Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Deerfoot Lodge is God's Place #140

In 1971, the Governor of NY, Nelson Rockefeller, established the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), for the purpose of planning all future development within the Adirondack State Park. Within a few years, the APA established a policy whereby DL, and probably similar organizations, could not expand its facility without prior APA approval, and under no condition more than 25%. When I became the Director of DL, I do not think any Deerfoot person was aware of the policy, one reason being no new buildings were built between 1971 and 1981.

Deerfoot Lodge learned of this regulation when, in 2007, DL applied to the APA for the approval to rebuild the bridge which crosses the Whitaker Lake outlet. We knew that any construction in or over water did require a permit. The APA requested a current map of the DL property and facility be mailed with the application to update the bridge. The permit was granted, and with the permit came the request that DL submit all construction plans to the APA for approval.

The next year facility manager, Ken Hoffman, requested approval for plans to expand the Island Long House, and included the requested, unchanged property/facility map. In reviewing this request, the APA noticed the considerable unapproved construction. The APA was not happy! The APA send Ken a letter saying they were turning the matter over to the legal department, and they would be sending an inspector to look at all unapproved, illegal construction. The letter also reminded Ken the APA had the authority to require DL to tear down all unapproved construction.

Yes, we prayed!!!

When the inspector arrived, Ken took him on a tour of the DL facility – which included 10 structures and 9 building expansions for which the APA had never issued permits.

As Ken and the inspector talked, the inspector expressed appreciation for what DL was doing for young people, and the manner in which the facility had been expanded. As the inspector left, he told Ken his report to the APA would be written in such a way that prior construction, which should have received prior approval, was approved. He also clearly told Ken that all future construction must have prior APA approval – and not to expect many future permits.

We can be thankful that the leadership of Deerfoot Lodge was ignorant of the APA regulations. If we had known, and permits had been applied for, perhaps most of the nine new structures built and 10 building enlargements made during the past 25 years would never have been possible – and DL would be a very different place!

Straight in from the dining hall entrance is this simple cross-stitch:

This Is His Place

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Work Weekends – in time-lapse - to 2011

At the bottom of this IPWG is a history of the physical development of DL on Whitaker Lake, beginning 1933…

When Dad Kunz moved DL from the “Oregon” location on the Kunjamuck River, we know that the ball field was cleared of its trees by Connie Baehr, his 1922 Buick, and several others on staff. Most other construction was “contracted out”, although men from the Plymouth Brethren Chapels built Dun Loggin.

Soon after I became Director (1982) Memorial Day and Columbus Day work weekends began to grow. The focus was preparing the facility for summer camp, and then closing things down in the fall. In our early years, Sally Jo would prepare the food for each weekend in our home in Greenville, we would load the food into coolers, and take it to DL. Our daughters, and wives who came with the work weekend men, assisted her in the kitchen at DL with final prep and clean-up.

In 1985 Brent Karner, then 25 years old, agreed to build “The Gazebo” during the summer. This log structure, with a roof 16’ above the ground, was to be located at the entrance to the DL facility – about 500’ from Founder’s Lodge.

This construction project triggered an intense Board of Director discussion as to the appropriateness of having DL staff and volunteers getting into the construction business. Points of discussion included:
  • DL was a ministry focused on building young godly men….and volunteers were primarily older men
  • When volunteers are used, it is difficult, too impossible to control quality
  • Building construction increased DL liability exposure
I was asked to prepare a written report supporting the idea of having DL volunteers do building construction. After consideration of my report, and further discussion, the Board gave the go-ahead on a tentative basis.

The work weekends provided the opportunity for people to come together and focus their interests and abilities on the maintenance and development of the DL facility which, each participant knew, was for the building of godly young men. Most arrived on Friday in time for dinner at 7:00 and stayed through Monday breakfast.

The Sunday morning Breaking of Bread service was, perhaps for everyone, the highlight of the work weekend. For about 90 minutes we celebrated together the new life we have in Christ because of the death of Jesus Christ our Lord. With no human leadership, different men read portions of the bible, sometimes with brief comment, they believed would encourage our worship. Great hymns of the faith were sung a cappella, and then the bread and the juice were shared.

As friendships developed between like-minded people, the number of those who came increased. This past Memorial Day work weekend 123 came to work…and work hard. Well over 2000 hours were given during the weekend. On Monday morning Ken Hoffman, facility manager/maintenance director, brought the brief devotional. He pointed out that all of the work we were doing would, in time, decay…rot. But the godly young men the Lord uses DL to build will live, and live eternally. What a joy to work together to build His Kingdom.

As we live In Partnership With God, let us never forget this truth: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -- Matthew 6:19-21

List prepared 2004

Dates of Deerfoot Lodge Development at Whitaker Lake Best guess – corrections welcomed!!

  • Pre 1930 – Old Hardwood built by Halsey Page. There was also barn into hill where camp fires now burn.
  • 1933 - Before camp opened, Halsey Page built a bunk house – which became craft cabin. Drinking water was from a spring 100’ towards lake from Ole Hardwood – the “refrigerator” was a hole dug next to spring.
  • The ball field cleared by Connie Baehr using 1922 Buick to pull stumps – this had been location of saw mill – no big trees – many 4” saplings. Then Nathan Slack used 60 lb dynamite on rocks – big blast of large rock went up…and down through Ole Hardwood roof. Indian Island set up for oldest boys
  • 1934 - After first summer bunk house built = this became the craft cabin…no side porches
  • 1935 - Halsey Page was hired as US forest ranger for Hamilton County - sold his two buildings to Dad Kunz. Mom Kunz replaced Mrs. Page as camp cook
  • 1936 - DL incorporated
  • 1939 - DL purchased from IP 46 acres on mainland – 2500’ shoreline + Indian Island - $17,000
  • 1946 - DL purchased from IP 560 more acres – property on North side of lake sold to DL families to pay for property
  • 1946 - Dining Hall built – kitchen where tripping is now.
  • All about 1946: Antlers built as recreation building uses included including wrestling and boxing -built by 2 men from Maine. Cal Wilbur tent replaced by log cabin – replaced by log cabin -2001
  • 1950 - Original Eulie Davis and Halsey Page
  • 1950 - Lookout tent, where mom and dad Kunz stayed, replaced by 1 room log cabin – logs from Island blow-down
  • 1950 - Rt.10 from Speculator to Indian lake paved, became rt. 30 - road into camp shorted from 2 ½ miles to 1 mile
  • 1953 - Mom and Dad Kunz retired
  • 1956 - One story Health Center
  • 1964 - Long House built
  • 1964 - Founders Lodge built
  • 1966 - Dining Hall – 1st kitchen addition
  • 1969 - Lookout – 1st addition = 2 bedrooms
  • 1973 - Lookout – 2nd addition = 1 bedroom became hall to 2 new bedrooms and loft
  • 1981 - Dining Hall – 1st staff porch addition
  • 1882 - Chief Chuck Gieser became Director of DL
  • 1982 - Rifle Range re-located – shelter built – rebuilt 2001
  • 1982 - Camp Craft moved from woods by dining hall to outside road that goes from parking lot to maintenance.
  • 1982 - Survival moved from left of craft building to outside of road that goes from parking lot to maintenance
  • 1983 - Porches built around craft building
  • 1983 - Archery Range relocated from present volley ball court…which originally was clay tennis court
  • 1984 - Lookout – interior walls pine paneled
  • 1985 - Gazebo – bouldering wall added 1995
  • 1987 - Health Center -2nd floor
  • 1888 - Hutch cabin built – work weekend extended to week – built from log kit (week began with rain, ended in snow)
  • 1989 - Maintenance Building – 1st addition – auto shop
  • 1992 - Guide TiPis
  • 1993 - Long House crushed by snow - rebuilt like original – yellow birch saplings bent to form arched roof
  • 1994 - Mortimer B Lane Log Cabin – Allan B Mackey hired to teach – 16 people, 8 days & again next fall.
  • 1994 - Generator Bld up on hill - …new generators
  • 1994 - Water system – 2nd well drilled – 43 gpm – 5000 gal water tank (prior to this – water from spring house, then from lake used - chlorinated
  • 1995 - Basket Ball Court enlarged
  • 1995 - Craft Cabin enlarged- open area at back – 26 people, one weekend – trees cut, peeled, building built.
  • 1997 - Jack Gill Lean-to built on Point
  • 1997 - Wild Life building
  • 1997 - Challenge Course built
  • 1998 - Spring House moved across lake to property given by Masterson’s – became wild life blind
  • 1999 - Diving Raft
  • 2000 - Dun Loggin – porch became kitchen – porch added
  • 2000 - Waldorf rebuilt – log structure…composting toilets
  • 2001 - Wildcat replaced with log cabin
  • 2001 - Cal Wilbur log cabin – replaced 1946 log cabin
  • 2001 - Store paneled – counter replaced
  • 2001 - Rifle Range Shelter re-built
  • 2002 - Black Bear replaced with log cabin
  • 2002 - Porcupine replaced with Log cabin
  • 2002 - Flushing Tree rebuilt
  • 2002 - Sailing Shed
  • 2002 - Staff Parking Lot
  • 2003 - Dining Hall – staff porch enlarged
  • 2003 - Dining Hall kitchen enlarged – food storage - larger walk in cooler
  • 2003 - Log Quiet Place
  • 2003 - Lookout down stairs windows replaced
  • 2005 - Owl completely rebuilt
  • 2005 - Guide Lodge – radical remodeled “garage”
  • 2008 - Maintenance Building mechanical greatly enlarged
  • 2009 - Lookout loft paneled
  • 2011 - Road around back side of maintenance building – loop

Unknown information
  • Porch put on Ole Hardwood
  • When Bunk House became Craft Cabin
  • Porch added to Founders
  • When following buildings 1st built: Bob Lines, Cal Wilbur, Eulie Davis, French Louie, Black Bear, Porcupine, Wildcat, Wood Chuck, Otter, Mink, Beaver, Wolverine, Timber Wolf, Dun Loggin
  • When Eagle was floated across lake from location of present Masterson cabin

Let us remember that all of the work listed above will decay
But the godly young men the Lord uses DL to build will live, and live eternally.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In The Beginning #138

Before God created man, He created the place where man would live. Six times God said about His own creation “it was good”. Genesis 1:10,12,18,21,25,31. The place, Deerfoot Lodge, is part of the perfect world God created, and fortunately, at Derfoot, human beings have not done much to what God created.

