Friday, October 26, 2018

Winding Down

Our busy fall is abwickeln (winding down) and our slower guest group season is finally on the horizon as we will be saying good-bye to seven of our fall staff members on October 31st.  We have been working long days with a guest group or summer camp on site just about every day since April 10th!  That's two hundred and five days!  No wonder most of us are a little tired!  (It feels like we've been sleeping in the middle of the road!)  While summer camp is my favourite season, there is something to be said about our slower pace during the winter season which allows us to rest and re-charge.

With winter guest groups mostly on weekends it gives us as a staff the opportunity to take some time during the day to read God's Word and to watch the Alpha series as a staff.  This winter we are planning on working our way through our Mennonite Brethren statement of faith.

We're busy (and by we I mean mostly Rolf and Dylan) getting ready for our 10th annual Pond Hockey Tournament on Saturday January 12th.  We're excited to celebrate 10 years of Pond Hockey and are inviting everyone to experience the fun day.  If you have not joined us, this is the year you should!  New for this year - Crokicurl - a cross between crokinole and curling!  We're keeping our eyes open for some used curling rocks so if  you know of a curling club that is upgrading and wanting to get rid of their old rocks let us know!  Hurry Hard!

Reaching Higher and the new lodge continues to move ahead.  We are still working hard in the background with floor plans, engineering requirements etc.  The good news is that our geotechnical report confirms that we can build the lodge where we want with a view overlooking the lower playing field.  The set back will be based on whether the lodge has a basement or a second floor.

Bob T, Shane, Don and Rolf spent most of the day today drilling holes trying to find the best spot to send our treated septic water.  The plan is to treat the grey water here on site and then send it somewhere on site!  Because of our high water table (read swamp) we have limited neighbourhoods in which we can go!

I was reminded again yesterday of one of the reasons we want to build a new lodge.  St. James Ambrose was back with their grade 7 band.  We had instrument clinicians everywhere!  In the dining hall, in the Welcome Centre, the mini lodge etc.  The trombones this time were in the seasonal staff living room (sorry to any staff who were off and trying to sleep in) and the euphoniums were in the foyer of the block washroom!  We had a guest group practising in the bathroom!

As I mentioned in my last blog the overall financial support for Camp Evergreen continues to grow.  It's exciting to be part of this ministry and thank you very much for your generous support.  However, our general fund donations continue to be behind last year and as we draw closer to the end of the year this becomes a concern as we work towards a balanced budget.

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, October 12, 2018


I trust that many of you had a great Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends.  We were blessed to see two of our children from the west coast.  Samara, her husband Samuel, and their rescue dog Echo (named after Star Wars) made the long trek from Burnaby to Camp Evergreen.  We were thankful to be able to spend the weekend together.  On a side note I've been picking out turkey's that are too big for the roaster for couple of years in a row now so I'm officially banned from picking the next turkey!

Bev and I are off to Gem MB Church on Sunday to celebrate Thanksgiving.  There will be a thanksgiving lunch after the service so my message will be competing with the aroma permeating the sanctuary from downstairs!

My message is based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where Paul exhorts us to be joyful always, pray continually, and in everything give thanks.  That's a tall order!  Not too many of us (read no one!) are able to live those commands out every moment of every day.

It often comes down to a choice, the choice to be grateful.  We sometimes think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that is is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy.  Becoming grateful will make us much happier people.  As we develop a habit of trusting God each day, especially when life is challenging, we will be able to give thanks.

The last few weeks have not been difficult for me to be thankful.

- I was able to celebrate another birthday and I'm thankful for my family!  (I didn't celebrate in Cars Land, I just really like this family picture!)

- I'm thankful for my nieces who - many years ago - taught my kids, who taught me, that salt and vinegar chips in turkey buns taste great!

