CBS Family Camp is Underway!

On the end of the pier, our staff is PUMPED to welcome Family Camp 1.

As the sun sinks into the Pacific at the end of the first full day of Family Camp 2 at Campus by the Sea (CBS), I find it hard to believe that we’ve already been here for two weeks—and that much has changed since I last wrote.

The biggest news is that we’re no longer here “childless.” Due to some dropped balls by her advisors, Lisa’s approval to collect data for her thesis has been delayed, so she is unexpectedly and most delightedly at camp until July 13. :) We are happy. Very happy. And thankful. Very thankful.

Orientation week went very well on the whole, though our handicap was evident as we tried to train staff in areas that haven’t been on our radar in years (since they’ve been done by our kids!) Adding to the challenge was the delayed arrival of our Children’s Program Directors, David and Krista Hart, whose teaching jobs didn’t release them until the end of the week. We definitely pulled out a “brass band” welcome when they did come and they are such a gift! Both of them are lifelong family campers, and both served on staff the summer they “noticed” each other. Three years ago we were privileged to marry them and we couldn’t be more thankful to have them fill such a pivotal role this summer.

The Program Staff prepares for Family Camp 1 to arrive.

This is a summer of change in many ways. The new CBS director, Dave Noble, and his wife, Kim, are experiencing family camp for the first time and we’re experiencing them for the first time. We are thoroughly enjoying getting to know them and deeply appreciate the depth of knowledge they bring from an operational and facilities perspective, having served at Forest Home for over three decades. We like what they’re doing and it seems they like what we’re doing.

Our Jr. High and Sr. High program directors, Brian and Heather Dietz, are brand new to camp and they’ve helped us see how much we “assume” new staff will “know.” The learning curve for them has been steep but they’ve done really well and are leading a very quality program which they’ve developed. Brian is also leading our worship team which is getting a lot of positive feedback. We are so thankful they’re here, continuing a partnership with us that started about 9 years ago at Grace Chapel when Brian became our intern.

Brian and Heather, Abby and Lydia Dietz adjust quickly to life at CBS.

We’ve made some changes in the program as well, breaking at least one tradition that pre-existed our marriage. “Talent Night” has been replaced by an expanded family square/line/swing dance night, with an ice cream social taking place during intermission. Quite honestly, Paul has wanted to axe Talent Night for many years, since the quality of the night was always very unpredictable. Knowing that not everyone would hold his view, we have made provision for those whose week at camp would be seriously negatively impacted by losing the opportunity to perform. We are hoping this will assure that no one will need therapy to resolve the change. :) We held our breath and prayed during Camp 1 that the delight of the ice cream social would outweigh the disappointment of no Talent Night, and it did. Praise the Lord.

Game show hosts on the debut night of “Wheel of Transformation.”

We’ve also reduced our elementary craft program and replaced it with “Nature Nate”, a young man whose passion as a naturalist has catapulted this change to the top of the ratings. He meets with each elementary class twice: once for a session dealing with the land animals, reptiles, and insects of Catalina, and once for a look at the marine life around the island. He has been wildly popular and no one has complained about less crafts.

During Orientation Week, Paul and I enjoyed opportunities to talk about the history of Campus by the Sea, which really is a story about God’s faithfulness to this place and to His people here, as well as the over-riding legacy of commitment to the Lordship of Christ. We talked about the tradition of Family Camps and cast a vision for the immense potential of these six weeks of camp. We also spent an evening on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) with hopes of equipping them to better understand themselves as well as their fellow staffers. It was a great week.

And then Family Camp arrived on Sunday, June 21. With great enthusiasm and staff shirts and name tags in place, the staff welcomed the 200 plus campers with smiles and claps, and the 2009 Family Camp season at CBS was underway.

This “dress rehearsal” week went relatively well, thankfully. The first time through the program reveals the places that need tweaking, but overall it was a smooth sailing week. We love family camps. This week was extra special for us as we had all of Paul’s oldest sister, Sandy’s family here. Now numbering 17, we not only delighted in being with our nieces and nephews, but also with seven great-nieces and nephews. We laughed our way to curfew each night.

The Friesen/Clark/Herbst/Rottschafer gang enjoys a reunion in Avalon during Family Camp 1.

For the fourth summer in a row, we were encouraged by the teaching of Tim Thuele, pastor of Grace Church in San Luis Obispo, during Family Camp 1. He’s still the only family camp speaker our daughters have picked. They attended his church in SLO for years. We thoroughly enjoyed having Tim and Susie and their four children as our resource couple that week.

Intrepid CBS staff successfully navigate the shore from camp to Avalon, taking advantage of a very low tide.

The annual staff-only “shore hike” from CBS to Avalon took place on Wednesday when the lowest tide of the season occurred. We had an unprecedented 31 staff make the hike and fun was had by all. It was a great team-building exercise as we passed through several cliff areas. We were all thankful to make it in to town safely.

All too quickly, the end of week one came. We managed to get a little R & R during the 24-hour space between camps, and on Sunday afternoon, the boat returned carrying 200 new campers for week two. We’re off and running and things are going very smoothly. :)

All the way from New Orleans, my cousin Kathy and her husband Billy make their first trip to Campus by the Sea.

Lisa’s arrival Friday afternoon was a gift straight from heaven. :) As I reflected on the many challenges of being at camp without our kids who are not only able assistants, but also friends, wise counselors, and hard workers, it dawned on me that God wanted me to learn something very important. He wanted me to know that He is in charge and that He will provide whatever is needed to continue His work at CBS, whether or not our daughters—or even us, for that matter—are there.

That’s a really important lesson to learn.

Lisa surprises everyone, including her cousin Rayna Oertli, by landing at camp on Friday, June 26.

Love and greetings from the very unplugged, set-apart, sacred shores of CBS, where God is still at work to remind me that He holds all things together.

Sunset on Monday, June 29, puts an exclamation point on the end of the day.