When old Deerfooters return to DL, many stand where the flag pole is, and look across the lake to the Dug Mountains. Often I saw tears on their cheeks as they said “this place is just as I remember it”. Deerfoot Lodge is God’s place physically as well as spiritually.

At Breakfast on the first Sunday morning of each session, I asked the campers go with their counselors into the woods. They were encouraged to take a close look at God’s handiwork and return to share one of the following:
  • The difference between the world of DL, and the world where they live
  • Something which they felt was a symbol of God – a reminder of who God is, what He is like
  • A parable – an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, based upon what they had observed

After the campers have the opportunity to share with their peers, each Section Chief would ask about ten campers from his section to share during the morning worship service. Between the singing of hymns and the reading of scripture, those who were going to share came by section onto the low platform

I can still picture the large African-American camper wearing a new bright blue sweat suit. He stepped up to the microphone and, without a smile, said “at home we don’t have trees”.

When this young man arrived at DL, he had seen very little of the world God had created for him to enjoy. His world had been tall buildings, concrete streets, traffic lights, and noise. Perhaps he had never seen a lake – certainly not a lake with two loons gliding upon its surface. Due to pollution and street lights, he may not have seen a clear blue, or star filled, sky. Perhaps he had never “heard silence”. What did he think when experiencing his first lightening and thunder storm?

When I am at Deerfoot Lodge, I am reminded that there must be a God – a creative, powerful God. Paul refers to this fact when he wrote “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” -- Romans 1:8

David was a shepherd boy. He had lived with rivers and rocks, bears and lions, the sun, moon and the stars. David had been chosen and protected by God. It is out of the context of his life experiences that he wrote:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens…When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" -- Psalm 8

God created a perfect world. I cannot justly blame God for the imperfections of this present world.

Our God remains an awesome God.

My challenge: to live in this imperfect world In Partnership With God.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

after participating in a class reunion – while facing death.


There will not be an IPWG tomorrow morning….
It is written but not edited…and I am whipped….

Sally Jo and I have just returned from my 50th college class reunion when we were with some great friends…and also watched a carefully prepared power point that showed us the names, with pictures, of those of our classmates who have died. The most recent was Rex White, just two weeks ago. He and his wife, Nancy, had registered for the reunion. For a period of time Sally Jo and I were the guardians of Rex and Nancy’s kids, if they were to die.

Another part of the reunion – I was asked to lead a hymn sing….two great piano players – two Steinway grand pianos. There were over 250 of us who whose hearts and voices were lifted as we sang ten hymns last sung together in college fifty years before. The intensity and speed with which we sang was close to when the DL staff has their last breaking of bread service. You would have loved it.

In September our family and friends learned that my brother’s 72 year old wife, Marge, had a malignant brain tumor. We spent time with Dick and Marge in February. They live in Wheaton, in the home where I grew up.

This time the focus of our time in Wheaton was to be my 50th class reunion, but this was quickly changed to a duel purpose. In the middle of the second night we were in Wheaton, Marge was taken to the hospital while having intense, uncontrollable seizures which continued for 4 hours. Seizures of some intensity continued for 48 hours…when she was heavily sedated for 48 hours. The seizures stopped …and did not return when she returned to a conscious state.

Try spending hours with Marge, brother Dick, their 3 married kids and 11 grand children while also participating in a class reunion. The great hymns of the faith, and friendships of over 50 years, take on new meaning.

I have many thoughts, some of which I will share.

Living in Partnership With God is wonderful…and very, very tough.

Good Night


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Bible Helps us Understand.... #139

“At home we don’t have trees.”
  • It is easy to forget there are campers who have never seen a tree – or the ocean that is about three blocks from their home. Their family has no car and busy roads prevent walking to the ocean.
  • It is easy to forget there are campers who have never seen the bright colors of a sunset, or a star-filled sky.
  • It is easy to forget there are campers who have never heard wind blowing through the trees, a bird sing, or quiet.
  • It is easy, at Deerfoot, to see huge trees with different barks and leaves, and large rocks with soft moss growing on them, and the Milky Way, and a moon reflecting off the water, and a doe 10’feet way, and two loons gliding by, making their strangely beautiful sounds.
  • It is easy to forget there are campers who believe our world evolved over millions of years – they have been taught this in school, complete with pictures to show how human beings came from apes, which came from…
  • It is easy to forget there are campers who have never owned a Bible. There are even more campers who can find a book in the Bible’s index, but have no idea what 1:21 means. Yes, this can be true of Indians new to DL. And it is good to be able to show a camper where the Bible tells us this world was created for us by God.
  • It is easy to explain that the God who created this universe provided a book, the Bible, to teach us how we can best live in this world He made. The Bible is God’s guide book. It is satisfying to help a camper begin to read an age-appropriate Bible. And to know that, during quiet time, the camper can read the Bible so he can learn God’s way of doing things – and to learn about how Jesus demonstrated God’s way of doing things.
It is true, the Bible contains more words than any other book campers have ever seen – but when a camper learns there are “chapter books” within the big book, it makes reading the Bible seem more possible. When a camper begins to read his Bible, cabin devotions make more sense, as do the after breakfast Bible studies. As a camper reads the Bible, frequently he comes face to face with the fact that he is not living as God tells him he should. A choice must be made.

When I read the Bible, I re-read how I am to have only one God, how I am to love my neighbor as I love myself , and this means I am to respect and care for them as fellow human beings – the result of God’s creation. When I read my Bible I realize I must forgive – and somehow to keep no record of wrong. And the Bible reminds me to pray for those in government. And to be a peace-maker….

Yet, even knowing all of this, there are times when I have stopped reading my Bible daily - or even regularly. It is easy for me to rationalize: I have read every word in the Bible many times – I have a pretty good idea of what it says. But
I need the reminder there is only one God. I need to be reminded what attitudes I need to have, to live out. I need to be reminded to pray…to really talk with God. Yes, and somehow to listen to Him speak to me – often through the Bible.
I also know that, even when I read my Bible, it is hard to understand the bad things that happen to good people. I know that, even when I read my Bible, and try to do what is right before God every time, there are times when God seems to have gone on a vacation.

At times like this, I know I must look back at my history with God. I must remember those times when I believe God has forgiven me, provided for me and protected me. I must look back and see how God used me as His agent of love and compassion. And I can look back at the Scriptures and be reminded that good and bad things happened to His people…and He remained a loving, redeeming, faithful God.

Sometimes all I can do is hug the camper whose family moved and he has no friends, or whose uncle was killed in a car wreck, or mom and dad just got a divorce – even though he prayed it would never happen! Sometimes all I can do is say I have prayers that I do not see answered. I don’t understand either. And I can also say God has proven His love for me many times. I can say to the camper, just as God loves me, he loves you. The Bible tells us so.

Please do not give up on God…. I haven’t.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The After Breakfast Bible Study #136

There is a picture of Dad Kunz teaching the After Breakfast Bible Study in Ole Hardwood about 1935. This was his pattern for the 23 years he was Deerfoot’s Director. Day in and day out, in good weather and bad weather, the campers and staff were taught the historic truths of God’s word, while also being able to watch Dad Kunz live out the truths of what he taught. Almost every waking moment, Dad Kunz was being observed by someone. I wish I had a recording of his studies, a DVD of his life at DL!

The understanding of the Christian faith and life is greatly enhanced with an understanding of the Old Testament. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were primarily talking and writing to Jewish people who had studied the Old Testament at home and in the Synagogue. Families celebrated the Passover together - Jewish history was fabric in their lives. In Hebrews 11: we can see how much knowledge of the Old Testament was assumed. Here we read the names of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rehab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel. To the Jewish people, every name reminded them of a biblical account of something that was in Jewish history.

To many DL campers, these names had no Biblical events connected to them. The After Breakfast Bible Study was a way to provide knowledge of the stories of these people – and focus on the significance of what they experienced. The challenge of doing this was real: those in the dining hall were from 8 to perhaps 24 years old. Some had very little knowledge of the Bible – others knew the Bible well.

Before my first summer began, I asked several staff members to share the teaching responsibility with me. As the summer progressed, I was pleased with how things were working out. Therefore I was completely caught off guard when the DL Board said I was to teach all of the After Breakfast Bible Studies, just as Dad Kunz had done. To teach forty four times each summer…. the prospect really frightened me. But, I had no choice.

The DL Board was of tremendously helpful in the preparation of these studies. They helped me sharpen my teaching methods and paid for me to go somewhere for 12 days to focus on developing the outlines and basic material.