- I was encouraged again with the volunteers that we've had over summer and the beginning of fall.  Volunteers who re-arrange their schedules so they can work hard here at camp on their day off.  Volunteers who drive 3 hours each way to volunteer.  Volunteers who wash 493 loads of laundry between May and the end of September.  (For perspective that's 493 loads of laundry and drying.  By my calculations it's 41.08 days of laundry!  That's why I'm thankful for Doris! :))

 - I was encouraged by the large number of youth and sponsors who joined us for our Lead Retreat - 148.  Add our staff and volunteers and we were very full that weekend!

 - I was thankful for one of our fall guest groups writing on their evaluation - "we have found this is the best staff team we have worked with to date!"  I'm thankful for an amazing staff.

 - I'm thankful that Reaching Higher continues to move forward.  (Let's not forget about our general fund!)

 - I'm thankful when I hear stories of God continuing to work in our campers hearts and lives.

 - I'm thankful for your continued support of Camp Evergreen!

What are you thankful for today?

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

PS  Today's blog is brought to you by the underline button!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Back In The Saddle

People often ask me how summer went - my answer - good, in fact very good.  Each year as July gets closer, I get more and more excited about the start of summer camp.  One of my favourite things is having tuck every day of the week!  Any excuse to have an ice cream cone is a good one - even on a snowy day in September.  On a side note I just discovered this summer how good Chapman Super Cones taste.  I was more of an ice cream sandwich type of guy preferring the natural grains in the sandwich part...

I love our Sparks camp which is our youngest camp with campers going into grade 1 to 4.  Even though some of these campers are very small, they carry very large sticks - everywhere!  We seem to always be cleaning up sticks after our younger camps leave.  In fact, I remember keeping one behind the door in my office for a year...

We had the usual amount of stress and challenges this summer, but nothing really out of the ordinary.  The ordinary includes an ambulance run - we had one.  The ordinary includes homesick campers and discipline challenges - we had both. 

But through it all God was at work as many of our campers experienced transformed lives because of their experience at Camp Evergreen.  That is exciting and that is why we work so hard all year. 

So in answer to the question, yes it was a good summer and I can hardly wait until next July!

Reaching Higher continues to move forward and the more we move ahead the more we realize how much work needs to be done before we can start building the new lodge.

At the end of August we hired Clifton Associates to drill for geotechnical investigation and slope stability.  (I thought briefly about using one of those words for my blog word of the week...)  Most of you already know that we want to build the lodge close to the bank overlooking our lower playing field and canoe pond.  We received good news that our ground is solid and we can build closer to the bank than we had originally thought.

We are also working closely with SD Consulting Group and have narrowed down our septic options to six (or maybe seven)!  How exciting is that!  (OK not that exciting but still...)  We want to narrow our options down to the one best option by the end of October.  We've drilled three test wells and need to do some further soil sampling.

We found out just before summer started that we received a significant grant from the Calgary Foundation to help us with a fundraising strategy.  Thank you very much!  Now that summer and those first few crazy busy weeks of September are over we are focusing on the funds needed to build the lodge.

It's good to be back in the blog saddle again!

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

*Please note that no horses were injured in the filming of this weeks blog word of the week and a fully trained wrangler (we'll miss you Naemi) was in control of Alf the entire filming sequence.  That is why Ranger was able to wear a "cowboy" hat and not a Helmut - oops helmet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Thanks?  Thank you?  Thanks lots?  Thanks a bunch?  Danke?  

How does one adequately say thank you to all our volunteers?  As with most summers we could not do what we do without the help of many (many) volunteers.  This week alone we have 43 volunteers on site.

Volunteers make me happy for so many reasons.  They are an encouragement to us staff who are here for the summer.  They have energy that is infectious.   They have ideas and different ways of thinking which often helps us.

What do they do?  A wack of things as you can see from the pictures.   Laundry, flowers, kitchen, organizing, making signs, weed wacking, mowing, roofing, garbage runs, cabin leading, AV, hanging tarps, the list goes on and on.  Sometimes we need certain skill set and sometimes a cheerful heart with willing hands does the trick just nicely.

Claudia, who helped me with the blog word of the week – which means volunteer in German - joined us for May and June and journeyed back to Germany where she decided after about 2 weeks at home to return to Evergreen for 3 more weeks.  How cool is that?

