And So a New Year Begins…

It’s incredible how quickly years fly by. Is 2016 really already upon us?

December was bustling with activity, time with friends and family, Christmas parties, work, and rest. I savored this Christmas season of special memories with my family. As I considered the multitude of ways God has blessed my family and me this year, it filled my heart with gratitude. Our Father has been so faithful.

I was also blessed to use some vacation days at the end of the year. In addition to rest and family time, it allowed for the completion of some personal and home projects that needed to be done. With things in order, I was ready to launch into a new year!

Speaking of launched, after months of renovating and refining, the 2016 CREW application just went live! There was a ton of work that went into getting the camp website in order for this, writing and re-writing content, designing an all-new CREW Info Packet, and smoothing out the application process. At last, applications opened January 1st! It’s rewarding to see hard work culminate into successful implementation, and satisfying to watch the eager young people get their applications in early for this summer. It also means I have nonstop work from-here-on-out, which I eagerly embrace!

I’m greatly looking forward to discovering what this year holds. A new year tends to bring mixed feelings for everyone. But the transition from the end of one year to the beginning of another reminds me of the brevity of life and how this world is not our home. This Kingdom perspective is what enables us to persevere through the fast-paced years, the slow years, the challenges, the mundane, and the never-ending work before us. We make plans and set goals, but ultimately, leave it all in the hands of the One who controls it all, seeking to use each day to honor Him and to serve others. I’m thankful that His mercies are not just new every year, but new each morning (Lam. 3:22-23). Because of that, I’m hopeful for 2016.

Looking Forward

As you can see from the 2016 Camp Calendar, the event season we have planned for next year looks rather daunting. If you were to take a walk around The Camp and watch all the prep going into keeping our facility maintained and up-to-date and/or speak with our full-time staff about our current state of unprecedented growth, you would–like us–be truly amazed at how our great King holds it all together and continues to bless and establish the work of our hands!

While most of our full-time camp staff have been working on the many building projects around The Camp, I spend most of my days hiding in my home office plugging away on various projects to get us ready for our next (very) full season of camp ministry.

In my last post, I added a couple photo galleries of the current building projects around the property. Unfortunately, most of the projects I handle are not easily measured or explained in photograph form. For the two of us still in the office, a lot of behind the scenes prep work has been going into next year. A couple of our major projects include:

  • Completely re-building The Camp website in WordPress, which was launched last week (you can check it out here)!
  • Building a more compatible and useful database for our CREW program.
  • Training and implementing new software for how we communicate with guests while they are on the property.
  • Developing various advertisements, flyers, and pieces of communication.

Please continue to pray for us as we earnestly prepare for our biggest and most intense year in the history of Life Action Camp!

2016 Calendar-Pray - Small

Building Projects

Our project season at The Camp is in full swing now. I thought everyone might enjoy a visual progression of our current building projects, run by our facilities team, volunteer work groups, and many of our camp staff.

The two major construction projects depicted below are particularly significant for next year’s ever-increasing calendar of events. The first section shows our kitchen expansion project that will enable us to maintain our food output during our Summer Family Camp season. Due to rising numbers of guests, we’re beginning to consistently feed over 300 mouths three times a day out of a (currently) very small kitchen!

The second batch of pictures marks the beginning of a 2-3 year project that will eventually become a training facility for the Road Team Ministry of Life Action and “CREW Central” during Summer Family Camp. Since we’ve stretched out our Summer Family Camp season to 12 weeks, we’ve encroached on our Road Team’s month of staff training (70+ people), which now must run in tandem with family camp. As a result, the first phase of this project–the two training suites depicted below–is incredibly significant.

Kitchen Expansion: 

 

Training Suites:

 

Ending with Momentum

This weekend marked our final major retreat of the 2015 camp season, moMENtom, a retreat just for men. We hosted 186 men—our largest men’s retreat ever! They enjoyed amazing food and all manner of events and activities. But most of all, they heard powerful messages (that you can listen or watch) by Tom Harmon as he proclaimed Word of God! Tom preached the Gospel on Saturday night and eight men surrendered their lives to Christ, experiencing the transforming power of God’s amazing grace!

Despite being significantly out-numbered as only one of six women on the property that weekend, I had the privilege of developing all the media for the event, managing the tech in the Tab, and also capturing the weekend as the photographer. Below are some of my favorite pictures to give you a little slice of an amazing Life Action Camp weekend retreat.

2015 Quest Retreats

Life Action Camp has been bustling with activity. The fall retreat season has been non-stop, with several independent church retreats and two Quest: Father Son Adventure retreats thus far. This year we were able to expand Quest into two retreats for the first time, enabling us to increase our attendance by 50%, and still leave room for future growth!

Our Quest theme this year was “Explorers.” Our guests followed the story of two adventurers (see photo below) as they explored a new land (the camp property) seeking “gold, glory, and girls.” In sessions, our speaker, Dan Jarvis, opened up the Word to help our adventurers and guests discover what will truly satisfy.

Explorers

It has been exciting to watch dads and sons grow closer throughout the weekend of games, activities, drama, and sessions. Here’s a glimpse into the fun:

The Camp is Expanding!

Family Camp attendance continues to grow at an exponential rate, doubling approximately every six years (see chart on right). We have a high demand for Family Camp and can’t keep up with the growth!

Next summer, to increase our ability to minister to more families and shorten our waiting list, we will be adding two more weeks of family camp. This will bring our estimated total of families attending camp to 400 in just one season! It also gives us 12 consecutive weeks of summer family camp, which is exciting but also daunting to consider.

CREW Cabin2One of the biggest issues with 12 weeks of Camp is that it encroaches on our weeks of staff training for our Road Team Ministry who staff many of our Local Church Events across the country (and also serve as CREW members during the summer). These weeks of training have typically taken place after summer family camp is over and before the teams hit the road. In order to resolve this dilemma, we plan to build training suites (see sketch above) to enable the Road Team ministry to run staff training during Camp but not at the expense of our guest experience.

In the wake of our increasing guest numbers over the last decade, our need for more CREW as significantly increased–CREW are a huge part of keeping Camp running! Housing has become really tight, escalating the demand for additional CREW housing. So in addition to training suites, we need to build new CREW housing (see sketch on right) to maximize our ability to effectively serve more guest families. The current plan is to have two of the training suites complete before next summer and begin building CREW cabins as soon as funds come in.

Another result of recent Camp growth involves the need to expand our kitchen. While the guest housing and accommodations have increased over the last few years, the kitchen working space and storage has remained the same. This year, we’re expanding the kitchen to better accommodate the number of kitchen staff and CREW so we can keep meals on time and feed about 350-400 people daily!

Growth produces challenges, but it’s also exciting as we realize the implications of greater ministry opportunity and impact at the Camp. We look forward to what God will continue to do in and through Life Action Camp!