Life On an Island

I’m looking forward to the day when my blog doesn’t start with “I can’t believe how much time has passed . . .”, but that day is not today.  It is unprecedented, actually, that almost two months have passed since my last post, but again, it is an apt reflection of the lack of bandwidth I've had for the non-urgent list of “to-do’s.” 

We had a summer full of family camps ahead of us when I last posted.  Only 3 days now remain of our 9-week commitment and that truly seems impossible.  But calendars don't lie.

We started June 17th at Campus by the Sea with this wonderful staff of mostly veteran family camp kids now grown up.  It's funny to think back to our first few days of orientation week, before we knew each other and before we had become a cohesive team.  Now reflecting, this staff grew into who they “seemed” to be: servant-hearted, humble, serving, and desiring growth.  So many answers to the months of praying that God would bring the right team together!  We are truly grateful for God's faithfulness and grace.

Day 1 of staff training: a neophyte collection of college students
who had grown up at CBS (for the most part) . . .

 . . and who became a well-functioning, serving, cohesive team over the course of 7 weeks.

All six weeks of family camp were incredibly fruitful and blessed.  Each speaker delivered, and God used their words to inspire, challenge, heal, and give hope.  Some families experienced healing.  Some made life-impacting decisions.  Some met Christ.

It was just one of those summers during which the constant refrain was "we are so blessed."  We had very little sickness on staff or in camp.  We had very few injuries.  We had great weather, and the three or so days during which rain fell, it was gentle and dust-settling and no more.  We had a cohesive, harmonious staff who were committed to living honorably in the community and, thankfully, perpetuated little drama.  All of our camps were full and overflowing; the waiting lists never were cleared, which is both good and bad news.

We sensed God’s favor and presence in more ways than I can articulate.  We feel very, very blessed.

One family encouraged us with this email following their week at camp:

Dear Paul and Virginia,We want to thank you for such a great week at family camp!We were so encouraged and refreshed by all the teaching and super sweet worship times! Thank you for your clear and frank teaching. We were blessed!Blessings to you both! Thank you so much for running such an amazing program...we are truly blessed and encouraged...ready to take on the next year. Thank you for the love, encouragement, friendship, and challenging of our faith, marriage, and parenting! 

Papa and Brandon get the campers’ attention in the dining hall at the start of the meal.

Though there were many highlights for us as we reconnected with literally hundreds of families we deeply love and invested in a program we're wholly invested in, the highest lights included having our own family at camp.  All three girls spend some days at camp, and Kari, Gabe, and Brandon spent a week as family campers.  It feels like it's coming full circle to have the 4th generation Friesens benefitting from the vision of Grandpa Mel, who helped start this whole thing 62 years ago.  “Great is Thy Faithfulness!”  It was also a delight to have a bunch of other siblings, nieces, and nephews.  It means the world to us that they make a priority of continuing the legacy of family camp in their families.

Lisa also managed to make it to camp during the week the Garcias attended.  :)

Another highlight of the summer was having Jake Gosselin and Kaylee Sherman serve as our college leaders and worship leaders.  The fact that their wedding date was set for 8 weeks after orientation week began made their presence most significant.  The comment that we had the "best worship ever" at camp was constant, but even more impressive was how they conducted themselves in the community with so much honor.  Their impending marriage spawned many relationship talks among the staff and inspired many to continue wrestling with their own commitments and standards regarding relationships. A very fun Saturday afternoon was spent “showering” Kaylee.  The time of sharing was especially sweet as several spoke of Kaylee and Jake’s relationship being so hope-giving in terms of having a God-honoring relationship.

Kaylee’s shower was a sweet time of celebration of her upcoming wedding
which went off without a hitch on August 10.

For the first time maybe ever, I left camp just before the sixth and final family camp began, but that's for the next blog.  

Life on an island.  Free of so many distractions.  Full of so many God moments.  Fruitful in ways known and unknown.  

We are blessed.

Sunrise illuminating Saddleback on the mainland . . . and the iconic rock jetty,
which protects this sacred little cove that hosts Campus by the Sea.