The Best Intentions . . .

The heavens declare the glory of God.  Sunrise, June 18th

It's ironic that the theme of Family Camps '12 is "The Intentional Family"...and it's not lost on me that though I've had good intentions to write an update for weeks now, I've not followed through very intentionally.  Not that I've been sitting around eating many bonbons...but still.  This late night attempt to catch up guarantees unusual brevity...and I'm counting on these pictures to paint many thousands of words.
I'm writing from the sacred cove of Campus by the Sea on Catalina Island, where we've been hanging out for the past 4.5 weeks in our 37th summer of being here as a couple.  We arrived June 18 along with our summer staff team to serve for 7 weeks — running six weeks of family camps, preceded by our orientation week.  As this would be our first summer with no daughters on staff, I'll admit that we arrived with at least a bit of sadness...and though we have missed them greatly, God has been more than faithful in bringing a wonderful team around us.  But first....
For the third year in a row, Lisa and I ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Woodstock, VT, June 3.  This is such a beautiful race course and under robin-shell blue skies,  we completed our 5th run together (and my 6th half marathon since Nov. 2009.)  Paul, as usual, was our escort and he makes it so easy for us!  
Just after crossing the finish line, we were awarded our medals and were already talking about our next race. 

We flew to Lancaster, CA, the next weekend to speak at Central Christian Church, and were honored to speak in this new venue.  We also consulted with Grace Baptist Church of Santa Clarita on developing a family ministries model at their church, which gave us some time with our dear friends and ministry partners, David and Cherylyn Hegg.  And we managed to squeeze in a lunch date with our mentors, John and Grace Tebay.  Rich, full days!
Back to Boston to get things wrapped up before the summer, we counseled, cleaned, and packed, and on Sat., June 16, we flew to CA to be with my folks to celebrate Father's Day.  My mom's health is much improved (PTL) and my dad seems to be holding his own.  Though brief, it was wonderful to be with them.

Happy Father's Day, Papa!

We arrived at camp on Monday, June 18, and we were off and running immediately.  Our program team gathered every morning to dive in to God's Word and to discuss the passages that would be used for the summer study.  We were immediately impressed with these college students and their insights into scripture, their character, and their openness.  We bonded fairly quickly and are really enjoying being in community "spurring one another on to love and good deeds."  We feel very blessed and very met by God to be partnering with them.
A highlight of our first days at camp was having Lou and Grace Charette join us for a bit.  They were on our staff in the late 80's, when Grace served as the head cook and Lou as the mechanic.  We have been fast friends ever since and have have watched God do amazing things in their marriage and family.  The staff were all deeply touched by their testimony, which they generously agreed to share during our all staff training time.  It was so good to catch up with them and celebrate God's faithfulness as they celebrated their 56th anniversary.  They inspired us all.
What a treat to have Lou and Grace Charette visit camp, 24 years after serving with us!

The program staff takes a photo break during staff training week.  They're a great group!

Family Camp 1 arrived June 24 and for the first time in our history, Paul and I were not at camp to welcome the campers.  That was strange!  We were in Aspen, CO, doing a wedding, and thankfully had very capable hands to carry on at CBS.  We were very happy to get back on the island before lunch on Monday, so we fortunately didn't miss much.  
We love family camps!  Everything about them.  The multi-generational presence.  The distraction-free environment.  The expectation and joy of the campers.  The way God works.  The beautiful setting.  The simplicity.  The purpose.  The transforming impact.  
"The Intentional Family" theme has been powerful.  It has provoked reflection and recommitment.  Each week we've heard testimony upon testimony of God's work in lives.  Humbling.
Family Camp 1 was extra special for us as Paul's oldest sister, Sandra, and her clan were in camp, as well as his sister Beth Smith, as well as our nephew Brian Rottschafer and his family.  We loved having late night hang-outs with them, sharing old memories, and making new ones.  Sweet times.
Extended Friesen family attended Family Camp 1, launching the summer with lots of laughter and energy.

Family Camp has many traditions . . . like singing the "Butterfly Song" every day, young and old; the annual original Game Show; great teaching from our wise speakers; the square, line, and swing dance; worship under that stars and around the fire ring followed by s'mores; the hike into Avalon; the milk carton boat race; the banquet.  Traditions connect the generations and create a secure foundation for changes that allow family camp to be fresh and inviting.  The mix of the known and unknown produces ongoing engagement and ownership.  
Game Show hosts Vanna and Paul Barker.

Each week we celebrate God's work in our midst.  Great teaching.  Worship.  Baptisms.  Reconciliations.  Confessions.  Prayers.
Paul had the privilege of baptizing Baker and Turner Welch in the chilly Pacific.

Family Camp 3 brought Kari, Gabe, and Brandon, as well as Lisa (who had just returned from Israel where she served on a summer missions project with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.)  It was SO wonderful to have them in camp with us (though all of us deeply missed having Derek and Julie with us, too) and Brandon managed to keep us all entertained with ease.  What a difference a year makes!  He was fully engaged in all the activities available, and especially enjoyed anything the included a ball.  We hiked, talked, swam, laughed, and had a blast.  It was hard to let them go after a week.
Gabe, Kari, Lisa and I hiked the loop together.

Brandon helped Papa with announcements at every meal.

Lunch at Antonio's Pizzeria in Avalon.

Loving playing on the mostly rocky beach at CBS.

Banquet night! By now, Brandon was down with an ear infection and wasn't too chipper, but the party continued.

Sending our little man back to Sacramento. The week passed way too quickly.

Family camp 4 at CBS is almost history and we have only 2 weeks left before we fly east to run our two family camps at Berea.  I wonder if the summer has passed as quickly for you as it has for us.  We'll cherish each day we have left in this beautiful place and be very intentional to maximize the opportunities unique to Campus by the Sea.  
I'm also committed to being very intentional about my intentions to post more often.   
Sunset on the same day, July 18.  Wow.