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The Bulletin - Summer 2021
The Encouragement Circle (TEC) seeks to unite individuals who have demonstrated leadership, a high level of involvement, and a passion for the ministry of the Christian Camp and Conference Association. We aim to offer fellowship and updates to its participants and provide opportunities to help support and encourage the current leaders of the Christian Camp and Conference Association.
Twice a year TEC sends The Encourager to keep everyone updated on events in the world of CCCA and beyond. We also hope to provide insights into a few of the members and fun facts about our shared heritage.
These newsletters are designed to keep the TEC community connected between Zoom calls which we plan for January and September each year.
Thanks for your years of service and for continuing to support the great work of CCCA. If you have a story to tell, a little-known fact to share, or an encouraging word to offer, please feel free to send submissions to email@example.com or post to our new Facebook Group Page (more details below)
So Much to be Grateful For
A personal reflection by Ed McDowell, CCCA Board Chair
It was March of 2020 where CCCA knew that something was emerging that would have a significant impact on Christian Camping. I remember the early conversations with CCCA President Gregg Hunter. He and his team were fielding questions from every corner about COVID 19.
Gregg and I spent time in prayer together. We called the CCCA Board together for prayer. Gregg brought the staff together for prayer. Gregg hosted a virtual gathering for CCCA members to join in prayer together.
We knew from the very beginning that we needed God every step of the way. We also believed that God would lead us through. God has, is, and will continue to lead us for His purposes through this.
When I think of how President Hunter has led CCCA’s team in responding to all of this there are two words that come to mind: Diligent Advocacy. CCCA has rolled out a wide range of resources, webinars, networks, best practices, draft policies, support, encouragement, membership dues relief, and personal conversations. Prayer and encouragement were shared across the association with any member camps seeking it.
It has been an all-out effort.
As an association CCCA is coming through this well. Careful stewardship from decades of careful stewardship has created reserves for such a time as this. The current Board of Directors has worked closely with President Gregg Hunter to craft policies and provide resources for initiatives that will help member camps thrive.
Here we are nearing the end of 2021, and there is so much to be grateful for. The Association is strong and healthy. We are blessed with a gifted leader in the person of Gregg Hunter. We are blessed by a team full of heart and talent for the mission of CCCA. Camps are learning how to integrate COVID 19 as a reality, and there is a growing focus on the primary mission of people coming to know and grow in Jesus Christ through life changing camp experiences.
For you in the Encouragement Circle, you have paved the way, stayed the course, and laid a foundation that CCCA leads from today. Thank you.
With Gratitude in Christ,
A Tribute to Don Goehner
by Ed McDowell
“May Your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NLT
Don lived with one purpose: The Kingdom of God would increasingly become a reality on this earth by how we live and respond to God and His purposes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Three things Don wanted everyone to know:
Your relationship with God is everything: Don treasured his relationship with God. The early morning hours of reflection, praying, reading, and writing were the “green pastures of rest and renewal” savored by Don. Over many years, He would often call me during one of these times, sharing how God met with him through word and prayer that morning. This relationship with God increasingly informed and inspired everything else and everyone else in his life.
He longed for everyone who was part of his life to know the incredible relationship with God that is possible.
Our relationships with each other are so important: Don was tenacious in relationships. He would not give up. He was generous. Creative in designing solutions to relational challenges. He was also generous in helping people. As he grew in life, he had a growing appreciation for the significance of tending to love and life with each other over time. Out of his relationship with Christ, his understanding of these 8 great words of Jesus showed up in increasing measure: “Love Each Other, as I have loved you.” I am confident that those are also Don’s words for us today.
In Christian Organizations: Don sought to challenge every leader, boards, and staff to reach for all the potential that God wanted to see realized in the life and impact of the organization for the sake of God’s Kingdom. He didn’t buy into scarcity, he believed in God’s abundance. An obstacle was a kingdom opportunity in disguise. Don would tell leaders that more of their personal time needed to be spent on cultivating vision and generosity for purpose of the organization increasing its impact for the Kingdom of God. I can hear Don encouraging Christian Camps all across the country right now.
Don believed everything needed to be dealt with for the sake of the Kingdom of God. I can hear him say “its time to have a come to Jesus moment” …. He might say it to you personally – asking you about your own walk with God. He might say it to family and friends about the healthiness of relationships. He might say it to the organization about an issue or obstacle that needs to be dealt with for sake of the Kingdom of God.
I thank God for Don Goehner and his impact on so many in Christian Camping.
Center Stage with Tom Robertson
by Bob Tissot
From his first years of life as a camp kid to his current role at Fort Wilderness, as Camp Ambassador, Tom’s life has been filled with serving others through Christian camping. In those first years he went from the ‘jack of all trades’ doing whatever needed to be done, to several years of Director of Operations, to in 1995 to 2016 being the Executive Director of Fort Wilderness in Wisconsin. Upon leaving that role he took on the duties of Camp Ambassador today. In this role he encourages people to leave an eternal legacy through investing in the ministry of the Fort. This year marks his 50th year as an adult in Christian camping. During this time he has been involved in CCCA as a sectional cabinet member, which he still does today as a member emeritus. He has also served on the national board for CCCA as a region representative.
