Friday, December 15, 2017

Can't Get Much Closer

Wow!  Unbelievable!  Blessed!  Thankful!  These are some of the words that come to my mind as I write this Reaching Higher blog near the end of 2017.  First off, where did 2017 go?  And if I'm asking that question - where did my first five and a half years go?!  It seems like just yesterday Bev and I made the trek from Cranbrook to Camp Evergreen during the summer of 2012.  Thanks very much Alberta and Camp Evergreen for welcoming and supporting us.  It has been a bit of a crazy ride at times, but we still feel like we're a good fit for each other.

It also seems like just yesterday (421 days ago to be exact) that we started the new homes.  If all goes according to plan Craig will be handing us the "keys" today (Friday) and we will be (very) blessed to be the first of many staff members living in the Green House - or should I now say the Kroeker house!  Words are somewhat inadequate to express the joy we will experience in the coming months and years.  I want to say a huge thanks to my Board of Directors, to Craig at Kingsmith homes, and to each one of you who have supported Reaching Higher.

What's the most important part for me?  That the ministry potential we have as a camp is just getting started.  Think for a moment of the support the new homes received.  It's crazy (in a positive sense) that we are building both homes for under half their retail value!  Think for a moment about the support that we received this summer.  99 volunteers gave either a week or several weeks to serve at camp.  (Most of these volunteers put in long, long days.)  Think for a moment about the financial support we've received over the last several years from our supporters.  We are on track to have another strong financial year.

Now is the time to push a little harder, to dig a little deeper and focus our energy on increasing the ministry here at Evergreen.  We need to continue to Reach Higher in 2018.

We've added a new family camp this winter and three new summer camps.  Camp Evergreen needs to be creative so that we can see more lives transformed by the power of Jesus.

I believe the most important thing we can do in 2018 is to take some significant steps forward with our new lodge.  Together we need to turn our current momentum into pledges.  One of the questions I hear the most is - are you still building a lodge?  The answer is YES!  As a camp we want to see more children have the opportunity to make a life changing decision to follow Jesus.

I'll end this blog with one last picture of Jordan - putting on a skirt!  :)

Thanks for your continued support!  May God richly bless you this Christmas season.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, December 1, 2017

Timeline Part Two!

We left last weeks blog on January 20th with the tin roof going up on house number one.  Our volunteers continued to support us in the framing stage and on January 25th Dustin and Brian were back out helping us move forward.

February 10th - the electrical rough-in was happening.  Remember this list the electricians left?  It's in electrician code as smash plates doesn't really mean go to Ken's kitchen and smash plates and borrow four pots!

By March 1st (happy anniversary Bev!) - again with the help of our volunteers, house number two was very close to being framed.

The next step was insulation and we recruited our winter staff to help.  Here they are on March 13th insulating away.

On March 31st we started drywalling the ceiling so that we could get insulation up in the attic.

You might be wondering why such a long wait until we really started building again?  Some of us here at camp were wondering the same thing.  We were waiting to make sure the frost was completely out of the ground before continuing as both homes began their downward journey of inches to final settlement.  The homes sank enough that we had to adjust the front decks.

Near the end of July we were given the go ahead to start drywall and by July 26th we were well under way.  You could tell very quickly that this was not the drywall crews first rodeo.  It took just a couple of days to finish both homes.

On August 12th we poured the garage concrete.

August 18th was the transition from house number one and two, to the Red House and Green House.  Calling the green house the Green House was a little confusing at times as some of us pictured growing tomatoes.  I can assure you that Ranger did not think tomatoes, he was still thinking of tin roof ice cream.

 On September 5th, Arnold who dug the basement holes was back to install the sewer and water.

October 20th saw Ben and Andrew's first trip to install the cabinets.  A HUGE thanks to Ben for custom building our cabinets with a great deal of skill and love - at no cost to camp!  Han started his stonework and was able to finish in spite of some pretty cold mornings.

By November 17th the tile in the Red House was finished and the hardwood was well under way.

And my final picture for this blog is Craig taking off the cleats from the roof of the Green House.  We're not talking soccer cleats.  The Siders needed cleats to help them side the homes without falling off the ice cream - I mean tin roof.  Thanks again Craig and Kingsmith homes for your incredible support in allowing us to build both homes for what we anticipate will be under half their retail value.

We are trusting that the excitement, support and momentum will continue as we now transition to the new lodge.  If you have not yet made a pledge to Reaching Higher I would ask you to consider.  It is only through your support that we will be able to continue to move forward and see more lives transformed by the power of Jesus.

Thanks again for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, November 24, 2017


As both the Red House and Green House are getting close to completion I thought it would be fun to take a look back on how it all started.  A trip down memory lane as it were.

