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!