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 – 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.

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