Friday, September 20, 2019


Autumn leaves are falling here at Camp Evergreen as we transition from our summer camp ministry into our busy guest group ministry.  The question that comes to my mind is - "where did summer go?"  When people ask me how summer was - I say great!  Our total number of campers was 1,071 which brought our occupancy to 103% - so that's good.  We had more than enough staff and volunteers - so that's also good.  And campers once again came to know Jesus for the first time - that's very good!

As most of you know (and experienced) we had a fairly wet/cool summer.  The bright side is there was never a camp fire ban, our grass continues to be green, and we didn't have much in the way of sun burn as there were maybe two hot days in a row!  While we did make some hospital runs, for the first summer in a while not a single ambulance was called!  That's also a good thing!

I love summer camp!  When asked my favourite time of year - hands down it's summer camp.  When asked my favourite age - I always reply our Sparks Camp (youngest camp).  Sparks once again did not disappoint as many (many) sticks found their way from the forest to the door of our cabins and dining hall.  Flashlights were always handy, Smarties and Skittles disappeared at a phenomenal pace, and lights out was a glorious 8 pm!

Campers of all ages grew in confidence this summer.  Campers who were afraid of horses conquered their fear and went on a trail ride.  Campers who were afraid of heights leaped into the zip line with pure joy on their faces.  But beyond the candy, beyond the activities and games, it's always a joy to see the singing in chapel and hearing stories of how God transformed lives again this summer.

Guest group ministry is also close to my heart as we get the privilege of portraying the love of Jesus to a wide variety of children, youth, and adults each week.  Traditionally 40% of our summer campers have no church connection.  A lot of those campers come to Camp Evergreen with their school or scout groups and then return in summer.

This September and October are again very busy as several of our guest groups are a little larger than normal. Great for revenue, a little hard on us as staff!  In fact if you are available to join us between October 15 and 20 we would love to see you here at camp.  William D Pratt school is joining us for the first time with 146 students plus adults!  Yikes!  (Where is that new lodge when you need it?).  Lunch on the 17th has William D Pratt plus Ecole Madeleine d'Houet for a total of 231 students over lunch!  Did I mention we're looking for some extra help?

And what about those ducks?  Remember we hired Finn back in March to start wrangling those ducks.  Reaching Higher continues to move forward.  We've drilled two new water wells as a part of the water licensing process.  The application for our septic system is moving forward as we've been asked some clarification questions from Alberta Environment.  (That's a good sign!)  And we're planning on meeting in a couple of weeks with four companies who will be bidding on phases 1 and 2 of our septic upgrade.

In case you missed it, just before summer CrossRoads Church in Red Deer gave us a grant for $10,000 to build a new kitchen across the creek at Foothills Outfitters Camp.  Rolf was able to get phase one done for this summer which allowed our camps across the creek to cook (Sous-Chef Kato whipping up breakfast) and eat under shelter from the rain,  Our goal is to finish the kitchen in spring.  Thank you very much CrossRoads!

Thanks for your continued support.  If you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood please stop by.  I would love to show you around.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, May 24, 2019

Duck Wrangling 101

By time the new lodge is built we should be quite proficient at wrangling ducks in a row here at Camp Evergreen.  In response to the seemingly never ending number of ducks waiting to be lined up, we have begun discussion on adding duck shooting this summer as an activity to help keep the ducks under control!  Just kidding!  But it does seem like the ducks keep on coming.  Or maybe they just keep getting out of the row.

Case in point.  Our new septic system duck.  We just found out that the county will not give us permission to build the new lodge until our septic system has been approved.  We knew all along that we needed a new septic system, and that it needed to be approved by the ministry of environment, but news that we had to have approval before starting construction - was a new duck to us.

Things often don't move very fast on government desks so we would ask you to pray for favour, and a speedy (positive) decision.

The second duck is our ground water evaluation.  I mentioned this duck before and this is the one duck  that keeps growing until the point our friend Bob Thiessen started calling it a goose.  When  all is said and done the "evaluation" part will cost us $50,000.  All our wells need to be up to today's standards which means the best case is upgrading our wells.  The worst case is installing new wells.  Upgrading our wells is a cheaper option, but it means that at a certain point we'll be in the middle of our busy guest group season without water!  The new well route will be more expensive, but less disruptive.

