For the first time since launching this blog over twelve years ago, three months have elapsed since my last post. In an unprecedented quandary, I’ve had a really hard time finding the words to write, for though there have been many great moments and experiences during this time, we have concurrently experienced some of the darkest and most difficult days of our life together. And quite frankly, I haven’t known how to communicate about this, fairly and honorably, especially since it’s ongoing. This is a season during which my silence hasn’t been “golden.”
|“Be exalted, O Lord, above the heavens . . .” This photo was taken out of the window of the plane flying from Denver to San Diego. The changing skyscape kept us mesmerized for almost an hour. It was spectacular.|
|Here we are: our entire immediate family. Brandon walked me down the aisle after Ana lead the way as the “flower girl.” Gabe and Derek each read scripture and everyone else did the hard work of making it all happen. It exceeded our expectations.|
|My dear mama, almost 87, is the only living parent we have and we are so grateful for her health and mobility which allows her to be present at moments like these.|
|These five weren’t present 40 years ago! :-) The next generation, by God’s grace, will carry the mantle of truth in the decades to come.|
|Jack’s 16th birthday celebration started with brunch at his Aunt Susie’s house. Such a great time!!|
|Along with my sister Melissa, we had a great night at the zoo. The bronzed gorilla is no relation.|
The “Greatest Generation Ever” memorial includes a bronzed collection of injured veterans being entertained by Bob Hope, with a continuous loop of one of his comedy routines being broadcast. Pretty remarkable.
|Hiking to “Interlaken” along the first lake . . . breathtaking!!|
|Taken from Independence Pass on our way to Aspen, this photo doesn’t really do justice to the incredible beauty—so use your imagination.|
|Paul, fully recovered from his brush with altitude sickness on the climb to the top of Aspen, stands on the platform upon which he married Wes and Anna Welker four years ago.|
|Jeannie and Bob Mannes were most gracious to receive us for a “down memory lane” visit in their home in Denver.|
|Elsa and I had a great time together catching up.|
|A wonderful group of CBS family campers gathered for food and fellowship in Parker on the Johns’ family ranch.|
|One more sweet celebration of our 40th.|
|The Daggetts—Kristi, Tim, Isaac, Maddie, and Joel—met us at a park for a wonderful time of reconnection.|
Our final social gathering prior to flying home—bbq and s’mores at Danny Oertli’s parents’ home. Delightful!
|We “rocked it” with Nathan and Rachel for three days while their parents got away. Loved every moment.|
|Sunrise behind us as the moon sets before us over the Rockies. Such assurance that He goes before us and behind us, always present, always with us. How comforting! All praise is His.|
|Our first program staff photo, taken during orientation week.|
|The night of our last family camp banquet, all dressed up and ready to go.|
|Brandon and Ana are in love with their new little/big brother Micah James.|
|The program staff are teaching the new group of campers the memory verse song, which Paul and Lyss Gandy “wrote.” They set 1 Peter 3:15 to music and it tops the charts as one of the best memory verse songs written for CBS ever.|
|Claire Peister, Lyss and Paul Gandy, and Joe Yardley brought down the roof when they performed as a quartet.|
|Our 1st annual "4th of July Old Fashioned Picnic and Games” was held on Sat. July 2 and fun was truly had by all. Pictured here is one of the four teams that competed against one another.|
|Apparently this team won 1st place—at least in this popular “toss the cheese puff onto the shower-cap-smothered-in-shaving-cream” event.|
|The annual game show—this year named “The 2016 Gallagher’s Games”—was a huge hit and this dedicated, hard-working team made it look easy week after week. Such a great night of laughter, friendly competition, and intergenerational craziness.|
|The 4th annual “Ladies Only” tea was held one Saturday afternoon for the staff women. Especially lovely is leaving our staff shirts behind and celebrating the bond of women.|
|The full moon loop hike is another staff-only hike, and though only 11 took advantage of this opportunity this summer, it was one of the best hikes ever. The clear, bright night made flashlights unnecessary . . . and a few bison made it interesting.|
|Off this intrepid group goes to enjoy the island in this unique way.|
|Successfully to the top of Lone Tree, sweaty but smiling. The full-sun morning added challenge to the hike.|
|Taylor Tebay and Ryan Beiter share a moment before Ryan boards the boat to return to the mainland.|
|This is just part of what they set up in our honor.|
|This is the crew that orchestrated the tribute given in our honor at the banquet for family camp 4. Such precious friends/family.|
|Campers surround the “baptismees” to hear the proclamations of faith prior to them entering the waters.|
“Great is Thy Faithfulness!!!Morning by morning new mercies I see.All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
|We are so thankful for Nate (executive director of Berea) and Heidi Parks to whom we have passed the mantle of family camp.|
|What a joy to perform the marriage of Paul and Alyssa Gandy in Newport, VT.|
|Two “half staffs” combined to make a powerhouse “whole staff” at Berea. This is the week one staff . . .|
|. . . and this is the week two staff.|
|Staffer Erik Anderson leads his group of guys. During the second camp, we had 64 students 4th grade and below . . . and 51 of them were boys.|
|Kelsey O’Keeffe, serving for the sixth summer at Berea, finds a creative place for her high school girls’ small group time.|
|One of the 14 baptisms in Newfound Lake . . .|
. . . with some of the witnesses celebrating this meaningful declaration.
|Jumping into frigid water at Sculptured Rocks|
provided an afternoon of fun.
|Daily hikes along the lake front renewed our minds and worked our bodies. Mark was joined by several other staff guys after this photo was snapped.|
|Howard Clark, who was our speaker for both camps, holds court with the staff during a riveting Question and Answer session.|
|Our final staff photo after the week two banquet. Parting is such sweet sorrow.|
|Standing in line for the zip line at SpringHill camp with the Wong family. We loved it!|
|SpringHill is a beautiful place!!|
|To celebrate the end of family camp and Paul’s upcoming birthday, the Wongs took us to “Black Rock Steak House” for dinner and it was great!|
|Brunch at the Wongs': great food, but greater company.|
|Our niece, Heidi Rottschafer Lemmerhirt, and her 3 came for a visit that was enjoyed by all.|
|Eric and Stacey Rauch stand with us before we spoke for the couples event.|
|With temps reaching 106 degrees, it was really refreshing to jump in their pool.|
|The grand finale: strawberry cream pie a la Kari.|
|Standing in front of Lisa’s new rental at CBU!|
The Labor Day Family Camp program staff team . . . a stellar group!
