Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas!

To our friends and family.
Some things never change.
As the Christmas season approaches, we are delighted to be reminded of the things that haven’t changed.  God’s provision for us in Christ is a finished work, and our mission remains to understand the implications of this more and more, while helping others see this glorious truth in greater detail as well.
Everything else… does. 
Here are the two biggest changes from the last few months!:
Charles Schaeffer Jacobson
Charlie was born on October 10th and his presence has changed almost everything about our day-to-day lives. What an amazing thing it is to watch a new life created before your eyes! Every day we discover new blessings as we get to know the little man God has entrusted to us. Of course Laura has experienced the most change as a result of Charlie’s birth, and learning to balance motherhood and her other roles will be the next challenge for her. It does change my mindset also, as I feel the draw to be home more often. I will never avoid the 14 hour days completely, but they can’t ALL be like that anymore!  Please keep us in your prayers. Charlie is doing great— and yes, that middle name is in honor of Francis Schaeffer, whose writings have been very influential to me over the years. Our lives will never be the same, and we love it!
Trailhead is underway!
For years, we have dreamed of this gap-year (post high school) program at CFS, and in September we watched it become reality. Nine students arrived on September 2nd from across the country (and outside of it) ready to learn, and experience camp’s unique community. Our goals for them are:

Better understanding of the gospel through Biblical training and mentorship

Better understanding of their own strengths and how they may lead to a career

Better preparedness for adult life (finances, home/auto repair, work ethic etc.)

The road has been bumpy at times, but we are excited when we see growth and learning.  We pray that each of these students will be better prepared for their next step in life when we cut them loose in May. To learn more about the program and to see pictures, check out our weekly updates at
Much love to you,
Dan, Laura & Charlie

Sunday, December 15, 2013

As always, the Dinner Theatre at Camp Forest Springs has represented a fun change of pace. This event is one of our more popular offerings to the public, and is just totally unique compared with everything else we do. The students have been involved in stage crew, serving, dishes, etc. and have been a big help.

While Mortals Sleep - Dinner Theater 2013

We finished up our Dave Ramsey financial course last week, and will spend a few days this week talking about Biblical financial perspectives and stewardship. The week will taper off a bit, as several students leave early for Christmas plans. We will spend the better part of our final day in Cross-Country skiing class! Unlike many of you, we have PLENTY of snow already.

The canoe is almost at the halfway point. This half has been fiberglassed and will soon be removed from the strongback. Can they get it finished by May? Hmm....

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

half a canoe!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Here are some pictures from chainsaw class!

 Preliminary instruction

Wood splitting class was thrown in for free.

Tyler trying his hand

The ladies were impressive (according to David)

The week has been full, with financial training daily. Tomorrow will be the "Strong's Interest Inventory" results session. The students will learn about their test results, and what their interests mean in regard to future career choices. We are all looking forward to hearing what the tests show for each of our diverse students.

Look for the canoe to take some MAJOR leaps forward in the near future. I will be excited to post new pictures shortly after the students return from break! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is failure at trailhead.... failure?

To rephrase the question: when I walked into the trailhead kitchen this evening to find three young men huddled around a pot of half-crunchy, half-burnt rice, trying to figure out what went wrong... Was it a bad thing?

Failure is what Trailhead is all about... sort of. The lessons that come from trying and failing are lessons that really get learned. Trying new things takes courage. It's easy to never attempt anything you aren't comfortable with. For some, its performing an oil change, and for others its hiking for two days in the snow. For three guys, its rice.

Each of these experiences represents a practical skill of course, but beyond that, the courage to learn from failure is a lifelong skill. I suppose we can say that failure at trailhead isn't failure unless we don't learn from it. Which means we still need to figure out what happened with that rice... 

Last week we hit the road for a quick snow hike. We entered the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness on Thursday about lunch time and returned to the van about the same time the next day. Two back-country log cabins provided housing and a place to have time with "just the guys." I had been meaning to chat about "man stuff" for awhile, and what better place than a wilderness log cabin with a roaring wood stove and everyone's wet socks hanging around? We're still not sure what the girls did.