It's safe to say that the rules and regulations today are far more strenuous then back in the late 1970's when the current lodge was built.  In anticipation of the ducks getting in a row we need to sense the urgency and follow up with our commitments.  Now is the time to support the financial duck!  :)

Foothills Outfitters kitchen continues to move forward.  The funds have arrived and the first load of lumber has been purchased and delivered.  We're pretty excited about how this kitchen will vastly improve our food and eating experience across the creek.  Rolf is busy tongue and grooving (we think Rolf is pretty groovy!) the base together.  This afternoon as a staff we were able to celebrate Rolf's 10ish years here at Evergreen.  Thanks Rolf for all you do for us!

Another exciting thing to report is the number of summer kitchen volunteers we already have lined up.  We set a goal this year of 4 kitchen helpers per week to make the cooking load lighter for everyone.  That means everyone will have either a morning or afternoon shift.  We're only looking for six more volunteers, two for each of the following weeks:

July 7-12
August 11-16
August 18-23

If you can join us in the kitchen or need more information please connect with Lane in the office.  At this point I'm very excited to share that all our summer staff are in place!  Thanks program team for your hard work and to God for providing our staffing needs for another summer.  Please remember to donate to our CSJ fund as we were denied federal staff grants for a second year in a row.

Speaking of dates - these should already be in your calendar but one of the practical ways to support us is by attending one (or more!) of our events.

June 8 - Tough Camper Run
June 22 - Annual General Meeting followed by the Open House followed by the first Alumni Day
July 17 - Alumni Afternoon

As always it's helpful for us to know if you're coming so we can have enough ice cream on hand!  Please call the office if you're planning on attending.

Thanks for your continued support, we appreciate it very much.  If you're ever in the neighbourhood please stop by I would love to show you around.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, April 26, 2019

Lawn Chairs and Baseball Gloves

My illustrious baseball career came to a short stop!  While I enjoy playing baseball, the only team I've been on was when Bev and I lived in Swift Current Saskatchewan.  Darbaryle Upholstering sponsored a slow pitch team that was mostly made up of players from our church.  I joined the team and lasted two seasons before we moved to Alberta for the first time.

The pitching was right down my alley (sorry to mix sport puns) as the pitcher lofted the oversize softball in a slow arch towards my bat - it was not that difficult to hit the ball.  I can't remember how well we did in the standings, but I do remember having a lot of fun.

Our son Mitch also had a short and successful baseball career.  Recently we were looking through some old pictures and found a couple beauties.  The greatest challenge in coaching a young baseball team is getting them to focus on the game instead of the bugs in the grass.

Why am I talking about lawn chairs and baseball gloves in this week's blog?  We're bringing back baseball to Camp Evergreen.  At this years Annual General Meeting and Open House (June 22 in the highly unlikely case it's not already on your calendar) we will end with a BBQ in the field and a baseball game or two.  So if you're coming - and you should come - bring your lawn chair and baseball glove.

The AGM in the morning is our most important day of the year and we need the support of our society members. There will be reports, a lodge update, staff sharing, and of course the now famous ice cream right in the middle of the meeting.

The Open House in the afternoon is a great way for you and your friends to experience camp.  Activities will be open and new for this year, will be a prayer tour in the afternoon led by our first full time director Walt Loewen.

We're also having two Alumni Days in 2019.  An opportunity to reunite and reconnect with former campers and staff.  For many of us camp has a strong memory and we would love to be able to get together and hear some of those "bear in the pantry" stories.  The first one is June 22 - which is also our AGM and Open House.  We will plan on taking some time in the afternoon to connect.  The second is Wednesday July 17th in the mid afternoon.  We'll join the campers for a BBQ supper out on the field (weather permitting) and spend some time after supper visiting. You may as well leave your lawn chair in the car!

It's always helpful for us to know who is planning on coming so we can be better prepared from a food perspective. We don't want to run out of ice cream!  :)

The lodge continues to move ahead as we get some more ducks in a row.  One of our newest ducks is a groundwater supply evaluation.  We're currently waiting for confirmation from the county as to what that exactly entails.  What we do know is our development permit is now delayed by at least two weeks.  Oh those pesky ducks!

Donations towards the lodge at this time are very helpful in allowing us to move forward.

