Friday, January 24, 2014

January and February at camp are BUSY. A significant portion of our annual guest total passes through the facility during these two months. Our winter program areas (ski hill, tubing hill, xc ski trails etc) are usually hopping, and we all get pulled into the busyness.

Our students feel the load a bit more as we all do, but I have been very impressed with their attitudes for the most part. I am trying to bounce around, working alongside the students as they take on the challenge of serving the crowds.

It is very important that none of us lose sight of WHY our groups come here. For many, a weekend at camp is the highlight of their ministry programs throughout the year. Often, this is where teaching takes root and decisions are made. It is not out of the ordinary to hear about a dozen or more salvation decisions in a weekend. Even the acts of washing the dishes or interacting with kids on the tube hill contribute to the overall effect of the ministry.

In between groups, we are mixing it up, with classes geared toward worldview, listening skills, and more personality profiling.

I always have my eye out for projects that could be educational. When Larry Hoffert mentioned that he had a significant problem matching his (old) boat trailer to his (old) boat, I grabbed the opportunity to make it a class. Tim P helped, and along the way students got to taste a bit of welding, grinding, wiring, etc. 

Once again, the girls chose to pursue their own interests. I apologize that I don't have pictures of the "crochet class."  No, I'm not kidding. Actually a couple of the guys were bummed that they missed that one.

Continue to pray for diligence and perseverance for these students as they complete the second half of the "tough part" of the year. They are doing great.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's been a busy week! There have been no groups in this week, so we booked it solid with classes. Each student will be attending classes in:

Cross Country Skiing (with Scott Everson)
Christian Stewardship (with Larry Den Hartog)
Formulating a Wordview (with Dan)
Making Bucket Bread (with Laura and Charlie)
Downhill Skiing (with Del Kroeker)
Gospel and Life Discussion (with Matt Hoffland)
And a 30 minute two-on-one interview (with Dan and Norm) to debrief the first semester.

The students are doing great, and it was good to hear about the highs and the lows of their experience in Trailhead. It has been such a blessing to serve these students and they have shown tremendous grace with us as the wobbly trailhead wagon rolls down this road for the first time.

Of course, the year is half over so the canoe hull needs to be half finished. Here are some pictures of the first half being delivered to my garage today. Work on the second half began this afternoon!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter has come to Wisconsin, and the students returned from cozy holiday festivities to one of the coldest Decembers at camp that I can remember. Only a few times this month have we experienced an entire day above zero degrees. Of course, there are still things to do here. Wintertainment, our high school event between Christmas and New Years went off without a hitch. Now we move into the winter retreat season, looking forward to serving many of our favorite churches as they come in need of rest and reflection in the cold northwoods.

The students made a list of "random skills" they wanted to learn, and we chose to use Wednesday to carry out one of the more interesting classes.  I have found that almost everybody likes sausage, but almost nobody wants to make it. So when I saw "sausage making" on the list of skills the students wanted to learn, I was excited. Here goes:

 After mixing the meat and seasonings (pork and beef - the rest is secret) we stuffed the meat into the fibrous casings using the sausage stuffer.

                                                      Tying off the sausage with string

This smoker was constructed in my garage with this class in mind. This should be done outdoors, but outdoors was below zero. Notice the cardboard vent on the hood. Ingenuity is a trailhead skill, right? Don't try this at home.

 Applewood pellets provided the smoke. The sausages hung in the smoker for three hours before being transferred to an oven to bring them up to safe internal temps. Once the temp was achieved, an hour in an ice bath brought them down to fridge temps for storing.

I think the final product was good. I prefer venison actually, but I don't subject others to it unwillingly.

BTW-There are no female pictures here because they chose to skip town for this one. Some people prefer to be kept in the dark about where their sausage comes from.

Please pray for the students in January - not just because they will be eating the sausage they made.

Camp is a crazy place for the next month or two and this will be an exercise in hard work, positive attitude and faithfulness to the mission. These are good "heart" challenges and every minute of work contributes to the ministry here at Camp Forest Springs as we seek to serve thousands of people in the next two months. Classes will be focused on worldview and stewardship this month.

Stay warm!