|A full camp enjoys worship led by Christian Hushaw, Alea Peister, and Seth Heinz.|
|Dancing under the lights and the stars. Very, very cool.|
|Late-night staff gathering around Paul’s cookies and stories of engagements. Great bonding time.|
|David and Cherylyn Hegg served as our resource couple for the weekend. We always love spending time with them.|
|What a perfect ending to a wonderful visit with my mom!|
|The sun sets on another summer at Campus by the Sea.|
|The entire staff team: facilities, program, and year-round staff.|
|The program staff.|
|The “staff only” annual shore hike . . . pausing at Frog Rock.|
|For the first time in a long while, the 4th of July fell on Saturday,|
so we rented the "Blanche W” and took the staff in to watch the fireworks in Avalon Harbor, followed by a flying fish tour. Such a fun night!
|Every Saturday night the staff enjoyed Paul’s freshly baked|
chocolate chip cookies—much to their delight.
|The annual tea party for staff women was delightful.|
|In a most unusual twist, Family Camp 5 arrived in RAIN, and in order to keep our campers as dry as possible, the our staff cheerfully got drenched.|
|The annual staff-only hike to Lone Tree took place during Family Camp 5,|
and though it didn’t draw a large crowd, those who went had a great time.
|The “Staff Coffeehouse” was resurrected this summer, featuring some great acts as well as some great desserts. “Pavlova” a la Vonny was the biggest hit.|
|Into town for our “staff appreciation dinner” to celebrate our seven weeks of serving together.|
|Dave and Vonny were our “right hand people” serving as the “deans” of the staff cove,|
Little Gallagher’s, as well as leading the college group.
Vonny also directed the elementary program. So thankful for them!
|The host and hostess of “Go For the Glory” . . . stylin’!!|
The “fam” minus Gabe, who had returned to the mainland to lead
the college missions trip from his church.
|Nathan helps Papa ring the bell for announcements.|
A bunch of Friesens, Herbsts, Rottschafers, Clarks, Oertlis, Millers, and Stucks.
So fun to have them all at camp!
|The original 3: Kari, Julie, and Lisa.|
|Barbara Steele and Betty Ann Bleu joined us in surprising Laura on her birthday. So fun!!|
|“If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings . . .” These families joined the ranks of those who have wildly embraced the simple but profound truth of this song.|
|The outdoor kitchen: breakfast on a grill!|
|Fishing was a favorite pastime and all who got their lines wet were|
handsomely rewarded with many fish . . .
|. . . which fed the group on our last night. Best fish fry ever.|
|Baptisms were done at the quarry lake and it was very inspiring to see|
five young ones proclaim their desire to follow Christ.
|The family camp photo!|
|Final moments of family camp, gathering around the Thompson family|
as they move from the area so Keith can attend seminary.
|The founding families: The Thompsons and the Kings,|
after three exhausting days of serving everyone at camp. Tired but content.
|Many of the CBS contingent who attended Garth’s Celebration of Life service in Santa Rosa.|
|Lisa and Rosemary sharing the love.|
|First program staff meeting 2015.|
|First “selfie” with 18 staff who hiked Scar for the first of many times.|
|Welcoming Joe Yardley to the team on Wednesday, flying in from NC after orientation at UNC.|
|The sun rises over Perkins Cove . . . in the very still, cool morning. Love.|
|Paul's "birthday lobsta" from dear friends . . . so yummy!|
|Gigi and Brandon decorate his birthday cake.|
|The finished product brought smiles all around.|
|Papa and Brandon break in his new birthday squirt guns in the pool. Not sure who had more fun!!|
|Paul was honored by the staff with a Shelby-directed birthday skit,|
since camp started on his real birthday.
|Lisa came through, recruiting Rhema and Kendrick (both UCLA student athletes) |
to serve on our staff. They all did a great job.
|Kendrick, Lisa, and I hosted one of the s'more tables, a first for Kendrick. |
He was a quick study . . . spearing those marshmallows!
|We lost our sunlight earlier than we finished our dancing,|
so with the aid of a floodlight, the dance went on. Very cool!
|Walking the beach at Torrey Pines State Park . . . breathtakingly beautiful.|
|Lunch with Mimi Test and my mom was a true highlight of my time in San Diego.|
|The sun sets on the summer at Coronado Beach. "The heavens declare the glory of God." Amen!|
|Staff team for HIM/Berea Family Camp Week 1|
|Staff team for HIM/Berea Family Camp Week 2|
|Ashoke and Stephanie Bachew joined us from Trinidad for our two weeks of family camp at Berea.|
|Newfound Lake provided the perfect setting for baptism for these eight . . .|
|. . . and during week 2, these four adults.|
|Bill Campbell accepts the signed banner from Paul during our closing session.|
|The staff have their own finger-blasters battle after the campers have cleared out . . . |
one of the many perks of being on staff here. :)
|MaryAnn Bastedo, Melissa Kovacs, and Josh Bachew join me in serving s'mores at this station . . .|
|. . . while Shelby Krueger, Jessica Hopkins, Naomi Frey, and Elissa Johnson |
keep customers happy at the other station.
|The amphitheater was packed for our outdoor worship evening and |
perfect weather enhanced the whole experience.
|Long after most campers had left the amphitheater, Kelsey O'Keeffe, Kayla Krogh, and Scott Johnston kept the singing going with this little crew of siblings and cousins. Endless worship!!!|
|The final worship set for week 1. I love this shot of some of the |
70 junior/senior highers at camp this week. They were tight!
|Paul Gandy, Kelsey O'Keeffe, Dakota Baker, and James Yardley lead worship for both camps. During camp 2, they were joined by Glen and Zachary Powell. Worship was inspired.|
|The ninjas await their cue for the birthday skit.|
|Each week, the staff had an audience with Pastor Ashoke, |
who taught on full surrender and relationships.
|A trip to Sculptured Rocks was fun and cold as each brave staff |
jumped into the frigid snow melt pooling river.
|Twice-daily staff meetings were punctuated with occasional treats. |
This basket of candy bars from Kelly Plosker brought smiles to all.
|Creative rain gear (modeled by Jessica Hopkins and Shelby Dreves) was in order on Wednesday of camp 2 when a huge thunderstorm visited the area from early morning ’til late night.|
|Our California staff were amazed that even with such a deluge, |
life goes on as though nothing were happening.
|In place of the daily Scar hike at CBS, this staff takes a daily 4-mile roundtrip hike |
to the lighthouse, followed by a refreshing swim in the lake.
|This is it. Final night . . . after 9 full weeks for most, and 2 for some, |
we join arms in the gym to celebrate the faithfulness of God.
|And the next morning, after an all-camp photo, we sing "We love you campers, oh yes we do!" |
to our loved, departing family campers.