It has been interesting to look back through those 1012 studies. Each summer had one theme illustrated through the lives of four men – one per session. In 1984 the theme was “Men of God – Willing to Stand Alone for God": Noah, Abraham, Daniel, and Gideon. At the end of Session IV, everyone had 11 brief lessons to provide a basic understanding of Gideon’s story - and to encourage each camper and staff to be willing to stand alone for God, just as Gideon had done. The staff heard the same theme illustrated through the lives of four men.

Hopefully the campers and staff gained as much from these studies as I did. If so…they learned a lot! There were many campers who became staff members and heard After Breakfast Bible Studies for ten or more summers. I was continually encouraged with how campers and staff wanted to learn about, and to learn from, the great men of the Bible. Their interest is reflected in the results of the camper questionnaires. The After Breakfast Bible Studies almost always received a higher rating than any instructional area.

I encourage you to look for opportunities to introduce people to the content of God’s word. Presently I am working with a 75 year old man who had never read the Bible. He did not know how Book, Chapter, and Verse worked – i.e. John 3:16 – the reference meant nothing to him. After reading several books of the Bible he said to me “Chuck, if had died before reading all this, I would really have missed something!” He said another day…”Chuck, Matthew really hits hard!” Let’s give the people that God created the opportunity to learn of His love, demonstrated through the history of His people.

When we live In Partnership With God, we can say with the Apostle Paul “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." -- Romans 1:16

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

7 More Bible Memory Suggestions

Seven more Bible Memory suggestions – Chuck - In Partnership With God
  • And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus -- Philippians 4:19
  • But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. -- Matthew 6:33 KJV
  • Godliness with contentment is great gain -- I Timothy 6:6
  • O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! …When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? -- Psalm 8:1, 3-4
  • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose -- Romans 8:28
  • Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. -- I Thessalonians 5:18
  • This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" -- Isaiah 30:30

The Best Way To Learn God’s Truths #135

Jesus demonstrated the best way to learn God’s truths. The 12 disciples lived with Jesus for 3 years when, together, they walked hundreds of miles. They were with Jesus when He turned water into wine, told parables – and explained their meaning, taught 5000 plus women and children sitting on a hillside and then feed all of them with 5 loaves and two fish, healed the sick, cast out demons, calmed a storm, enabled Peter to walk on water, responded to interruptions and hostile criticism, prayed for them, and went away to pray by Himself. They had been sent out by Jesus with nothing but the clothes on their backs, to essentially do what they had seen Jesus do.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us this information. At the end of his book, John wrote: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” -- John 21:25.

Deerfoot Lodge teaches in much the same way Jesus did. As the Director of Deerfoot Lodge, I essentially lived with the DL men 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. Many of them had been with me when they were campers and guides. The counselors were with me through 3 weeks of staff training and 8 weeks of summer camp every summer. We ate together, worked together, worshiped together and walked many miles together. They were with me as I stood at line up, ate my meals, taught the After Breakfast Bible Study, prepared an apple cobbler in a Dutch oven, taught canoeing, answered questions, managed the staff and supervised the program. They were with me on change- over weekends as I talked with happy parents and listened to parents who wanted to be the exception for a DL policy – or wanted special treatment for their son.

They were also with me when I asked for their advice, their input. And they were with me when I jumped to a conclusion without getting all of the facts, and when I made poor decisions – then, realizing my mistake (sometimes with their help), asked for their forgiveness.

They were with me when, at the end of staff training, I asked them to do what they had seen me do.

The DL counseling staff did this, and much more, as they lived with their campers 24/6 - as they ate, worked in instructional areas, enjoyed flex time, encouraged the struggling camper, dealt with difficult campers, participated in sectional and all camp activities, hiked and, in cabin devotions, talked about how God’s word applied to the days events.

At the end of each session, their counselors and I encouraged the campers to do what they had seen us do while at DL.

We know that many campers told their families of their DL experiences, and worked at living as they had seen the DL staff live – in ways pleasing to the Lord.

Jesus taught through action and word, as I sought to do, as the counselors sought to do, and as many campers sought to do.

Learning to live In Partnership With God is easier when there is a good role model. Jesus was the best!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

it is 11:15 PM

Tomorrow morning's In Partnership With God will get to you on Tuesday.

I have one know the just is not right...and I am too tired to think!!!

Sally Jo and I have just returned from singing in our annual Jubilate Singers concert. We rehearse at least monthly for three hours beginning in September. As we get toward the concert, the number of rehearsals picks up - like 6 hours yesterday!

The group numbers over 100 people from up to about 80 miles away. For the annual concert members of the Albany Symphony are hired as the orchestra.

Tonights concert was to a totally full church - extra folding chairs...probably about 500. Included were Christus by Mendelson, Crucifixus by Bach, Worthy is the Lamb by Handel, Look to the World by Rutter, Christ is With Me by Coleman, Veni Sancte Spiritus by Mozart, Precious Lord, Take My Hand - arranged by Tim Schultz, Hark. What a Sound by Heschke, and Oak of Righteousness arranged by Ralph Schultz.

So....check in Tuesday morning - will also send 7 more verses for you to consider memorizing.


Monday, April 11, 2011

You Shall Not Steal! #134

“Chief, someone has been in my tackle box and stolen a couple lures! I am sure of it!!!” Questions were asked. Perhaps someone did steal a few of the camper’s lures. “Chief, someone stole my pocket knife…and it was really a nice one!”. The next day he found his pocket knife. “Chief, my hiking boots are gone!” Never did find the hiking boots. It seemed a couple things would disappear almost every day: a camera, candy from the store, even a fishing pole. How do you steal, hide, and take home a fishing pole? One camper was given a pocket knife by his grandfather the day he left for camp. It was the knife his grandfather had used since he was a boy….and it was gone!!! The camper was crushed! I think all of the staff struggled with that one.

Knowing the amount of lost and found, it was impossible to be sure what was stolen…and what was “misplaced”. Very quickly there was uneasiness, suspicion, tension…for some, fear. At DL, there is no way to lock everything up.

From the perspective of role models, it was no surprise that campers stole things. Some had friends that stole stuff… just little things. Some had brothers who stole T shirts from school. Undoubtedly some had parents who brought stuff home from work…or took stuff from a motel. The news told about policemen, business and government leaders who stole. No big deal. I see it, I want it, and so I take it.

The Ten Commandments are designed to keep us out of trouble with God – and with each other. Do we really think we would be better off if we disobeyed any of the Ten Commandments? “You shall not steal“ is the briefest. During the After Breakfast Bible Study I talked about these truths. Counselors talked about stealing in their cabin devotions – nothing stopped the stealing….a item or two a day. .

I realize some of you will not like this, but one day I asked the counselors to go through camper suitcases during rest period, while the campers watched. Stolen goods were found, including some things campers had not realized were stolen. Each item was given back to its owner. There was some embarrassment and punishment. The stealing continued – did those who had been caught continue to steal? Or were there others?

An idea came into my head that caused me a lot of physical pain! I think it was at the beginning of Session II that I showed the campers what would happen to them if they were caught stealing. I had the entire staff line up down the middle of the dining room – and I would go through the paddle wheel. Yes, I would get down on my knees and go through the legs of all of the staff members….each one doing his best to spank my “butt” as hard as he could! When I would get to the other end of the dining hall, my bottom stung. I promise, some of the staff was merciless! (By session IV it really was hard to discipline myself to do this!!!)

The staff went back to their seats and I reminded the campers that if they stole, they would be sent through the paddle wheel. If their parents complained, I would tell them I did it first – and that you had been were warned. The campers could see the punishment they would receive if caught, and they knew I meant it. The stealing almost completely stopped. The pattern was broken, and it never returned!

Continually I challenged the staff “do what is right, every time”, and “live your life so it can appear on the front page of the newspaper.” With that kind of challenge to staff and campers, comes the challenge to me –

Perhaps even more difficult than the Ten Commandments are for me to obey are some of God’s directives given to us through Jesus Christ. Frequently I do not exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” -- Galatians 5:22. Often I do not love my neighbor as myself. Leviticus 19:18 And I judge – knowing "Do not judge, or you too will be judged”. -- Matthew 7:1 Do I forgive as I have been forgiven? Matthew 6:12

We all deserve to go through God’s paddle wheel – and we would if we did not recognize the seriousness of how God views sin, and that when Jesus died, he was the perfect and permanent sacrifice for our sin. What a Savior!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My First DL Candlelight Service #133

I thought I was prepared for my first candle light service. I had been told that after the Awards Ceremony most of the lights in Founders Lodge would be turned off. As we walked onto the porch, each of us would be given an un-lit candle. With candles in hand we were to walk by three gas lamps down to the railing that enclosed the swimming area. The Woodsmen counselors knew to have their campers stand in the center, the Pioneer Counselors took their campers to the right, the Indian Counselors and their campers went to the left. I was to stand inside the railing.

When in place, we could hear the generator stop. There was not a light visible in camp or on the lake. It was quiet, and pitch dark – except for, what looked to be, a million stars. Those of us who knew our constellations…there they were.

To all of camp gathered before me, I talked about the wonder of God’s creation, and pointed out the Big Dipper, Orion’s belt, and the Milky Way. I then talked about how the God of the universe knew each of us by name – that He loved us – and how many did not know of God’s love for them. Then I lit my candle and said that Jesus told us to be His light in the world (Matthew 5:14). Because of my candle, they could see me. Then I lit the section chief’s candles, they lit their counselor’s candles, and they lit their camper’s candles. Have you ever looked into 100 candles, each lighting one face? We Christians are to be light in our dark world.

