“I went to Camp Redcloud when I was in school,” a parent told me, “you never forget a trip like that!” Now she is ready to send her kids to Redcloud. This is just one of the hundreds of parents I talked with last Saturday at the Outdoor Heritage Day, and many of them had similar stories. Kids came by and told us about their favorite things last week or last year during their time at Redcloud. Others told us how excited they are to come next week with another school. We hear similar stories everywhere we go in Western Colorado — when we wear a Redcloud staff shirt into a store we get the same kind of responses from cashiers, managers, and other shoppers. One thing is for certain: God uses Redcloud to make a very lasting impression on the kids and families who come. Many of them come back again in the summer. And many of them meet Jesus at Redcloud!
Currently there have been a lot of kids coming through camp for outdoor education, and it is fun to see their enthusiasm and see them share their lives with our staff. I’ve been spending most of my time working to recruit campers and getting ready for what may be a very snowy summer staff training (Yes, you read that right. Two days ago we had almost a foot of new snow, continuing the pattern from April). Mark and I have a staff of 10 guides coming in this summer plus a few more volunteers for part of the summer. I’m looking forward to getting to know the 6 new staff and deepening friendships with the returners. At this point is is looking like we are going to have a busy summer in the Expeditions program. And it is hard to believe, but it starts in just 8 days!
Here are a few highlights of happenings at Camp so far this spring:
Grace School from Tyler Texas: What would you do if two big charter buses pulled up and dropped 95 eight-graders on your doorstep in the middle of winter? You don’t have to answer that, but I’ll tell you what we did: we gave them a nice place to stay, fed them some great food, took them horseback riding, let them try the power pole, and took them skiing. While leading snowshoeing, I got to challenge each of these students to seek to know God. Not know about Him, but really to Know Him like Paul describes in Philippians 3. And at least 3 of them came to know Christ during their time here!
Spring Breakaway: “You’ve both developed a passion for climbing,” I told Ethan & Jeff, “it is our prayer that you will develop a passion for God that greatly dwarfs your passion for climbing.” This was on the first night of our Spring Breakaway trip, a camp that only these two signed up for. I got to know both these boys last summer and while we wanted to get more kids signed up for the trip, I was actually pretty excited to spend a week with just these two. Monday we took them ice climbing at Lake City’s great ice park. Tuesday we started up Sunshine Peak for an overnighter, but one of the boys started showing signs of altitude sickness, so we came back to let him rest and took the other to another great little ice climb.
Early Wednesday morning we headed up Sunshine again and reached the summit about 6 hours later. It was a beautiful day to stand on the summit, and of course there was no one else up there in March. The next day we decided to go rock climbing, so we hiked in to a fun climbing area near Gunnison. The temperatures were reasonably nice for climbing, but there were a few inches of new snow on our tent the next morning which was perfect for skiing! Probably the highlight of my week was getting to teach one of them how to ski — he picked it up so fast and had a really great time at it.
Mission Impossible: No, not the movie, the work crew from Illinois. And a very big work crew at that. Aurora Christian Highschool has an annual tradition each spring — they travel to a Christian ministry and serve in whatever capacity they can. With 106 high-school students and about 50 skilled adult leaders, that’s a lot of serving! So this year they came out to Redcloud and worked on some major projects like tearing down an old trailer house and building several new things. They made great progress on building a bathhouse for our base camp sites, erecting a 27′ yurt and more. Each student took a bit of time to try a couple of our activities, and I got to run the high-ropes course all week — perfect because that gave me an opportunity to challenge them each to “stay connected.” That’s pretty important when you’re on the high ropes, but it is even more important to “stay connected to Christ,” just as He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)