 A couple pictures:

So now its back to business. We began Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace for College Students" today.  Should be fun!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The students have been in class solid for almost a month. Most of them are doing great and actually like the class load. I think all of them are okay with a break, however. So Friday we had our first "Basic Practical Skills" class. We grabbed a couple of vehicles and taught (or reminded) the students how to perform a basic oil change, tire change, and brake pad installation.

Jalene and Ashley changing oil!

I think everyone had a good time, and this will begin to be a normal Friday AM thing. Whats next?   
Chainsaws anyone?

The canoe has slowly crept forward. The men are getting distracted I'm afraid and I need to figure out how I can motivate them to keep at it. This is such a special project and the reward in the Spring will be so great if we can get it done!

As part of "Taking a break from class" week, We decided to go backpacking! So we plan to leave in the morning for a short, two-day camp-out in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness in Michigan, you know... before it gets too cold out to do this kind of thing :)

Should be fun. Pictures will be posted I'm sure.

Whats next?

Sunday through Tuesday is our annual pastors' retreat and the speaker is JOE STOWELL! The students will help out with keeping the place operating, but should have opportunity to sit in on some great teaching as well. 

Joseph Stowell is the President of Cornerstone University and author of over 20 books

Wednesday we begin "Financial Peace University for College Students." This course by Dave Ramsey will be a good overview of financial planning, saving, budgets, debt, mortgages etc. I am excited to watch the students tackle the material. Dave is an exceptional teacher, and this is VERY important stuff.

Keep praying for improved unity in the group and wisdom on my part as I begin to provide more encouragement and exhortation regarding challenges and opportunities for growth for in the students' lives.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Not every Trailhead student is the same. In fact, to say that there is diversity in this group is a major understatement. The needs of the students are drastically different, as are their preferences. This means that the program will always be stretching someone, even when others are right in their comfort zone.

For the first month, Trailhead was a hodgepodge of random events and experiences. The schedule was different every week and there were cries for "structure!" from the ranks. October has been the opposite. We have been in class daily, and the routine has been so... "structured" that some are finding it monotonous. I suppose if we keep changing the pace now and then, we will keep everybody guessing. What I do know is that Dr. Hayden has been a blessing, and the students seem to appreciate his unique ability to bring huge amounts of information and knowledge down to a level that is attainable for them.

One more week with Dr. Hayden.  No canoe pics this time so a baby pic will have to do.

Charlie is gearing up for the big packer game. He has never seen them lose. Hopefully he never will.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

 Did God write the Bible?

Can you think of a question with more implications in your life? From work decisions to moral choices, to financial decisions, all of life is impacted by how you answer this question. That is why we are so glad to have Dr. Dan Hayden with us this week.

Classes have discussed the reliability and history of the Bible. What does it say about itself? What impact has it made on the world? How does fulfilled prophecy add to our confidence? What about Archeology? Who put the whole thing together? These are just a few of the questions already dealt with in this first of three weeks with Dan. We are so grateful that he is willing to bless us with his teaching.

 The canoe is coming along slowly but surely. We are excited as the hull is beginning to reveal the canoe's final shape. This thing is a monster! The men are still leading the way on this project, though I still hold out hope that the ladies will catch a vision for this at some stage!

Jesse looks over their work

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A couple more pictures of our little guy!

             Train up a child in the way that he should go.... Showing Charlie how to be a Packer fan!

Enjoying this rich blessing and learning to live on no sleep!

Friday, October 11, 2013

He is here!

After five years of childless marriage, God chose the first semester of the first Traihead year to bless our family with a new little man. We are grateful! Please continue to pray as we learn how to care for him and balance this new blessed responsibility to those we are already carrying.

His name is Charlie Schaeffer Jacobson and he was born Thursday at 8:46 am. He was 8lbs 15oz at birth! Mom his doing well and impressed the nurses with her upbeat attitude even during labor. I have a great wife and little Charlie will have a great mother!