“Pioneers to the Point, Indians to the Island.” Walking on root and rock filled trails by candle light is not easy. Those who remained at the beach could see nothing for several minutes. It was into this scene I found myself saying, in a voice loud enough to echo back from the Dug Mountains across the lake:

“Be strong and of a good courage…
Be not afraid…
Be not dismayed…
For the Lord thy God is with you…
Where ever you go!” Joshua 1:9

These were the words God spoke when He commissioned Joshua to be next leader of His chosen people, the Israelites. No one had told me to say these words, but there they were. Soon candles could be seen flickering in the woods as the Pioneers came to their waterfront. Then the Indians began to gather on their waterfront. When the candles stopped moving, the Woodsmen sang “Jesus is With Me Wherever I Go”, the Pioneers echoed, and then the Indians. The service ended with this benediction: May the Grace…Mercy…and Peace….Of God the Father…the Son…and the Holy Spirit…Be With…And Abide With Each of You….Both Now And Forever…Amen. And then, taps.

When Jesus was explaining to His disciples that he would soon be leaving them, He told them that “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14:26 If I had not memorized Joshua 1:9, how could the Holy Spirit remind me of what the Lord had said to Joshua?

Why should we memorize Bible verses? “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”. Psalm 119:9,11

To memorize is tough for me. For years my wife, Sally Jo, has said “When Chuck loses his memory, no one will notice.” This is almost true! Yet, I have worked at Scripture memory. This week I will make a list of verses I have memorized, and that perhaps you could learn too. It will be on your screen next Monday as an “extra” IPWG.

Monday, March 28, 2011

God's Provision of the Right People! #132

Hiring a great staff was essential. Excellent staff training was also essential. The 30+ college students came from 19 secular and Christian colleges/universities – from MA to CA. The staff came from Christian and non-Christian homes, some had extensive Biblical knowledge while others had very little. Some of the staff had considerable camping skills and others had a lot to learn. Some would rather hike than eat – others would rather study nature, and not always while on the trail! Their abilities varied academically, physically, athletically, and musically. Hopefully all had common sense!

This very diverse group had other areas where, I believed, the staff members were of one mind. Every staff member had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and desired to have Him as Lord. Every staff member was a self starter with high energy levels, and looked forward to working with campers while living in the wonder of God’s creation.

It is a tremendous responsibility to plan and lead a 3 week training program for 30 bright, capable college students. Do the math: 21 days X 16 hours X 30 staff members = 8,190 man hours! Staff training had to be excellent! If the staff did not feel their three week training program was valuable to them, it would be very difficult to have an extensive staff training program in future years. Camp was down to an average of 48 campers per session. Poor staff training = poor experience for the campers = fewer campers the next year = the end of Deerfoot Lodge.

I desperately needed God’s help! God knew this and provided two qualified men: Jay and Rich. Jay Barnes, PhD was Vice President of Student Development at Messiah College. Thirteen years previously Jay had developed the successful Guide program, an eight week leadership training experience for selected campers 16-17 years old. Rich Butman, PhD was Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College. Both of these men were Deerfoot Lone Eagles – they knew Deerfoot Lodge from the perspective of camper and staff member.

For two days we worked through what the DL staff needed to know when serving as Cabin Counselors, Section Chiefs, or Guide Leaders. We also focused on the best ways to help the DL staff internalize the areas we had identified. As the training schedule was developed, we tried to keep in mind the critical importance of building a team – almost a church, with all the parts of the body working together to build godly young men in the Deerfoot context of wilderness camping.

At the end of two days, the staff training schedule was complete, and Rich agreed to come and help train the staff. Every day was scheduled from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. When the staff arrived they moved into their cabins and then worked together to unload Founders Lodge – all of the boats and docks were carried to the water front. This task is impossible without team work as the docks and some boats are very heavy! During training the staff reviewed/learned the daily schedules including line ups, traditional DL games and songs, how to lead a camper to Christ, to lead cabin devotionals, to give an appropriate testimony, the counselor’s role in camper discipline, and the instructional areas with expertise to teach three. Leadership and people management were studied and, on the three day staff hike, all of the above were practiced. Most of the staff earned their American Red Cross Certifications in Life Saving, CPR, and First Aid. Three or four were certified as National Riflery Association Instructors. Planned into the training schedule were blocks of time when Rich would use standardized tests with the staff. After Rich had “scored” the tests, he would explain the results to the entire staff, and then meet individually with each staff member for a personalized review of his results.

As the three weeks of staff training came to conclusion, Rich helped the staff members develop their personal goals for the summer - at least one goal in each of the following areas: spiritual, physical, camper, and instructional area. Throughout the summer the Section Chiefs and I would talk with each staff member about the progress they were making on the goals they had identified during staff training.

At the end of three intense weeks, we praised God for His faithfulness. We were ready/eager for the campers to arrive!!

When we live In Partnership With God we encourage others to live In Partnership With God.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Living in Partnership with God - in Retirement! #131

It has been a good week and a busy week, and come Saturday night I did not have a solid beginning to my IPWG for the week. This afternoon, with the topic pretty well thought out, I sat down to write. After two attempts, I quit! Watched “Undercover Boss” and realized that as the Director of DL, guaranteed there was no reason, nor would it have been at all possible, for me to have been an “Under Cover Boss”!!!

This is where my time has gone for the past two days. Saturday morning began with a men’s breakfast and Bible study – from which I drove home arriving five minutes before a planned telephone call from one of the Guide leaders for this coming summer. At the leader’s request, I had written a five page e-mail response to excellent questions they asked me to address. The telephone call was from one of the leaders who wanted to talk about some of the content, and then to ask me three more questions. We talked for over an hour.

I was more than an hour late when I arrived at the ordination council in which I was personally asked to participate. The candidate read each section of his prepared statement of his spiritual journey and his theological positions on many topics. The statement must have been over 20 pages long and the examination took over four hours. The candidate was well prepared, articulate, and explained/defended his positions well. After lunch the members of the council met to discuss recommendation for ordination. He is to be ordained.

I arrived home at 4:30, changed my clothes and worked in the yard till 7:00. After supper I wrote a long e-mail in response to an on-going communication with a DL family.

Today, Sunday, our morning was typical: Drive 30 minutes to church to attend Sunday school class we are enjoying. Currently we are studying the book of Job, taught by an attorney. He does extensive study, presents his material well, and welcomes hard questions. Discussions often result. Two other ministers attend the class. Then it was singing three numbers with the choir during the morning worship service.

After church I was one of three judges for an “Iron Chef Competition” between two non-professional “chefs” who are active members in the congregation. The secret ingredient: cilantro. Excellent presentations and food. About 170 stayed for the program and an enjoyed an excellent dinner together.

We got home, walked the dog, I drove back to a pussy willow tree we had walked by…cut a few branches for Sally Jo.

Before beginning to write, I saw an e-mail from a Deerfooter whose wedding will be in August. It was time to begin some pre-marital counseling. He and his fiance' live in another state and both work. Several dates when they can come for an overnight were suggested. As I began to write, I received a telephone call from a non-Deerfooter to talk about a summer opportunity we had discussed previously. This young man is a graduating senior in high school who takes almost all AP courses in a top private school – and has an excellent voice…taking lessons. He is a super sharp guy who wants to enter the ministry.

I had told him about an opportunity to work with a very effective minister/leader in another state. His parents nixed the idea…not enough structure. I asked to talk with his parents. He said they would call back. Just after we finished eating, the call came. His parents did not want to discuss the matter further. A tremendous disappointment for the young man. His parents think he will receive better supervision at a secular university in the fall.

Sally Jo has just come down to get me! Good night!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Camp-of-the-Woods - A Partner In Ministry #130

In 1900, through the leadership of Pop Tibbitts, Camp Iroquois, located on the shores of Lake George, became Camp-of –the-Woods on the shores of Lake Pleasant in Speculator, NY. In 1929 Dad Kunz went to Pop Tibbitts and asked if he could recommend a location for Deerfoot Lodge, a boy’s camp he would like to begin the next summer. Pop recommended he talk with Cal Wilbur and his wife who had a hunting Lodge on the Kunjamuk River, 8 miles into the forest from Speculator.

Cal Wilbur’s wife told Dad Kunz about the murder of Eulie Davis in 1925 – at Whitaker Lake. Dad Kunz found the lake on a U.S. Geological Survey Map and hiked from the Kunjamuk over Dug Mountain and wrote “my first glimpse of beautiful Whitaker Lake, sparkling like a jewel in the sun”. At the end of summer 1932, DL moved to its present location.

Gordon Purdy became the Director of Camp-of-the-Woods in 1948, and it continued to develop as an excellent conference center. Deerfoot Lodge began, and has remained, a rather small wilderness boy’s camp. Camp-of-the-Woods has about as many staff as DL has campers!

Deerfoot did not have telephones, staff laundry, beautiful beach, or girls. Camp-of-The-Woods had all of these! If you were a guy living in the woods and had a day off, nothing to do in camp, no available car, and an available 12 speed bike – where would you go?

