When God Shows Up!

September 17, 2009

Today I’m going to share what can happen when God shows up and provides a way for something to happen, when practically speaking, it appears there is no way! The Family Camp we have been involved with for 26 years was in jeopardy of closing down at the end of this year’s event. Going into the event, the staff was aware that many of the key leaders were stepping down (i.e. Directors, Treasurer, Registrar, Music Director!) But, hey, 26 years is an outstanding run, so we were all praying for either a direction to move forward, or a peace to put it all to rest!

Some of the staff had to quit mid-year because of a shift in job status. With the economy the way it is, the staff felt the attendance would be down this year anyway, so by unanimous vote, we decided to continue through this year’s event, knowing we would be operating short-staffed. The praying began!!

Guess what… 98 people registered for Family Camp this year, with 30+ being first-time campers! That was a “first” for that many new campers! It had been decided to gradually inform the participants day-by-day, in a variety of ways, that if the camp was to continue, additional leadership was needed. My daughter and I collaborated ahead of time to work out short job description explanations and came up with a sheet that looked much like the classified ads in a newspaper. By day 3 of this 5-day event, we posted the sheets on the back side of the bathroom stall doors. Eventually, people had to see them!! As people read them, they began to “feel a stirring”—and it wasn’t gas!

By the 4th day of the event, a team of four adults stepped forward to say they would volunteer to become a Directors’ Team, pulling on the strengths that each of them could bring to the table. Another man with Treasurer’s experience, having served as Treasurer for other organizations, said he would be the camp Treasurer. His wife had already spoken to us about becoming the Registrar BEFORE her husband mentioned about being the Treasurer!  A newly-married young adult (husband of a gal who had grown up attending family camp) volunteered to become the Music Director (he plays guitar and has served as a youth director in a church in the past). All of these key leadership positions were filled by the end of the 4th day!

As an extra bonus, our daughter’s boyfriend served on a leadership team to run a “Give Camp” weekend this summer. This is where computer programmers come together for a weekend to help set up web sites for non-profit organizations who haven’t a clue how to go about that process. Great strides were made by the Give Camp volunteers to get a web site set up for Family Camp. Before long it will be ready to “go live”, and I will blog more about the website at that time and let you know how to access it for more information about what this Family Camp is about!

Bottom line is… the entire staff felt very humbled as we began to realize how God had honored our faithfulness and prayers regarding this Family Camp matter.  We had known all along that this was way bigger than us to figure out, and God would have to show up and take us by the hand if things were going to move forward. He did just that, and far surpassed all of our expectations! here it is September, and the camp staff is already in the midst of planning year 28!! Amazing!! Just amazing!!

Good News in a Bad Economy?

June 14, 2009

Many families are struggling in this bad economic time because they have lost jobs, or have been cut back in hours. But, it is not a time to give up! It can be a time of revisiting what is really important in life; a time to pull together as a family; and a time to “reconnect!”

As this year’s Family Camp team was looking at doing year 27 of their 5-day event for 2009, they considered “hanging it up” and considering it a good run. This was especially so when in mid-year planning the staff had dwindled to about half its size because of job-related and other unforeseen circumstances. But, those remaining pledged to carry on, restructure what could be offered without compromising the program, and see where it would go. They  were only expecting about half as many families to register anyway (because of the economic times), so half the staff should be able to handle it… right?

It is apparent that God has already blessed the decision, because by mid-May, the camp was filled (for the upcoming mid-July event!) At least 25 NEW people had registered, which is a record in itself! Sure, the event is short-staffed this year, but not really because it is obvious God is in it!

So, why this sudden up-turn in family-related ministries in these tough economic times? We can’t say for certainty, but we’re thinking it has come down to “choices!” Many families have been used to spending money… on big vacations trips, new “toys”, sending their kids to various kinds of summer camps, etc.  But, we’re suddenly in a new time… vacations, new toys, and individual camps may not be an option this year! So, what is the alternative? Perhaps doing something closer to home; something that their whole family can do together; and something worthwhile and fun that can still be a memory-maker! Perhaps a church “on its toes” has offered to help a struggling family be able to attend such a retreat or event together.

That made me start thinking that HELPING families be able to take advantage of this type of event is a “ministry” in itself. If a family is struggling and stressed about their financial situation (because of no fault of their own) what greater blessing is there than to give them a gift of this time away together! Whether you are a person in a financial position where you can be the “gift-giver”, or whether you are part of a planning/visioning team at your home church where you can take on such a ministry, I would encourage you to do so. Kind of like the “paying it forward” concept… if you can make this possible for a family today, perhaps they can make it possible for another family in the future 🙂

“Going LIVE!”

June 1, 2009

At last, this is the day I’ve been waiting for… to “go live” with my new blog! Never thought I would be doing such things at my age, but thanks to my daughter, Gayle, who is really good with all of this technology, here we are!

If you’re already a “blogger”, then you know how to do this. If you are as clueless as I was only a few weeks ago, then here’s all you have to do: Read what has been posted (written) already—things list in chronological order, so start at the bottom and work your way up for it to make a little more sense to begin. If you want to respond, then you can do that too! I would love to hear from you. If you don’t know me, or why I even have an interest in blogging, then check out the page “About Me”—click on it from the bar at the top of the screen. For practice, I’ve addressed a few FAQ’s (frequently asked questions). Right now, they are the same thing you will see on the screen when you pull up the web site. But eventually, as more blogging takes place, then those things will move down and be out of sight. That’s why it is good to still be able to access them as they are linked to the FAQ page (also located on the bar at the top of the screen).

