Rehire John Fox? #114

Four months before the beginning of staff training, Chief Dave Naysmith, my primary source of information about the previous summer’s DL staff and Guides, took me through the lists, person by person.

John Fox had considerable Deerfoot experience, was an Eagle Scout, and basically a solid person. However, while a counselor the previous summer, he had been involved with those who had at least a few beers. DL has a strict no-alcohol policy. If the DL Director learns that a staff member has had any alcoholic beverage between the first day of staff training and his last day in camp, he is history, at least for the rest of the summer.

When I faced these hiring situations, I always remembered some of the stupid things I have done, and been given a second chance!

As the Director of Deerfoot Lodge, my greatest responsibility was the hiring of summer staff. To the very best of my ability I had to learn where each staff member was at the time of hiring on the following questions. With regard to John:

  • Does John have Jesus Christ as his Savior, and desire to have Him as the Lord of his life? Dave thought John could say yes to both questions. I would ask John.
  • Does John enjoy the out of doors and kids/campers? Yes
  • Was John physically and emotionally able to serve through an eleven week DL summer? Yes
  • He was a gymnast, and seemed to be emotionally solid. Good energy levels.
  • Does John have the camping and personal relationship skills to be a great DL counselor? Yes
  • Would John abide by the DL staff standards of conduct? Dave thought John would be true to his word.

I met with John for a lengthy conversation, and then hired John to be a counselor for the next summer. John did well through the three weeks of staff training. At the end of staff training I asked John if he would like to be the leader for the Adirondack High Peaks two week Voyageur hike. He was excited about the opportunity.

I then asked another counselor to be John’s assistant on the trip. Not interested. So I asked another. Not interested. Having worked with John the previous summer, they had no interest in going on a Voyageur trip with John.

When I explained this situation to John, I suggested that he had a couple choices. He could go home, feeling like a failure. Or he could stay and demonstrate to the staff he had learned from his bad decisions of the previous summer.

John stayed, was an excellent counselor, became a DL Lone Eagle, an orthopedic surgeon and today is on the Deerfoot Board of Directors. After I had written the first draft of the above, I sent it to John for his approval, suggestions, etc. His response: “When you list my “accomplishments” please make sure to give God the glory for these, not me. I am where I am because He was faithful… Otherwise, run with it.” John Fox lives In Partnership With God.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Jesus, forgive our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” — Matthew 6:12

Jesus also told us how often we are to forgive: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” — Luke 17:3-4

Because Jesus Christ forgives me, and I forgive others, I can live In Partnership With God.

If Money Was No Object… What Should Deerfoot’s Ministry Look Like? #113

Money was tight, even with significant contributions from DL Board members who made it possible for DL to move from having a summer-only director, to a person who could focus on the DL ministry throughout the year. But the fundamental question was the right one to ask: What should the DL ministry look like? If the desired end result was kept in mind, this would impact the decisions made in every area: program development, staff selection, facility and equipment maintenance, and capital improvements.

It was agreed that DL should remain a ministry committed to building godly young men, to its theological statement, to its location, and to its basic program elements. All agreed excellence should be the mark of every aspect of the DL ministry. I was charged with the responsibility to build the finest possible ministry through which godly young men could be developed.

In February, 1982, equipped with a legal pad (years before lap top computers), I spent hours/days with DL people, asking each to share their knowledge and evaluation of the DL program, past and present. I began talking with my dad, a DL counselor in the second and third years of DL history, 1931 – 32, when one of the sessions had 12 campers. I spent hours talking with two of Mom and Dad Kunz’ daughters and one of their grandsons, with six DL Board members who had been part of DL from its earliest years, and with men and women who had been key people at DL for at least the past 25 years. I talked with the first Lone Eagles, with the person who developed the Guide program, and with Jack Gill, the DL Director 12 years prior to my coming.

I was told about the wonderful DL food, and that there was never a shortage of meat in the earliest years – deer meat thanks to Cal Wilbur. From its beginning, there was an after breakfast Bible study taught by the Director, Dad Kunz. The Circle of Friendship was from the beginning, when each group of campers left – yet somehow this had disappeared. I learned hikes were weekly and camp fires were frequent.

