Archive for July, 2013

The Insight of Young People

Tonight I went to worship with the Round Up kids. Round Up is a 2 night program for 1st through 3rd graders. They are the youngest kids up here at Sky Ranch, but also sometimes the most insightful.

At their worship, they had a time set aside for confession and forgiveness. One of the counselors asked them if they knew what sin was. Some of their answers were, “Not being nice to people,” “Bad things,” and “Not listening to my parents.” Then they were told to pick up a stick and think about any bad things they had done. After that, they threw the sticks in the fire and the counselors explained that God always forgives their sins, so their sins disappeared like their sticks in the fire. The kids seemed to really understand what that meant. One kid sat down and stared at the fire for a few seconds, then whispered: “Those sins are gone. They’re gone forever.” For an 8 year old, I thought this was a huge revelation. I know I didn’t understand sin and forgiveness when I was in 2nd grade. These kids get it and could probably explain it in a way the whole world could understand.

Later, during the Bible reading, one kid seemed to find the dirt more interesting than the story about Jesus feeding 5000 people bread and fish. The counselors tried to get this kid to focus, but all he wanted to do was draw things in the dirt. I glanced down at what he was drawing, and saw that he had drawn a cross, with loaves of bread and fish around it. Underneath the cross, he wrote “I love God.” He had been paying attention to the Bible passage after all, and I realized that sometimes the kids that seem the most distracted are the ones that really hear the most.

I’m glad Sky Ranch is a place where all kids can express themselves and share their faith, even through quiet whispers and drawings in the dirt.
– Julia, Cook

(Photos are from our community dinner, with fun and games following!)

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The August edition of The Lutheran magazine features an article on Sky Ranch’s Four Winds program. Titled Coming down the mountain: Sky Ranch serves neighbors through Four Winds program, the article explores the history of our Four Winds program, how the program ties into the mission of Sky Ranch, and especially highlights the pilot programs that were launched this summer.

You can read the full article: Download a PDF of the article or read it online (http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=11555).

Thanks goes especially to our partners in ministry, without whom the Four Winds program would not be possible: Heather with Harvest Farms in Wellington, CO; members of Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Fort Morgan, CO; DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection) in Denver; and participants in the Justice Journeys program in Salt Lake City. Thank you also to Pastor Meghan Aelabouni from Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Collins, CO for contributing the article.

As the 2013 camping seasons starts to come to a close (2 more weeks of programming left), it is with eagerness that we look to 2014. We look to strengthen the new Four Winds opportunities that we explored this summer and discover new ways of living out our mission. More information on the Four Winds trips will be available in the coming weeks, in the mean time, if you would like to know more, please call our office (970-493-5258) and talk with Andy.

Camp Phone Down

The camp phone line has been down since Monday at noon.  If you have tried calling up and have been unable to get through we apologize for the inconvenience and are hoping to have them up and running again soon.  For now if you have any questions regarding anything up at camp please e-mail kathryn@skyranchcolorado.org or Andy@skyranchcolorado.org.

Camp is in full swing and we are looking forward to our weekly Birthday Party tonight celebrating Sky Ranch and 50 years of ministry. We will keep you posted on when the phones are up and running again.  Blessings on your day!

-Kathryn

Living Life as it Should Be

Sometimes we all need to take a pause.  A break.  A hiatus.  An intermission.  When coming up to Sky Ranch, it often feels like we are taking a breather from everyday life.  We are no longer captive to the daily grind of work, bills, and taxes.  Or, if you’re a middle-schooler, you are no longer subject to the burden of taking out the trash, doing the dishes, or homework.  Today is a Monday, and instead of the weight of everyday life, everyone here is subject to a new reality.  Yes, we have a case of the Mondays; but for us it means experiencing the possibilities of a new week: the excitement of new friends, the celebration of a community, the hope of renewed faith in God.

On monday, four groups of backpackers left on journeys into the wilderness.  It is a change in the everyday routine for these folks, but it is not a pause, break, or hiatus.  It is not an intermission from anything.  A six mile hike with forty pound backpacks can hardly compare to the relaxation of a week lounging on the beach.  Exercise at nine, ten, even eleven thousand feet definitely isn’t a vacation from challenges.  What these groups will experience though, is a renewal.  They will know what it is like to live a life filled with support from their peers, even with tired legs and dirty blisters.  They will experience God in the fresh air on the summit of mountains, the stars above beautiful mountain lakes, and the cool shock of dipping feet into a mountain stream.   Sky Ranch isn’t a pause from life, it’s living life as it should be.

God Bless,

Andrew (Offsite Coordinator)

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Shout out to the H.C.S.S.P’s

It’s been a wonderful week so far here at Sky Ranch. With five backpacking trips out hiking in the mountains, and two staff per trip, we’ve been kept very busy here onsite. However, I would like to give a big shout out to the H.C.S.S.P.’s this week (Hard Core Support Staff Peeps). They have been doing everything that a support staff twice their size usually does. They’ve been ranch hands, day hike guides, specialists and are now running the overnight stay for the Homesteaders at Beaver Meadows.

Tonight, our homesteaders (4th-5th grade) get to experience pioneer times as they engage history firsthand. They’ll cook over a fire, play pioneer games, and go on a Living History scavenger hunt, and worship around a campfire. It is a great experience for them to be able to encounter God, even when they are “back in time”.

