What Will I Need? #179

Before Nick and I left camp for the Allagash River Canoe trip, we very carefully evaluated everything we, and our campers, would take.  The big question: What will we need?  If our canoes had been overloaded when the storm hit, at least one canoe would have swamped.   If there was insufficient food, a wonderful trip would become a tough experience.

“What will I need?” is the question every staff member and camper asks himself when packing for camp.  What will I need to stay dry: As a Woodsman in camp?  On a 12 day High Peaks Voyageur hike?  On a canoe trip?  What will I need on my feet: For a Woodsman hike?  On a Voyageur hike?  On a 3 day canoe trip? When playing trench dodge ball?   To play basketball?  What do I need to stay warm?  What socks do I need to prevent blisters?  What flash light will I need?  Extra batteries?  Do I need to take my fishing pole, or should I use one of camp’s?  Do I need to take the pocket knife my grandfather gave me, or would a “store bought” knife be just fine?  What Bible will I need?

If I take too much stuff, “Where do I put it?”  And if I do not have the right stuff???

At DL, most campers and staff become comfortable living without a closet full of shirts, a different pair of shoes for every purpose, a bed without an inner spring mattress, a readily available computer, newscast, or newspaper.

One summer we had a couple on staff who were used to having the finest of everything.  Their housing for the summer at DL: one side of Eagle with a bed, a small table, 2 chairs.  The walls were exposed 2X4’s.  The “bathroom” was 4’ X 6’, including the metal shower.  At the end of the summer they told me it had been the happiest summer of their lives.

What physical things do I need to live comfortably in this world?

What physical things do I need to live In Partnership With God?

What physical things do I need to do the work God has prepared for me to do?

Are the needed physical things the same for each question?

What physical things I need to have a wonderful life here and in heaven is what Jesus was speaking to when he said: said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Mathew 6:19-27   Jesus said…a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

Solomon does not refer to the accumulation of things in Ecclesiastes 5: What he speaks to is the celebration of life!   “Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have as long as God gives you life…Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work.  It’s God’s gift!”  (The Message paraphrase)

Planned Time To Communicate Allagash River II #178

Before the trip, Nick worked out three schedules:

1.  He divided the Voyagers into 3 rotating work teams: gathering wood, fire building, cooking & clean-up.

2.  He assigned each Voyageur to be in charge for one day to set schedule for the day, co-coordinating teams, final check when leaving camp site, picking lunch site and camp site for the overnight.  As everyone knew they would “have their day”, there was excellent co-operation.

3.  The third was a schedule so Nick and I would canoe with a different Voyageur each day, and, at the end of the day, the camper would share our tent with us.

A few years ago this plan of spending a night together after sharing the day had to be stopped because of the cultural concern of sexual abuse.  Now everyone sleeps in four man tents.  In terms of openness between two people, this was an unfortunate change

When canoeing together the experiences of the day are shared.  Canoeing through a storm, mutual respect is gained. When watching a moose graze grass in shallow water – then bring his head up and shake, with large ears flapping, laughter is shared.  When canoeing around a bend and finding ourselves 10 feet from a nesting loon, awe is shared.  When tying two canoes together for a 3 hour sail down a long lake, relaxation is shared.  When running class II rapids, it is either work together…or flip!

During 4-8 hours of canoeing, there is much time for time for a camper to share his feelings about his parents, or his parents’ divorce, his grand parents, death of a family member or friend, how things were going at school, pets, church, playing a sport, or what they wanted to do.   About mistakes made and what to do now.  And there was often conversation about values, and anticipations good and bad.  I remember John Lanetalking about how his family might be moving to China for a few years, how he felt about it, and what he might be able to do, and not do, if they moved.  To be welcomed into his thinking was a privilege.

At the end of the day each of us would crawl into our two man Timberline tent.  Nick and I often thought everything that the camper wanted to talk about had been said…and then, in the aloneness of the tent, a deep hurt or struggle would come out.  Sometimes, though both tired, sleep did not come quickly.

There were enough days that Nick and I were both able to spend a day with each camper.  As could be expected, how a camper would relate to us was different.  What a Voyageur shared with 19 year old Nick was different from what the same camper would share with 50 year old me.  The encouragement and counsel they received from one of us would have a different twist than they would receive from the other, though both of us would work to share what we said with specific Biblical illustrations – like what happened in King David’s life, or what Jesus did or taught.

Most of us don’t take Voyageur trips, but it is possible to spend hours alone with each member of our family, with extended family – with a person of any age who needs to talk, to share, to feel heard, to be encouraged, and affirmed.

After reading:  Terror! Triumph! Thanksgiving!  Allagash River Trip part 1, Dan Jackson sent this e-mail:


I had the good fortune of being one of the campers on that trip with you and Nick — and what a trip it was! A few years later I had the privilege of leading a group with Chris Hobday on the same Allagash River Trip. As we crossed Chamberlain Lake, I had vivid flashbacks of that first trip, paddling with every ounce of energy just to keep the bow pointed into the oncoming waves. It truly was a thrill ride! While at that time, I had not yet completed my Master’s in canoeing, I was still a competent paddler. When the going got tough that day on Chamberlain Lake, the years of canoeing practice & instruction came naturally; whatever fear I may have felt in that storm was also accompanied by a sense of excitement. The same is so often true of life and faith. When the storms come, the foundations of faith hold firm and there is a constant sense that God is in control and always up to something!

It was truly a blessing for me as a 16-year-old to take that 2 week trip with you. One of the best experiences of my 14 years at DL!

I am now in Winchester, KY.  serving as the Teaching Pastor at Calvary Christian Church, and overseeing an outreach ministry that established a coffee house & community teen center in the heart of our city. Next summer will be the first year that my son, Evan, will make the trip to DL as a Woodsman. I can’t wait!!

