Friday, October 20, 2017

Pfefferminz Kuchen And A New Lodge

One of my favourite memories as a child growing up was the day Grandma baked pfefferminz kuchen - you might know them as peppermint cookies.  Grandma lived with us from when I was about 11 until I was out of high school and baking day was definitely the best day of the week!  She would start baking the cookies early in the morning and soon the smell of ammonia would be wafting through our house.  As she pulled the sheets of cookies out of the oven, I would be there, eating them as fast as I could while they were still very hot.  (FYI eating them frozen is also very tasty!)

For some reason I was allowed to eat as many cookies as I wanted - on the day of baking.  This may be selective memory on my part, but I remember eating a lot (I mean A LOT) of cookies straight out of the oven.  The rest of the time mom made a valiant attempt to limit my cookie consumption, but let's just say that peppermint cookies didn't last long in our home.  I've made peppermint cookies a couple of times trying to keep the tradition going, but so far they have not come out of the oven even close to the fluffyness of Grandma's!

How do peppermint cookies tie into a Reaching Higher blog?  (Well it is a bit of a stretch, even I will admit that.)  Part of enjoying the cookies was the anticipation.  When you saw the dough in the mixing bowl and the cookies on the baking sheet, you knew something good was coming!  Once they came out of the oven the whole house would have this glorious aroma and you could hardly wait to eat them.

As we continue to reach higher, we are anticipating a new lodge.  We're anticipating the incredible amount of ministry that we can do in a new lodge.  We're looking at plans, tweaking plans and are anticipating what is coming.  We're excited about providing an environment for God to reach down and change lives.

And as an added bonus...a new lodge will allow us to make great cookies, lots of cookies.  Maybe I'll have to give Ken my Grandma's secret recipe!

The new staff homes continue to move forward.  Gary (finish carpenter) anticipates finishing the red house today.  Stonework continues on the green house.  Craig and Stu were working on framing the red house basement bedrooms and bathroom.  I was actually "helping" Craig with his jig and crib.  We certainly weren't dancing or making a baby crib, this crib had something do do with walls and headers and studs.  (don't get me going on studs)  Both homes have a garage door and Ben and Andrew were back for their second of three visits installing cabinets.

All that talk about pfefferminz kuchen - I may just have to skip work early today and make a batch!

Thanks again for your continued support.

Bob"Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thankful Thanksgiving

Hello from a very beautiful Camp Evergreen.  Yesterday we reached a high of 21 and as you walk around camp the leaves are crunching under foot.  Most nights dip below freezing, the canoe pond pump has been taken up for winter, we've had our second snow fall and our coldest morning so far?  Minus 10!  Winter is coming, but we're really enjoying fall while we can!

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend and we have much to be thankful here at Evergreen.  We really feel that God richly blessed us this summer.  We had more volunteers than we've had over the last couple of years.  We had fewer hospital runs and discipline challenges.  Our staff really bought in to our vision of "seeing lives transformed by the power of Jesus."  We're very thankful for the 476 campers that we know of who made a significant faith decision this summer.

We're also thankful for our fall season.  Financially we are on budget, our new staff homes are getting closer and closer to being finished and we made it through our very busy month of September.  As an entire staff we put in extra effort to make sure our guests were well taken care of.  I'm thankful for our staff, each one bringing a unique perspective to how we do ministry here at Evergreen.  I believe I can speak for all of our staff that we are thankful for four days in a row with no guest groups!  (insert whoo hoo)  We intentionally do not book  guest groups over Thanksgiving weekend and are excited for the opportunity to sleep in, relax and re-charge as we have guest groups on site 19 days in a row once we return!

I remind myself almost daily that as we reach higher, every decision we make, every staff member that we hire, needs to be made with our summer campers in mind.  Summer camp is the heart of who we are.  It's an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  It's an opportunity to disciple our young people, to provide leadership training.  By the end of summer we're always tired.  Summer has long, long days, we're cooking for 200+ people, washing that many dishes.  But as tiring as summer camp is, I'm already looking forward to next summer!

The homes continue to move forward.  Last Saturday the basements were poured.  Thanks Kevin and Green Acres for heading that up.  Gary our finish carpenter finished (slight pun) the Green House and has now moved to the Red House.  Craig and Jordan were back to build the stairs into the homes from the garages and install the basement doors.  Han and Peter arrived late in the week to start the stone work.  And Ben, Andrew and Don came today to install the cabinets in the Red House.  We ordered gravel to deal with the schrakjlijchness, but so far it hasn't arrived, so you guessed it - the mud is still pretty schrakjlijch out there!

Thanks again for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, September 29, 2017

What's In A Nummer?