On the Trailhead front, We have just finished a week it the apologist Reuben David. He did a great job of introducing the big questions of life, and revealing the Christian approach to answering them. Dr. Dan Hayden arrives on Sunday, and will be here for three weeks.

This is a great privilege for us. Dr. Hayden always does such a tremendous job of teaching these subjects. You can read about his book Did God Write the Bible? here : 

                                               Did God Write The Bible?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

For any Trailhead parents who are interested in following the program, we have just launched an "official" Trailhead blog on the CFS website. You can find it here:

I will continue to post here as I have been, and this blog will probably be updated more often, but that blog may have additional specific information about the Trailhead program.

Still no baby news...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Canoe update! The guys are doing a great job, and really seem to be getting into the project. We are still working on the girls :)

Once again, this is HALF of the canoe. The two halves will be joined at a center bulkhead (far right in top picture). The canoe should be able to handle about 15 people and have a total length of about 33 feet!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Everyone made it through the Desiring God conference safe and sound. It was great to hear their reflections as they each brought something different away from the experience. Each speaker was unique and some definitely taught closer to "their level" than others, but the student all did a great job. They have each chosen one additional CS Lewis book to read during October. I look forward to hearing their reports in November. the lectures from the DG conference are available at


This week will be odds and ends, but next week we will have our first guest lecturer. Reuben David is Christian apologist and speaker. He will be with us for three days, and will teach two classes each day. This will be a great opportunity for the students to ask their toughest questions and reflect on the unique challenge of presenting Christ in this culture. See his web page here:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 8 (focused on students… all other staff and guests welcome)
9:00 a.m. – Faith and Reason: Is Christianity compatible with science?         
1:00 p.m. – A Case for Absolute Truth  
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9 (focused on students… all other staff and guests welcome)
9:00 a.m. – The Pursuit of God
Finding your identity, acceptance and significance in Christ
1:00 p.m. – Jesus in the mall of gods
Exploring the uniqueness of Jesus among world religions
THURSDAY, OCTOBER  10 – For all staff
9:00 a.m. – The world of worldviews: What is it and why should it matter?
             1:00 p.m. – "Multiculturalism and Christianity"

Reuben David was a visiting scholar with the Wilberforce Forum for nearly 2 years.  We respect him and appreciate him and his keen mind.  He has a broad knowledge of international culture and world religions and is an articulate defender of Christian faith”— Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship 

Friday, September 27, 2013


Students left for the Desiring God Conference today. This link will allow you to watch the live stream of the event. We are at home because our due date is TOMORROW.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Friends and Family,

Ever since we entered full time ministry, we have been promising people that we would someday blog more regularly. Unfortunately life got BUSY and keeping up with the ministry itself seemed to often prevent keeping people updated on what was going on.

Now, however, with the Trailhead program kicking off a month ago, I feel that I would be negligent if I didn't buckle down and do this. There are just too many people praying and wondering about how things are going. I will try to blog weekly. We shall see how that goes!

So far things are good!

 As with any human endeavor, it has been imperfect and the learning curve (for us and the students) has been steep. There are definitely "first month things" that will look different next year, but the students have had grace with us. We are enjoying the group.

As the first month has passed, we have settled into a schedule that is somewhat predictable and consistent. Students are digging in to their classes which include a CS Lewis crash course in preparation for the Desiring God Conference this weekend, A "Mining God's Word" Bible study methods course at the local church, and an application discussion group we are calling "Gospel and Life". They also had their first session with Defining Point Consulting and learned their key strengths (and each other's). This was enlightening for all.

Not a bad classroom!

After the conference, we will swap out the CS Lewis material for guest lecturers (Reuben David and Dr. Dan Hayden) for the month of October.