When asked about fond memories he hesitated, chuckled and said, “There are too many to mention!” His father led the ministry of Fort Wilderness, and had always talked about his dream for a chapel where people could learn about, share, worship and praise the Lord. His father never saw that dream come to fruition during his lifetime, but Tom was able to see it happen. With a bit of emotion in his voice, he recounted the steps of watching his dad’s dream become reality.
He then went on to share the joy of seeing people being able to come to a safe place, to relax, refresh and connect with the Lord and others. As Tom shared his enthusiasm became more and more obvious.
Next I asked about the changes he has seen in his 50 years of service. We discussed both the good and bad. Among the positives - a greater sense of professionalism in doing things. “We have moved from all you needed was a bat and a ball to a complex offerings of activities that engage many different interests.” He also talked about the quality of facilities, and great steps taken to provide greater safety and comfort. On the good and not so good side he mentioned the increase in rules and regulations which add good things, but bring with it many challenges. The one unchanging factor was the same message of life in Christ which exists, and then the relationships which are created. In discussing the current challenges he said, “Don’t freak out. Don’t lose your focus, and don’t allow your peace to be replaced with fear.”
A favorite place for he and Jean at this time is anywhere where their grandchildren are. Their family holds an annual ‘Cousins Family Camp’ where the extended family get together to enjoy time together as a family. He did also admit that Jean does enjoy Florida.
I asked if he had any thoughts, challenges or words of encouragement for this group. Clearly on his mind and heart is his desire to be a protector, standing with the next generation of camping leaders. He summed it up by saying, “I want to give back in thankfulness for all that has been given to me.”
Center Stage with Cheri Evans
by Stan White
What is your background in camping?
On a hot, humid, Iowa day, my mother and I traipsed downtown on the bus to a store where we could buy a sturdy, warm blanket at a reasonable price. For the first time in my life—as a 5th grader—I was going to camp. The list of “what to bring” included a sleeping bag and we could not afford one. Ultimately, we found a warm blue blanket covered with pink flowers and my father tied up my sleeping paraphernalia with ropes from his toolbox. Needless to say, I was totally embarrassed as I arrived at camp and viewed all the beautiful new sleeping bags. I was the only one who did not have one.
But a day of embarrassment instead has turned into years of astonishment and involvement.
How did that happen? “The blanket girl“ journeyed through life first as a camper then through years as a weekend and summer volunteer: washing dishes, relighting heaters, cutting watermelon, shoveling snow, encouraging staff, listening to campers and sharing Christ. I feel as if I slipped through the side door of occasional involvement which then grew to become my passion. Eventually two voices confirmed this: first, a college professor who opened my eyes to how my gifts intersected with this ministry; and secondly a conversation with a camp friend who suggested that anyone with the right skill set could replace me in my current position, but few people had a “heartset” for conference center ministry. I eventually resigned my position in education and became a full-time year-round Associate Director of Pine Summit Camp/Conference Center in Big Bear Lake, California.
What is a fond memory of your CCI/USA & CCCA involvement?
I remember when Diane and Wayne Tesch came to the SoCal CCI Sectional to share their vision of establishing Royal Family Kids Camp, a place for foster children to have a camping experience. They were seeking input regarding the possibility of this being a viable option. Viable? Look at it today—the thousands of lives changed, literally. Amazing!
What are the biggest changes you have seen in camp and conference ministry since you first became involved?
More opportunities for women in ministry
Implementation from mimeograph & paper to computer & printer
Change of the culture in core values and expectation for programming
More sophisticated offerings including some pretty awesome experiences which help draw campers in.
What encourages you the most when you look at CCCA and to the future?
First of all, though natural disasters and pandemic issues abound, people are still appearing at your proverbial doorstep seeking a camping experience—and you continue to faithfully serve. I see that Christ is kept as the constant. He is the Potter, the people of CCCA are the clay and the Potter is busy at work molding in and through CCCA-USA.
Secondly, the continuance of the heritage of CCCA in coming alongside potential international leadership is thrilling. In 1989-90 Pine Summit was joined by twelve other CCI camps to train a young couple, Esther and Andy Salathe, whose dream was to build the first Christian camp in Switzerland. Their dream became our passion as we joined together in equipping them to accomplish the vision. Was your camp one of those twelve? If so, you’ve had a part in raising up a number of Swiss pastors today. In 2021 the Salathes continue to be the faithful directors of Camp Rock in Switzerland (www.camprock.ch) and their story is part of our heritage.
Without a doubt, this year and on into 2022 you may see guests, volunteers, perhaps potential staff members arriving at your doorstep with a variety of needs and feelings (many of which will be greater than that of embarrassment). This might include a discouraged camp director or a potential leader in this field who doesn’t yet believe in herself. These opportunities will come, and you may help them move from their own embarrassment to astonishment and involvement in what God will do in and through them. To God be the glory as the One who leads each of our journeys!