|One last hug before the team began to disperse. So much love. Such full hearts.|
|The "Fam" in Vero Beach: Derek, Julie, and Nathan on far left,|
Gabe, Kari, and Ana next, Lisa next to me and Paul, fronted by Brandon.
|First day of orientation week, we got off to a great start.|
|Five weeks later, seasoned and bonded, this amazing group of staff had proved|
their commitment to Christ as well as to the campers.
|Derek and Julie head out on a hike with Nathan in the backpack and Ana on front.|
|Sisters and babies . . . such fun!!!|
|All the family minus Gabe (who was leading a missions trip)—|
We shared many happy moments at camp.
|Brandon helps Papa with devotions.|
|Paul's oldest sister, Sandy Clark, and her gang, plus sister Beth|
and nephew Brian Rottschafer and his family joined us for camp 5.
|The 6 am departure for the shore hike didn't discourage many as 35 staff made this annual trek.|
|Happy staff hikers conquer Lone Tree once again.|
|The hosts of "The Ology Game" were joined by swashbuckling Brandon.|
|S'mores anyone? Brandon enjoys one with his "Boo" Lyss.|
|One-week-old Nathan musters a sleepy greeting for his Papa at the airport.|
|The "Butterfly Song" is sung for the first of many times as family camp gets underway.|
|Staff photo from Family Camp 1 — a great, servant-hearted group of young people.|
|Family campers seize some “Nathan moments” at the end of our talk on parenting.|
|The college group at Family Camp 1. A stellar group, now off on college campuses.|
Pray that they'll stand firm for and in Him.
|Guess which couple hosted the game show? Fun was had by all.|
|Meredith Grieci and Mister Paul share a hug as camp ends. |
Her baptism will stay with us for a long time to come.
|Donned in Red Sox gear, the staff experience the rare treat of witnessing|
a Red Sox vs. Yankees match-up at Fenway.
|Pretty sweet welcome to Fenway!!|
|Lobster races prior to dinner Sunday night, one of many unique experiences the staff had,|
making for a very memorable end-of-the-summer celebration.
Thank you for another wonderful week at Family Camp. We all look forward to it all year long and we are never disappointed. As our little family grows up and our needs change, camp continues to be a perfect fit for us.
My girls love their "teachers" at camp and I am so grateful for these "cool" young adults who show my girls God's love, that it is fun and rewarding to walk this path boldly, to worship Him unashamed. These young people go above and beyond, giving their time and attention to children, making kids feel special. Thanks again for an amazing week, for being our non-negotiable family trip every summer. We are already looking forward to next year!
|Here we go . . . about 2/3rds the way through her 24-hour labor,|
they're still all smiles. That would change . . .
|All cleaned up and ready to go, I hold this healthy, alert, wide-eyed little bundle for his mom to see. Precious moments.|
|Out of labor and delivery and into their private room, the happy family looks amazingly refreshed, which belies the intensity of the previous hours.|
|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.|
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.|
|Lisa also managed to make it to camp during the week the Garcias attended. :)|
|Kaylee’s shower was a sweet time of celebration of her upcoming wedding|
which went off without a hitch on August 10.
|Sunrise illuminating Saddleback on the mainland . . . and the iconic rock jetty,|
which protects this sacred little cove that hosts Campus by the Sea.
|Six of the original seven Collins siblings at Frank's remarriage.|
|Lisa, Pam Barker, and I ran as the "Green Team" this year at the Covered Bridges Half Marathon.|
|13.1 miles later in brutal heat and humidity, we celebrated our accomplishment.|
|Welcome home, Derek and Julie! A delayed celebration of Derek's birthday included|
freshly baked cinnamon rolls and fresh blueberries.
|Matt and Christen Bumen and David and Tammy Harris were instrumental to making the Paradise Church conference happen.|
|Along with this crew, all of these folks have deep hearts for marriage|
and are serving Paradise Church in some manner.
|Here they are on June 18, 1983 . . .|
|. . . and here they are 30 years later, still madly in love with each other,|
and even more in love with Christ.
|The party-goers at the home of their dear friends Bob and Lisa Hartman (front row, far right).|
|Gabe opens his Father's Day gift from Brandon: SF Giants' t-shirts for both. :)|
|Off to Catalina we go, with three grown up daughters and two grandchildren on the way.|
|Good-bye Campus by the Sea . . . until 2013!|
|Drew and Dana came to camp for their final pre-marital counseling marathon session and we loved introducing CBS to them!|
|A week later, we flew to Boston to perform their wedding. It was a wonderful celebration.|
|Reaching the goal: Lone Tree!|
|HIM/Berea's Family Camp 1 staff|
|Paul leads children’s devotions at Berea|
|The Ide family competes at the Tuesday evening game show . . .|
|. . . brought to you by your game show hosts!|
|Families and staff join together for the chicken dance at Berea|
|The Minch family works on their banner|
|The solo challenge was a new feature at Camp Berea this year|
|HIM/Berea's Family Camp 2 staff|
I wish I could tell you all the stories from the summer, but I am going to share a few:
"Loved your staff! My kids were loved and taught better than I could ever imagine. No matter what age, all kids were taken such good care of."
"It's with tremendous gratitude that we leave today. Thank you doesn't seem enough to express what is in our hearts. CBS is one place and time of year we know we come to meet God in a most intimate way - as a family and as a couple. It truly is heaven on earth. The staff are the best example we've seen of Biblical servanthood. We are refreshed and encouraged to return home for kingdom building in our marriage and family."
The heavens declare the glory of God. Sunrise, June 18th
|Just after crossing the finish line, we were awarded our medals and were already talking about our next race.|
Happy Father's Day, Papa!
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!
|Extended Friesen family attended Family Camp 1, launching the summer with lots of laughter and energy.|
|Game Show hosts Vanna and Paul Barker.|
|Paul had the privilege of baptizing Baker and Turner Welch in the chilly Pacific.|
|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.|
|Sunset on the same day, July 18. Wow.|
We exchanged the ocean for a lake. Cactus for trees. Sunshine for liquid sunshine (at times). Flip flops for tennies. Pit toilets and outdoor showers for indoor plumbing and electricity. Orange shirts for green shirts. Sand volleyball, basketball by the sea, kayaks, and inner-tubes for a rifle range, archery, climbing walls, grass, gaga pits, and carpet ball.
Family Camp at Campus by the Sea for Family Camp at Camp Berea on Newfound Lake.
Though very different, it’s actually very much the same.
The same incredible staff. The same kind of enthusiastic families, who come wanting to hear from God, wanting their families to be reinforced, wanting to maximize the potential of this unique “vacation with a purpose.” The same theme, curriculum, and crafts. The same commitment from the facilities’ crew to meeting the needs of the campers in an "above and beyond" sort of way. The same awareness that change will happen not because of what we do, but because of what God does.
