Archive for June, 2013

How Blessed We Are!

This weekend, Sky Ranch had our first Alumni Retreat, and we welcomed in staff from the 2000s, or the “Ralph Yernberg Years” as we fondly call them. It was great to hear so many stories and memories from people who still hold Sky Ranch near and dear to them. It’s easy to feel like this place will be a part of you forever when you are here, but it’s cool to see how that holds true even ten years or more down the line. We wrapped up our weekend with a staff vs. alumni kickball game, which I’m disappointed to say led to a sweeping victory by the alumni team.

Our fourth week of programming has begun, and we’re hosting our annual Family Camp. We’re happy to welcome families and friends of camp to spend time together in these beautiful mountains. Today was spent getting to know each other, but everyone is looking forward to activities and worships and hikes as the week goes on.

A number of our staff are heading off in the morning for a staff backpacking trip. They will be hiking Big South, a longer loop trip that sounds absolutely beautiful. We will be praying for them as they explore the wonder of God’s creation in one of the best ways possible.

We fought off a few large rainstorms, but were reminded of God’s promises to us in the beautiful rainbows that followed. In the community and celebration, we are continually reminded of how blessed we are to be here.

-Emily Bishop (Offsite Coordinator)

My How Time Flies

We have met the end of our third week of camp.  July is just around the corner and I cant help but to think of how fast time flies.  Whether we find ourselves up the mountain or down the mountain time slips by with haste and suddenly we wonder where the days and weeks have gone.

The way we choose to spend our days is indicative of the freedom we have been given.  Our Rendezvous program is one of the more diverse programs that we have onsite here at Sky Ranch.  It gives high school students the opportunity to participate in high ropes, go on a day hike, go rafting, and do a service project.  It is a busy week filled with work, bible studies, and exciting opportunities.  It is a week that allows students to delve deep into their faith while experiencing Christ on the Mountaintops.  Yesterday our Rendezvous group built a wood shed, a new trail between our Beaver Flats tent area and our new Beaver Meadows tent area, and built a fire ring.  They worked hard and provided camp with a great service.  Needless to say they were tired and ready for some relaxation by the end of the day.  So, last night they took the opportunity to slow down and stargaze in the meadow.

The stars paint a different picture of time.  In their constancy and consistency they remind us to slow down.  They remind us that we have the freedom to  be infinite.  They remind us that it is by Grace through faith that we have the freedom to adventure daringly.  It is by Grace through faith that we have the opportunity to spend time in God’s creation: working, playing, learning and building community.  Today we are reminded of the freedom we have been given through Christ.  Time is short, but it seems to me that God is infinite.  Whether that is made clear in the stars or the campers, the creation that surrounds us, or the conversations we engage in, I can’t be certain.  I do believe that God makes himself present in this place, and the freedom he has given us is readily apparent.

-Joe Rein (Offsite Coordinator)

Wandering in the Wilderness

We’ve departed the cool banks of the Nile River to wander in the wilderness, here in Exodus-Era Confirmation Intensive. We spent the morning in the wilderness, fighting for resources in our newfound freedom. We’re now waiting patiently for Moses to return from his excursion to Mount Sinai—who knows what he’s been doing up there all day!

Today, we also welcomed back a group from Minnesota who spent the first half of this week at Harvest Farm. It’s a site that’s part of the Denver Rescue Mission and houses men overcoming addiction. They had a great week doing farm work—everything from baling hay to playing with baby goats. The group also had time to spend in community with the men who live and work at Harvest Farm. They are looking forward to hiking and high ropes up here at camp.

Our Rendezvous group worked hard building a worship site at our new platform tent area, Beaver Meadows, as well as building a trial connecting the area to Beaver Flats. After a hot day working in the sun, the whole group is eagerly awaiting a cool dip in the Poudre River during whitewater rafting tomorrow.

Camp continues on for the week, and we continue to reveal in the beauty of this place and the community created in just a few short days. We are so blessed to be surrounded by these mountains, and to have the eager and excited campers that we do. Especially as we’ve escaped Pharaoh’s grasp, the week seems to only look up from here.

– Emily, Off Site Coordinator

As I sit here and type this, I am overhearing small groups of middle schoolers talk with camp staff about what it means to be in bondage, or slavery, in today’s world. This discussion is real and honest and helping these middle schoolers to connect even more deeply with the story of our ancient Israelites ancestors of faith.

Earlier this week, we showed up at Sky Ranch, and traveled back in time to the “the land of Goshen” for Jacob’s family reunion. We were welcomed by Joseph and the Good Pharaoh, who was so thankful for Joseph’s leadership and saving the land and its people from famine, that Good Pharaoh hosted a carnival of games and fun and feasting. But then a new Pharaoh took the throne…and Joseph died…and the people were no longer welcome in the land. This new Pharaoh was not nice, was not compassionate, and only cared about herself and all the Hebrew people could do for her – including cutting the meadow grass with baby scissors, picking up every twig from the forest floor, and cleaning each screw head on the “Palace Deck” so that her face can be reflected in each one. She even had Hebrews carrying her throne around to visit each work site and providing her with a foot stool and foot massages.