5,500,000 - anticipated cost of our new lodge
810,613    - the total donations and pledges to date towards Reaching Higher
600,000    - the retail value of each of our two new staff homes

300,000    - the anticipated cost of each of our new homes
62,269      - the support Andrew Baerg raised on his biking4evergreen tour
23,400      - plates of food were served this summer
13,920      - pieces of tuck eaten by campers and staff this summer*
6,464        - slices of bacon eaten at breakfast this summer
5,180        - slices of (very good) pizza
3,600        - servings of ice cream**

2,173        - the number of guests we've hosted January through June
1,731        - the number of km Andrew rode on his Reaching Higher tour
1,153        - the number of youth and family campers this summer
944           - the number of children and youth campers this summer
476           - the number of campers who expressed spiritual growth
325           - individuals and churches have supported Reaching Higher
300           - the number of feet we directionally drilled for the new homes
204           - loads of laundry this summer (thanks Doris!)
149           - the number of first time commitments this summer
99             - the number of volunteers we had this summer

38             - seasonal staff this summer
9               - permanent staff
4               - hospital/clinic runs
1               - Camp Evergreen
1               - Awesome God

Thanks for your continued support!

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

*this number is approximate as we will never know how much tuck Ranger actually had
**this number does not include tuck, Helmut or Ranger

Friday, September 22, 2017


Shoot - I mean chute!  Kevin and his gang from Green Acres built us this fancy chute right into the basement of house number two.  Its going to be great for night games when you need to hide quickly!  It had a more practical use this week as a means to get extra gravel into the basement to prepare for concrete.

Progress continues on the new homes.  The first coat of primmer paint is up which means the cabinet guy (our good friend Ben Nickel from Rosemary) has been given the green light to go ahead and install.  We're waiting for his farming responsibilities to release him!  Our finish carpenter, Gary, has started finishing house number two.  And both basements are now ready for concrete.  If we can get a cement truck in here this Saturday, the plan is to pour the first basement.

We have now passed Eight Hundred Thousand in cash and pledges for Reaching Higher with a current total of $810,136.71.  Andrew's ride through Alberta was certainly a boost for us.  So a BIG thanks again Andrew!  As the homes come close to completion we are now turning our focus on the lodge.  If you were to ask me what our single greatest need at Evergreen is, I would reply - a new kitchen and dining hall.  As I write this blog we have 165 students and staff from Heritage Christian Academy on site - and its snowing outside!  Cold muddy weather adds a certain challenge to feeding and providing programming for such a large group when hanging around outside is not an option.

You're probably wondering how in the world schrakjlijch ended up in my blog.  It's my word of the day and I would pronounce it "shrek lich".  I don't worry about the j's.  Then make the whole word come out from the back of your throat somewhere.  It's one of those low German (Plautdietsch) words I heard my parents using as a kid growing up.  You can actually look it up online in the Plautdietsch dictionary.  It means, dreadful, shocking, terrible, awful, frightful.

Craig was back again this week filling some last minute cracks for the finish carpenter and I met him over at house number two.  Getting to the homes in this weather is schrakjlijch.  It's muddy, it's cold, the clay is sticking to your boots, your vehicle is sinking up to its axle because the ground is so soft, the ramp to get into the home is snowy, slippery and muddy.  Simply put - its schrakjlijch outside!  (try saying schrakjlijch ten times quickly!)  Thankfully the flooring is one the last things to go in because you can't help but track about 10 lbs of mud in every time you enter.

We're over halfway through our busy September already.  Most of the staff who have been battling sickness seem to be on the mend.  We would however still appreciate your prayers so that we can finish our fall season strong.

As you can tell I still need practice with my selfies!  Today's selfie was taken at the Columbia Bible College alumni reunion at the Calgary vs B.C. football game.  Take note of Kevin way at the back!

Thanks again for your ongoing support as we continue to reach higher.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, September 8, 2017

A New Sign...

I'd like to introduce to you...our new sign!  For those of you who have been to camp, you'll notice the sign in the middle is not new, however, it is surrounded by a new timber frame.  Rolf hasn't quite finished the frame yet, but since he had a skid steer on site decided to move it while he could.  The heavy timber frame is the style we like here at Evergreen and as we continue to reach higher we want to use this style and quality whenever we build.  The finished sign will have solar powered lights, a roof, flower pots and rain water collection.  Thanks Rolf for continuing to share your gift of woodworking with us.

It's exciting to see continued progress on the new homes.  Our taper finished taping the drywall and that was quickly followed by the sanders.  The crew of five sanders finished both homes in less than three hours!  The ceiling guys textured the ceiling with something called "Knock Down Span Tex".  For a second I thought they said "Spandex!"  That would have been a little awkward.

Arnold was back to install the septic tanks and connect the water.  Some of you may remember Arnold donated his time at the very beginning of the homes to dig the foundations.  It was amazing to see him directional dig 300+ feet underground and pop up right where he wanted to.  Arnold and his crew were here for three days, partly because - as Rolf likes to say - there is lots of spaghetti underground everywhere.  (gas lines, phones lines, water lines etc. all criss-crossing)

It was good to see Craig back again this week.  (We really like Craig!)  Craig brought Gary with him today and they were rolling, rolling, rolling on the primer coat of paint.  This means we're getting close to cabinets and some of the finish work!

