Examples of living “In Partnership With God” #128

The life of Joshua is a great example of a man who lived In Partnership With God. Joshua was selected by Moses to be the commander of the Israelite army when they fought against the Amalekites. When fighting the battle, my guess is Joshua did not know God was demonstrating His power though Moses’ upheld rod. While Joshua was in the battle, we can be sure he was using every bit of training and experience he had – while Moses was up on the mountain realizing that God was the key to the victory. Exodus 17:13 says that “Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Immediately after the battle “the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD”.

David told Saul of his experience as a shepherd. “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” David wanted King Saul to know he was skilled, yet ultimately it was the Lord who delivered him. David and Saul were both counting on David’s skill and God’s deliverance.
I Samuel 17:35

The embroidery at the entrance to the dining hall says “This Is His Place”. Deerfoot Lodge has an effective ministry of building godly young men because of two factors: The knowledge, experience, training, etc. of those who are on the DL Board of Directors and the staff that works there – and because God works through these qualified people. The DL Board is selected very carefully from a large number of quality men by the other men on the DL Board…who were selected by previous DL Board members. I was selected from a number of quality men to be the Director of Deerfoot Lodge. When I have hired staff, I have chosen the most qualified men from a larger number of quality men.

Board members are chosen, just like the Director was chosen, just like the Staff members are chosen. By carefully considering their track record…how they have been used of the Lord in days past while also seeking to know God’s will in the decision.

Through reading In Partnership With God each Monday morning I trust you are reminded that God uses the judgment and work of His people and seeks to be personally involved in every significant decision.

When I look back, I am able to recognize God’s provision of an incredible staff my first summer at DL. In recent weeks I have tried to make clear that, before January 1, I knew only one person I selected to be on the staff that first summer. Only one!!! In my ignorance, using my best judgment, God supplied an incredible staff! Is it possible to separate my role from God’s… I do not think it is… if I am living In Partnership With God?

Let us recognize that, whereas God does not make mistakes, I as director did. Perhaps not every decision I consider to be a mistake, really was. If a person is hired…who then skips out during pre-camp, was it really a mistake? The person I am referring to just asked to be my friend on Face Book! I hired another staff person who caused continual trouble of some kind. His behavior resulted in a broken engagement. Was hiring him a mistake?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” — Proverbs 3:5-6 The verse does not say “do not use your own understanding” It says “trust God more” as you live In Partnership With God.

David Naysmith…A Gracious Man – For God’s Glory #127

Dave came to DL in 1957 to work as a kitchen boy – he was 14 years old. He worked his way up to become Director of Food Service/Head Chef in 1963. DL had a tradition of excellent food, and Dave proved up to the challenge – he was 20 years old. He served in this position for 16 years, until 1981, and was responsible for the planning and preparation of at least 10,000 meals!

In 1965 Dave established the Sunday Morning Sticky Bun tradition many of us have enjoyed every Sunday morning we have been at DL. He got the basic recipe from the U.S. Army!

In 1966, when the new kitchen was added to the end of the dining hall, it was Dave who set up and organized this new area which was about 4 times the size of the former kitchen area – where tripping is now located.

Dave was drafted into the Army from 1967-68, and, because of his math background, was assigned to work on computers in the Pentagon. Computers at that time were large, cooled with fans, and used punch cards. Dave learned how to write programs and use computers as they were first being developed, and has been using them since that time.

During the summer of 1980, Dave and Elaine’s youngest child, Carolyn, was born. Dean Dover, “Wazican”, was graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and stepped into the position of Director of Food Service/Head Chef. Dave, Elaine, and baby Carolyn returned to DL for the last few weeks of the summer, and the next summer Dave and Wazi worked together in the kitchen.

For many, Dave Naysmith was the rock of Deerfoot Lodge. He had been at DL while six camp directors came and went. He had a solid reputation as an excellent camp chef, and was a Lone Eagle, indicating he was competent to teach in at least six instructional areas. Dave was the man I most heavily leaned upon when I became the Director of Deerfoot Lodge in 1982.