Kato was a seasonal staff back in the 1990’s and has returned from Abbotsford to join us for a week.  I’ve been here six years and the cereal boxes have never looked so neatly lined up.  Thanks Kato!

Brian is back for his second summer and brings a whole new meaning to BYOH. (Bring your own horse.)   This year he brought Chevy who is a little afraid of our little donkey Puzzles... 

The list could go on and on.  But for now, thanks very much to our volunteers this week:  Brian, Caleb, Claudia, David, Doris, Eden, Ethan, Esperance, Fiona, Harry, Helmut, Jana, Janice, Jannik, Jaxson, Jesse, Josiah, Joy, Julia, Kathy, Katie, Kato, Kelly, Ken, Kiah, Lennard, Lois, Marni, Micah, Michael, Mirja, Naemi, Nathan, Nathaniel, Noa, Ponn, Rebecca, Rhea, Ron, Shauna, Tamara, Tyson, Yliza

And thank YOU for your continued support.  We are still looking for some help to get us through the summer.  You can connect with Lane for more information.

Walter Loewen (our first full time director) started his 40 day prayer walk today in Coaldale.  He will be arriving at Evergreen on September 1 and you can follow his progress here.  Walter would love to pray for you if you send him your prayer request.

Bob “Ranger” Kroeker
Executive Director

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Two Hundred and Fifty-Five

It is my favourite time of year - summer camp.  This will be my 26th summer of camping ministry.  Every summer is different.  Every summer has it's unique joys and challenges.  And every summer is exciting.  Why do I like summer camp so much?

C - Christ.  The best thing about summer is that we get to share the life changing Good News of Jesus Christ each and every day in summer.  Morning chapels, evening campfires, cabin devotions, Pit Crew Bible studies, Intern quiet times, morning staff meetings are always focused on Christ.  While we will never coerce or pressure any camper or staff into making a faith decision, we will very clearly present the Gospel each and every day and trust that the Holy Spirit will work in all of our hearts.

I love the stories that we hear each week of different campers growing and seeing their lives being transformed.  I love giving Bibles out each week to campers who do not have God's Word in their home.  I love seeing our staff being challenged and stretched, relying on Christ's strength to get them through the week.

I love being able to share Christ with campers who have little or no idea of who Jesus is.  We are entrusted with our campers lives and need to make sure we do our best to give them their best week of the summer here at Camp Evergreen.

A - Atmosphere.  I love the atmosphere of summer camp.  Last week was our first week of summer camp and even though we had just come through a long training week you could sense the excitement in our first staff meeting.  Everything we talked about, all the activities we practiced teaching, all the food we had prepared, came together when the Welcome Centre windows opened and we registered our first camper.

For those of you who have worked at a summer camp you know what I'm talking about.  The atmosphere of excitement and wonder.  What's happening next?  Will we have bacon for breakfast?  Are we playing Jug and Jog tonight?  There is energy in the atmosphere!

M - Munchies.  If you know me at all you know that I love munchies.  I can't remember not liking munchies.  Thinly sliced vegetables (chips).  Dairy and grain (ice cream sandwiches).  Root beer (root beer).  They all taste good.  In summer we have tuck time every day.  (every day!)  Tuck time is a great opportunity to hang out with your cabin, to connect with your campers and of course to play Willson Ball.  Tuck time is a great opportunity for the director to get out of his office and relate with the campers by having an ice cream sandwich!

P - People.  The second best thing I love about summer camp is all the people.  This week Ainsley is our youngest person on site at age one.  Helmut could be our oldest but I didn't actually want to confirm his age because ice cream partners have to look out for each other!  This week is one of our busiest camps.  102 Trail Blazers, 21 Charge campers, 12 Roughin' It girls, 16 Pit Crew 1, 16 Interns, 77 staff and volunteers and 11 guests for a grand total of two hundred and fifty-five people!  255 people is a great segway into reminding us to pray for Ken and the kitchen staff and to consider volunteering in the kitchen!