When DL staff went to Camp-of-the-Woods, it was not uncommon for them to:
  • Use every available pay phone for their weekly call to girl friends…and yes, to families. The staff also used the phones when working out the details of their plans for fall – be they school, work, or leisure.
  • Use every available pay washing machine that Camp-of-the-Woods provided for their guests. And not all of the DL staff clothes that went into the washing machines were only slightly soiled…nor did they always leave the laundry looking as they had found it.
  • Try to talk with every available, attractive girl – whether they were on the staff of Camp-of-the-Woods or of their girl’s camp, Tapawingo. It was not uncommon for a DL staff member to plan to meet a particular girl on their next day off.
When I received the written invitation from Gordon Purdy to stop by his office, I knew it would not be an easy visit!

On my next trip to Speculator, I went to Gordon’s office. I am sure we exchanged pleasantries, but deep down I knew what was coming. And it did! Very gently, but yet very forcefully, he told me he did not appreciate Deerfoot Lodge staff arriving in groups several days a week, and the resulting situation with the phones, laundry, and girls. He noted that the Camp-of-the-Woods guys were not happy to see the Deerfoot Lodge staff come either. I said I would see what could be done about these problems. We both knew there was no easy solution.

He went on to tell me that he knew DL needed more campers and thought he could help in that department. He would like to provide Deerfoot five minutes one morning each week during chapel to show slides and tell about Deerfoot Lodge. He also encouraged us to put a permanent Deerfoot display in an area where guests passed each day. He then offered to put a Deerfoot “advertisement” in the annual Camp of the Woods brochure.

Camp-of-the-Woods people were the ideal market. These were primarily Christian families who chose to spend a week or more in the Adirondacks. Tapawingo, the girl’s camp located on an island in Lake Pleasant, was a good camp for their daughters. Now, with the endorsement of Camp of the Woods, these families were encouraged to have their sons have fun while growing through the experiences available at Deerfoot Lodge.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus” -- Romans 15:5

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Health Inspector Is Coming! #129

In 1982 there was no telephone line within five miles of DL, so DL had a phone with answering machine at Dave Good’s house in Speculator. Every day a staff member would check for messages.

My heart sank the day I received the recorded message from the NYS Health Department Inspector telling me he was coming on a specific date for our pre-camp inspection. I had heard that Mr. Lane was really tough. There was no way to fake it – I did not know the NYS Health Department regulations. My mind was spinning as I drove back to camp.

While in high school I was riding with a camp director who was driving a truck to camp. The director turned off the highway on to a small side road…and then another…and another…then back to the highway. As we made this detour he explained that the truck was over-loaded and so he was driving around the weigh station. He went on to say that sometimes in Christian work we needed to do things like this. I was stunned! I could not believe what I was hearing – and from a Christian leader I highly respected. At that moment I vowed I would never knowingly disobey the law of the land – unless it was in violation of God’s law.

Romans 13:1-5 -- ”Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

When I told the staff DL was about to have an inspection by the NYS Health Department, I explained my position on obedience to the law of the land – it was biblical. It was really tough to say this because I did not know what the state regulations were! But…the NYS Health Department regulations are law.

The inspector introduced himself: Steve Lane. I admitted I did not know the NYS regulations and was not willfully in violation of them. I went on to ask Steve to teach me – and not be too tough on my ignorance. He smiled and said he would be glad to. I then asked if our entire staff could go along for the inspection as I wanted them to also learn the NYS regulations. I think the best word to describe his reaction was “shocked”. Then… ”I guess there is no reason why not.”

We toured camp together for several hours – Steve was a great teacher!!!! As we went through camp, at location after location he would stop us and then clearly explain the potential accident a specific regulation was seeking to prevent. I did not feel any tension between Steve and me….so as we walked along the trail from the Island back to main camp I asked Steve if he would be willing to stop the group – point out the dangers of the roots in the path, and tell us the path had to be made safe, which meant filling between the roots. He winked at me ….then he stopped the staff, and with all seriousness he explained the dangers of the present path – and what needed to be done to make it safe. Even I was beginning to believe he meant it! Then he started laughing…and slowly we all did. Needless to say, any tension we were feeling was gone.

Through the years Steven and I became very good friends. After several inspections Steve told me he was an elder in his church, and because we were brothers in the Lord, he would be extra tough on DL, so Steve and I would be above reproach. He also assured me he would be fair with DL, and he was.

About 15 years later Steve’s boss sent his two sons to DL. Later, Steve’s son also became a Deerfooter – as did the two sons of the Governor of NY State.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Examples of living "In Partnership With God" #128

The life of Joshua is a great example of a man who lived In Partnership With God. Joshua was selected by Moses to be the commander of the Israelite army when they fought against the Amalekites. When fighting the battle, my guess is Joshua did not know God was demonstrating His power though Moses’ upheld rod. While Joshua was in the battle, we can be sure he was using every bit of training and experience he had – while Moses was up on the mountain realizing that God was the key to the victory. Exodus 17:13 says that “Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Immediately after the battle “the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD”.

David told Saul of his experience as a shepherd. "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." David wanted King Saul to know he was skilled, yet ultimately it was the Lord who delivered him. David and Saul were both counting on David’s skill and God’s deliverance.
I Samuel 17:35

The embroidery at the entrance to the dining hall says “This Is His Place”. Deerfoot Lodge has an effective ministry of building godly young men because of two factors: The knowledge, experience, training, etc. of those who are on the DL Board of Directors and the staff that works there – and because God works through these qualified people. The DL Board is selected very carefully from a large number of quality men by the other men on the DL Board…who were selected by previous DL Board members. I was selected from a number of quality men to be the Director of Deerfoot Lodge. When I have hired staff, I have chosen the most qualified men from a larger number of quality men.

Board members are chosen, just like the Director was chosen, just like the Staff members are chosen. By carefully considering their track record…how they have been used of the Lord in days past while also seeking to know God’s will in the decision.

Through reading In Partnership With God each Monday morning I trust you are reminded that God uses the judgment and work of His people and seeks to be personally involved in every significant decision.

When I look back, I am able to recognize God’s provision of an incredible staff my first summer at DL. In recent weeks I have tried to make clear that, before January 1, I knew only one person I selected to be on the staff that first summer. Only one!!! In my ignorance, using my best judgment, God supplied an incredible staff! Is it possible to separate my role from God’s... I do not think it is... if I am living In Partnership With God?

Let us recognize that, whereas God does not make mistakes, I as director did. Perhaps not every decision I consider to be a mistake, really was. If a person is hired…who then skips out during pre-camp, was it really a mistake? The person I am referring to just asked to be my friend on Face Book! I hired another staff person who caused continual trouble of some kind. His behavior resulted in a broken engagement. Was hiring him a mistake?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” -- Proverbs 3:5-6 The verse does not say “do not use your own understanding” It says “trust God more” as you live In Partnership With God.

Monday, February 21, 2011

David Naysmith...A Gracious Man - For God's Glory #127

Dave came to DL in 1957 to work as a kitchen boy – he was 14 years old. He worked his way up to become Director of Food Service/Head Chef in 1963. DL had a tradition of excellent food, and Dave proved up to the challenge – he was 20 years old. He served in this position for 16 years, until 1981, and was responsible for the planning and preparation of at least 10,000 meals!

In 1965 Dave established the Sunday Morning Sticky Bun tradition many of us have enjoyed every Sunday morning we have been at DL. He got the basic recipe from the U.S. Army!

In 1966, when the new kitchen was added to the end of the dining hall, it was Dave who set up and organized this new area which was about 4 times the size of the former kitchen area – where tripping is now located.

Dave was drafted into the Army from 1967-68, and, because of his math background, was assigned to work on computers in the Pentagon. Computers at that time were large, cooled with fans, and used punch cards. Dave learned how to write programs and use computers as they were first being developed, and has been using them since that time.

During the summer of 1980, Dave and Elaine’s youngest child, Carolyn, was born. Dean Dover, “Wazican”, was graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and stepped into the position of Director of Food Service/Head Chef. Dave, Elaine, and baby Carolyn returned to DL for the last few weeks of the summer, and the next summer Dave and Wazi worked together in the kitchen.

For many, Dave Naysmith was the rock of Deerfoot Lodge. He had been at DL while six camp directors came and went. He had a solid reputation as an excellent camp chef, and was a Lone Eagle, indicating he was competent to teach in at least six instructional areas. Dave was the man I most heavily leaned upon when I became the Director of Deerfoot Lodge in 1982.

My first summer David Naysmith quietly stepped out of the kitchen to serve as Point Section Chief. Dave knew he was doing his job well – and he also believed Wazi, having spent 3 years in the Culinary Institute of America (one of the very best in the US) was able to take the DL food service to an even higher level of excellence.

Never once did I hear Dave criticize Wazi…never. Never did he complain that he was no longer the Director of Food Service/Head Chef. My first summer Dave served with excellence as the Point Section Chief. The second summer he served as Tripping Director. In preparation for this position he helped DL move to excellent trail food by checking out and developing recipes during the school year. Many of these remain in the current tripping manual. I remember Dave had the practice of, whenever possible, hiking into the woods to meet the campers at the end of their hike. He wanted to know how they were doing, what could be improved.

God used Dave’s army training in the development of material for use at DL. In 1984 Dave began the tedious process of putting the DL staff manual on the available IBM PC. This PC was slow and had 16 kilobytes of memory – less than the cell phones we use today. Since Dave put the DL staff manual on the PC, it has been annually updated.

Even when we seek to live for the Glory of God, it is seldom easy to accept change, to support change, to encourage change. It takes a gracious man to do this. David Naysmith was such a man.

