It is easy to think of DL only as it is now: a full camp, a large staff, a sufficient supply of camper and staff scholarships, a beautiful, functional facility including a “boulderless” ball field, lots of boats, excellent vans, all desired maintenance, kitchen, and office equipment, a complete staff manual, 100 people for each work weekend, good salaries for the full time staff and a large number of financial contributors.
I am hopeful that as I tell my experiences at DL, you will remember that it has taken 28 years to go from where DL was in 1982 to where DL is today. As you read my perspective of these years, I trust you will be encouraged as you learn how God has guided and provided… and He has! I trust you will also be encouraged to remember that it has taken a total of 80 years, even with God’s guidance, provision, and just plain old hard work by the staff, board of directors, and many, many volunteers, for DL to become what it is today. So if you are in a very difficult position, and it is where you believe God would have you to be, hang in there. On my desk I keep the words Winston Churchill spoke during World War II: Never Give Up, Never, Never Give Up, Never, Never, Never Give Up.
In the nine months before I walked into DL to begin my first summer as Director, my mom died, I had been asked to resign as the Director of a large camp/conference center in TX, was Chairman of the Christian Camping Convention, turned down several jobs, and when our money was just about all gone, was asked to become the Director of DL. I spent two of the next five months away from my family who remained in TX, sold a house, bought a house, flew back to Texas to drive with our family to the new house, arriving on June 2. The movers arrived in pouring rain on June 5, a day later than scheduled, giving us more time to scrub walls, floors, cabinets and counters. Between the 5th and 7th of June 16 family members or Deerfooters had come to help clean and get things settled. On June 8 Sally Jo and I drove our oldest daughter to La Guardia Airport in NYC for a flight back to Dallas where she would rejoin her high school orchestra for the long anticipated high school orchestra competition in Vienna, Austria, and stay on to work in Christ Camp of Germany, where Sally Jo and I had previously worked two weeks as consultants. On June 11 I took a day trip to Massachusetts and Vermont where I picked up DL staff. On June 12 the counselors and I left for camp.
As we headed for DL I was tired, excited and very aware that I had only been at DL once before, in December for two hours when there was deep snow!
Upon arrival, the first person I saw was Jeff Littauer, a senior at Wheaton College and the only person I had previously known with DL experience who would be at DL for the summer. Jeff had agreed to open the facility and be Guide leader. Here he was, mowing the ball field, with drops of blood on his face – my introduction to black flies.
I do not remember what I did during those first hours, but at 10:00 that night I was heading for the Lookout when the generator was turned off – as it was every night. Suddenly it was pitch dark. I did not have a flashlight with me. I tried to work my way down the “S” shaped path to the cabin where I had only been once before. It was hopeless.
Into the darkness I called “will somebody please come and take me home!” The person who came was also without a flashlight, and he almost walked me into the lake.
I was exhausted and had no clue where I should begin the next day – when 30 people were looking for my leadership as the new Director of Deerfoot Lodge.
What a difficult way to begin, even if I was living In Partnership With God.