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!

Friday, February 8, 2019

All About Dates!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word date?  The first thing that comes to my mind is my lovely wife and one of our first dates back in Texas.  Bev and I grew up about a half hour apart in Chilliwack and Abbotsford B.C., but we met in the great state of Texas at a Capernwray summer camp!   His Hill Ranch Camp is about an hour north of San Antonio.

One of us fell madly in love with the other, and the other wanted to concentrate on the campers!  The story changes depending on who's telling it.  :)  One of our first dates was going to The Goonies movie - in the theatre.  For perspective, The Goonies came out in 1985!  We've been on many dates since!

Over the years I have seen many of our seasonal staff members fall in love and begin to date.  Some of our staff date well, and...some of our staff not so well!  But I can't think of a better place to meet your potential spouse!

Something else that might come to your mind is edible dates!  To be honest dates don't often come to my mind as I'm trying to cut back.  When you Google dates there are some interesting facts about them.  Very nutritious (I'm guessing you would actually have to eat them to experience that), and high in fibre - as we all know one can't get enough fibre.  Something I'm guessing you didn't know about dates - apparently they promote natural labour!   So if you're in that neighbourhood of life start eating dates!

But the dates I'm talking about today are upcoming (important) dates in our Camp Evergreen calendar.  So get your calendar out, follow along, and plan on joining us for one or more "date" at Camp Evergreen!

WTDD (Write These Dates Down)

February 15 to18 is our Winter Family Fest.  Absolutely more fun then you've ever had in snow before.  Crokicurl, great food, and even rumours of a Rodeo?  We still have room so it's not too late to join us on the Family Day weekend.

April 5 to 7 is our Ladies Retreat.  A great speaker, moving worship, crafts, and will axe throwing return for a second year?

May 3 to 5 is our Father Son Retreat.  Dad's Root Beer, bacon burgers, bacon for breakfast, bacon for night snack?  This is a great opportunity to hang out with your son all weekend.

May 26 is our Daughter Day.  Built around daughters we pack as much into one day as possible.  Chapel in the morning, activities in the afternoon, and we end with a great supper!

June 8 is our Second Annual Tough Camper Run.  Some of you missed this date last year so make sure this gets in your calendar.  Running with your family through the woods, mud, and obstacles of Camp Evergreen, could be one of the best times of your life!  This is our second main fundraiser of the year.

And finally - June 22 is our Annual General Meeting in the morning and Open House in the afternoon.  As a society the AGM is a very important part of our year.  The Open House in the afternoon allows you to invite friends and neighbours to experience camp in a relaxed atmosphere.  We are planning one or two ball games this year so bring your glove and lucky bat.

Reaching Higher continues to move ahead behind the scenes.  We anticipate having to make some major decisions soon and ask that you continue to keep the board of directors in your prayers.

Thanks again for your support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, February 1, 2019

What's In A Mug?

You can answer that question one of two ways.   The first way is the obvious way.  You look inside the mug and whatever is in there - is in there!  A lot of people who come to Camp Evergreen will put coffee in their mug.  I've tried coffee several times in my 54 some odd (key word being odd) years.  I like the smell of coffee - but not the taste of coffee - much to the chagrin of my lovely wife who would like to "have coffee" with me!  I'd say I've had maybe 3/4 of a cup - total - over my life span. 

I'm happy with hot chocolate in my mug or even tea.  Happy with Mug Root Beer in the mug of course, but most often at camp I have milk in my mug.  This usually happens when I plan on starting to drink coffee, pour the milk in first, and then find out there is "too much" milk in the mug and no room for coffee.  Of course you can never have too much milk so I just end up drinking the milk.

If you haven't noticed we have new mugs here at Evergreen.  In the catalogue and on online they looked distinctly lime green.  However, when they arrived at camp, they looked more lime yellow - if in fact lime yellow is actually a colour!  We decided to splurge this time and get the logo on both sides of the mug!  I know, crazy!  Now it doesn't matter if you are left or right handed, when you hold the mug up high enough, that logo is staring you right in the eyes!

The second way to answer the question, "What's In A Mug?" is simply this.  We like to celebrate things here at Camp Evergreen and a new mug is something to celebrate.  We have all sizes of projects on the go.  Big ones like the new lodge - now that's a big project.  Another big project is our new septic system.  No one really gets excited about a septic system, but we've been told in no uncertain terms that before we get occupancy of a new lodge - we need a new septic system.  So we're doing our best to get excited about sewer!  Yippee!

We have some smaller projects.  Cabin 15 is up on skids ready to be moved so John, our Activities Director, has a new office/workshop.  Just one look at his desk and you can see he needs more room! 

We've installed the new beverage counter which looks great!  Thanks very much to Stephen at Legacy Kitchens and our own Rolf for making this possible.

So in the grand scheme of things a single mug would be one of the smaller new projects we're celebrating, but we're celebrating.  So what's in a mug?  Our camp logo - Camp Evergreen Reaching Higher.  Yes I know it's technically on not in, Kevin!  :)

Why do we want to reach higher?  Well today is the last day of early bird registration for our summer camps.  We have 736 campers already registered!  Seven hundred and thirty six!  (Looks more impressive written out :).)  That's 105 campers ahead of last year at this time.  Six of our camps are full.  We have campers on the waiting list.  We need to reach higher so we can share the life changing Good News of Jesus Christ to more children, youth, and families.  It's as simple as that.

Thanks for your continued support and I invite you to reach higher with us in 2019.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director