We arrived at Camp Berea on Saturday, August 6, committed to overcoming jet lag in order to energetically serve the Home Improvement Ministries (H.I.M.) Family Camp 1 which launched that evening. A record 22 staff (all but three who had served together all summer at CBS) flew in from all over to make family camp happen. Joined by a half dozen “locals,” we jelled quickly and were off and running, ready to do what we could do to meet the needs of our 250 campers.
Six days later, as we wrapped up our amazing week together and took an all-camp photo, we agreed that God had met us in ways which exceeded our expectations. Some made the decision to follow Christ. Some were baptized. Some experienced a new vision of hope for their marriage. Some made decisions to renounce ungodly behavior. It was a powerful week.
Richard and Donna Dahlstrom, from Bethany Community Church in Seattle, served as our resource couple for both weeks of family camp. Richard “hit it out of the park” with his teaching. Equally important, both Donna and Richard endeared themselves to all of us by becoming one of us. They were available, approachable, authentic, and “fully in” all that family camp has to offer. Richard's teaching was nothing short of brilliant and both his and Donna’s lives lent credibility to the message. Their love for Jesus and their commitment to “justice, mercy, and a humble walk with God” couldn't be missed. The request for their return was seemingly unanimous.
Family Camp is so much more than any one element. Yes, we are very committed to spiritual growth on all levels, but we’re also committed to providing an intergenerational context for families to have a blast together. Our game show night provides one of the contexts for family fun, and this year’s game, “Gender Defender,” has been described by many as the best game show ever. Borrowing ideas from “Minute to Win It,” our game show team did a phenomenal job of putting together a fast moving and engaging evening of family fun that involved many contestants. Kory Kraning, Taylor Tebay, Kady Broman, and Whitnee Sherman made it happen on stage, while Brian Dietz emceed from the sound booth and co-hosts “Bob and Vanna” kept it moving. It is safe to say that fun was had by all.
Morning devotions are another important element of family camp and Paul’s creative genius combined with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit made all four devotions very poignant and full of impact. It continues to be true that “kids say the darndest things.” That and Paul’s gift of being very quick on his feet contributed to moments of hilarity that punctuated spiritual truth during every devotion.
Worship is another great element of family camp and Kory Kraning and Brian Dietz (and a talented team of musicians and vocalists) did a great job of leading us twice a day in worship. The ever popular “Butterfly Song” and “I am Somebody” never lacked enthusiasm, no matter how many times sung. It’s such a picture of the body of Christ to see the generations gathered in worship, with parents singing “kids” songs and kids singing hymns. Love it.
Many life-changing decisions are made at camp, and within this safe community, each summer several campers ask to be baptized. During family camp 1, we did 6 baptisms in Newfound Lake in a very meaningful service witnessed by many of the campers. Moments like these add such depth to our whole experience.
What makes family camp the kind of experience that many families say is the highlight of their year? What makes it work? The obvious answer is God, and truly we know beyond a shadow of doubt that without the power and presence of God, family camp would be fun but not eternally impacting. But God uses all the elements mentioned to accomplish His purposes, and He does it largely through our staff.
And this staff has managed to dig deep and make these campers feel like it’s week one again. They ignored jet lag, overlooked some sniffles, didn’t let the rain dampen their enthusiasm, and gave it their all. Paul and I have been deeply moved by the depth of maturity and selflessness consistently displayed by this team. We’ve never worked with an “easier” group and that has been gift to us.
As the 2011 family camp season draws to a close, we are more deeply passionate about these weeks than we’ve ever been. God uses the uniqueness of family camp in such potent ways to renew, to recharge, and to recreate. We are aware of how seminal family camp has been in the shaping of our family life and are overwhelmed with gratitude for the privilege of directing this program 35 years running.
After family camp, a single mom wrote: “I want to thank you for another incredible experience at family camp. We look forward to camp all year and we’re never disappointed. From the moment we arrived, we felt completely cared for. The stress begins to melt away immediately. And God faithfully met each one in our family through your wonderful staff and incredible program. We’re already counting the days ’til we return.”
As I write, I’m flying to California—before family camp 2 in New England ends. Julie and Derek’s wedding is this Sunday, August 21, so my higher calling is to be with my baby daughter during her final days as Julie Friesen. Derek flew in from Uganda on July 30, just in time to experience our last 24 hours of family camp at CBS, and they’ve spent the last 2 weeks working around Julie's internship, packing, planning, and preparing. I can’t wait to join the fun! Paul will wrap up camp and join us Friday.
So our “never a dull moment” life continues . . . and we’re so thankful to be “living life to the full.”
|The record-setting 32 staff take a “staff only” hike along the shore.|
We blinked and 7 weeks were history at Campus By the Sea. Twenty-four hours ago, we once again left the rocky shore of this sacred place. I want to relate some of the amazing stories of the summer, which remind us that the summer extends far beyond the days we’re here.
And that’s because it’s not about us or what we do, but about the Spirit of God, who faithfully meets us and our 200 (on average) campers per week in ways that exceed our imaginations. Every week, part of His story for each person in camp is written, and some of those stories are read aloud, while others are tucked away in the hearts and souls of those for whom they are written.
But first, a brief recap of the past five weeks. Camp 2 was full of adrenaline, as is always true when Ray Johnston speaks at CBS. Lots of laughter, fun, and inspiration with Ray—and the joy for us of continuing the journey with the Johnston family—all six of whom were at family camp. We always love hanging with them.
Family Camp 3 with David and Cherylyn Hegg was our only not-full camp of the summer. For some reason the 4th of July camp, when the 4th falls on Friday through Monday, struggles to fill, and this year was no exception. There are certain clear advantages of a camp of 120, but since we know how impactful family camps are, we lamented the empty beds. That didn’t keep us from throwing ourselves fully into the wonderful group of families who gathered this week, and again we experienced God at work among us. It seemed as though the American Bison that live on Catalina Island heard of our low enrollment, so several of them joined us in camp for the entire week . . . at times, settling to rest right on paths, effectively cutting off several “commuter trails” in camp. Paul and I even began carrying flashlights to avoid having a collision with one of these over-stuffed, burly, generally tame—but still wild—bison. They definitely upped the “wow” factor in camp.
