Hello from Alaska!
I'm sitting here in the Dining Hall at camp, listening to various conversations among the staff around me, eating trail mix, and looking out the window at a spectacular sunset sky over the mountains and Berner's Bay. I feel like it's been years since I last emailed you guys! It has been a few weeks, and a lot of life has happened since then.
Again, I will list specific prayer requests at the bottom of this email.
Spring retreat season was great! We hosted six groups ranging in size from 10 people to over 100. For these retreats, we cooked and served meals, ran the zip line and outdoor laser tag, led team-building activities, cleaned the facilities, etc. It was great to be able to interact with these diverse groups. Only one of them was actually a religious group (a Christian school), so we had a lot of opportunity to interact with people who don't know the Lord. We met some neat people and had some good conversations. Please pray that the seeds that were planted continue to be watered!
Counselors are here!
Our team of summer counselors arrived this past Wednesday, and it's so exciting to have them here. They have brought such a fresh energy and excitement to camp! We are in the midst of Counselor Orientation right now. This summer staff is made up of college-age young adults from all over the United States (and one from Canada) who have committed their whole summer – and paid $400 – to serve here at Echo Ranch. It has been so good to get to know them over the past few days, hear their stories of how God brought them here, and see their excitement for being here and serving. I'm so thankful for each one of them and their sacrifice and dedication to follow God to Alaska! Yesterday we spent several hours doing team-building activities, and I was so blessed to see them already working so well together as a team, and the support and encouragement they gave each other during the challenges. It's going to be a good summer, I think! :-) Please keep these young adults in your prayers – I'll list a few specific names/requests below.
A little about life here...
Life here at Echo Ranch is definitely different! One key aspect is how heavily everything depends on the tide. Since the road ends 2 miles from camp and we have to drive or walk on the beach to get into camp, travel in and out is limited to certain times of day when the tide is out. If someone needs to go in or out while the tide is high, we have to take a boat!
All of our electricity runs off a generator. Because of limited water resources, those of us who live in the counselor dorm can only shower every-other-day, and are not allowed to shower one hour before or after meals (the dorm shares a building with the kitchen). The internet is very limited, so we're not allowed to use anything but email.
Of course, even with these small annoyances, this is a beautiful place that I get to live in for these few months. The bay and the mountains are breathtaking. The sun sets at 9:30 pm and rises around 4:00 am right now. Occasionally we see whales, seals, and eagles in the wild – literally right in our front yard. Life in Alaska is different from the Lower 48, and I'm so glad to get to experience it.
Finding my place
For the first couple of weeks I was at camp, I felt a little overwhelmed and unsure of my role. I feel now like I'm really finding where I fit in the staff and what my place and responsibilities are. The rest of the program team arrived recently, so we now have a team of 6 of us who are in charge of the camp program – activities, spiritual emphasis, schedules, etc. I'm so blessed already by being a part of this group. We meet together every morning for devotions, prayer, and discussing the day ahead, and are really forming a good connection together. It's an encouraging way to start each day.
Also, now that the counselors are here, I'm really getting to dive into my role as Counselor Adviser (CA). As a CA, I live in the dorm with the girl counselors, and serve as their leader/mentor/friend/counselor/go-to person. For the counselors, their mission field is the campers who will come, but as CA's, our mission field is the counselors – to support, encourage, lead, and motivate them throughout the summer. This is a role that I take very seriously. I really want to serve these young women well.
- Watering and growing of seeds that were planted during spring retreat season
- Counselors and Staff who have left home, family, and jobs to serve here this summer
- Continuing growth of team unity
- Health and safety, especially as camp and activities start
- Beth – a counselor who is struggling with some health problems and will probably be going home next week. She was excited to be here and is very discouraged about having to leave.
- Chelsea – a counselor for whom I am praying specifically to see God increase her confidence in herself and her calling.
- Kevin – a counselor whose spiritual maturity we are a little concerned about.
- The first week of summer camp, starting a week from today! (Monday, June 3) This will be a Middle School camp. Pray for our preparations and for the campers who are coming.