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The New Lodge

Let me introduce to you the newest member of our Camp Evergreen team - the new lodge!  Finally after what seems many months - well it actually was many months - we have some pictures to show you of our new lodge.  As a board and staff we are pretty excited about the ministry potential this building will allow us to have.  We are still making some last minute (minor) changes so the final result will look slightly different!

Here are some quick numbers:

1 - lodge
1 - elevator
1 - meeting room
2 - stories
2 - boot rooms - one really big!
2 - refrigerators - two different temperatures - you'll have to ask Ken...
2 - laundry rooms
3 - dining rooms - or one big one - for a total of 400 people (not squished)
3 - lounges/sitting areas
8 - hotel style rooms - expandable to 15

The lodge is approximately 22,000 square feet and will sit close to where our current mini lodge is located, overlooking the lower playing field towards the west.  We're hoping that we will be able to see some of the mountains from the upstairs rooms.

Some of you might be wondering - why a new lodge?  We've been turning campers away since January - shortly after registration opened.  We've also been turning guest group after guest group away from April to the end of October.  This lodge will allow us to expand our current style of ministry.

The lodge will also allow us to branch into new kinds of ministry.  We would love the host the Alberta Mennonite Brethren conference, we'd love to host church leadership teams and Alpha weekends.  There is a seemingly endless amount of new ministry that awaits us.

And finally this lodge is critical to our much needed winter revenue which in turn is needed for a healthy budget.

Many of you know that the board voted to start this lodge in October of this year.  We are still working with many, many ducks, trying to get them in a row for us to be able to put a shovel in the ground.  In fact a brand new duck showed up this morning!  One of the biggest ducks - finances.  Without your support this lodge will not move forward - it's as simple as that.  We have already raised in cash and pledges close to a million dollars towards the new lodge ($935,693).  We believe this project is doable because no contribution is too small - or too large for that matter!  :)

And Finn?  Finn is now almost 13 weeks old.  We're working hard on changing some of his bad habits and are rejoicing at his good habits.  At last weigh in he's 22 lbs already!  He's still pretty excited to see our guests so we're working hard at keeping all four paws on the ground!

May you experience God's blessing and goodness this Easter weekend.

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker - and Finn!
Executive Director

Friday, March 29, 2019

Ducks...Lot's of Ducks

Remember me telling you about all the ducks we need to get in a row before we can start the new lodge this coming October?  (In case you missed it, the board voted to start the new lodge this October!)  Well Finn is doing his best with the ducks!  Since we last visited, some more unexpected ducks showed up in our pond!  There seems to be ducks coming out of the woodwork so it's a good thing we have a golden retriever on staff!  Way back in August, we hired a geo technical company to drill test holes where we want the new lodge to go.  They came, they drilled, they reported, and said yes, the ground where you want to build the new lodge is solid.  We continued to move ahead.

Last week we submitted our application for a development permit and were planning to start removing trees at the beginning of April - while our busy season is still about a month away.  And then, just like that, another duck showed  up!  It seems that even though we have a professional report on the stability of the ground, the county needs to still talk to the provincial government about our set back.  We're optimistic that the Alberta government will recognize our report, but you never know.  That means rather than starting to cut down the trees as we had planned...we find ourselves trying to get some more ducks in a row!

Another duck we found this week was the provincial election!  Who would have thought an election could be a duck?  If you didn't know, just prior to an election, counties are not allowed to "bother" the provincial government.  This could very well mean a delay in our development permit!

But not all ducks are bad.  The final duck for this blog is a 350K duck.  Since we voted to go ahead with the new lodge, $350,000 in pledges has come in.  How exciting is that?  This lodge will not get built if we all just think it's a good idea and it stops there.  This lodge will not get built if we all think someone else could and should donate.  The only way this will get built is if we all participate together, if we all give sacrificially.  We're not giving to a building and we're not giving simply to put up concrete walls.  We're giving for the opportunity to share the life changing Good News of Jesus Christ like never before.