Worldwide Circle with Robert Bruneau
by Dan Bolin
As a six-year-old, Robert Bruneau attended camp for the first time – and never went home!
Well, at least his heart stayed at camp forever.
The young camper turned staff member when he reached 15, and by the time he was 25, (1993) Robert was the director of Cresta del Mar, a beautiful, oceanside camp in Panama.
During those early days, Robert helped train camping leaders in numerous contexts. Once, while helping with a one-month training program to help missionaries understand the theological and philosophical basis for recreation in camp, he met Nina. They have been married for 26 years and have two daughters, Nicole a college student, and Joanne, still in high school.
While growing up professionally at Cresta del Mar, Robert became aware of CCI-Latin America. He soon became involved and eventually became the director, a position he held from 2000 until April of this year.
During those 21 years, Robert was also deeply involved in the leadership of CCI-Worldwide, serving on the international board for eight years and participating in numerous global events.
During his camper days, Robert loved the missionaries who participated in camp, taught Bible stories, and shared their ministry adventures. Little did he know that one day he too would be a missionary. Robert raises support from friends and churches, many in the United States, to support his family and ministry activities.
Robert’s ministry leadership with CCI-LA operates under the umbrella of United World Mission. Within the UWM agency, he also oversees more than 20 missionaries serving throughout Central and South America.
The biggest changes Robert has seen during his thirty years of camp leadership have to do with training. According to Robert, three decades ago camp was essentially “church in the woods”. Just teaching and free time, with no real intentional use of outdoor recreation and relationship building. “Today we have trained leaders with a desire for more and deeper instruction”, said Bruneau.
However, Robert sees some lingering problems. Very few of the seminaries and Bible schools in Central and South America provide courses in Christian camping. They still do not see the value of camp in people’s spiritual formation. The challenge is to help Christian leaders throughout Latin America understand and appreciate the value of Christian camping.
Although Robert has stepped down from the position of director of CCI-Latin America, he remains involved as a staff member focusing on spiritual mentoring and special projects. His emphasis is on networking camping leaders within the Latin American community, international relations, and leadership development.
Three major objectives are on the horizon for Robert and CCI-Latin America:
Robert would like to see Christian camping networks established in more countries. Currently, nine countries have active associations. He hopes that number grows to 15 within the next 5-10 years.
Robert’s desire is to see Latin America produce several additional missionaries. Utilizing their cultural and linguistic backgrounds along with their passion for and training in Christian camping these missionaries can more easily move from one Latin American country to another.
Robert and CCI-Latin America have established the New Horizon initiative. This project is seeking to engage 20 Latin American writers to generate training materials that will be uniquely Latin in their basis and expression.
Robert and our neighbors to the south face numerous challenges. Please continue to pray for the work of CCI-Latin America and the impact Christian camps continue to have throughout Central and South America.
Did you know?
My first national conference was at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, IL in 1989. I was new to Christian camping, was at a struggling camp, and the board chair required all board members to pay, out of their pockets, for the staff to attend the national. I knew next to nothing about CCI/USA, appreciated the board support, and expected it to be ‘one and done’ event. God had a different plan. For the first and only time in my life I won a drawing. The drawing was for an all expense paid trip, including conference fees, lodging, and airfare for two to the 1990 national being held in Boston. The rest is history. What I thought was one and done became an annual event for both myself and wife. After the second year the camp board realized the value was far beyond the cost. My CCI/CCCA involvement was launched on the wings of a drawing.
Do you have an exciting national conference highlight? If so, email it and a photo of yourself to Sue Nigh (Sue@heartlandretreat.com), Lori Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bob Tissot (email@example.com)
Train up a child . . .
Miles and Grace Strodel holding Bob Strodel and his brother Dave.
Camp Deer Run/Camp Brookwoods
(Uncle) Bill and Phyllis Wiley
Founders of Marmon Valley Farm and Faith Ranch, Ohio
Camp conference in New Zealand - early 1990s
Brian Ogne, Bob Kobielush & Dan Bolin
We have created a private Facebook Group for the use of our members. Click the link to join!
Purpose / Use:
Stay connected with each other in Christian Camping
Encourage people in Christian Camping
Not a place to sell services or resources.
A place to pray for each other.
Click the link below to access our current membership list. If you would like a more detailed contact list of our membership, please contact Lori Price. We ask that all membership information be used solely for the purpose of personal communication and not to be used for other mailing lists or promotional purposes.
Give Membership Dues
As of Jun 21, 2021 CCCA has received donations for membership fees from 31 members totaling $8,500.
The plan is to use this year's donations for enrichment during the upcoming in-person CCCA Board Meeting in September 2021 as well as other needs to support member camps. There will be a more detailed accounting of the funds during the Zoom Call September 29.
Please see the link below if you have not had a chance to pay your membership fee.