Our grandchildren’s toy box is an old, gray, wooden trunk. Heavy tin protects each edge; the handles and strap hinges were hammered into usefulness. This trunk was used by my father’s aunt, when she was a missionary from Germany to the West Indies. My dad’s grandparents and parents were Christians, and my dad became a Christian.
My mom’s father sold his successful lumber company to become a student at the Moody Bible Institute. My mom was raised to know and love the Lord. My parents were medical missionaries in China, where I was born. We have many items in our home which remind us of those China years. I received the Christian life and faith my parents taught me. Mom regularly read me Christian children’s books and helped me memorize many verses and Psalm 1 and Psalm 23.
Our family of 6 worked at being together every night for supper. If there was an athletic practice….the family waited. Having eaten, my father would read the Bible to our family. This was the same pattern in Sally Jo’s home. Many times, when I would go to pick her up for a date, I would sit at the table until Dad Hoppe had finished reading the Bible. Our families were active in their churches. Beginning in high school, Sally Jo and I took time alone with the Lord to read and to pray. In college we both taught Sunday school classes. At each of the 7 Christian camps I attended, the Christian faith that I had been taught at home was reinforced.
This was the spiritual foundation I brought, as a counselor, to Christian camping, and I looked for a solid spiritual foundation when selecting the Deerfoot summer staff. Every person seeking summer employment completed a staff application – even the 85% whom I knew through their previous summers at DL. After reviewing their applications and checking their references, I would check my sources including college faculty, DL families, and pastors. Those hired without previous DL experience were usually the close friend of a staff member. When interviewing, I assumed nothing. My questioning was intense. I honestly tried to “scare them off!”
Through this process I met some incredible young men who had not grown up in Christian homes, but had worked hard to build the foundation in themselves which others received at home. It was a heavy responsibility to select a staff able to present, clarify and reinforce the Biblical knowledge and personal relationship with Jesus Christ in a way pleasing to the Lord. With only 3 weeks of staff training, it was impossible to teach the needed Biblical foundation.
Here are a few topics we covered during staff training: daily and weekly schedules, camp songs and games, learning to prepare and lead cabin devotions, how to give a testimony, how to lead a camper to Christ, the 11 instructional areas, Life Guarding, Wilderness First Aid, and CPR for the Professional Rescuer, the 4 book One Minute Manager series, and the books How to Really Love Your Child, and Bringing out the Best in People.. Returning staff did most of the teaching – what better way to learn than to teach 50 peers with high academic standards! I would help staff prepare – and then critique the results. Fun…until I had to teach my five or six subjects in an exemplary way! The staff would also take a 3 – 4 day High Peaks hike. Each week we would participate in the Breaking of Bread service, and we ended staff training with a camp fire and banquet night. As you read this, the 2013 staff is in training.
I know that many of you who read this were “my” campers and staff members. I believed each of you desired to be and build godly men. You confirmed this verbally. In preparation for summer camp, I worked at encouraging and equipping you to be a godly man, and encouraged and equipped you to build godly men through preparing and leading great devotionals, helping with their Bible reading – and teaching your campers how to swim, cook over an open fire, and to hike small and large mountains. How are you doing as a father? Are you passing on what you received?
As we live In Partnership With God, we continue to live in this life changing cycle. We need to receive, to change, and to share. I continue to work at this. Saturday morning I led a study for 15 men – comparing what the Bible says about Baptism with our church’s theological position and practice. During the day our grandsons were here. Sunday I sang in the church choir, and on Monday morning, in my devotions, I continue my study of John’s gospel.