In addition to classes, students have trained, served and had their "testimony canoe trip". Hearing the story of each life reminds me how diverse we are, yet how there are common threads woven through each life. God has done remarkable work to assemble this group from all over the country (and beyond). We are excited to watch his plan unfold as we go forward.

Of course, construction has also begun on the giant canoe. This is going to be HALF of it!

Prayer Requests:
Continued unity and sensitivity to each other.
Our baby due any day!
Wisdom as we try to lead and direct this new program

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meet the Trailhead class of 2013!

We are enjoying our first weeks with these students!

Esteban Alvarez—Bogota, Colombia
He enjoys playing drums, soccer and any sport.  He likes to fill out Sudoku.  He also loves to listen to music in English and in Spanish.   

Matthew Fetzer—Oak Lawn, IL
His hobbies are reading, running, exercise, tennis, archery and chess.

Tyler Johnson—Windsor Locks, CT
He has been studying to be a carpenter for the last 4 years.  He is loving and funny and people love to be around him.  He loves playing any sport.

Eric Hoyt—Berryville, VA
He’s very athletic, and enjoys playing soccer!  He also is passionate about music and has a natural ability to play piano well.  He wants to use this gift to glorify God.

Tyler Morecraft—St. John, IN
He enjoys shooting, fencing, airsoft, rock climbing and survival skills.  He’s also a media volunteer at his church.

Brady Reetz—Hudson, WI
He likes to work with small engines.  He also has wood-working experience and skill.  He finds great pleasure in fishing and is working on reading his Bible in chronological order.

David Schutt—Sandstone, MN
He enjoys fishing and playing video games.  Being outdoors with friends on a canoeing or backpacking trip brings him joy.  He has done a lot of that with his dad.

Jalene Vegter—Avalon, WI
She loves photography!  She has been very interested in it for the last few years and has had the opportunity to have people want her to shoot their senior pictures, family portraits, engagements and weddings.  She also enjoys hiking and outdoor activities.

Ashley Vorwerk—Jackson, WI
She enjoys reading and writing songs and poetry.  She loves being outdoors, biking, camping, and swimming.  She is good with children.  She also likes to bake and is good with cleaning.  Music is something she is passionate about and she loves to sing and praise God with the gifts He’s blessed her with.  She has a good sense of humor and enjoys planning social events with her friends.  She loves to take pictures.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013



“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31

This little verse has been very helpful to us lately; much of our lives have been “preparation” lately. We have spent countless hours training staff, preparing curriculum, planning trips and fixing gear. Meals have been carefully packed in coolers for wilderness trips (1400 meals this week) and applications for the new Trailhead Program have been scrutinized. All of this is done with the knowledge that the preparations are powerless to affect lives without the Lord giving that victory. Please pray for us this year, as we seek His power to bring real ministry out of our humble preparations! Here are three key areas of preparation right now:
Okay, that’s not going to be his name, but that is how we have been referring to our baby, due in October. It has been a temptation to be overwhelmed as we think about all the things that we will be busy with at that time of year, but we are so joyful for this gift. Pray that we can balance our new family and a very demanding ministry lifestyle. Also, pray for grace in parenting. We are imperfect.
Adventure Program:
You will find enclosed our annual Adventure Program prayer letter. The Adventure Program is going strong. Just this week we facilitated week-long canoeing/camping trips for over 100 people.  Our desire and effort is that all of these students will be challenged by God’s word and the testimony of their trip guides. Pray that lives are changed and that our many efforts are used by God to bear Fruit that is eternal.
This is our brand new program, beginning this Fall. Check out the link to the website for more information:  Students in the Trailhead Program will study Biblical and worldview topics, as well as vocational, financial and household skills. We see such a huge need for ministry to people of this age, and pray that our many preparations will lead to God being glorified in our weakness and in the lives of the students. 
Dan & Laura


Camp Forest Springs Adventure Ministries Staff 2013!
This summer they will be growing, teaching, praying, kayaking, climbing, canoeing, packing and preparing food, leading alongside youth pastors, counseling, managing the details of many trips, handling the care of the camp gear and vehicles, caring for hundreds of campers, caring for each other…  Thank you for your love, prayers and support!