Dave continues to live In Partnership With God!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Warm, Quiet Welcome In Partnership with God #126

Friday night I left staff training and drove the 106 miles back home. On Saturday Sally Jo I packed the clothes, sheets, blankets and towels we would need for the summer. Elaine Naysmith had warned us that in the Adirondack Mountains it can snow in July – we tried to be prepared! On Sunday morning we went to church, had lunch with neighbors, and, while the Harro’s took Jenna (14) and Dirk (11) for a hike in the Catskills, Sally Jo and I did final packing.

Monday morning we loaded the roof and inside of the station wagon, put the pigeons Jenna had brought from Texas into a large cat cage, and headed to Albany where we had to stop by the American Red Cross office. Both excitement and anxiety were real: Sally Jo had only been to DL in winter, and our children had only seen pictures of the place.

After lunch at McDonalds we were on our way to pick up the candy order in Amsterdam. Out came boxes and boxes of candy which we pushed and shoved into every available corner. Jenna joined us in the front seat with the pigeon cage on her lap. I packed 2/3 of the back seat to the ceiling with candy and then packed the remaining candy around Dirk. This was not a good situation: Dirk gets car sick!!!! Neither Sally Jo nor I can remember who placed the order, but it must have been candy for the whole summer!

Even now the road from Amsterdam to camp can seem to take a long time. Picture four anxious people packed like sardines – no reasonable way to get out and stretch, or to make a potty stop! It was not long before Sally Jo and I began hearing “are we almost there?” Eventually we gave in to Dirk’s request to have a candy bar. Just a few more hills, a few more curves – we are almost there...yes, almost there...just another hill. Finally… The Pig.

The road into camp was beautiful and excitement was building. Anxiety was also building. The fork...around the parking lot, by the maintenance building to park at the dining hall and the Store!!

It was dusk as we walked down the path to the Lookout, our DL home for the next twenty three summers. Over the door was a banner that read “Welcome Home”, and on the table were fresh wild flowers. Staff member Bill Pianki was there to greet us.

Our anxiety was being overcome by excitement and joy. The kids loved their small rooms – and going up into the loft was a bonus! When we walked back up the hill to the station wagon, several staff had gathered, and with their help, it took only minutes to unload the station wagon and take our “stuff” down the hill into our cabin.

It was time to light the gas lamps, unpack, and make the beds. It was time to smile, to hug each other, and to crawl into bed. The next morning mist on the lake was soon replaced by the warm sunshine. A beautiful day at the Lodge!

A simple banner and a bouquet of wild flowers spoke volumes to this nervous, tired family. Was Bill’s action the result of his up-bringing, his sensitivity to people, his desire to be a Good Samaritan, or his being guided by the Holy Spirit? We will never know, nor is it important. We do thank God for Bill’s thoughtful action through which our cabin more quickly became our home and our hearts warmed more quickly to Deerfoot Lodge.

The actions of one person, walking In Partnership With God, made a huge impact upon our family.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is …serving, let him serve; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” -- Romans 12:6-8

Bill seems to have used all of these Spiritual gifts. We can too!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Karner Family #125

As I learned about DL, I learned about Charlie and Barb Karner. Charlie got his foot in the door when DL was told, in 1976, that all building doors had to swing out…and almost every door swung in! As Deerfoot had many Plymouth Brethren Assembly ties, and Charlie was Plymouth Brethren, he got the call. If you have re-hung a door to swing the other way, you know this is not an easy fix.

From 1977 – 81 Charlie and Barb came for five weeks each summer. During these summers Charlie built 8 twelve person cabins, the first section of the Maintenance building which houses the wood shop, support staff laundry and toilet facility. Charlie has provided leadership for at least 54 of the DL work weekends. In 1998 he took a week and headed up the building of the Hutch Cabin. While Charlie built buildings, Barb would set up the craft shop, bringing many of the needed materials. She would train counselors to run the craft shop without her for the last two sessions of camp. With her artistic ability she painted logos on van doors and canoes, designed the 11 instructional area award patches and the incredible Lone Eagle plaque that hangs on Old Hardwood porch

DL needed Charlie and Barb, not just for 5 weeks, but for 11 weeks so they could provide expertise and leadership in their respective areas. Charlie said he just could not do this as he had his own kitchen cabinet building business.

Brent Karner had worked side by side with his dad on several of the projects…could he come? Brent was 17 and would finish high school in a few months. Regardless of Brent’s abilities, I have no idea why I offered him the job of heading up maintenance – which included leading four or five people, mostly high school students, to care for 29 buildings, a bunch of very tired equipment, two old generators, and acres of grass and trees. And, oh yes, to be responsible for staff off hours – including staying in the support staff cabins located in the Woodsmen section.

Brent has no idea why he accepted my offer, particularly when he got into the summer! We were able to get Meyer’s garage in Indian Lake to agree to vehicle repairs that were not a quick and easy fix, but there were two problems with this arrangement: DL had no telephone to say we were coming, ask the cost of the repair, etc. And it was 25 minutes to the garage, and almost every repair required a drop off and a pick up – two round trips. But…fret not; our vehicles were in such bad shape that we often drove one “broken vehicle” up to leave, and to pick up a “fixed vehicle”. Looking back, Brent says that the most difficult part of his job was being responsible for the maintenance staff during off hours.

When Brent graduated from the Bennett Street School in Boston, an excellent place to learn antique restoration, furniture design and construction he began his own custom furniture shop, which became – look it up! Clear Lake is Brent’s Lone Eagle name, chosen because he desires to be a clear reflection of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In 1986 Brent married Abi, who came and ran the craft shop, helped in the store, and in many other ways.

Not only did Brent do excellent work, but the lives of many young men were changed through working with Brent on maintenance. Brent struggled for months before he told me, in 1994, that the growth of his furniture business prevented his continuing to spend summers at DL. I cried! We had been working together for twelve summers, and I did not know how DL, or I, could continue without him! Initially it was as tough as I thought it would be.

Brent has continued to provide leadership during Deerfoot’s two work weekends each year. Brent and Abi’s son, Thacher, with his cousin Kevin, began working on these weekends when they had to stand on milk crates to run the dish washer. Thacher is now 6’ and 180 lb. Younger daughter, Rachel, now is also a great help. In 2000 Brent became a member of the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors.

God must have blinded my mind to Brent’s age when I hired this recent high school graduate for this key role at DL. But God was not blind to Brent’s heart and ability to grow in his maintenance skills and his ability to lead and to build godly men. Brent, Abi, Charlie, and Barb are Deerfooters who walk In Partnership With God.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In Partnership With God...special explaination

Dear Friends, and some I do not know.

The reason IPWG is early is that Sally Jo and I leave in the AM to be with a family that is dealing with a malignant brain tumor. Not good. We plan to be back home next Saturday evening.

I am very aware that I am incredibly behind in e-mails....561 in fact! A good chunk of these came through face book as notifications that related to me has happened on face book. As the result of this, I have regular e-mails lost in the midst of the place where it has just been overwhelming. This is one of the blessing/curses of having worked with so many wonderful people, including campers, around the country, and particularly at DL. It is wonderful.... BUT life must go on and I have had a couple other "things" to deal with.

I have now learned to turn off some of the automatic notifications from face book that sent so much to me. I will learn.

It may be that I will have some hours on this trip when I will be able to nibble away at all of this.

If you want to communicate with me, first try e-mail...I will work first at keeping up with what is coming in now.

Secondly, if two or three days pass and you have not gotten an e-mail back, and you feel it would help you to talk with me, please do give me a call. 518-966-4140. If you call, PLEASE repeat your phone number slowly twice. In addition to the clear phone #, it will help if you can give a couple times when I can call you back - and the subject if possible. I had one a month ago that I know was important but I have had no way to get back to him - the last number was not clear!

Remember, I will not be here for the next week - I will check e-mails

I have heard from many of you through these past are a wonderful bunch!

Sally Jo and I are doing well - cross country ski around our property for about 30 minutes each day. We have also skied in the local town park. We are in a rural area and the ski trail goes through woods, around farmer's fields, up and over a hill with a great view of the Catskill Mountains, by a pond, etc. Beautiful.

chief chuck, chuck, etc.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Body of Christ - Concept Tested #124

When 14 I worked for a month as a dishwasher (3 tank sink) and potato peeler (by hand for 150 people) at Young Life’s Silver Cliff Ranch. The male support staff lived above the stable in a simple but nice bunk house. Those four weeks were an incredible experience. The older staff treated me like their younger brother – they really looked after me!

Three years later I worked in another camp where the male support staff lived in large, windowless army wall tents - no natural light, no breeze, and no good place to put clothes and other “stuff”! The contrast was incredible. Staff housing reflected the over-all attitude towards those on the support staff.

When I arrived at DL for staff training I was really frustrated, perhaps angry, when I saw where DL’s support staff stayed: un-used Woodsmen cabins – sometimes with more people in the cabin than NYS regulations allowed. The housing was bad and the location of the cabins was bad. Woodsmen (8-11) campers had lights out between 9 – 10 PM. Try to keep 15 single guys quiet at 9:30! There was also the reality that the support staff had almost no place to go and very little to do when not on the job.