But there arose from the crowd a leader, a leader by the name of Moses. Moses and his brother Aaron (who is much more articulate than Moses) stirred up the crowd of Hebrews and promised them that God would free them from the wickedness of Pharaoh. After gathering for a secret worship, Moses told the story of how he was “pulled out” of the Nile as a child, lived in the palace, but identified with the people who worked the land as his own. He shared his story of the God’s calling him to free the people, and God’s promise to be with them. Indeed, God’s promise to Moses and then Moses’s promise to the people came true. The Hebrew’s experienced a series of plagues including darkness (blindfolds), the Nile river turning to blood (water relay) and a hasty lunch just before Pharaoh’s blood curdling scream that her son was dead. Her fury was unmatched as she stormed from the Palace and screamed at the Hebrews to “GO! AND TAKE YOUR GOD WITH YOU!” They didn’t need to be told twice! The crowd of Hebrew campers split through the camping area, across the “Red Sea” and into the wilderness. Pharaoh let the people go, but then changed her mind. Her guards quickly came upon the escaping Hebrews, only to “drown” in the sea.

The experience of slavery to freedom is an exciting one, but will freedom be all that it is cracked up to be? We will find out tomorrow, as we live into this unfolding story of God’s chosen people.

–Deaconess Kristen Baltrum, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Longmont CO

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Mark Albert Frickey, 44, of Copake, NY passed away on Monday, June 3, 2013 at NYU Medical Center in New York City. Mark was main site counselor at Sky Ranch in 1989, a high wilderness counselor in 1990 and a high wilderness coordinator in 1991.

Mark graduated from Decatur Community High School in Oberlin, Kansas in 1987. After graduating, Mark spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student. In 1993, he graduated from The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Mark served as youth director at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salina, Kansas from 1993-1996.
Realizing his call into ministry, Mark enrolled at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated and was ordained as a Lutheran minister at Faith Lutheran Church in Oberlin, Kansas in August of 2000. Having spent his internship year at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Valatie, NY, Mark elected to move east and accepted a full-time call at the Lutheran Parish of Southern Columbia County in September of 2001.

Mark married Tonya Warner on August 10, 2003, and three years later they adopted three children, Jeffrey, Samantha, and Jonathan. While ministering to four churches and being a fantastic father to his children, Mark enrolled at Fordham University. Six long years of study paid off on May 18, 2013 when Mark earned his Doctorate of Ministry. His illness prevented him from walking the stage to receive his diploma, but family and friends were able to celebrate with Mark in his hospital room as he received his diploma two weeks later on Saturday, June 1, 2013.

Mark’s father spoke of his last days in the hospital as small miracles – family and friends were able to gather and talk and to say goodbye. Mark’s father made a plea for anyone who knew Mark to consider providing a miracle for someone else by becoming an organ donor: filling out the paperwork and letting your family know your wishes. No liver became available for Mark during the small window of time in which he could have received a transplant.

A memorial service was held on Friday, June 14, 2013 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Chruch in Valatie, NY, with Pastor James Slater officiating, and at a later date a memorial service will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in Oberlin, Kansas.

Memorial Donations may be made in Mark’s memory to NYU Transplant Center, NYU Medical Center, 403 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016 or to a scholarship fund established for his children at Key Bank, C/O Nancy Rutter, PO Box 146, Copake, NY 12516.

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Greetings everyone! I am getting excited to join you all up on the mountain on June 28-30. Since Ralph and I were asked to put together the reunion for this weekend you know that it was well thought out, creative, theologically sound, and versioned perfectly by Ralph.  And then it was given to me and put together at the last minute!

 Truthfully, we really are excited and hope that we can enjoy our weekend remembering our work together and building up the future of Sky Ranch. Amie, Ella, Isak, and I are personally looking forward to walking old paths with good friends in addition to some hiking, campfires, and wrapping up the weekend with a worship that will unleash us!  “And weeeeeeeee will!”

 Stay hydrated, and we will see you at camp!

 Joel Abenth

Just a reminder from the Sky Ranch office – many of you who have said you were coming still need to contact the office and register for this weekend.  Even if you are coming for one day, we still need you to register so we can have ample food for everyone.  And yes, we will have facilitators for the high ropes course available on Saturday.

Keeping the Sabbath

Some evenings, as the sun begins its descent behind Comanche Peak, a golden light is cast upon the hills and trees that surround our property.  It is the close of the day, and it is good.  You see, like Jordan said yesterday, God is everywhere.   God is in this place and he is in everything we do here.  Today we are reminded of what it means to keep the Sabbath.  Today we are reminded that “in six days the lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day”.

