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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sixteen Hundred

Our Sparks camp is well under way and we have about 2.5 weeks left in our summer camp ministry.  Saturday August 12, our former board chair Andrew Baerg will be riding 1,600 km throughout Alberta raising awareness for Reaching Higher.  Andrew is our guest blogger this week and shares the following.

I grew up attending Lendrum MB church in Edmonton.  Towards the end of my grade 12 year I was baptized and asked the church to send me to work at Camp Evergreen for the summer.  Thankfully they did!  And it has turned into a much bigger commitment than just that summer as I went on to serve as chair of the board for the past 8 years.
 Andrew Baerg

I am taking a year off from the camp board and one of the things I am doing during this time is embarking on a bike tour of Alberta MB church communities to raise awareness and support for the plans to build a new lodge and expand the camp ministry.  Over 2 weeks in August I will be riding 1,600 kms around central and southern Alberta, visiting 18 MB church communities.  I will be "Mennoniting" my way, staying at peoples homes and asking them to feed me, hopefully with a BBQ pot-luck the whole community can take part in!

I have been asked why on earth would I ride my bike 1,600 kms across the prairies.  After I shared about the tour at closing chapel at camp a couple of weeks ago, one camper came up to me and asked if I was the one who was riding my bike all over Alberta.  I said yes I was.  She responded, "that sounds really boring!"  I had to agree.  However, I am riding because I am convinced of 3 things.

First I am convinced that Evergreen needs to reach more children and youth.

Children are hearing the Good News of Jesus for the first time at camp.  Last year, my youngest son, Sawyer, invited 3 of his friends from school to come to camp with him.  All 3 had not heard the Good News communicated to them.  They sang songs and learned about Jesus for the first time that week, and were given Bibles to take home with them.  They have brought the Good News of Jesus into their homes.  All 3 friends have come back to camp this summer, and their siblings are starting to come as well.  Praise God!

Youth are being mentored by godly young adults at camp.  This summer, my oldest son, Jaxson, is spending 6 weeks at camp in the internship program.  A number of years ago I attended a father and son retreat at Camp Evergreen with him.  We were at chapel where a number of the staff were leading worship.  I was walking out of chapel with Jaxson when he said to me, "when can I work at camp?"  I knew in that moment it was the example of young adults serving God, who he looked up to, that sparked the desire in his heart to serve God in the same way.  Praise God!

Young adults are being discipled and developed as leaders at camp.  It was the summer after grade 12 when I went to work at camp and I was immediately thrown into running the mountain bike program on my own.  This was in incredibly stretching time for me as a leader, and I was surrounded by people who guided me and helped me to see my potential.

This summer, Evergreen is turning away children simply because there is not enough room.  It is time to grow!  All of the funds raised on the tour will go directly to Reaching Higher which will expand camps capacity.

Secondly, I'm convinced that Evergreen needs the church.  Evergreen was founded by MB churches all over Alberta 54 years ago as an extension of their mission to disciple their youth and share the Gospel with those who haven't heard it.  We must continue to foster this partnership.  This is why I will be riding to Alberta MB church communities in an effort to re-engage churches in the ministry at camp.

Finally, I'm convinced that Evergreen needs many people supporting and praying for the ministry.  Over the years I have seen first hand both the need for prayer and the effects of prayer at camp.  There are weeks when it is so clear that the Spirit is moving in the childrens hearts and those are the weeks I know that many people are praying.  Many good things happen at camp, but I know that nothing of eternal consequence will happen apart from prayer.

Will you join me in helping Camp Evergreen Reach Higher by reaching more people with the Good News of Jesus?

Support my bike tour for Camp Evergreen - biking4evergreen.ca

Andrew Baerg

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Halfway Point

Summer camp continues to move forward and we have now just crossed the halfway point.  Here are a few numbers for you.

23,400 - plates of food will be served from our kitchen this summer
1,163   - total number of children and family campers registered to date
267      - significant faith decisions/spiritual growth we have seen through  
               the first four weeks
111      - Bibles given out to campers
90        - more summer campers than last year
66        - volunteers have joined us through the first five weeks
47        - seasonal and permanent staff
2          - number of hospital runs so far this summer

As with every summer we are not immune to challenges and stress.  As I write this blog we are wrestling with our lodge hot water system (again).  We disconnected a sensor and are hoping and praying it will now last till the end of summer!  It seems that every day we work with challenging situations.  However, at the same time campers are learning skills, meeting new friends and experiencing the life transforming Gospel in chapel and in their cabins.  One of our goals is to make sure our campers week at Evergreen is the best week of their summer.  For the vast majority of campers we accomplish that goal.

 Here are a few thoughts from our campers.

"I'm going to take my Bible everywhere.  I'm going to take it to church, I'm going to take it to the swimming pool..." - from a camper who received a Bible

"By showing people love, you can be like Christ to them"

"I learned not to dwell on my past or my mistakes, but to move on and rely on God"

After all these years in summer camp ministry its still exciting to see God at work each summer.

I mentioned in last weeks blog that there was some progress on the two staff homes.  It's been a while since I could post about progress so I'm excited to update you where we're at.  We were waiting for the homes to settle their downward trend and we believe they have hit rock (clay) bottom!  Jacques and David started boarding the homes Wednesday morning and finished both homes well before lunch on Saturday.  It was obvious that they have worked with a lot of drywall.

Kevin, Kurt and a couple of their guys worked two very (very) long days getting the garages ready for concrete and finishing up the grading around the homes.  Both garages are now ready for concrete and Kurt needs one more day to finish preparing the basement stairwells.  We're hoping to see concrete sooner than later!

It's exciting to see progress and the homes have a new feel with the interior walls now having drywall.  We're looking forward to seeing more movement in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks again for your continuing support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director