Having received the information brochure telling that Deerfoot Lodge was seeking a new camp director…and seeing that the application deadline was past, I called the Chairman of the Selection Committee. Dr. Dale Harro and I talked briefly. He confirmed that the application deadline was past, and then encouraged me to complete and mail my application to him. I would be considered for the position. The application was in the mail the next day – November 2.
Receiving the Deerfoot Lodge application was an incredible experience. Though I had never seen Deerfoot Lodge, I had heard much about this wonderful place. My father had worked as a camp counselor the summers of 1931-2 while in medical school. These were special years as his father had died when he was a teenager and Dad Kunz had been like a father to him. My father told me about the kind of man Dad Kunz was, what the early years of the camp were like, and also…about very carefully sewing up a counselor who had accidentally sat down on a sharp double-bitted ax.
The stated purpose and philosophy of Deerfoot Lodge were essentially what Sally Jo and I had written down two months earlier: We wanted to help young people grow spiritually while providing for them the opportunity to learn skills that people had used through history – fire building, cooking out doors, hiking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, archery, riflery, survival, etc. Sally Jo and I had also written down that we did not want to have offices in two locations which required a weekly commute between the two. Sally Jo and I felt we were a good fit with Deerfoot Lodge.
Meanwhile, life had to go on. On November 6 we had a garage sale. On November 8, Sally Jo was exhausted so stayed home from church, was up only for meals. On the 15th and 16th my dad came for a visit, and, as you can imagine, serious conversation. On the 18th we went out to Sky Ranch to visit the cook and his wife, Dennis and Linda Rice – great people, great friends. Every visit flooded us with memories, both wonderful and tough. On November 19 Sally Jo wrote in her diary “so tired”. On November 25th we made another day trip to the Ranch, this time to help Dennis and Linda move into their new home on the ranch – a beautiful home nearing completion when I was asked to resign. On that trip we also spent time with Walter Hodges. Walter, a retired insurance man, lived just up the road and had worked side by side with Sally Jo as they developed the five acre garden. When his wife, Bonnie, had a stroke, our friendship deepened. We also spent time with Glad, the widow who had financially helped in the development of the new camp facility – another wonderful friend. We would be leaving these friends soon…for somewhere.
Life had to go on – music lessons, soccer practice, horses at the barn, church activities, an orchestra concert, Sally Jo’s weaving class, the teaching of my Sunday school class…and shopping, ironing, and phone calls that included a lengthy conversation with the Deerfoot Lodge selection committee. Through this telephone interview process I learned the committee was talking with many people. As I had no confidence that Deerfoot was the place God would have us – or to put it differently, that the committee would select me, I continued to meet with people whose organizations were interested in hiring me. Emotionally all of this was extremely difficult. It is wonderful to say, even to believe, that God is in control, but we must also acknowledge that human beings make mistakes. I am a human and the selection committee: humans also. Yes, we do live In Partnership With God, and yes, God does work together for good – but there are often huge bumps in the road!
Then came the telephone call we had hoped and prayed for! Would we both fly to NY on December 9 so we could see, for the first time, the Deerfoot Lodge facility, and for my first face to face meeting with the selection committee. So we flew from Texas to see Deerfoot Lodge which had at least a foot of snow. It was a bitter cold day when Dale, and his son, Clayton, took us on a tour of the facility – out to the Island and out to the Point and through innumerable empty cold buildings. Dale later said they were freezing, but thought we wanted to see more, and we were freezing and wondering why they thought we should see it all!
After returning to Dallas I was called: “You are in the final three. Would I please return on the 18th for a second meeting with the selection committee. After the meeting I flew home. Late that night we received a call from Dale Harro: “You will unanimously be recommended to the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors as the new Director of Deerfoot Lodge.”