As many of you know Bev and I will be moving back to the Fraser Valley (Agassiz) near the end of May. I just wanted to simply say thanks for your incredible support over the last eight years and share a few of my memories. If you're wondering how it all started - prior to Camp Evergreen I was working at Elkview Mines as a haul truck driver. Cousin Norm was the first person to let me know that Camp Evergreen was looking for a director and Andrew, board chair at the time, was quite persistent in pursuing me. Bev and I actually said "no" a couple of times in the early conversations, but God had other plans and I arrived on site near the end of July 2012. Bev, Mitch, Captain Tinkleberry (cat), Beans (cat), Tango (dog), and Scamp (see below) joined me at the end of August. I want to say a special thanks to the seasonal staff of 2012 who opened their arms to welcome Mitch into their fold.
One of my earliest - and favourite - stories was in the spring of 2013 when I experienced my first flood here at Evergreen. We had a guest group on site and the power went out - always a challenge for sure. A tree had fallen on the power line in the middle of the creek. The creek was flowing at a high rate of speed, rising by the hour, and until that tree was removed the power company could not restore power. There was a very real chance that if they did not get the tree off the line in the next hour, we could very well be without power for at least a week. Several options were tried including a grappling hook and shooting an arrow, when finally Rolf got out his 243 Winchester and literally shot the tree off the line! It blew apart and if you can believe it one of the branches fell right back on the line! Rolf shot the final branch off and power was quickly restored! Here is the power company installing a new power pole as the old one was falling into the creek.
Many staff, campers, and guests remember our dog Scamp. When we first arrived at Evergreen Scamp was addicted to the guest groups and we had a very hard time keeping him home. If we wanted to know where Scamp was we would look for a group of girls, and nine times out of ten you'd find Scamp in the middle getting his belly rubbed. There came a point where Scamp was banned from the Pond Study activity because he kept eating the frogs that the guests caught. We also had to keep him out of the archery range as he would just wander in front of the targets. Scamp was a favourite of many and will be missed. Thanks Andrew and Lisa for looking after Scamp in the Family Camp canoe race!
Of all the seasons at camp I would have to say that my favourite season was summer camp. And of all the camps we ran, Sparks would have to be my favourite. There were always an extra amount of sticks we had to clean up at the end of the camp as it seemed like every boy needed his own. The campers would often have flashlights with them in the middle of the day, and they sure loved tuck time. (I love tuck time!) It was a joy to see many of these young campers make their first commitment to Jesus.
We have had many, many, volunteers over the years and I always appreciate how they are willing to give of their time and energy to help us in our ministry. I know you're not supposed to have a favourite volunteer (and I actually have quite a few) but I do need to mention my friends Helmut and Doris who sold their farm and decided to spend their spring and summers at Camp Evergreen volunteering. They are definitely a staff favourite! Thanks Helmut and Doris for your encouragement.
Another one of my favourite memories will be the Wednesday BBQ in the field we had each week in summer weather permitting. After a delicious hamburger, Helmut and I would often end the evening with an unofficial ice cream bar eating contest, and then we would pretend to be lactose free so we could have the popsicles as well! I also appreciated Helmut doing the actions for the YMCA song at the rodeo as seen below in one of my all time favourite pictures. Thanks Harold, Ken, and Dylan for joining Helmut and for your enthusiasm!
I had the pleasure of meeting Walter for the first time at camp's 50th anniversary. Immediately I could tell that this was a special man of God and over the next few years as Walter spent more time at camp I grew to appreciate his phone calls, e-mails of encouragement, and the fact that he loved Crocs as much as I do. Walter was our first full time director here at Evergreen and kept lists of his campers and staff so he could pray for them. His heart was big and I consider it a privilege to have known him for those few short years. Sadly Walter passed to glory last last year. I still have his number in my cell phone...
I need to say thanks to my seasonal and permanent staff. You truly made my job easy and it was a real pleasure to lead you. We all had our own unique gifts and personalities and from the way our summer camp and guest group ministry grew we can look back and say we did a great job. I also want to say thanks to my personal family members who shared their time with Camp Evergreen.
Something I appreciated most about being on staff here at Evergreen was seeing so many lives transformed by the power of Jesus. From campers to staff to guests, God was truly at work in and through us. There are too many stories for me to even begin sharing. Campers who became Christians at camp and ended up bringing their non-church families to church! Staff who joined us struggling in their faith and seeing God very clearly enter and change their lives. I truly believe that Camp Evergreen is one of God's most powerful tools in Central Alberta.
I need to say thanks to the board both past and present for your support, for showing me what a good board looks like, and for taking a chance on this unknown haul truck driver. It's been a pleasure serving with you. (Thanks Kevin for liking numbers a whole lot more than I like numbers!)
And finally, a big thanks to you, the greater constituency. Without your financial support, without your hours here at camp, we simply could not do this work. You welcomed us with open arms, you checked us out, (remember that first visit Mike and Andrew...), you encouraged us with your notes, and most importantly you prayed for us. Bev and I are truly blessed because of you.
Bob "Ranger" Kroeker