My blog word of the week is Levi.  Levi is a future camper and future staff member who already loves tuck time!  Levi is one of the people that makes us a summer camp.  Levi is the reason we're reaching higher.  By the time Levi is on staff he will be able to serve his campers even better than we're serving our campers today because of our commitment to see more lives transformed by the power of Jesus.

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, June 22, 2018


Our Annual General Meeting and Open House are tomorrow, June 23!  Before you run away because you read the words AGM let me remind you that Camp Evergreen's AGM is a little different.  We'll start with a few warm ups because every AGM needs a few warm ups!  We'll sing a couple of camp songs and two staff members will share a brief testimony of how Camp Evergreen has impacted their lives.

Kevin will give a great, exciting, and understandable (maybe short?) financial report.  We'll update everyone where we're at with Reaching Higher (our capital campaign).  I'll share my passion for summer camp and about half way through we'll stop for ice cream.  I see you didn't run from the word ice cream!  Right there in the middle of the meeting, before lunch, real live ice cream!  Mentioning ice cream was enough to get Helmut and I to attend.

Three new board members will need to be voted in and our board chair Eric will give us a great report!  (No pressure Eric!)  Courtney will be sharing about what is happening at camp and we'll get our first peek at next years summer camps and dates.  We'll end the meeting by heading over to our Fort fire circle to dedicate it and pray for our summer staff.  There, that doesn't sound so bad does it?

After lunch we have our Open House where activities will be open and the day ends with a BBQ, and you guessed it - more ice cream.  It's helpful to know if you're coming so we can better prepare meals.  If you haven't already let us know please give the office a call.

Thanks for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director

Friday, June 8, 2018

Story Time

I like stories and have been an avid reader from an early age.  One of my favourite stories as a child was Bartholomew the Beaver.  Bartholomew was a young beaver who didn't want to grow up (I can relate) or work very hard.  (sometimes I can relate to that as well!)  That all changed one day when suddenly he needed some adult skills when he met a wolf!  A story that I like to tell new staff members is about the man who went ice fishing and didn't catch a thing all day!  For some strange reason the moment I start telling the story, other staff who have heard the story groan and ask me to stop!  I'm not sure why.

Here are a few recent Camp Evergreen stories as we continue to reach higher.

Centre for Learning at Home is a Christian school that works primarily with home school students.  They have been coming to Camp Evergreen the last couple of years for their fall retreat and about 100 students are booked in again this year.  Barry, one of our current board members, was at their graduation ceremony last week as his oldest child graduated this spring.

It was the usual grad ceremony with pictures, good food and stories.  Each grad was asked to share briefly their memorable moment from their entire school experience.  Student after student shared about their experience at Evergreen.  Some of the students conquered their fears at the zipline.  Other students enjoyed the activities, while still others met their best friend at camp.  Nearly half of all the grads shared that Camp Evergreen was their highlight.  How cool is that?  A big shout out to our seasonal staff for giving each guest who comes to Evergreen such a great time!

Jim was a camper at Camp Evergreen many, many years ago and wanted to re-connect.  After spending some time on our web site he gave me a phone call.  We chatted for several minutes and Jim ended up sending us a donation for campership aid.  This story encourages me that if we give someone a good experience today, someday they may encourage us back!

Speaking of campership aid, we raised just over $10,000 with our Dalhousie and Bob Thiessen pancake breakfasts (at lunch) last Sunday!  Thanks very much for the staff, board members and donors who served us so well.  Here is a picture of my pancakes, covered of course in whip cream out of the can!  Our third and final pancake breakfast (at breakfast) will be in Linden on Saturday, June 16.

And finally - the blog word(s) of the day - Tough Camper Run!  Our first ever Tough Camper Run will be happening tomorrow - June 9th.  We're excited that over 60 individuals and families will be joining us for the fundraiser.  We've put together some obstacles, there's a mud pit, and John actually changed the course to run through more mud!  It's not too late to come out and support us as a spectator.  Just call camp so we know you're coming!

Thanks again for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director