After being the Director of Sky Ranch, where it was necessary to develop a camp/conference program, design the buildings, over-see the construction schedule (outside contractors), establish a camping ministry at a new location, and begin a conference ministry – where, after 7 years, there was a full time staff of 11 that served 8,700 people that year…
Nothing could have looked better than to become the Director of a ministry where I could be directly involved with young people. The program was good, the location was choice, and the buildings were solid. The fact that camper attendance was down 50%, the buildings were in poor repair, much equipment needed to be repaired or replaced – these were problems that could be used to build godly young men.
The building process included teaching Biblical truths in a variety of ways, teaching skills most of mankind had been using for thousands of years – while celebrating the joy of living in the wonder of creation. To do this with an incredibly supportive and helpful Board of Directors that sought to be Christ-like men – while knowing that an ever increasing number of people of all ages were actively praying for Deerfoot and sharing their skills, money, and all manner of equipment…could it get any better?
It is a beautiful day at The Lodge: mist coming off the water, fishing in the still of the morning, sun rising over the Dugs, sailing in a moderate breeze, learning to canoe in circles and in a straight line. What fun climbing a hill or mountain, stopping to see a beautiful flower or waterfall, and at the top seeing the view. How many places can you watch a beaver slap its tail? Watch a loon from 30’ and hear its call at day break, at noon, and after taps? Supper is great around the camp fire or in the dining hall. Flex time provides good choices. Capture the Flag or Prisoners and Bases pump adrenalin. Singing choruses with a piano and 5 guitars or hymns with the piano, trumpet and cello encourages the heart. Being part of a staff that desires to be and build godly men creates a climate for personal growth.
What a privilege it was to live in Christian community where having “stuff” did not matter and the distractions of advertising, television, and movies did not exist. Healthy Christian living was the norm – including forgiveness when needed.
Much of what we did was routine – a calendar was prepared that showed when everything should happen and a 400 page staff manual explained how everything routine should be done. Every After Breakfast Bible Study was developed on the same format. Every summer ended with 1 on 1 walks with the summer staff – always informative, frequently challenging. Doing the routine with excellence built godly men and enabled the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge to be effective.
Yes, there were enough problems to keep us humble and challenged – broken vans, broken arms, broken engagements, broken hearts, and broken rules. Stupid things were done – by me too! Dealing with these situations built godly men as did Bible studies, cabin devotions, and lying on our backs looking up at the stars.
Many Campers became Guides, and most Guides became Counselors and Support staff. A few of these became Section Chiefs, Guide leaders or the Director’s Assistant. Most Deerfooters became fathers, leaders in their homes, their churches, their place of work, and their communities by sharing their lives – by celebrating life. Hundreds became ministers and missionaries, and several went into Christian camping as their vocation.
Deerfooters who seek to be godly men have daily time alone with the Lord, fight being caught up in much of what is considered normal by the majority of Americans. Deerfooters enjoy sharing the wonder of God’s creation with their families and the young people at church. True Deerfooters celebrate the life God has entrusted to them.
My dad ended a letter to me with “God bless you, Love Dad. P.S. can you imagine anyone being given an opportunity for a greater impact on lives than you are having right now?” Sally Jo and I couldn’t!