While a pastor, I came to realize the wisdom and the challenge of living as equals within the body of Christ. In I Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul explained how the Body of Christ, His Church, was a unit of people equipped by God to function together. The gifts/functions were different – but each person was needed. Paul was inclusive when speaking of the believers that made up the body: it did not matter if a person was a Jew or Greek, slave or free. Later in the chapter Paul wrote: “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. Each part should have equal concern for the others.” As the Director of DL, I worked at hiring a healthy body of believers…all the parts…who would work together…under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Based on the previous summer and camper registrations to date, I projected that in Sessions I and IV there would be about twice as many staff (47) as campers (24). For Sessions II and III there would be 47 staff and 74 campers. When hiring I had to tell this reality to everyone, because it meant that almost every counselor would be working Session I or IV in the kitchen or on maintenance.

It was difficult to decide who should begin the summer as a counselor and who should begin the summer working in the kitchen or on maintenance. I knew we had to get the camper part of camp off to a good start and this required experienced counselors. I also knew the counselors assigned to work in the kitchen or on maintenance needed to be able to work comfortably with those hired for the summer in these areas – plus bring some additional strength. Placing the right people in the right places is a major challenge in every organization. In the Christian organization, people not only need to be able to work together but also to “love one another” – for this is the mark of Christ’s disciples. John 13:35

Through working in a different area of camp, the staff learned how tough every job was – if done properly. The position shifts worked so well that future summer counselors could ask to work on maintenance or in the kitchen for one session, and those hired for the kitchen or on maintenance, if properly trained, could ask for a session as a camp counselor.

Whereas we could not change the support staff housing location for six long summers, every effort was made to have the DL staff see themselves as the Body of Christ – each member a unique creation of God, each equipped to do God’s work in a different way, and each a necessary part of the Body of Christ lived out at Deerfoot Lodge.

Monday, January 24, 2011

IPWG What Has Been Done?..What Could Be?..What Should Be? #123

What Has Been Done? What Could Be? What Should Be?
  • By knowing What Had Been Done, insight is gained as to options for the future. What was working? What was not? By knowing the present and past history, the likelihood of making the same mistake twice is reduced, and if something has worked, it is time to built upon the fact – and not reinvent the wheel.
  • By knowing What Could Be Done careful consideration can be given to all options suggested by history, the insights of others, the leader’s insights.
  • By knowing What Should Be Done the challenge becomes matching the best option to the desired result. There comes a time when the leader must choose and act! It is necessary to make timely decisions so other people will not be unnecessarily delayed in their action. The only reason to delay any decision is if, by delaying a decision, additional information will likely be received which can alter the final decision.
Steps one and two above are necessary if those affected are to feel ownership in the final decision. When ownership is part of the process, the ease of change is greatly increased.

It was not difficult for me to do the above prior to the beginning of camp. From January to May, as I traveled about the North East talking with former staff and members of the Deerfoot Board of Directors, there were hours to consider what had been done, the suggested options, and what were likely to be best one or two options of what should be done.

It was more difficult for the returning staff to reconsider almost everything about camp. It was “their Lodge”. They pretty much liked DL the way it was, or they would not have returned, some of them for 10 summers. During staff training, staff input was continual, options often needed to be considered quickly, and decisions were made so the results could be implemented during staff training or when camp began. With almost every decision I would also say that we would stick with my decision only until I had received information that indicated it was time to change the previous decision.

It must have been incredibly difficult for Dave (25 summers at DL) and Elaine (17 summers) Naysmith, Dean (20 summers) and Lee (6 summers) Dover, and Jim and Sherri Van Buren to return to DL with open minds. These experienced Deerfooters returned to provide the quality leadership needed, particularly during my first summer. The Van Burens returned for only one summer, but “Grundy” (Jim) knew the flex time, all camp, sectional, and cabin activities better then anyone else, and he brought contagious enthusiasm! These six people were able to clearly tell me what had been done in every area of camp, and able to make very constructive suggestions, particularly in the areas of program and food service. Each person knew I needed their wisdom if DL was going to survive this transition summer.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Sinking Feeling, A Thankful Heart #122

Deerfoot is a very big place to see on a cold December day when walking on a foot of snow, yet this was my total exposure to DL prior to my arrival for staff training. Between January and May, while talking with staff from the previous summer and DL Board members, I came to the conclusion that DL was a well equipped wilderness camp and thus gave no further thought to equipment needs for the summer.

When I arrived in June for staff training, as camp was being unpacked from winter storage, I began a serious equipment inventory. Vans are big and hard to miss! Slowly I realized DL did not have the vans needed for the hiking program I envisioned, and I had no clue where to get two safe, working vans quickly and cheaply.

When I went into the tripping area, I was greeted with very sober faces. As the packs and tents were taken from their storage bins, the counselors had come to realize that many of the packs and tents were worn out from years and years of use, and others were in obvious need of serious repair: tears, broken zippers, and missing straps. They did find plastic which had been used the previous summer in place of tents, but everyone knew from personal experience that even if the plastic kept the campers dry, it would did not keep away the insects…like black flies. DL had been through several years of slowly declining enrollment and decreasing contributions. New program equipment had been low on the essential expenditure list.

The DL Board had made it clear to me: Be sure DL has what is necessary to have an excellent summer camp. We all knew the dollars were tight.

Somehow we located two cheap, safe, working vans from Canada. By phone we were told the vans were old, boxy, 16 passenger school buses used the previous school year. As promised, French Connection I & II worked well, but it was not very comforting to sit in a seat and look through rusted out places to the ground below. A lot of salt is used on the roads in Canada! But, they worked and somehow passed their NY vehicle inspections. For the next several years DL used these reliable, rusted out, ugly machines – they got the job done.

I priced new tents and back packs – ouch! Then into camp came the Director of Gordon College’s outdoor recreation program, La Vida. He welcomed me to the area and asked if there was anyway he could help. When asked about sources for back packs and tents, he told me the name and phone number of the person who could help us become dealers for Johnson Camping, who made Timberline Tents (DL now has 73!) and Wilderness Experience, which made back packs and sleeping bags. I made the call and DL became a dealer for both companies. I placed the order and we were promised delivery by the first hike day.

How God provides that we may accomplish His work is not our concern. Our concern is to continue working at what we believe God has given it to do. It is when God steps into our otherwise hopeless situation with a workable solution that we realize His greatness…and we rest a bit more easily in His care.

We often grow in faith because we have to – if we are to live In Partnership With God.

Hebrews 11 has been called “The Roll Call of Faith” and begins with “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” and then gives the names of many people who lived by faith, with a sentence or two about each: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph, Moses and his parents, Joshua.

In that same chapter we read “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." -- Hebrews 11:6

Monday, January 10, 2011

God's Guidance? #121

Prayer is a constant when interviewing and hiring staff. I was continually aware that hiring the wrong person can have a very negative impact upon the other staff members, upon the campers, and upon the reputation of Deerfoot Lodge. With this in mind, I developed a series of questions through which I really did try to scare off every counselor!

1. Do you love the out of doors? You will be living there....walking to your cabin in the dark when it is pouring....perhaps sleeping in a tipi that never leaks unless it rains, and it can seem to rain forever! Rain or sunshine, you will be a role model for the campers you are protecting, teaching, challenging, guiding, encouraging.

2. Do you have really enjoy kids? Are you able to love those who are not easy to love, but have a desperate desire to be recognized, loved, and cared for?

3. Do you desire to be God's man, and to build godly men? If not, stay home, for you will be out of place. Being God’s man at DL does not mean you will be able to have a 45 minute quiet time each day. Life just keeps coming at you and you are thankful for just a few minutes during the camper quiet time or during rest period. You will learn to pray throughout the day. You cannot fake being God’s man for 11 weeks!

4. Are you a self starter with a good energy level? You, and the other DL staff, will be miserable if you must be continually told what to do! When out of camp no one will be able to tell you what to do. The high energy level is essential because you will be on 24/6 - really! You do learn to pace yourself, but at the end of summer, if you have done your job, you will be almost crawling out of camp – and so will I.

Though his picture was on his application, I was not mentally prepared for this guy coming toward me: ragged Levi shorts with patches, a faded T shirt with no sleeves, a bushy beard, and solid muscle. He looked like a wild man. “Chief...I'm Steve!” My first year…and I had hired this?

Steve learned about Deerfoot through a list of Christian camps - DL was listed as a wilderness camp. At his request I mailed him the 4 page staff application. Through his application and our second telephone interview I learned Steve was 28, a recreation major at the University of Wisconsin in need of working at a summer camp for his field work assignment. When asked what he had done between high school and college, Steve told me that in high school he began to smoke, drink, and do drugs. When he graduated he got a fact had 4 or 5 different jobs and attended 3 different colleges. At some time during these years he attended a Navigator Bible Study for several months and had learned about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offered. But Steve continued heavy into alcohol and drugs.

One morning Steve found himself alone in the woods coming off a really bad drug trip. He quickly realized his “friends” had left him and he also realized this was a good way to die. And as he put it, “no way to live either”. Alone in the woods, Steve asked Jesus Christ to forgive him, to save him...just as he had been told he could do by the Navigators. Steve then enlisted in the army, and upon the completion of his tour of duty, he entered the U. of Wisconsin where he was an honor's student.

Several weeks into camp Steve told me how, when he first saw the DL sign, he just kept on driving! He was not afraid of much, but Steve was afraid DL would not accept him – “he knew he was older and a bit different!” Steve proved to be golden! His third year on staff he was the Guide leader. He eventually became a youth pastor. Now Steve is the associate pastor of a church in Wisconsin. His four sons became DL scholarship campers, and the oldest, Steve Jr., was a counselor this past summer.

