In the years just prior to my become Executive Director of Sky Ranch, summer camper attendance had decreased significantly. The camp had been located in Denton, Texas, just north Dallas. This was a beautiful, hilly area, and large homes were being built on the hills surrounding camp. The feeling of going off to camp was gone! When the Board of Directors began to talk about changing the camp location, building maintenance and equipment purchases essentially stopped, and the camp director quit.
An entirely new image to a larger population was essential. I had no clue how to get the word out. Another…”Lord Help!” Though I did not use the phrase then, if this was Living In Partnership With God, it was a very tough challenge, much more than I had bargained for!
Somehow we made contact with the company that owned many of the large billboards in key locations in and around Dallas. They agreed to put a full size Sky Ranch advertisement on every billboard that was not being rented, if we would have a professionally prepared billboard advertisement available to them. It turned out the advertising company had _many_ bill boards that were not being rented. Like overnight there were Sky Ranch billboards all over the city and surrounding area. No question: Sky Ranch had instant, positive name recognition – at no cost to Sky Ranch!!
Another boost came from Sky Ranch Board members and their friends. Many sponsored lunch gatherings at excellent restaurants. Business and professional people would come for a great lunch – and learn about Sky Ranch. The image of Sky Ranch was changing!
I vividly remember that after one of the first lunches, the CEO of a large grocery store chain invited me to meet him at his office. He warmly welcomed me and, after helping me feel comfortable, proceeded to tell me he was very disappointed in my presentation of the purpose of Sky Ranch: to help people come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He thought I down-played this fundamental truth so as to not offend non-Christians present. He went on to say that whereas some would question the value of this purpose, everyone would have respected a clear statement of what Sky Ranch was seeking to do. He was kind, but very firm. I sincerely thanked him for what he just said to me – and vowed to myself that I would never make that mistake again.
As we pushed hard to have camp ready on June 1, someone arranged to have Miss America present for the opening day. Another person arranged to have professional soccer player Kyle Rote Jr., recent winner of the Super Star competition, teach soccer during the first week at camp. More excellent publicity.
A quality color brochure was prepared. Registrations were beginning to trickle in.
Though wonderful things were happening, the over-all picture was very bleak. June 1 was getting closer and closer, and at the new location all that was happening was the building of the dam that would create a 70 acre lake. Nothing else! Except for the camper cabins, every building was being redesigned and relocated, and this was proving to be a difficult, slow process.
I continued to spend time morning after morning alone in prayer. Living In Partnership with God? Being Executive Director of Sky Ranch was proving to be a personal test of Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
A great name without a camp able to function would bury Sky Ranch. We pressed on…and on.