage. We also realize that as each day passes, the probability that, if fire did not consume or damage the camp, then the high winds going through have, along with rodents, squirrels, chipmunks, and maybe even a bear or two. AZ Game & Fish Dept has provided some great information regarding wildfires and wildlife. Go to

However, we are looking forward and trust that Arizona Outdoor Adventures will soon be welcoming children to the high
country once again somewhere in Arizona to experience outdoor fun, learning, and adventure.

Thanks again and the best to all,

Dan & Joanne Priest
Arizona Outdoor Adventures

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