Deerfoot’s purpose is to build godly young men. As the Director of DL, my primary focus was on building the staff as godly young men. There were several reasons for this.
1. Most of what is learned during staff training is useful in many contexts. In the staff manual, under Operational Objectives it says “give evidence that they are developing as Christian leaders.” Our world is desperately in need of capable, Christian leaders in churches, businesses, communities…
2. All of what is taught in staff training is put into use during the summer camping program. The staff works with the campers under very careful supervision, and throughout the summer the staff was/is coached to improve their skills.
3. It was impossible for me, with a staff of 70 and up to 160 campers, to provide focused attention on 230 people.
4. As staff members received more training, gained more experience, they were able to use their abilities to assist me, and those working under them. I worked at never having a person in the counseling staff serve in the same position twice. As a staff member gained more experience, they received greater responsibility. A Guide became an Assistant Counselor, and then a Counselor. After being counselor, many different positions became possible: Section Chief, Guide Leader, Assistant to the Director, Water Front Director, Tripping Director, Crafts Director. Being on the Maintenance or Kitchen Staff is an option. Section Chiefs, Guide Leaders, and the Assistant to the Director, Tripping Director were all given teaching responsibilities during staff training.
In the three days before staff training began, I would have the Section Chiefs, Guide Leaders and my assistant to our home to talk through plans for staff training, and these changed a bit each summer. After the schedule was finalized, teaching assignments were made.
In February one year I had a pace-maker “installed.” In May the meds I was on were not having the desired effect and I was heading towards congestive heart failure. On the Sunday morning staff training was to begin, I went to the hospital and those involved in planning staff training went to DL and began the staff training program. After a week I was given clearance by my cardiologist to go straight from the hospital to Deerfoot. As I regained my strength I was able to begin to participate in the staff training program. The quality of the men, and the years of DL training and experience, enabled the leadership team to do an incredible job!!
While Director I was privileged to have many top quality young men at DL for 8 to 13 summers. What an incredible discipling / training opportunity. An example of the training possible through DL is Chief Ron, now the Director of Deerfoot Lodge. While I was Director, Ron was a Guide, Assistant Counselor, Counselor, Section Chief, Guide Leader, Tripping Director, and my Assistant. While Ron was my Assistant, I was able to take the Allagash River trip as the assistant to Nick Dotti. After his summers at DL, and before he became Deerfoot’s Director, Chief Ron was able to provide pastoral leadership in 3 churches.
Garret Larson, Craig Boronow, and Rich Sylvester went through this training and became Camp Directors. Eric Heipel directs a camp/conference center in MN. Seth Coates did the above and worked on maintenance under Ken Hoffman, and is now the Director of Windfall Rafting, and works with Craig at Moose River Outpost for the off-season retreat ministry. Russ Boronow worked in several positions at DL and now heads the retreat ministry of Mont Lawn, a camp/conference center in PA. It is interesting to note that all of the above men became Deerfoot Lone Eagles.
I sought to live In Partnership With God as did all of the leadership team at DL. Our challenge was to build godly young men, men who would live In Partnership With God. What a privilege!
Perhaps only parents have a greater opportunity to build godly young people – and when parents focus their time and energy on this unique privilege, Deerfoot Lodge is able to reinforce the work done by parents. This is the norm for DL staff.