My first summer David Naysmith quietly stepped out of the kitchen to serve as Point Section Chief. Dave knew he was doing his job well – and he also believed Wazi, having spent 3 years in the Culinary Institute of America (one of the very best in the US) was able to take the DL food service to an even higher level of excellence.

Never once did I hear Dave criticize Wazi…never. Never did he complain that he was no longer the Director of Food Service/Head Chef. My first summer Dave served with excellence as the Point Section Chief. The second summer he served as Tripping Director. In preparation for this position he helped DL move to excellent trail food by checking out and developing recipes during the school year. Many of these remain in the current tripping manual. I remember Dave had the practice of, whenever possible, hiking into the woods to meet the campers at the end of their hike. He wanted to know how they were doing, what could be improved.

God used Dave’s army training in the development of material for use at DL. In 1984 Dave began the tedious process of putting the DL staff manual on the available IBM PC. This PC was slow and had 16 kilobytes of memory – less than the cell phones we use today. Since Dave put the DL staff manual on the PC, it has been annually updated.

Even when we seek to live for the Glory of God, it is seldom easy to accept change, to support change, to encourage change. It takes a gracious man to do this. David Naysmith was such a man.

Dave continues to live In Partnership With God!

A Warm, Quiet Welcome In Partnership with God #126

Friday night I left staff training and drove the 106 miles back home. On Saturday Sally Jo I packed the clothes, sheets, blankets and towels we would need for the summer. Elaine Naysmith had warned us that in the Adirondack Mountains it can snow in July – we tried to be prepared! On Sunday morning we went to church, had lunch with neighbors, and, while the Harro’s took Jenna (14) and Dirk (11) for a hike in the Catskills, Sally Jo and I did final packing.

Monday morning we loaded the roof and inside of the station wagon, put the pigeons Jenna had brought from Texas into a large cat cage, and headed to Albany where we had to stop by the American Red Cross office. Both excitement and anxiety were real: Sally Jo had only been to DL in winter, and our children had only seen pictures of the place.

After lunch at McDonalds we were on our way to pick up the candy order in Amsterdam. Out came boxes and boxes of candy which we pushed and shoved into every available corner. Jenna joined us in the front seat with the pigeon cage on her lap. I packed 2/3 of the back seat to the ceiling with candy and then packed the remaining candy around Dirk. This was not a good situation: Dirk gets car sick!!!! Neither Sally Jo nor I can remember who placed the order, but it must have been candy for the whole summer!

Even now the road from Amsterdam to camp can seem to take a long time. Picture four anxious people packed like sardines – no reasonable way to get out and stretch, or to make a potty stop! It was not long before Sally Jo and I began hearing “are we almost there?” Eventually we gave in to Dirk’s request to have a candy bar. Just a few more hills, a few more curves – we are almost there…yes, almost there…just another hill. Finally… The Pig.

The road into camp was beautiful and excitement was building. Anxiety was also building. The fork…around the parking lot, by the maintenance building to park at the dining hall and the Store!!

It was dusk as we walked down the path to the Lookout, our DL home for the next twenty three summers. Over the door was a banner that read “Welcome Home”, and on the table were fresh wild flowers. Staff member Bill Pianki was there to greet us.

Our anxiety was being overcome by excitement and joy. The kids loved their small rooms – and going up into the loft was a bonus! When we walked back up the hill to the station wagon, several staff had gathered, and with their help, it took only minutes to unload the station wagon and take our “stuff” down the hill into our cabin.

It was time to light the gas lamps, unpack, and make the beds. It was time to smile, to hug each other, and to crawl into bed. The next morning mist on the lake was soon replaced by the warm sunshine. A beautiful day at the Lodge!

A simple banner and a bouquet of wild flowers spoke volumes to this nervous, tired family. Was Bill’s action the result of his up-bringing, his sensitivity to people, his desire to be a Good Samaritan, or his being guided by the Holy Spirit? We will never know, nor is it important. We do thank God for Bill’s thoughtful action through which our cabin more quickly became our home and our hearts warmed more quickly to Deerfoot Lodge.

The actions of one person, walking In Partnership With God, made a huge impact upon our family.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is …serving, let him serve; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” — Romans 12:6-8

Bill seems to have used all of these Spiritual gifts. We can too!