As time goes on, I’m hoping that some of you reading this blog will have questions that you want to ask me, or insight to share with me! I will try to answer your questions, and look forward to your input. I think everything else on this web site is pretty self-explanatory. Enjoy! Hope to hear from lots of you soon!

Top 4 Things You Need to Know To Get Started

May 27, 2009

When presented with the opportunity to start a camping ministry for the family back in 1983, we really didn’t know where to begin. There were no “how-to books” out there, so we mostly had to get creative, and we also “learned by the seat of our pants.” We certainly didn’t do everything right the first year… nor is it probably even possible to get it all right these 20+ years later. But, we have learned a lot in the interim, and thus the reason for the book “Reconnecting Time: Planning Church Family Camps.” The book is divided into the 4 major things that will need to be addressed when starting such a ministry: 1-An ABC summary of some of the basics you’ll need to consider… I know, it may seem “elementary” at first, but sometimes ministries fail because we haven’t put enough thought, prayer, and Biblical reasoning behind them first. 2-A Time To Plan… this gives you all the examples, samples, and how-to’s for getting started without having to feel like you need to “reinvent the wheel.” 3-A Time To Dream… this gives you 4 fully-developed themes to get you started–ones that have already been used and were successful. 4-The Top Ten Lessons Learned From Family Camp… this is our own personal summary of highlights that we’ve experienced while doing this ministry, and the reasons we can say it has all been worthwhile when day is done. Whenever given a ministry opportunity, it is always good to reflect on what has transpired, and to pull out those “Kodak moments” that will make a lasting imprint on your mind for a lifetime! My hope is that this can be your experience as well! (Click on the picture of the book in the corner of the screen to discover more info about it).

Why is family camp ministry a good thing?

May 10, 2009

In 1983, when another couple and we started a family camp ministry near Dayton, OH, we felt we were doing it with the intent to help families connect with other families who were experiencing similar family issues… we were looking for a safe environment where Christian morals and values were upheld…  and, we wanted God to be in the midst of it all. Here in 2009, the goals have remained the same. The world around us may be constantly changing (and not always for the better) but the desire to connect with other families in a Christian environment with God as our focus has not changed. Families are pulled in so many different directions today, that sometimes it is a relief to get back to the basics of life! Whether you can create a way to bring families together for as long as a few days or for only a short weekend, the time will prove to be well worth the effort, and families will typically go away begging to come back for more!

How can my family afford camp?

May 10, 2009

Cost is always a major factor when considering attending a family camp! Here are a few ideas that you may find helpful:

1. Check for scholarships (examples: your local church; or a conference if your church belongs to one).

2. Check whether you can pay your fees in 2 or 3 installments rather that all at one time.

3. Check whether there is a discount for early registration and/or for paying your fees in full by a specific date. If so, take advantage of that!

4. Great gift idea… camperships, $$ toward registration fees (parents, grandparents, relatives often need Christmas or birthday gift ideas… suggest this to them!)

5. Combine a $$-gift with something that can be used at camp (suggestions: a disposable camera & small album for photos of the event; a beach towel; a water toy; a cap or t-shirt; a book to read; a puzzle book, a journaling notebook, etc.)

6. Designate a “loose change jar” in your house for coins–they add up faster than you might think!

7. Try a family fundraiser (buy a box of mini M&M’s tubes; eat the candy; then save quarters in the empty tubes–a tube holds $14’s worth of quarters!) Ask friends and relatives to help!

8. Are your kids old enough to babysit, mow lawns, do odd jobs? Teach them to set aside a percentage of what they earn to go toward their camp fees.

…perhaps these ideas will prompt you to think of other ideas to help make your camping experience more affordable. ) I would be interested to know if you come up with additional ideas that work for you 🙂

Getting started…

April 15, 2009

Welcome to my blog! It’s not easy to keep up with all of this technology, is it? Recently I have decided to enter the wonderful world of blogging, thanks to the help of my daughter, Gayle! There is “method to my madness”, and I do have a particular goal in mind… to share what I know about “connecting” with family, friends, and God through tidbits of wisdom I have gained over the years. Most of what I have learned is because of a ministry called “Family Camp.” This is something my family and I have been involved with for 26 years now, and needless to say, we have certainly grown to love and cherish it! But, who knows, this blog may branch off into other avenues as time goes on. That all depends on your responses, input, questions, and thoughts 🙂 If you want to know more about me, refer to the “About Me Page”… my first attempt at creating a blog page! Life can best be described as what happens in the midst of our making plans! Life is an ongoing journey of connecting and reconnecting with one another as we age, experience joys and sorrows, weep over births & deaths, relocate because of jobs or circumstances, try to work through relationships… unexpected accidents… health issues & disease, or as we simply try to figure out how to make it through each day in these tough economic times! You will likely find me referring often to a book I wrote in 2005, that went on the market in January, 2006. To discover more details, click on the picture of the book on the right-hand side of this blog. From time to time, I’ll be writing about an idea or concept that might strike a chord with you. My hope is that you will find it helpful, especially if you are considering trying family camping or retreats in your area or local church. I hope to also start creating “FAQ’s” pages to specifically address those frequently asked questions I often get regarding this ministry. Then, we’ll see where it goes from there! Let the journey begin 🙂