Through these “interviews” I also learned Dad Kunz had spent a summer prior to his beginning Deerfoot Lodge on the staff of Pioneer Camp in Canada. I was a camper at this same Pioneer Camp for twelve weeks.

I make the changes to the DL program deemed necessary to incorporate what I had learned. Rather than bring in an outside Bible teacher, the Board of Directors said that I, as Director, would teach the after breakfast Bible studies. There would no longer be a 5:00 Bible study. Following Dad Kunz’ example, I focused my time on the DL program and not on maintenance. The cross country and bicycle camps were discontinued, enabling greater focus on the remaining rewards program. The Circle of Friendship was reinstated to end each session.

Interestingly, none of the changes made were resisted by campers, staff or parents. DL was becoming more like the Deerfoot of yesteryear. The early and current Deerfoot leadership worked at living In Partnership With God. The results of this working relationship have been evident throughout Deerfoot’s history.

“To God Be The Glory – Great Things He Has Done”

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — Romans 15:5-6

Another side of the story #112

Chuck is at Deerfoot for the work weekend – he asked me to tell another side of the story. I wanted to start out “meanwhile, back at the Ranch…”, but for our family there was no more ranch. Our life of nearly seven years had been turned upside down. No more weekend trips to work at the ranch, no more fellowship with the staff there, no more enjoying country life and seeing dear friends we had made – we were now living in Dallas full time and adjusting to a whole new life style.

In the fall I had talked to the various music teachers – piano, viola and cello – asking if they would teach our kids even though we did not know how much longer we would be in Dallas or how many months we would have the money to pay for lessons. Music lessons started, Dirk joined a soccer team, Jenna had baby sitting jobs, sleepovers become part of our life and Carla traveled daily to feed her horses located on the way to downtown Dallas and started teaching riding lessons every weekend. Chuck and I were co-chairman of the high school orchestra parent’s board. With the orchestra (Carla was first chair cellist) planning a trip to a competition in Vienna, Austria, we were into a busy year of meetings, fund raising, publicity and a banquet.

Then, on January 15, Chuck left for New York. Please factor into what follows that all this predates cell phones, e-mails and inexpensive long distance calls!

  • The first week a neighbor backed into our car as the girls were driving to school. He did not want to call his insurance company so I got estimates for repairs and he paid. I got a letter from the gas company saying our gas would be cut off because we had not paid bill. They were wrong, gas stayed on.
  • The second week, as Carla and I were driving home from the stable in rush hour traffic we were pulled over by the police. Our out of date, Illinois plates (we had brought back Chuck’s mom’s car after her death) had attracted his attention. But then the car came up as stolen and he would not believe we were mother and daughter. While we were trying to prove our innocence, Jenna and Dirk were at home wondering why we had not come home for supper. An hour later, ticket in hand but not in jail for thievery, we were on our way.
  • The third week I was involved with a realtor, starting to get the house on the market. Carla was buying a horse to use for teaching which meant I was involved in horse trailers and transportation. Said horse was found to have a serious foot problem – a pre-existing condition. So began the process of getting her money back….
  • The fourth week we were all counting the days until Chuck came back!

And so the weeks continued with orthodontist appointments, music competitions, concerts, track meets, a huge orchestra fund raising garage sale, flat tire, starting the packing process, Chuck leaving and coming back several more times. The house sold the end of February – the first day it was on the market. Jenna started looking for a buyer for her many pigeons and her chickens (yes, they lived in our backyard). As I read through my diary I wonder – how did I keep going? How did our children survive? Chuck and I were on an emotional see-saw – a good thing, when one of us was down the other was up.

There were many fun moments –once we met Chuck at the airport dressed as hillbillies – patches on our clothes, teeth blackened, mismatched boots. Poor man – in sport coat, carrying his attaché case, looking like he wanted to disown us and then breaking up with laughter!