The Karner Family #125

As I learned about DL, I learned about Charlie and Barb Karner. Charlie got his foot in the door when DL was told, in 1976, that all building doors had to swing out…and almost every door swung in! As Deerfoot had many Plymouth Brethren Assembly ties, and Charlie was Plymouth Brethren, he got the call. If you have re-hung a door to swing the other way, you know this is not an easy fix.

From 1977 – 81 Charlie and Barb came for five weeks each summer. During these summers Charlie built 8 twelve person cabins, the first section of the Maintenance building which houses the wood shop, support staff laundry and toilet facility. Charlie has provided leadership for at least 54 of the DL work weekends. In 1998 he took a week and headed up the building of the Hutch Cabin. While Charlie built buildings, Barb would set up the craft shop, bringing many of the needed materials. She would train counselors to run the craft shop without her for the last two sessions of camp. With her artistic ability she painted logos on van doors and canoes, designed the 11 instructional area award patches and the incredible Lone Eagle plaque that hangs on Old Hardwood porch

DL needed Charlie and Barb, not just for 5 weeks, but for 11 weeks so they could provide expertise and leadership in their respective areas. Charlie said he just could not do this as he had his own kitchen cabinet building business.

Brent Karner had worked side by side with his dad on several of the projects…could he come? Brent was 17 and would finish high school in a few months. Regardless of Brent’s abilities, I have no idea why I offered him the job of heading up maintenance – which included leading four or five people, mostly high school students, to care for 29 buildings, a bunch of very tired equipment, two old generators, and acres of grass and trees. And, oh yes, to be responsible for staff off hours – including staying in the support staff cabins located in the Woodsmen section.

Brent has no idea why he accepted my offer, particularly when he got into the summer! We were able to get Meyer’s garage in Indian Lake to agree to vehicle repairs that were not a quick and easy fix, but there were two problems with this arrangement: DL had no telephone to say we were coming, ask the cost of the repair, etc. And it was 25 minutes to the garage, and almost every repair required a drop off and a pick up – two round trips. But…fret not; our vehicles were in such bad shape that we often drove one “broken vehicle” up to leave, and to pick up a “fixed vehicle”. Looking back, Brent says that the most difficult part of his job was being responsible for the maintenance staff during off hours.

When Brent graduated from the Bennett Street School in Boston, an excellent place to learn antique restoration, furniture design and construction he began his own custom furniture shop, which became Clearlakefurniture.com – look it up! Clear Lake is Brent’s Lone Eagle name, chosen because he desires to be a clear reflection of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In 1986 Brent married Abi, who came and ran the craft shop, helped in the store, and in many other ways.

Not only did Brent do excellent work, but the lives of many young men were changed through working with Brent on maintenance. Brent struggled for months before he told me, in 1994, that the growth of his furniture business prevented his continuing to spend summers at DL. I cried! We had been working together for twelve summers, and I did not know how DL, or I, could continue without him! Initially it was as tough as I thought it would be.

Brent has continued to provide leadership during Deerfoot’s two work weekends each year. Brent and Abi’s son, Thacher, with his cousin Kevin, began working on these weekends when they had to stand on milk crates to run the dish washer. Thacher is now 6’ and 180 lb. Younger daughter, Rachel, now is also a great help. In 2000 Brent became a member of the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors.

God must have blinded my mind to Brent’s age when I hired this recent high school graduate for this key role at DL. But God was not blind to Brent’s heart and ability to grow in his maintenance skills and his ability to lead and to build godly men. Brent, Abi, Charlie, and Barb are Deerfooters who walk In Partnership With God.

In Partnership With God…special explaination

Dear Friends, and some I do not know.

The reason IPWG is early is that Sally Jo and I leave in the AM to be with a family that is dealing with a malignant brain tumor. Not good. We plan to be back home next Saturday evening.