Back (L to R): Josh S, Johanna, Ethan, Adam, Jesse, Josh H
Middle (L to R): Mindy, Megan, Arielle
  Front (L to R): Tim, Andra, Reánna, Laura, Dan

Tim, Andra, Ben & Kaylee Petersen— Adv. Ministries Associate & Family
From: Sugar Hill, GA & Winston-Salem, NC (now Rib Lake, WI)
· Pray for a productive use of our time this summer.
· Pray for good quality days off
· Pray for spiritual growth for our family
· Pray for safety in travels to/from and for safety for trip leaders and campers
· Pray for unity among our staff

Rnna Baumgarten—Adv. Ministries Coordinator
From: Brookfield, WI (now Westboro, WI)
· Pray that I make the most out of the opportunities in conversation with summer staff and campers.
· Pray for my preparation, physically, for the Beartooth Mtns. Trip in August.
· Pray for me as I work with the details of the trips and work with the leaders of the groups.

Dan & Laura Jacobson—Adv. Ministries Director and wife
From: Janesville, WI & Whitehall, WI ( now Westboro, WI)
· Pray that we will keep God’s truth and gospel in the forefront of our minds
· Pray for wisdom & balance with our time
· Pray for wisdom and pure hearts in loving our staff this summer
· Pray for our baby due in October!

Adam Beasterfield—Specialist
From: Rib Lake, WI
· Pray that I would be a servant leader this summer
· Pray that I would desire to be in God’s word daily
· Pray that I would be open to God’s leading on what is next in life.
· Pray for Rachel and my relationship as we follow God’s leading.

Jesse Tschanz—Rawhide Trip Leader
From: Blair, WI (attending UW LaCrosse)
· Pray that the Lord would give me patience and grace, and that I would show patience and grace to my campers
· Pray that I would be dependant on the Lord in all things
· Pray that I would take advantage of every opportunity the Lord gives me to minister and to serve people this summer

Megan Weinandt—Trip Packer
From: Olathe, KS/Omaha, NE (attending Metropolitan Community College)
· Please pray that  my main focus this summer stays on Christ.  My desire is to serve God by serving staff, campers and anyone else through this adventure ministry.
· Pray that I will do my job to the best of my ability and avoid stressing out.
· Praise the Lord for this opportunity this summer!

Josh Heter—Trip Leader (Paired with Arielle Messina)
From:  St. Louis, MO
· Pray for patience and determination as I navigate rivers and counsel youth.

Arielle Messina—Trip Leader (Paired with Josh Heter)
From: Rialto, CA
· Pray for the ability to bestow and receive grace.
· Pray that I will speak with love
· Pray that I will focus on Biblical truth in my life.

Ethan Harms—Trip Leader (paired with Johanna Roberts)
From: BellAair, KS
· Pray that  I will let God lead this summer.
· Pray that I will have consistent time in the word.
· Pray that I won’t drive my partner crazy! :)
· Pray that the kids will be safe
· Pray that God will impact lives.

Johanna Roberts—Trip Leader (paired with Ethan Harms)
From: Burnsville, MN (attending UW Eau Claire)
· Pray for patience with campers, schedules and weather
· Pray for a positive attitude!
· Pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and others’ needs
· Pray for wisdom and discernment

Josh Sturm—Trip Leader (Paired with Mindy Schweitzer)
From: Wausau, WI (attending Moody Bible Institute—Spokane)
· Pray for a constant understanding of my need for God
· Pray for the partnership with Mindy—that we would have strong communication and trust
· Pray for soft hearts in both Mindy and I
· Pray for soft hearts in campers

Mindy Schweitzer— Trip Leader (Paired with Josh Sturm)
From: Winfield, IL (attending Wheaton College)
· Pray for boldness in sharing Truth and challenging campers
· Pray for discernment and wisdom when it comes to sharing Truth and challenging campers