Every time Steve has returned to bring his sons to DL he has driven to the same bridge over the Hudson River he found his first year on jump down 60' into the river, just to be sure he still can. Steve Tramp is still a wild man, even as he continues to live In Partnership With God.

(Steve approved the above)

Monday, January 3, 2011

We Had No Choice! #120

Every member of the staff had asked to work at Deerfoot Lodge for the summer of 1982. We had all said that Jesus Christ was our Savior and we desired to have Him as Lord…to be godly men. Beyond that, the diversity was incredible.

27 of the 36 in camp when we began staff training:
  • did not know another person in camp
  • did not know the location or content of any building
  • did not have any reasonable understanding of the uniqueness of the DL program
  • did not know the difference between boss and beak, or what the Waldorf was, or a gudge, or 3000-12
The total staff of 50 included males ages 15 – 42 and came from 16 states. Most of this staff had never lived in the woods, much less for 11 weeks. Some had never been to any camp!

Diverse as we were, We Had No Choice but to work together well if we were going to survive – and to work together required the 75% that were new depend upon the 25% returning staff for knowledge, and in many ways, initial leadership. This would have been much easier if the 25% agreed on everything. I remember spending over an hour trying to come to agreement on what skills should be included in the row boat test! There were 3 different tests… apparently all in use the previous summer. I remember saying in desperation “I do not care which test we use! This is a crazy use of time!”

We began with a very sobering tour of camp. In 1982 there was no Memorial Day Work Weekend. Everything was dirty, particularly the camper cabins. Repairs were necessary from camper use and winter storm damage. None of the instructional areas were set up and we could already see equipment shortages. In every area of camp we had to think through what had to be done – while thinking through the programming questions of what should be accomplished in each area, and how best to do this.

Always in our minds was the reality that Campers Were Coming, and we were far from ready for their arrival!! During the days we unpacked and cleaned every one of the 27 buildings, 4 gudges, and 3 instructional area shelters – while learning the content and how to teach in each of the 11 instructional areas. Almost everyone was trained in CPR, good swimmers took ARC Life Saving, and 3 became National Riflery Association instructors. We had to learn how to prepare and lead a cabin devotional, and appropriate ways of discipling campers. We had to learn the DL songs, and about camp fires, testimonies, banquet night, skits, and hike procedures. We knew we had to be ready! The days were long and hard! We knew We Had No Choice!

After listening to knowledgeable DL campers, staff and board members in the previous five months, I knew some patterns had to be changed – and I also knew these changes would have to be well-received by the staff. They included discontinuing the following: biking camp, cross country camp, kayaking as an instructional area, bringing in a different Bible study leader every session, the 5:00 Bible study, using sandwiches and frozen leftovers as tripping food, and having all of the campers and counseling staff out of camp on the same day.

We were all living in our stretch zone, and I think would have moved into our panic zone apart from the fact that God had brought to the DL staff many exceptional people. These included four young men who today are on the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors: Brent Karner, Jeff Littauer, John Fox and Steve Mayer.

In reality, we did have many choices. We could have formed two distinct groups – the returning and the new staff. We could have been resistant to changing our understanding of the right way of doing things. We could have quit…feeling too much was being expected of us. We could have become proud of what we were accomplishing.

To God Be The Glory, Great Things He Has Done…through us, because we chose to work In Partnership With God

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day One - At the Lodge #119

It is easy to think of DL only as it is now: a full camp, a large staff, a sufficient supply of camper and staff scholarships, a beautiful, functional facility including a “boulderless” ball field, lots of boats, excellent vans, all desired maintenance, kitchen, and office equipment, a complete staff manual, 100 people for each work weekend, good salaries for the full time staff and a large number of financial contributors.

I am hopeful that as I tell my experiences at DL, you will remember that it has taken 28 years to go from where DL was in 1982 to where DL is today. As you read my perspective of these years, I trust you will be encouraged as you learn how God has guided and provided... and He has! I trust you will also be encouraged to remember that it has taken a total of 80 years, even with God’s guidance, provision, and just plain old hard work by the staff, board of directors, and many, many volunteers, for DL to become what it is today. So if you are in a very difficult position, and it is where you believe God would have you to be, hang in there. On my desk I keep the words Winston Churchill spoke during World War II: Never Give Up, Never, Never Give Up, Never, Never, Never Give Up.

In the nine months before I walked into DL to begin my first summer as Director, my mom died, I had been asked to resign as the Director of a large camp/conference center in TX, was Chairman of the Christian Camping Convention, turned down several jobs, and when our money was just about all gone, was asked to become the Director of DL. I spent two of the next five months away from my family who remained in TX, sold a house, bought a house, flew back to Texas to drive with our family to the new house, arriving on June 2. The movers arrived in pouring rain on June 5, a day later than scheduled, giving us more time to scrub walls, floors, cabinets and counters. Between the 5th and 7th of June 16 family members or Deerfooters had come to help clean and get things settled. On June 8 Sally Jo and I drove our oldest daughter to La Guardia Airport in NYC for a flight back to Dallas where she would rejoin her high school orchestra for the long anticipated high school orchestra competition in Vienna, Austria, and stay on to work in Christ Camp of Germany, where Sally Jo and I had previously worked two weeks as consultants. On June 11 I took a day trip to Massachusetts and Vermont where I picked up DL staff. On June 12 the counselors and I left for camp.

As we headed for DL I was tired, excited and very aware that I had only been at DL once before, in December for two hours when there was deep snow!

Upon arrival, the first person I saw was Jeff Littauer, a senior at Wheaton College and the only person I had previously known with DL experience who would be at DL for the summer. Jeff had agreed to open the facility and be Guide leader. Here he was, mowing the ball field, with drops of blood on his face – my introduction to black flies.

I do not remember what I did during those first hours, but at 10:00 that night I was heading for the Lookout when the generator was turned off – as it was every night. Suddenly it was pitch dark. I did not have a flashlight with me. I tried to work my way down the “S” shaped path to the cabin where I had only been once before. It was hopeless.

Into the darkness I called “will somebody please come and take me home!” The person who came was also without a flashlight, and he almost walked me into the lake.

Lord, Help!

I was exhausted and had no clue where I should begin the next day – when 30 people were looking for my leadership as the new Director of Deerfoot Lodge.

What a difficult way to begin, even if I was living In Partnership With God.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Finest Product Deserves the Best Packaging #118

Twenty one years before becoming the Director of Deerfoot Lodge I received a life changing challenge.

While driving back from my admissions interview for Baylor Medical School, I remember thinking “I can be a doctor... but do I really want to be a doctor?” My father was an MD and my older brother, and our mutual friend, Paul Groen, were in Baylor Medical School. I had never really given any thought to being anything but a doctor.

One evening while at a concert, Mr. Garret Groen invited me to come to his home so he could talk with me. It was an easy yes for me as Mr. Groen lived a block from our home. The Groen’s home was set back on property with several large trees, and impressive due to its modern design. I was warmly greeted at the door and we went into the living room. We were still standing when Mr. Groen said “Chuck, I just cannot get it out of my mind – I think you should consider going into the ministry, not into medicine. So often we present the finest product in shabby packaging. I believe that Jesus Christ is “the finest product” and we should present Him to the world in the best packaging. I challenge you to do this!”

Our Lord never asks anyone to do anything “half way”:
  • “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” -- Mt 6:33
  • "No one can serve two masters” -- Mt 6:24
  • "If you love me, you will obey what I command. -- Jn 14:15
  • “Forgive ...seventy-seven times.” -- Mt 18:21-22
  • "Love your neighbor as yourself” -- Lk 10:27

The Lord does good work: consider the design, the inter-relatedness, the beauty of creation. Remember the detail God went into when it came to building His portable temple. How He directed the tribes to stand around the temple. How He led the children of Israel by day, by night. How He directed King Solomon to build His beautiful temple.

The Lord asks for our best! Who we are, inside and out, and what we do is how we bring this “finest product” to our sinful world. Our Lord asks us to “Be holy, because I am holy." -- I Pet 1:16, to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” -- Ps 37:7, to work hard: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” -- Ecc 9:10, to take time for reflection: “consider the lilies of the field” -- Mt 6:28, and to “run with perseverance the race set before us." -- Heb 12:1

My challenge at DL: Finest Product, Best Packaging. As Director of Deerfoot Lodge, I had the privilege of working at this challenge with the full support and guidance of the DL Board of Directors. The underlying question in every Board discussion was/is “what is best for the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge?” Building godly young men requires DL to work at modeling excellence in every area of camp: program development, selection, training, and compensation of summer staff, food service, nursing care, equipment, marketing, camper scholarship provisions and facility. I mention facility maintenance and development last so I can bring special focus on the 2000 hours given each work weekend by volunteers to provide the beautiful, functional facility.

There are many differences between the Lord and us! One is... the Lord does it right the first time!! The DL Board was very comfortable with my sending them a report the week before their next meeting – and then my giving them an amended report at the meeting. They were pleased that I had continued to think through the best way to do something. Their openness encouraged me to say to the campers and staff “show me a better way to do something, and we will do it.” At the end of every summer I walked one on one with every male summer staff member. They knew the questions I would ask. What were the goals for the summer you wrote down in staff training? How did you do? How could we have prepared you better for your work this summer? If you were Director, what would you do differently? How can I do my job better? The staff knew I wanted straight answers and they gave them! Because of their suggestions, changes were made.

The finest “product” is Jesus Christ. We have the joy of working In Partnership With God as we bring Him into the lives of people – and through people, to a world in great need. Let us do all for the Glory of God.