And there was a special friend God had brought into my life. Since our future was so uncertain, I had stopped teaching a weekly Bible study I had led for several years. Judy Cole had joined the group a year before, a newcomer to Dallas who lived just north of us. Through all the months of turmoil, Judy and I met most Wednesdays for lunch. We talked, we prayed, she listened, we studied the Bible, I shared, she encouraged. She provided a much needed safe place for me. In God’s amazing timing, on the day our moving van left for New York, the Cole’s moving van left for California!

On May 29th our family left Dallas driving two cars, one pulling a horse trailer with four of Jenna’s pigeons and some of my favorite plants plus Chuck’s tools in it, the other pulling a small trailer containing our library. The older car had a habit of breaking down which provided some interesting stops along the way. Each car had a CB – all of us had “handles” as we set off on the journey to New York, looking forward to the “hope and future” God had planned for us.

A New Beginning! #111

On December 18, 1981, Dale Harro called to say the selection committee was recommending me to the DL Board as the next Director of Deerfoot Lodge at their meeting. This meeting would be January 15, and would I please come. During the next five weeks the reality of my situation began to sink in.

I was going to meet the twelve members of the Board of Directors. To date I had met five, and only in the context of my interviews. I knew almost nothing about the camp philosophy of ministry, program, facility, equipment, finances, campers or staff. I began to wonder if I could direct a camp without a secretary, business manager, marketing director or program director. It was just me! I kept reminding myself….I was God’s man for the job. From the Bible I knew God did not put people into situations where they would fail if they were determined to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

On January 15 I left home, knowing I would not return to be with Sally Jo and our children for four weeks. This was really tough because Sally Jo had been my rock for the previous five months. When I arrived at the Newark Airport Dale Harro took me to meet with the DL Board of Directors. After talking a couple hours I was asked to leave the conference room while they met in executive session to decide if they would accept the selection committee’s recommendation.

I left the room and took a seat at the end of the hallway and waited…and waited…and waited. I finally got up and started walking up and down the hallway. When the Board Chairman came to get me, he was very apologetic. He explained that the Board had quickly confirmed my becoming the camp director – and then somehow moved into the discussion of another subject, totally forgetting about me!

When I returned to the conference room, everyone clapped and shook my hand with a big smile. The Chairman said they would put me on the DL payroll as of January 1. He then made it very clear this was a policy making Board, not a Board of Directors who would be involved in day to day camp operations. He went on to say they realized I would need considerable help to be ready for summer camp in five months. They believed by working together we would get DL up to speed. Then several told what they were prepared to do. John Landis, the VP of Thomas J. Paul Advertising, said he would help produce the summer camp brochure. Jack Gill, a former DL camp director, said he was prepared to serve as treasurer, receiving contributions, writing checks, and keeping the books. Ed Hawkins said he would continue to manage the DL mailing list and mailings. Jim Masterson had a Mercury station wagon for my use. Dale Harro said his daughter-in-law would serve as camp registrar, and so it went. Each gave me a page with their name, DL experience, contact information, wife’s name, children’s names and ages, their vocation and how they thought they would be able to help. On the back of the page each had drawn a map to their home. Talk about feeling accepted, affirmed, and supported in every possible way.

After the meeting I went with Dale to his home where my bedroom and the Mercury were ready and waiting. I immediately went to meet the former DL camp director and his wife. Ray was a teacher and track coach. After perhaps an hour they gave me a box the size to hold a bulky sweater. The box contained all of the DL records they had for me. Ouch. For the next four weeks I learned as much as I could about DL. I talked hours with the Harro boys, and began spending a night in the home of almost every Board member. In their homes I asked questions and took pages of notes. I also met with Dave Naysmith who had earned a great reputation as head cook, and been involved with DL for many years. He was a wealth of information and encouragement. Gradually I learned about Deerfoot’s present and past.

Everywhere I went people wonderfully cared me. This was 1982 – no cell phones, no e-mails. Long distance calls were expensive. I remember spending an evening with Fred Long and his wife. After dinner we talked into the evening. He then encouraged me to use the telephone in my room to call anyone and talk as long as I wanted. What a gift.

“We are one body in Christ” — Romans 12
“Carry each other’s burdens” — Galatians 6
“anyone who gives you a cup of water” — Luke 9

I was In Partnership With God, and also with an incredible group of men!