Our lodge hot water barely made it through the summer and as quick as we could we installed a new system right after camp.  After we add a fancy mineral filter we're hoping that this system lasts us a long time.  One of our challenges at Evergreen is a high mineral content in our water.

Fall has started.  Our first guest group of the season arrived yesterday - 73 grade seven students from Webber Academy.  It will take a few groups to get back in the swing of it, but its fun working with the students.  Please continue to pray for us as a staff.  Even though we have a great staff, we are small in numbers.  Several of our staff are down with sickness and we lost another staff to an air boot - so your continued prayer would be very much appreciated.

And finally - the most important number from this summer.  476.  That's the number of campers that we know of, who had their lives transformed by the power of Jesus.  That is very exciting and we're already looking forward to next summer to see what God will do!  I would like to say a big thanks to my Program Team - Jogee, Safety Lane and Dish Rack - for a great summer!

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker

(My "guest selfie" this blog is none other than Jogee.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tour de Alberta

Our blog this week is from Andrew Baerg who completed his "Tour de Alberta" last week.  Andrew shares the following.

Here are the numbers...
1,731 kms
287 supporters
$62,269 raised for Reaching Higher and the new lodge at Camp Evergreen!

Thursday evening after I arrived at camp, I made a fire out at the teepee site and was reminded what it takes to get a fire really going - the ones where the stones around the fire are hot and you can throw a big log on and not have to stoke it.  First I collected a lot of little twigs, some with small bunches of dried moss on them.  Then I built a log cabin around the twigs and a teepee over the twigs with thin pieces of wood.  Since the wood was a bit wet, it took a number of matches before I got out some paper which finally caught the twigs on fire and then the teepee and then the log cabin.  I quickly had to add some more small pieces of wood and continue to stoke the fire and add larger pieces.  After and hour or so, there were enough hot coals that I could add a couple of big logs without having to stoke it.  The fire was really going!

On the tour, I was told stories of what it took to get Camp Evergreen going and to build the current lodge in the 60s and 70s.  The many truck loads of gravel that were brought in to make roads, the weeks that fathers spent away from their families building cabins, the sacrificial giving, big and small to buy the land, and the volunteer work bees to finish the lodge.  It took many people giving in both big and small ways.  It really "got a fire going", so that the generations that came after could benefit from what was built.  Over 50 years later, we've outgrown what was built!

Now it's our turn to do the same for the generations to come!  One thing we know for sure is that there will be more kids and youth in ten, twenty and thirty years than there are now.  The new lodge is like a bigger fire ring that we need to get a fire really going in.  It will take a lot of people giving in sacrificial ways, both big and small.  Like the two little girls in Linden who each brought me a loonie and signed the pledge sheet!

We are projecting that it will cost $5.5 million to build the lodge and we want to have it completed by 2020.  We are looking for people to make monthly pledges for the next three years so we can move forward with confidence.  If everyone who has supported the bike tour turned their one-time donation into a monthly pledge for three years, we would have over 2 million dollars raised!

Please consider your role in building Camp Evergreen for the next generations.  $28/month for 3 years amounts to a $1,000 donation.  You can make your pledges online by clicking here.

Thanks again for joining me on this adventure!



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Finally...Some Rain!

We had a good downpour on Monday which was much needed.  The ground around camp was quite dry and our Fallen Timber Creek is almost down to a trickle in some places.  We are in our second last week of summer camp and if this was last year it would be our last week of camp.  You may remember we added one more week of summer camp this year so we could reach more children with the Good News!  Please continue to pray for us that we would have a strong finish.

Last Saturday we poured the concrete for both garages and basement stairs.  The taper started taping and the Hardie boys are here this week as well.  By Hardie boys we're not talking Frank and Joe Hardy, but the crew coming to side the homes with James Hardie Plank.

Andrew Baerg is deep into his biking 4 evergreen, travelling this morning from Coaldale to Medicine Hat.  You can follow Andrew on Facebook as he is updating his travels regularly.  We're thankful for the awareness he is bringing across Alberta for our need to Reach Higher with a new lodge.  You can check out his website here.

The final numbers for this summer won't be in for a couple of weeks, but it looks like we will have just over 90 more children and youth campers than last summer.  Our two family camps filled up this year with about 220 campers and so our total for this summer will be just over 1,200 campers.  However, the most exciting number for us is that through six of our eight camps, 380 campers that we know of have expressed spiritual growth.  Sometimes its hard to focus and push through at the end of summer when we're tired, but we're excited that children are coming to know the Lord this summer.

Our fall season will be very busy.  Last year we had the highest number of guests come through camp in the month of September.  We're not sure if we will match or beat that number from last year, but we are already calling for help on weekends.  If you are able to be one of our weekend heroes please contact Lane here in the office for more information.

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director