Every member of the staff had asked to work at Deerfoot Lodge for the summer of 1982. We had all said that Jesus Christ was our Savior and we desired to have Him as Lord…to be godly men. Beyond that, the diversity was incredible.
27 of the 36 in camp when we began staff training:
- did not know another person in camp
- did not know the location or content of any building
- did not have any reasonable understanding of the uniqueness of the DL program
- did not know the difference between boss and beak, or what the Waldorf was, or a gudge, or 3000-12
The total staff of 50 included males ages 15 – 42 and came from 16 states. Most of this staff had never lived in the woods, much less for 11 weeks. Some had never been to any camp!
Diverse as we were, We Had No Choice but to work together well if we were going to survive – and to work together required the 75% that were new depend upon the 25% returning staff for knowledge, and in many ways, initial leadership. This would have been much easier if the 25% agreed on everything. I remember spending over an hour trying to come to agreement on what skills should be included in the row boat test! There were 3 different tests… apparently all in use the previous summer. I remember saying in desperation “I do not care which test we use! This is a crazy use of time!”
We began with a very sobering tour of camp. In 1982 there was no Memorial Day Work Weekend. Everything was dirty, particularly the camper cabins. Repairs were necessary from camper use and winter storm damage. None of the instructional areas were set up and we could already see equipment shortages. In every area of camp we had to think through what had to be done – while thinking through the programming questions of what should be accomplished in each area, and how best to do this.
Always in our minds was the reality that Campers Were Coming, and we were far from ready for their arrival!! During the days we unpacked and cleaned every one of the 27 buildings, 4 gudges, and 3 instructional area shelters – while learning the content and how to teach in each of the 11 instructional areas. Almost everyone was trained in CPR, good swimmers took ARC Life Saving, and 3 became National Riflery Association instructors. We had to learn how to prepare and lead a cabin devotional, and appropriate ways of discipling campers. We had to learn the DL songs, and about camp fires, testimonies, banquet night, skits, and hike procedures. We knew we had to be ready! The days were long and hard! We knew We Had No Choice!
After listening to knowledgeable DL campers, staff and board members in the previous five months, I knew some patterns had to be changed – and I also knew these changes would have to be well-received by the staff. They included discontinuing the following: biking camp, cross country camp, kayaking as an instructional area, bringing in a different Bible study leader every session, the 5:00 Bible study, using sandwiches and frozen leftovers as tripping food, and having all of the campers and counseling staff out of camp on the same day.
We were all living in our stretch zone, and I think would have moved into our panic zone apart from the fact that God had brought to the DL staff many exceptional people. These included four young men who today are on the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors: Brent Karner, Jeff Littauer, John Fox and Steve Mayer.
In reality, we did have many choices. We could have formed two distinct groups – the returning and the new staff. We could have been resistant to changing our understanding of the right way of doing things. We could have quit…feeling too much was being expected of us. We could have become proud of what we were accomplishing.
To God Be The Glory, Great Things He Has Done…through us, because we chose to work In Partnership With God