For the Mountaineers and Rendezvous, we will encounter God through a traveling station worship tonight called the Thomas Mass. It is designed to involve kids in making their own stations and then reflectively worshipping at them. Tonight we will truly experience what it means to keep the Sabbath holy.

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Things are off to a great start at Sky Ranch for this week #6 of summer programming, one of the busiest of the summer. We have a full camp onsite, including Round Up (1-3 graders), Homesteaders (3-5 graders), Mountaineers (6-8 graders), and Rendezvous (9 – 12 graders). We have two traveling day camp staffs partnering with congregations. Finally, we have five backpacking groups that are out exploring creation in the Colorado Rockies.

Even with the business of the weeks, it is nice to take moments to pause and appreciate the joys of camp. Last week, I hiked out to two of our backpacking groups that were passing each on the trail between Brown’s lake and Brackenberry. On the hike out the wild flowers were in full bloom. As I came upon the group, they were gathered in Bible Study on the top of the mountain over looking Brown’s lake. And even as I was still hundreds of feet away, I could hear the laughter and the joy of the conversation.

Those small moments of the camp experience–whether at Sky Ranch or on trail–are transformational. Small moments of community and conversation, of awe-inspiring creation and the intimate presence of God . . . these are moments that stay with you for a lifetime.

As we embark on another week of camp, may our week be filled with moments such as these. And when we come to the end, may we all be changed, but knowing that God is still with us.

– Andy,  Associate Director

(Pictured below are the groups as they headed out on trail earlier this morning.)

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Office Phones Down

For all those trying to contact the Sky Ranch office in Fort Collins, construction in the area of the office have cut our phone lines.  Phones have been out for 2 days and crews are working to restore all lines in the area.  If you have called or are trying to call the office you can leave a message and it will be answered when phone service is restored.  Hopefully this will happen tomorrow.  Our internet is working and we can be reached through e-mail.  For registration questions and paperwork questions please e-mail Sierra our summer Office Director at sierra@skyranchcolorado.org.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

-The Fort Collins office crew

Silence is Golden

Today our daily theme was Keeping the Sabbath. We talked in our cabins about how a Sabbath is not simply something that arrives on a Sunday and leaves after 24 hours. It is something that we can live everyday. During Sabbath, we clear our hearts and minds of worldly distractions and possessions and focus on who we are and whose we are. It is a time for introspection, and a time for prayer to God. Today, the kids had a lot of time for reflection.

The Mountaineers took day hikes to various areas around the Sky Ranch property and got to experience God’s wonderful nature. Tonight, the Homesteaders are staying in platform tents as a part of our Beaver Meadows night, where they have been transported back in time to learn about the pioneer days and cook over a fire. Our first group of Round-up kids left today and we are very sad to see them go. However, they had a wonderful two days at camp, as I always saw smiling faces wherever they were.

To wind down the day we participated in a Thomas Mass worship service, in which each cabin arranged a station and we traveled to each station throughout the service. It was a quiet, silent reflecting hour, and a much needed Sabbath for some tired Mountaineers. As we wrap up the evening with snack and a Windwhisper campfire, we remember to take solace in silence sometime, because it clarifies things we cannot see through the din. It’s true that silence really is golden.

-Jordan Lange (Onsite Director)

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Camp for all ages

Running off the energy of an exciting alumni weekend, our fifth week of programming started with a rejuvenated staff. There are no Traveling Day Camps this week, which means after a week of being split apart, our staff is lucky to be working together on-site. Coming off of a few weeks of Confirmation Camp, our staff are excited about a new week of programming—the Round-Up, Homesteaders, and Mountaineers programs.

This is a week when we finally get to have all ages at camp—from 1st-3rd graders here for just a few days, to 4th and 5th graders traveling back in time to the prairie days and middle schoolers camping out at Black Elk. With three backpacking trips on trail and a Rendezvous program, camp is packed full with people, which is the way we like it!

We narrowly avoided the traditional “rain shower to cancel community dinner” yesterday, and were luckily able to have our meal outside, followed by a wandering worship. It’s always disappointing when a summer rainstorm moves us inside, but we were lucky to have a quick shower that passed over us and revealed beautiful blue skies.

We’re saying goodbye to our first group of Round-Up (1st-3rd grade) campers today, which gives the counselors a brief break in the week before they welcome more campers tomorrow. They’ll be helping out with the Pioneer History Walk, a program our Homesteader (4th-5th grade) campers get to do. They spend the night camping at Beaver Meadows in platform tents as if they were living as pioneers. We’ll report back soon with stories from the late 1800s. God’s Blessings on your week!

-Emily Bishop (offsite coordinator)

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The Memories . . .

This weekend, 60 alumni and families from the late 80’s and 90’s, including Ron (Executive Director during this time) and Linda Letnes, gathered at Sky Ranch to celebrate Sky Ranch’s 50 years of outdoor ministry. Along the way, there were plenty of stories shared, songs sung, and memories revisited. It was wonderful to gather so many old friends back together.

We will share more about the weekend in the coming days, but for now, enjoy a video. For anyone that was on staff or was a camper during these years, this will sound quite familiar!