The highlight for us, though, was not the bison in camp, but having a large Boston contingent in camp, including the Martises, Steeles, and Welches. It was a first for Jim, Sue, and Matthew Martis, and we loved introducing them to our “real” world. As always, we also loved hanging out with David and Cherylyn. Great people.
|New England had a fair representation at camp 3 with the Welches, Barbara Steele, Linda Lue Leiserson, and the Martis family.|
Howard Clark taught at family camp 4 and was deeply appreciated for his rich teaching. So many commented at the banquet on Howard’s sessions, most acknowledging that it was a rare treat to hear such profound teaching. Most memorable this week was having Garth and Rosemary Dougan in camp. Now 88 and 86, their level of remarkability just increases. Garth had actually spent a few days in the hospital the week before, so their ability to come to camp was in question. There was not a dry eye in the Main Deck on Monday night when they sneaked in at the end of singing. What great joy especially for their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all who had gathered for a family reunion at CBS.
|A treasured moment with Garth and Rosemary Dougan and the program staff.|
|We made a quick, 4-day trip to Virginia to honor our niece, Emily, as she married Kevin Frith. Standing between Lisa and me is our nephew Frankie.|
Family Camp 5 was packed, full of life, and smooth. David and Carrie Tebay served as our resource couple and David’s teaching on Matthew 16:24 was phenomenal. It was hard-hitting within a framework of grace—and again, many of the comments at the banquet affirmed that God had spoken through David. Our annual staff hike to “Lone Tree” happened on Wednesday of this week, and we were blessed with a perfect-for-hiking marine layer which made the 8.5 mile hike much easier.
|David and Carrie Tebay carried on the strong Tebay tradition of excellent Biblical teaching, as well as of modeling strong family life.|
And then camp 6 arrived. By now, we veterans knew that this summer would stand out as one of the best ever, so we reinforced the importance of finishing well and committed ourselves to leaving it all “on the beach.” We welcomed camp 6 as though our freshness and energy were at camp 1 levels and we reminded ourselves that we're about “honoring God, honoring the community, and honoring the community standards so we could serve the campers well”—and the staff did it. They stepped up. They dug deep. And they served with humility, perseverance, and joy. We've never felt better about the quality, unity, and humility of the entire team, from program staff to facilities staff to camp leadership.
Gary Gaddini spoke for camp 6 and he’s just incredibly gifted in teaching truth with relevance and grace. He’s infectious. His teaching through the book of Habakkuk was profound and God used him to speak to the hearts of so many. Very powerfully.
|Gary and Anne Gaddini helped us finish well by speaking at our last family camp.|
It’s hard to put into words just how rich this summer was, because all 35 summers we’ve had at CBS have been rich in different ways.
But this one will go down in history as one of the best, if not the best, summers ever. We’ve thought a lot about what made it so special, and there are many things. At the top of the list was having Dennis and Susan Mansfield with us as the ”Dean and Deana” of Little Gallagher’s (our staff-housing cove). This now empty-nested couple, who spent 28 summers bringing their kids to family camp, served alongside us and invested mightily in the staff. Susan directed our children’s program as well as crafts, and Dennis . . . well, he didn’t have a job description per se, but he spent hours of each day interacting personally with staff, caring for them, challenging them, loving on them. It was pure gold to have them in the community this summer.
Having Gabe, Kari, and Brandon on the team was another huge factor. Gabe designed the staff training material, led the men’s study, and with Kari, led our college group each week. They also invested greatly in staff. And best of all, having a baby on staff again brought joy to all. And I’m not just saying that because I’m his grandma. He brightened everyone’s days with his “Big Easy” disposition and ready smiles.
|Gabe, Kari, and Brandon are ready for the final banquet of the 2011 season.|
|Chef D’Arcy and his family love on Brandon, whom they love in spite of his allegiance to the Red Sox. (D’Arcy’s favorite team cannon even be mentioned here.)|
Another factor was the depth of unity among the leadership at camp. We so love partnering with Dave and Kim Noble and their team and appreciate their commitment to working together to make family camps the best they can be.
Hopefully it won’t sound too shallow to add that having perfect weather (especially contrasted with last summer’s coolness and very cold water), warm water (I know that’s a relative statement), and daily sightings of eagles, bison, dolphins, and deer all added to the mix.
Each week God brought an eclectic but wonderful group of families to CBS, and we believed that each family was appointed to be at camp when they were. Safe community happens at CBS by God’s grace, and each week we shared each other’s joys and struggles. We prayed for each other, we celebrated significant moments together, we worshiped together, we bore one another’s burdens, and we spurred one another on to love and good deeds. Each banquet night was full of sharing, affirming that God had done a powerful work among us during our days together. We heard stories of hope renewed. Of visions born. Of commitments made. Of truth understood. Of souls refreshed. Of energy renewed. Of the goodness of God.
Each week as the boat pulled away from the dock and our staff team sang the time-worn but sincere song, “We love you campers, oh yes do!” even as exhaustion settled in after giving it our all for the previous 6 days, we weren’t too tired to be aware that we had just been part of something way bigger than ourselves . . . nor was it lost on us that whatever had just happened was something that we couldn't have accomplished on our own. That might be the key to the summer. This staff seemed to get to a deeper degree that this summer wasn’t about them but about Him. That it wasn’t just about now, but about eternity. They “got” that they’d best support and love each other in the community by submitting to the authority set over them, and they did so remarkably. It was truly one of the most servant-hearted, unselfish, ego-less staffs we’ve ever had and we are honored to have been able to partner with them this summer.
|The staff send off our last family camp with the tradition of singing “We love you campers, oh yes we do!” one more time.|
We are pooped, but in the best sort of way. Our hearts are so full of gratitude for these past seven weeks. Paul told the staff at our final worship time yesterday that though he came into the summer dragging his heels and lacking creativity and vision for the summer, he is actually leaving this summer refreshed. That probably says it best.
|Rather than setting, he sun rises over the end of our 2011 family camp season at CBS. |
(photo courtesy of Bill Crandall)
Before we got to the island, I spent a few days in San Diego with Julie and my parents. The days passed quickly, but were fairly productive as we got their wedding invitations in the mail, celebrated Father’s Day early with my dad, and went to a bridal shower for Julie given by her professors and classmates from physical therapy school. It was so sweet to hear them speak so supportively of Julie and her influence on them. I felt very privileged to be there.
|Dinner out in honor of Father's Day with my parents was lovely.|
First thing Monday morning, June 13, we drove to Long Beach and took the ferry to Catalina with our summer staff. We could tell even then that the Lord had brought together a great group of college students as we gathered at the terminal. That first impression has been fulfilled during these few weeks. We have a terrific staff.