Here at Sky Ranch we practice the Sabbath in a number of different ways.  It can be found in a game of Frisbee golf with your cabin or words scribbled in a journal.  It can be found in an afternoon nap or a hike up to Beaver Falls.  You might even find time to pause, reset, and relax in a conversation with a sponsor, counselor, or camper.  In these moments we are given the opportunity remember who and whose we are.  We are given the opportunity to live fully into the potential and possibility of Christ’s Grace and Love.

Because the Sabbath is about living intentionally.  The Sabbath is about becoming who we were created to be and finding beauty in the everyday.  Today I watched campers, counselors, leadership staff, and sponsors practice Sabbath; each in their own way, and each in their own time and place.

The Sabbath is for us.  Let’s not forget that.  How will you practice Sabbath time today?

-Joe Rein (Offsite Coordinator)

God is Everywhere

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Sometimes at camp when you’re hurrying around, checking to make sure everything is going right and trying to juggle a hundred things at once, it’s easy to get lost in the big picture. That picture being: this is a summer camp. But it’s not until you slow down for just a second to look at the small minute details, you see God working EVERYWHERE here at Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp. You see God in the sponsors eagerly gathered around the couches for a morning’s Bible study. You see God in the campers all sharing food at breakfast and making sure everyone has enough to eat before they get seconds. You see God in our Sondance worship, where all the kids jump up and down at the end of “Every Move I Make”, singing loud and proud. You see God in a staff so willing to pitch in and help with everything they can to help camp run smoother. You see God in a cabin of rambunctious boys finally complete a low ropes challenge and then relate it back to their faith. You see God in the counselors giving each other support and advice and lifting each other up. You see God in the flames that are cooking the sizzling, juicy burgers we had for community dinner. You see God in the fellowship and togetherness that comes from just laughing and talking.

I’m telling you, you see God EVERYWHERE. And when you slow down to look at the small details you are jerked back into reality and reminded: this is not just a summer camp. This is a Lutheran summer camp where God is present and moving in every camper, staff and sponsor. Where God is our focus, our Rock, and our Redeemer and shapes our daily community and experiences. Sure the big picture is important, but sometimes the small details are just as essential.

-Jordan Lange

Onsite Director

Happy Birthday, Sky Ranch!

Do you remember your fifth birthday?  Your tenth?  Your thirtieth?

There’s birthday cake.  There are friends.  There are silly little party hats and noise-makers.  More importantly, there’s the excitement, anticipation, and joy associated with celebrating past memories and those to come.

This evening, Sky Ranch gets to celebrate its fiftieth birthday with a giant celebration filled with cupcakes, arts and crafts, and community.  It will be a time to celebrate our unique moment in time here at Sky Ranch.  Our community and experiences are distinct.  Today we did high ropes, went on day hikes, learned about nature, performed trail maintenance, created candles, and many more things, all of which are special to this time and place.  Though we may try, these events with these people will never be recreated in the exact same way ever again; just like the experiences of those twenty, forty, forty five years ago.  So let’s celebrate the long lineage of those that came before us, as well as those to come in the next fifty years.  There’ll be friends, games, even face paint for the daring.  So come on over, we’ll see you at the jubilee!

God Bless,

Andrew Steger, Off Site Coordinator

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Note from Brad Abbott, Executive Director

On the anniversary of our evacuation because of the 2012 High Park Fire, we want to update parents on a fire currently burning in Rocky Mountain National Park. This fire is approximately 15 miles from Sky Ranch but represents no threat to the camp at the current time. To reach Sky Ranch, the fire would have to burn up and over the Mummy Mountain Range, through ample tundra (minimal fuel) and snow fuels. 

Today, Tuesday, June 11, an interagency crew consisting of Rocky Mountain National Park and US Forest Service firefighters were flown to Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky  Mountain National Park. The location is roughly 4.5 mile from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The fire was caused by lightning and is approximately 2 to 3 acres in size, mainly burning in grassy areas.

High wind are impacting firefighting operations but have not increased the footprint of the fire significantly as of 1:00 pm. Smoke is very visible because the fuel moisture is relatively high. Firefighters are on the scene using minimum impact tools to suppress smoldering grass and other dead and down material. Smokejumpers are staged nearby if needed.

Sky Ranch is in constant contact with the Rocky Mountain National Park Public Information Office and the Larimer County Sheriff’s department. If there are any significant changes in the fire and its behavior, we will post again on our website to keep everyone informed. For further information, you can contact Rocky Mountain National Park at 970-586-1363 or contract me on my cell phone at 970-817-1574.

As the joys of camp – high ropes, field games, worship, and cabin time – continue at Sky Ranch, continue to hold our campers and guests in your thoughts and prayers.

– Brad Abbott, Executive Director