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