|We were thrilled to reconnect with Bob and Carol Kraning at the boat terminal. They delivered two of our staff, Kory and Johnie (who also happen to be their grandsons), to catch the boat.|
During Orientation Week, the staff creatively worked to develop the curriculum and decorate their classrooms. We spent time every day building community as we built curriculum. For the first time ever, we had 7 on the program staff who had never even been to CBS. Very unusual, but understandable: three of the new staff have great siblings on year round staff, two of them came from Kari and Gabe’s ministry and had been mentored by them (and Kari and Gabe are batting a thousand on all the staff they’ve sent us the past four years), one grew up at our family camp in New Hampshire, and one has a sibling who was on staff 3 years ago. So though they hadn’t stepped foot on the island prior to June 13, they were all exposed to CBS by reliable sources. It did create a steep learning curve for them and reminded us of how foreign this well-known-to-us culture is to some. Thankfully, they’ve all adjusted beautifully and have brought a freshness to our team. We’re also thrilled to have Dennis and Susan Mansfield with us this summer as the “Dean and Deana of Little Gallaghers” (the little cove in which our summer staff are housed). Additionally Susan is serving as our children’s program director and crafts coordinator, and Dennis is filling in many gaps. We’re loving having them here for many reasons, but especially for their maturity, depth, and love for the staff. After being family campers for 28 years, they’re experiencing camp in an entirely different way.
|Holland, Taylor, Claudia, Johnny, and Katie work on decorations for their classrooms.|
|Not all the team, but many, pose after lunch on their way to more preparations during orientation week.|
Though we are truly thankful for each staff member God has brought here, we’re still pinching ourselves to believe that Gabe, Kari, and Brandon are part of that team. As it became increasingly clear to them that God was moving them on from their positions at Bayside of South Sacramento, they talked to us about serving at CBS this summer. Really??? It quickly became clear that their gifts in working with college students could be used to lead the college studies for family campers as well as to develop training material for our summer staff, so we said YES!!! Oh, and, we'll gladly help care for the little guy.
So here we are, in the midst of a historical legacy visiting the next generation. Paul’s parents, Mel and Helen Friesen, started camp in 1951 and their only son, Paul, learned to walk in the Main Deck that first summer. In 1981, Paul (who was in the midst of his tenure as the Camp Director 1975–1991), watched his eldest daughter Kari learn to walk in the Main Deck that summer. Thirty years later, Kari’s eldest child, Brandon, is trying to learn to walk in the Main Deck (and feeling lots of pressure as a 10-month-old to uphold the tradition. :) ) Really? We feel blessed beyond belief that we’re part of God's amazing faithfulness through the generations.
|Gabe, Kari, and Brandon Garcia are a great addition to the staff team this summer.|
|Brandon loves his new and different bathtub, as well as living in community with more loving arms and smiles than ever.|
Truly a huge part of the richness in serving at CBS comes from the relationships we've developed over the past 35 years. Each family camp is full of people who mean so much to us. We've journeyed through decades of life together, through the highs and the lows, the thick and the thin, the family milestone moments of life, marriage, deaths, disappointments and triumphs. Each week we reconnect with friends who return to camp with three generations in tow - some of whom were young parents in the late 70’s, now at camp with their grown up kids and grandkids. We love the intergenerational framework of CBS family camps. And we love the newer families, who bring fresh perspective and experience to the table. Our passion for this ministry has not abated at all, but actually continues to grow each summer as we see the hand of God doing His good work among us. We are so blessed.
So, after a week or orientation and preparation, the boat loaded with over 200 family campers pulled up to our dock on Sunday, June 19. With a mixture of emotions running the gamut from excitement to at least a few fears (how will the program go, etc.), the staff enthusiastically welcomed the campers and the 2011 family camp season at CBS was launched. The most touching moment of the week was experienced right off the bat, when Hayden Whelan, a precious 13-year-old who has Down’s Syndrome, arrived at camp after a year’s hiatus. She was unable to come last year because she was undergoing treatment for a malignant tumor, and after a torturous year of chemo, radiation, hospitalizations, etc, she was recovered enough to return to camp and to her beloved “Paul.” Hayden has had a thing for Paul since she was tiny, and she told her mom before arriving that she couldn't wait to see him. She ran up the ramp and threw herself in his waiting arms, and there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.
|Hayden is welcomed by Paul and the whole staff, who painted her a “Welcome Back, Hayden!” sign.|
|Six days later, Hayden gives Paul a farewell hug as she leaves camp.|
That was the start of a great first week of camp. Though we had the normal challenges of the first week, and some abnormal ones with so many new staff, it was a surprisingly smooth week programmatically. Tim and Susie Theule were our resource couple and as we've come to expect, Tim’s teaching was challenging, instructive, and inspiring. He’s truly one of the best teachers we’ve heard. We’ve also grown to love their family over these six years that they've been on our family camp team, so having a week with them was a treat.
Our theme this summer is “The Fully Alive Family” using Psalm 23 and John 10:1–10 as our texts. We’ve been so struck by the reminder that the sheep follow him because they know his voice and that they won’t follow the stranger because they don’t know his voice. Our prayer is that we’ll become so attuned to the voice of the Good Shepherd that the stranger won’t pull us off course.
|Tim and Susie Theule bring so much to camp, not just through Tim’s excellent teaching, but also through their healthy, beautiful family of six.|
The week progressed through all the beloved traditions - the game “Gender Defender” (some say it's the best ever!); all family worship and s’mores at the beach around the campfire; the hike to Avalon; the dance night and ice cream social; the boat race; the banquet; banner making; and tons of inter-generational interaction around dining tables, in the fairway, and on the beach. What makes this place and experience so unique is the intergenerational community that is naturally woven into all waking hours. So much health “happens” when the generations are laughing, playing, and learning together.
The week flew by and before we knew it, we were singing the traditional “We love you campers...oh yes we do!” as the boat pulled away from the dock in the early afternoon of June 25. It was especially poignant for us, as we were saying good-bye to many relatives who had continued their tradition of attending family camp. Paul’s oldest sister, Sandra, and her husband, Wayne, once again brought their four married children and all their grandchildren to camp so we had feasted on the delight of being with family we love so much. That meant many late nights of laughing and talking with one another, which was not great for our sleep needs, but an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Danny and Rayna Oertli are part of that clan, so we were treated to a concert by Danny one night during which he debuted a number of songs just released on his newest album, Just Beyond the Door. We love this album and would highly recommend it.
|The Friesen relatives who attended family camp 1. Great time with all!!|
|No real reason for this photo, except that it’s an adorable one of this possible future lifeguard. :)|
Family is the theme...and we’re so blessed to have all of our gang with us at the moment. Lisa safely returned from Israel after her 2-week missions trip with FCA and came back bubbling over with enthusiasm for her experience there. She’s working at camp for three weeks, joining the high school team. Julie is managing to make it up for the weekends and we’re loving that. The countdown to the return of her fiance Derek to the states has begun in earnest. It's now less than a month. :) And we're loving having the Garcias here 24/7. Besides the joy of having them with us, they’re doing a fabulous job with our staff and with the college-age family campers.