We have a unique and distinctly powerful formula here at Camp Evergreen.  Guests return as campers every year.  Every summer campers come to know Jesus for the first time.  It's as simple as that and that is what we're giving towards.  Eric, our board chair, shared from Luke 11:8 at our last board meeting.  Jesus encouraged us to ask with shameless audacity.  It is with this same shameless audacity we ask you to join us, as we "tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done."  Ps 78:4

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker (And Finn)
Executive Director

Friday, March 15, 2019

Some Pretty (VERY) Exciting News

Last Saturday I was reminded of the go/no go for launch sequence that is used before a space craft launch.  One of my favourite movies is Apollo 13 staring Tom Hanks.  You can listen to the go/no go clip here.  Go/No Go

Here at Camp Evergreen we had our own version of go/no go with the new lodge.  We have been talking about a new lodge since before my time here at Evergreen.  There have been numerous plans drawn up.  These plans have changed, the location has changed, but one thing that hasn't changed, is our (strong) desire to see more children, youth, and families, experience the life changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

What happened last Saturday to make me think of this sequence?  After a ton (and by a ton I mean a ton!) of hard work, of background work, of talking with the county, of talking with Alberta environment, hiring a geotechnical company, submitting an application for a waste water treatment plant, working on a business plan, we were able to go through our own go/no go sequence at the board meeting and clear Camp Evergreen for building a lodge.

On Saturday March 9 the board of directors said GO!  This was no ordinary GO. This was not your run of the mill, go get milk from 7-11 type thing.  (Right Fritzi?)  This wasn't even go at the beginning of jug and jog!  This was a monumental GO to start building our new lodge in October of this year.  You read that correctly.  No need to re-read it again as I'll do it for you.  We have said yes to starting our new lodge this coming October!

There was a ton of work that brought us to this point.  And there is even a bigger ton (I guess you'd call that two tons) of work that needs to be done before October.  It is a very tight time line but we are trusting that God is asking us to move forward in faith, as without His leading and guidance, it will not get done.

Ducks now need to be put in a row.  Lots of ducks.  Some of these ducks we have control of and others are in the middle of the pond out of reach!  I already ran into (not over) two ducks "not in a row" as I applied for a development permit this morning.  One of the largest ducks?  Your support as we move forward.

Stay tuned as I do my best to keep you in the pond - I mean in the loop!

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, February 15, 2019

All About The Moves!

If you missed my "live" video (due to critical timing we were not able to actually go real live this week) of Rolf, Dylan, and Vince moving cabin 15 through the parking lot to it's new home you can catch an instant reply right here!  More about cabin 15 later.

For those history buffs out there I thought you might be interested to know where the old cabin you slept in as a kid has moved - several of them at least twice!

Here we go -  in numerical order...

Cabin 5.  Wherefore art thou...  Not sure where cabin 5 went?

We moved cabin 6 to the RV site where it has been used the last couple of winters as a second skate shack for rink number two - especially during Pond Hockey.  We also used it a couple of summers ago as a seasonal staff cabin.

We moved the old mountain biking cabin (for this blog I'm going to pretend it was cabin 7!) across the creek and we're using it for Charge, Trails Away, and Adventure Camp storage!

We moved cabin 8 to our old house for storage and we just recently moved it back near the lodge for storage.  (Are you sensing the common theme of storage.)  The plan is to renovate this cabin into long term archives.  It will most likely see some lost and found again this summer.

We moved cabin 9 initially over to Ken's old house - for storage - and have recently moved it back next to cabin 10 for our new out trips shed.  Water jugs, coolers, frying pans and the like will be stored here instead of over by the Welcome Centre.

We moved cabin 10 next to the kitchen - initially to hold deep freezers for the free Gem and Pincher Creek beef!  (Thanks very much for the free beef by the way!)  We've added shelves to store lost and found and it also holds kitchen "stuff."  (paper plates, napkins, cups, etc.)

Cabin 11 was moved to Rolf's property and he's in the process of making it into a guest house.  I guess you could contact him if you're interested spending your next holiday there...

We moved cabin 12 across the creek as well where it is being used for paint ball right on the course.

We moved cabin 13 - which barely stayed together - behind the shop for you guessed!  Be careful in there I believe there is a hole in the floor!

Cabin 14?  Not sure where this cabin went either?  Anyone have any good ideas?

And as already mentioned, we moved Cabin 15 next to the Welcome Centre primarily for John to have more program storage and a place to repair bows etc.  Our new skate sharpener will also be housed there!

We moved cabin 16 down to Roughin' It where it serves as storage and extra dining space when it rains.

One thing you can always count on here at Evergreen is that things are always changing or moving or growing.   The other thing is we're always looking for storage!

Stay tuned next time for an update on how Reaching Higher Phase Two - the new lodge is moving ahead!

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Still silly cold out!