Thanks for your continued encouragement,

Dan Jackson”

Terror! Trumph! Thanksgiving! Allagash River Trip part 1 #177

The Allagash River is at the very top of Maine and, in 1970, was designated a National Wildlife and Scenic River.  It is necessary to register and pay a fee for the use of the river as there are only 80 designated camp sites on the 95 mile trip

For 10 years I watched campers and staff return from their 8 day Allagash river trip with their live lobsters and many stories.  “Chief, we saw 12 moose!”   “The weather was beautiful.”  “The second day was clear, but windy so we tied two canoes together and, using a tent fly tied between 2 canoe paddles, sailed 6 hours, right into our camp site!”  “That white water was crazy!”  I will never forget watching the sun-set while listening to the loons call each other.”

With approval from the DL Board, and with Chief Ron agreeing to serve as Director for the third session, I asked Chief Nick if I could be his assistant on the Allagash River Trip.  His response: “Do you mean that?” I responded “Yes Sir”  He responded with “I understand.”  Nick was 19 and attending Norwich University – a private military college.

Our first hurdle was that the state of Maine required that the leader be 21, a licensed Maine guide, with lifeguard, CPR and first aid certifications.  Nick had the certifications – I had the age. I wrote a letter explaining our situation and asked for 2 copies temporary guide certification test.  We both passed.

After spending a night at the Frost Pond Campsites, we were taken to the drop off point of “Chamberlain Bridge”.  It was a beautiful, blue sky day, with very little wind. Chamberlain Lake, from the bridge north is about 12 miles.  A calm day is important.  We unloaded the DL van into our 6 canoes and pushed off.  Each person had his life jacket, and a heavily loaded canoe – everything we would need for 8 days. I took one of the weaker paddlers and my canoe was very heavily loaded!

We began paddling and soon were heading across about 3 miles of open water.  As we neared the mid-point, a storm hit!  No warning!!  The waves were so big that, even heading into the waves, water was spraying into our canoe with every wave!  I looked to see how the others were doing – because of the waves, all I could see was paddlers from their waste up.  I was paddling as hard as I could to keep headed into the waves while making very little progress toward shore.  I quickly realized that if a camper’s canoe capsized, I could not get to them, much less take their canoe upside down over mine to empty it.  I feared for the lives of our campers, I really did.

The storm broke just as we got to the other shore. Within a few minutes everyone arrived safely.  Terror, then triumph!!  I really was proud of each camper.  They had kept their cool, canoed well!  All agreed they were frightened, and exhausted.  All agreed that they had never prayed so hard in their lives.    Understatement: We thanked God for our safety!  As we lifted our heads, a forest ranger’s very fast boat came full speed to our shore to be sure we were all accounted for.

I apologized for our lack of judgment.  He laughed.  “Quick storms like that are totally unpredictable up here.  I drove my boat up on shore and hid out in an outhouse”!

We had first hand knowledge of how helpless Jonah must have felt when the storm hit and he was thrown overboard, and how helpless the disciples must have felt when in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee – and Jesus was asleep with his head on a pillow:  “Jesus, don’t you care if we perish?”   And we had some understanding of the storm that hit while Paul a prisoner on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea – the ship was smashed by waves.

The Scriptures came alive!

God Prepares Leaders Through Deerfoot Lodge #176

How is it that 10 Deerfooters have Christian camping as their vocation?

The first essential is the recognition that – “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

Psalm 127:1  I believe God brought each of these young men to Deerfoot Lodge to prepare them for the work He had prepared for them to do.

The second essential is the recognition that labor is involved.  Often I said to the staff:  “Who built the ark for Noah?”  No one!  Noah and his sons built the ark.  It took them 120 years, but they did it!

I have never had the clear direction God gave to Noah.  What I have had is tremendous opportunities to learn how to live In Partnership With God while learning about camping, people development and management.  Looking back, it is very clear to me that God was preparing me to be a camp director.   When I was 9 and 10 God guided my mom and dad to send my older brother and me to Pioneer Camp in Canada for 6 weeks each summer.  At Pioneer I took advantage of the opportunity to learn from excellent teachers – but I had to labor – to work at canoeing…and swimming, camp craft, hand craft, etc.  I loved the work, but it was work!  Spend an hour in the middle of a cold Canadian lake jumping out of a canoe, and then getting back in without swamping the canoe.  By the fifth time, the joy is gone!

I fully believe God placed me at Deerfoot Lodge.  God did this because He knew I had a heart that really wanted to please Him!  God did this because He had provided the opportunities needed to prepare me to become Director of DL – and I took advantage of them.

Back to the 10.  They were all at Deerfoot for at least 4 summers, most for 8 or more.  I think it is significant that 9 of the 10 are Deerfoot Lone Eagles.  These men worked at learning while at Deerfoot Lodge.  They accepted the opportunities provided, even though this, by design, kept them in their stretch zone most of the time.  Every time I felt they had learned a position, I moved them into a different position, often a position with more responsibility.  And they accepted the responsibility and did their work well.  They kept learning and learning – incredible young men.

In 1994 Chief Ron Mackey was to be my assistant.  Ron had been a camper, guide, counselor, section chief, head of tripping operations, and twice been Guide leader.  Knowing his heart for the Lord and his competence, I asked the DL Board of Directors if I could go on the Allagash River canoe trip in Maine.  I would be out of camp for 12 days, and I felt Ron was ready to serve as interim camp director. The Board of Directors was fully behind my request.  Ron would have with him in camp my wife and office manager, Sally Jo, and Dean Dover/Wazican, Director of Food Service with 25 years of DL experience.  The assignment was a stretch for Ron.  No one knew then that Ron would be my successor as Director of Deerfoot Lodge.  God was “building the house”

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”