|The girls and Gabe, left to right: Kari, Julie, Lisa|
We’re also having an amazing summer of wildlife sightings as well as gorgeous weather. Buffalo have been hanging out in camp regularly and the bald eagles and pods of dolphins have been seen multiple times. We’re delighting in all of it.
|A buffalo finds dinner next to our volleyball court.|
|Brandon helps “Papa” with announcements at many meals.|
|Our program staff are ready for a new day.|
Do pray for us as we run 4.5 more weeks of camp. God is doing amazing things among us already and we are humbled to be a part of it. All praise is His!!!
|A view of Camp Berea before the campers arrive . . . it’s not Campus by the Sea, but it’s so beautiful in a completely different way!|
Assembling a full staff team was a bigger challenge than usual. Many of our CBS staff began school early or had family plans, so we supplemented with some wonderful volunteers, a couple of whom said “yes” the morning before family camp began . . . and flew from California in time to drive to Camp Berea with the rest of the team! In the end, the Lord provided so that every grade was well staffed and all needs were met.
|Staff for the first week of family camp at Berea.|
|Megan Forbes and the worship team lead “The Butterfly Song” at the opening night, much to the delight of many veteran family campers.|
|Paul leads the children’s devotions and the two contestants practice self-control successfully, doubling their “take.”|
David Swaim spoke to the first camp and he was terrific again this year. Each day he spoke about different aspects of the Father’s Love and was used by God in some very powerful ways. Since he spoke last summer, he and Michelle have doubled their family size by adopting three teen-agers from Uganda (originally from Congo, but orphaned and displaced to Uganda), and it was a joy to have all of them with us.
|David Swaim not only preaches powerfully, he can dance up a storm. Here he’s pictured with his daughter Angelina, who looks semi-petrified during most of David’s energetic swing moves . . .|
|. . . but was all smiles when all was said and done.|
|Sculptured Rocks is a gorgeous spot not far from Camp Berea - great for picnicking, jumping off a 10 ft. rock into very cold water below, and relaxing. We had a blast!|
We topped off the day with a Shackett’s Ice Cream stop and it’s hard to beat that.
|Nate and Jeannie King, along with Andrew, Emily, and Camryn, bring Brady to be dedicated at the lake.|
|Paul baptizes Susie Hirtle, who has grown up at family camp and is now off to a Christian college in Texas.|
|Joe Yardley also chose to be baptized at camp this summer. Here he stands with his family: parents Dan and Susan and siblings James, Liz, Tim, and Abbie.|
|Sam Potter, another long-time family camper, was baptized as well. His family and both sets of grandparents stand with him.|
And just like that, family camp was over and we had 24 hours to regroup and prepare to make our last group of family campers feel like it was our first week of camp. The weekend was relaxing and renewing in many ways. Pizza Friday night was followed by a special showing of one of “clean” comedian Brian Regan’s very funny DVD’s, which was followed by watching a disappointing, extra innings loss for the Boston Red Sox. We got over it by eating yummy homemade waffles the next morning. :)
The weekend was also highlighted by having Aimee, Chelsea, and Danny visit us from NYC. Yes, it’s the same Aimee who met Christ at CBS during week 2, and the same Chelsea who was baptized at CBS during week 6. Danny is a mutual friend of theirs who decided to follow Christ after seeing the dramatic transformation in Aimee when she returned from CBS. Don’t you love the way God works?? They came to Berea to reconnect with the staff and many significant conversations were had during the course of their stay. God is at work.
Family Camp 2 arrived Saturday afternoon, August 14th, with even more campers than week 1. Our biggest camp of the summer was the last! Fortunately, we had several additional staff - Liann and Evan Wong, as well as Helen Challener and Taylor Tedford. They were just what we needed to “fill the gaps” and we were so thankful for them.
|Helen Challener joined our team for family camp 2. She volunteered at CBS in 1978 and 1980 and proved that she hasn’t lost her touch. She was a terrific aide for the 1st and 2nd grade class. It was a joy to have her!|
Staff team for Family Camp 2
|Paul is the victor in the “shoot-off” with me. Here we’re posing with “refs” from our staff team: Heather Thiel, Kyle Becker, David Hathaway, and Nathan Smith.|
During the second family camp, we drove the staff up to the Mt. Washington Hotel so they could experience some of the unique beauty of New England and tour this fabulous hotel . . . and then on to Amonusuc Falls to do some big rock jumping. Compared to Sculptured Rocks, the jumps are MUCH higher and the water MUCH colder - but fun was had by all. We picnicked on the rocks, did a fair bit of jumping, and then drove back to Shacketts for more yummy ice cream. It was a great day.
|The staff enjoyed touring the Mt. Washington Hotel . . .|
|. . . but probably enjoyed the delights of jumping into this frigid water more. :)|
|Megan Forbes and Vincent Swaim work some swing moves while Alton Green teaches his sister Danielle how to slide in the background.|
Jay Abramson spoke for this week of family camp and he did a wonderful job of tying his talks in with the prodigal son story. Jay’s teaching is authentic and passionate, and it engages both the head and the heart. Jay and Liz are always such a delight to partner with. They make themselves so available as they invest greatly in campers outside of the speaking sessions.
|Jay and Liz Abramson were appreciated by the campers during Family Camp 2.|
Our final family camp culminated with powerful sharing at the banquet and a wonderful time of worship at the campfire. We heard testimony of marriages on the mend, parent-child relationships improving, and many tales of personal sanctification. No one could deny God’s hand in changed lives.
For the final time in the summer of 2010, we had our closing session featuring worship and wrap-up. One last “Butterfly Song,” “Days of Elijah” and the memory verse song . . . One last all-camp photo. One last giant farewell to a wonderful summer.
|Kelsey O’Keeffe plays one last round of “gaga” with some of our smaller campers.|
We were packed up and out of Berea in record time on Friday and the real end of the summer celebration began. Pizza in the small town of Bristol sustained us until we were feted with an unbelievable surf and turf (lobster and steak) feast at Doug and Julie Macrae’s house. We arrived mid-afternoon and enjoyed their pool and their huge backyard-turned football field before indulging ourselves beyond reason. It rivaled the finest restaurants in Boston. We all felt very pampered.
|The Macraes’ backyard provided a great party site for our “end of the summer” celebration.|
|Full and happy . . . we take one more photo for the blog. :)|
|We’re on the field during our tour of Fenway Park.|
|During batting practice, Kevin Bron and Andrew Price snagged balls, while Heather Thiel, Monica Wong, and Hannah Early celebrate with them.|
|It was our first visit to Fenway this year and we enjoyed it at least as much as the kids did.|
With very little sleep, we got most of the staff to the airport for early morning departures Sunday . . . and the summer officially ended. Though we are really, really tired, we are much more thankful. It has been a most unforgettable summer (for mostly good reasons!!!) and we are praying that the seed that fell on fertile soil will thrive in the year ahead. We can hardly believe we’ve now crossed the summers-at-camp finish line 35 times, but we consider that a huge gift from the Lord.
