Like the others who come to pick up campers, Sally Jo and I stood back from the dining hall. The piano and the guitars played and the campers sang the choruses – the same ones that were sung when I arrived at DL as the new director in 1982.
Unlike the others, I slipped into a location where I could hear Chief Ron encourage the campers – really challenge the campers to live their faith as they go back to their homes and schools. A clear message powerfully delivered! “Treat people like you know the Lord Jesus would have you treat people”…then he got specific.
We were in front of the dining hall as the excited campers came out to their waiting families. Jashton ran up to us; “This was the best year ever – AWESOME!!!!” Yes, I choked up. He introduced us to his friend, Evan. They were campers together the previous summer. Soon Evan’s parents were with us. Great fun! Evan is Valerie Lyle Kent’s grandson….she was the camp nurse for several summers.
Jashton showed us the pictures taken of the two of them – in camp and hiking. Their counselors introduced themselves. Evan’s mom, Heather, said we just had to get the boys together this next year. (On September 28-30 Sally Jo and I will drive to New Jersey to take Jashton to Evan’s home.)
Then Jashton’s mom, Jennifer, arrived. She and our son, Dirk, had been leading the program for a week of children’s camp at Camp Fowler – eight miles from Deerfoot. Again we hear and see Jashton’s excitement as he told his mom this was the best summer yet! Both Dirk and Jennifer have been on the DL staff.
At the Circle of Friendship we sing “Jesus is with me where ever I go”, Chief Ron again encourages the campers to let their lights shine, and Ken Hoffman, facility manager (and so much more) closes in prayer.
The comments I read on camper questionnaires and in grateful parent’s letters came alive!
Jashton is in Middle School. For those of you whose kids who have been through these years, I need say no more. The students are frequently mean to each other, particularly those who are better at academics then athletics.
Deerfoot Lodge is a breath of fresh air for Jashton. He can be himself, and almost not worry about what others think. He meets campers from many different states and countries. He signs up for instructional areas he enjoys. Jashton struggles to pass his “point and back”, like so many. (We have already worked on this – he will be ready next summer). Jashton enjoys the games – he does not need to be great to have fun. He receives focused attention from his counselors – like every camper does. Few know his dad is the pastor of “his” church, and only a few staff know he is our grandson, for most do not know our last name. Jashton is free to be Jaston at DL!
The quiet time and the After Breakfast Bible Studies Chief Ron gave probably included few new biblical teachings – Jashton, and his two brothers have been taught the Scriptures at home and at church from a very young age. Jashton has seen the Christian life lived by both sets of grandparents. He has sung at camp the same choruses and hymns for three years now – he knows them. And the hymns are sung in “his church”. Deerfoot provides wonderful reinforcement – the same truths coming from different people.
Jashton’s life is different because of Deerfoot Lodge. And Sally Jo and I experienced the joy and thankfulness so many do. Jashton is “growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” – just like Jesus did. Luke 2:52
Praise be to God, and thanks go to Chief Ron, the summer staff, and to the 400+ people who contribute each year for operations, camper and staff scholarships (college is expensive!!!!!!!!!!) I dare not forget the many who pray for the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge day after day, week after week, year after year. Yes, many do. And a special thanks to the19 men on the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors. Three times each year these men come together on Friday night for the Saturday Board of Director’s meeting. Their commitment of 3 weekends a year is incredible.
All of the above live “In Partnership With God.” This partnership is huge – and the impact on young lives is huge!