On Thursday October 20th, 2016, the excavator arrived all the way from Edmonton to dig the holes for the new homes.  Later on that same day, Craig, Jordan, Rolf and Kevin put the final stakes in the ground to map out house number one.

The next day, October 21st, Rolf was busy building a road back to house number two.

Our good friend Arnold from Edmonton, arrived on Saturday the 22nd to start digging the basements.  It seems like a long time ago already!  Craig needed to do some fine tuning on the dig and so he brought his own mini excavator!  (BYOME)  Let me say one more time how much we (I) like and appreciate Craig! 

Remember when the blog word of the week was schrakjlijch?  Well when we started working with the footings on October 28th it was very, very schrakjlijch down in the hole.

On November 15th, while it was snowing outside, we were pouring the basement walls and by the 17th the basement walls were being sprayed with a black, tar like material.

A month after we started digging the basements our building packages from Star Building arrived on site.  A big shout out to David for taking care of us at Star.  And on November 29th, the first beam on house number one is up!  I remember making a comment about beam me up Scotty - in reference to our framer Scott.  Thanks again Scott and Brian for serving us so well through the good weather, cold weather, super cold weather and then...the mud!

It was a cold winter and I remember nail guns having a hard time working never mind the framers and volunteers.  Here is Don from Gem on December 1st screwing the floor down.  Right where Don is standing there is now a hardwood floor.  And we had two father/son combo's helping us on December 3rd.  Richard and Ethan from Gem and Brian and Kurt from Calgary.

By December 22nd - less than a month after starting - house number one was looking like - well it was looking like a house was supposed to look like!  :)  And on December 28th one of our Alberta Mennonite Brethren pastors - Laurence was braving the cold and helping finish the garage.

January 4th, 2017, the first beams were going up on house number two.  It was very cold, and if you look hard in the background you'll see another father/son combo, Walt and Nathan from Edmonton also braving the cold as work continues to progress.

January 20th saw the tin roof up on house number one.  A big thanks to Ron and his crew from Duchess who installed the roof on both homes.  You may remember my reference to tin roof ice cream - tin roof is one great tasting ice cream.

One of my favourite Reaching Higher stories comes out of the two roofs.  We received one invoice for both roofs in the amount of $4,000.  In the same envelope as the invoice, was a donation cheque for $5,000.  If you think about it, not only did we get two free roofs, we actually made $1,000!!  How fun is that?  Because of the incredible support we are getting, both homes are being built for approximately half their retail value!

Thanks very much for your continued support as we push to finish the year strong financially.  Stay tuned next week as we continue down the staff home timeline.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, November 10, 2017


So lots of action on the homes this week.  Han and Peter are back working on the Red House stone.  They brought some propane, a heater and a fancy insulated tarp.  If you ever find yourself doing stone work in cold weather, remember - freezing and setting are not the same thing!  You're shooting for setting.  Our painters, Larry and Linda from Linden, continue to paint the Green House and Bob (what a great name!) has joined us in staining the mantle and stair railing in both homes.  Bob is from right around the corner and attends the Bergen church.  Its good to have local support!

The basements are coming along, our plumbers are very close to having the hot water connected.  Poly and final insulation went up in both the Red and Green house basement walls and our electricians were back finishing the Red House.  Next week is scheduled to be just as busy.  Still no official move in date from Craig, but we're getting pretty excited!

The blog word of the week is check.  Or is it cheque?  Or maybe Czech?

I used the word check once back in grade four when I said checkmate as the Grandmaster of the tournament.  To be fair the tournament only had about three students and I'm not sure who was more surprised with the result, myself or Steven Collins.  I haven't really play chess since grade four as I wanted to retire a champion.  According to Google, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain.  Once achieved, the title is held for life!  I'll try to beat Scamp next time I play.

Or you could spell it cheque which is a great segway into asking you to consider helping us finish the year strong financially.  Our operating budget calls for $50,000 to be donated by churches and individuals in the months of November and December.  We had a few unexpected expenses this year in the way of furnaces and hot water systems, your support would be greatly appreciated as we continue to reach higher!

We could also mention check in the context of our upcoming Pond Hockey tournament Saturday, January 13th.  (Good thing its not on Friday the 13th!)  Using the word check is a little misleading as usually we're interested more about what kind of cheese the players like (cheese is a typical topic when Tom announces the game) as opposed to how well they can body check - as we try to keep checking to a minimum.  Two of our board members Eric and Cody missed the memo!

And finally, we can use the word Czech very effectively to tell a (very funny) story.

Hey Chad, Kenya see who's winning the race?  Iran up to Czech but couldn't see anything.  It looks like those two are Russian to the Finnish line.  I think it's gonna be...a Thai!

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director