And now, the countdown begins in earnest for the arrival of grandson #1. His due date is a week away and we’re so thankful that he didn’t decide to make an early entrance. We’ll be in Sacramento for the next little while with Gabe and Kari as they begin this new season in their lives.
Other family news: Julie has successfully finished her first year of physical therapy school and is enjoying a much needed break with her boyfriend, Derek, who is “home” from Uganda for several weeks. We’ll see them in Sacramento this week. Lisa is off and running with her new job. She has been going non-stop since starting on August 1, and is loving it so far.
Thanks for standing with us and for praying for our lives and ministry. “When you’re working out of your passion, it doesn’t seem like work” is an apt statement for us. We know we’re blessed to be able to say that.
If a picture says a thousand words, then this one that Barbara Steele snapped last week at Camp Berea overlooking Newfound Lake expresses what’s in my heart that can’t be expressed in words. Savor His faithfulness along with us.
And just like that, our summer at Campus by the Sea (CBS) is over. After the coolest summer of our 35 years together at CBS, we wakened this morning with no doubt we were no longer there. The over 90 degree temps and equal humidity today remind us that part of the reason we love “summering” at Campus by the Sea is the weather!!!
The last two weeks of family camp continued in the trajectory of the summer: beyond words wonderful. We can’t remember a summer when there has been more evidence of God’s grace working out among us in so many ways. Every banquet this summer evidenced this, as the “feast” we consumed was exceeded only be the “feast” we witnessed after person upon person shared of how they had been met by God during the week.
Family Camp 5 featured second year speaker David Tebay, senior pastor of Calvary Church of Placentia. He challenged us with the message of Romans 12, and his sermons were practical and discomforting. That’s good. :) It was a delight to have his son, Taylor, on our program staff all summer, and to have his wife, Carrie, daughters Tara and Amy, and son Austin join him for the week. David’s father, John, was one of the officiating pastors at our wedding, and along with his wife Grace, has been a significant mentor in our lives for the past almost four decades. It’s so good to see the generational legacy of God’s faithfulness in this family.
|David and Carrie Tebay, with Austin, Tara, Amy, and Taylor.|
The “staff only” annual hike to “Lone Tree” took place on the Wednesday of Family Camp 5. Only 12 braved this challenging, 9-mile-round-trip hike, and we were all on the top within 1.5 hrs. Though we were very thankful for the cloud cover hiking up, we all wished the sun would burn it off once we were on the top. But alas, we remained sunless (in keeping with the theme of the summer!) Oh well, makes for easier hiking! We had a great time of fellowship and experienced wonderful camaraderie throughout. Another Lone Tree summit accomplished!
Late that Saturday afternoon, the program staff and part of the facilities staff headed into Avalon for the annual “staff appreciation” meal in town. “Mi Casita” was the site of our dinner and though the food wasn’t nearly as good as what we’ve enjoyed from the CBS kitchen this summer, it was a fun and relaxing change of venue. The bonus of the night was the brilliant full moon - with no cloud cover - spawning our second full moon hike of the summer. Twenty-one intrepid staff hiked under the unbelievably beautiful moonlit night, which put a large exclamation point on a great evening.
|Program staff appreciation dinner at Mi Casita in Avalon.|
Presto change-o - into hiking clothes and off to Campus by the Sea under a moonlit night.
|Gary and Anne Gaddini with 3 of their 4 daughters join Lisa, Paul, and me for ice cream in Avalon on hike day.|
Week 6 had so many special features. One of them was having Garth and Rosemary Dougan in camp for the week. Now at 87 and 85, they continue to inspire all of us. We invited them to our staff meeting and spent a few moments honoring them for their years of faithful service at CBS, but mostly for their faithfulness to the Lord for decades. Their lives are so hope-giving. How we love them!
|Paul presented Garth and Rosemary with honorary staff shirts at the banquet Friday night. Don’t they look terrific?|
|The program staff share a staff meeting with Garth and Rosemary Dougan, CBS staff “grandparents” emeritus.|
Lisa prays for Chelsea at her baptism ceremony.
I’m still amazed at God’s faithfulness to us in bringing this team together. Twenty of our twenty-four program staff grew up as family campers. That means they really “get” it; they know how important staff members were in their lives through the years. It’s an awesome thought to consider that all the years these kids were growing up as family campers, they were in training to serve as staff workers one day!
We also had an unusually high number of staff with theatrical or musical backgrounds, and in line with their gifts, we had more creative flair in the program. The Children’s Program drama, written and directed by the staff, was fabulous and conveyed the essence of the Prodigal Son story remarkably well. John Thiel, our worship leader (as well as children’s program director) wrote a short reader’s theater for opening night and closing morning, and that was well received. He also wrote a catchy memory verse song, which will be sung long after the summer of 2010 is history.
After we sent our last family campers sailing, we spent our last almost 24 hours in camp bringing closure to the summer. The year round staff couples prepared a wonderful Mexican feast for our last dinner together and that was followed by “Saturday Night Live” - a sharing of talents which would bless our community. Sunday morning, we had a wonderful two-hour worship/sharing service and we privileged to hear how God had met us individually through our seven weeks together. It was a really sweet time. And then it was boat time.
It’s impossible to put into words what it means to live in this kind of unplugged, undistracted, directed community for almost two months, but what is unspoken is mostly intangible. God meets each of us in different ways, right where we are on the journey towards His heart. He uses us, imperfect as we each are, to impact eternity, and none of us can really get our minds around that. We can get our hearts around it, though, and even more now, after spending a summer delving deeper into “The Father’s Love,” and for that, we’ll be forever grateful.
|On the Catalina Express, en route back to the mainland...our very wonderful staff team gathers for one last shot “for the blog.” :)|
And so the sun sets on another summer at CBS and we head off to New Hampshire to do two more weeks of family camp. We are exceedingly tired . . . and exceedingly grateful. “Great is Thy Faithfulness!”