I am very aware that I am incredibly behind in e-mails….561 in fact! A good chunk of these came through face book as notifications that related to me has happened on face book. As the result of this, I have regular e-mails lost in the midst of these…to the place where it has just been overwhelming. This is one of the blessing/curses of having worked with so many wonderful people, including campers, around the country, and particularly at DL. It is wonderful…. BUT life must go on and I have had a couple other “things” to deal with.

I have now learned to turn off some of the automatic notifications from face book that sent so much to me. I will learn.

It may be that I will have some hours on this trip when I will be able to nibble away at all of this.

If you want to communicate with me, first try e-mail…I will work first at keeping up with what is coming in now.

Secondly, if two or three days pass and you have not gotten an e-mail back, and you feel it would help you to talk with me, please do give me a call. 518-966-4140. If you call, PLEASE repeat your phone number slowly twice. In addition to the clear phone #, it will help if you can give a couple times when I can call you back – and the subject if possible. I had one a month ago that I know was important but I have had no way to get back to him – the last number was not clear!

Remember, I will not be here for the next week – I will check e-mails

I have heard from many of you through these past years…you are a wonderful bunch!

Sally Jo and I are doing well – cross country ski around our property for about 30 minutes each day. We have also skied in the local town park. We are in a rural area and the ski trail goes through woods, around farmer’s fields, up and over a hill with a great view of the Catskill Mountains, by a pond, etc. Beautiful.

chief chuck, chuck, etc.

The Body of Christ – Concept Tested #124

When 14 I worked for a month as a dishwasher (3 tank sink) and potato peeler (by hand for 150 people) at Young Life’s Silver Cliff Ranch. The male support staff lived above the stable in a simple but nice bunk house. Those four weeks were an incredible experience. The older staff treated me like their younger brother – they really looked after me!

Three years later I worked in another camp where the male support staff lived in large, windowless army wall tents – no natural light, no breeze, and no good place to put clothes and other “stuff”! The contrast was incredible. Staff housing reflected the over-all attitude towards those on the support staff.

When I arrived at DL for staff training I was really frustrated, perhaps angry, when I saw where DL’s support staff stayed: un-used Woodsmen cabins – sometimes with more people in the cabin than NYS regulations allowed. The housing was bad and the location of the cabins was bad. Woodsmen (8-11) campers had lights out between 9 – 10 PM. Try to keep 15 single guys quiet at 9:30! There was also the reality that the support staff had almost no place to go and very little to do when not on the job.

While a pastor, I came to realize the wisdom and the challenge of living as equals within the body of Christ. In I Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul explained how the Body of Christ, His Church, was a unit of people equipped by God to function together. The gifts/functions were different – but each person was needed. Paul was inclusive when speaking of the believers that made up the body: it did not matter if a person was a Jew or Greek, slave or free. Later in the chapter Paul wrote: “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. Each part should have equal concern for the others.” As the Director of DL, I worked at hiring a healthy body of believers…all the parts…who would work together…under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Based on the previous summer and camper registrations to date, I projected that in Sessions I and IV there would be about twice as many staff (47) as campers (24). For Sessions II and III there would be 47 staff and 74 campers. When hiring I had to tell this reality to everyone, because it meant that almost every counselor would be working Session I or IV in the kitchen or on maintenance.

It was difficult to decide who should begin the summer as a counselor and who should begin the summer working in the kitchen or on maintenance. I knew we had to get the camper part of camp off to a good start and this required experienced counselors. I also knew the counselors assigned to work in the kitchen or on maintenance needed to be able to work comfortably with those hired for the summer in these areas – plus bring some additional strength. Placing the right people in the right places is a major challenge in every organization. In the Christian organization, people not only need to be able to work together but also to “love one another” – for this is the mark of Christ’s disciples. John 13:35

Through working in a different area of camp, the staff learned how tough every job was – if done properly. The position shifts worked so well that future summer counselors could ask to work on maintenance or in the kitchen for one session, and those hired for the kitchen or on maintenance, if properly trained, could ask for a session as a camp counselor.

Whereas we could not change the support staff housing location for six long summers, every effort was made to have the DL staff see themselves as the Body of Christ – each member a unique creation of God, each equipped to do God’s work in a different way, and each a necessary part of the Body of Christ lived out at Deerfoot Lodge.