Archive for June, 2014

A New Way to Grow

As week three comes to a close, we look back and see an inspiring journey of how our campers have been Gifted to Grow. We spend a lot of our time talking about Sky Ranch, our theme, what we have learned, and finally how we take what we have learned down the mountain and share it with others.

But what happens if we are already down the mountain? Our summer schedule is filled with offsite programming that doesn’t take place on the mountain, places like flood relief based in Longmont, traveling day camps that span three states, a Four Winds program that works here in Colorado as well as in Utah. All these programs have one common component; they don’t take place on the mountain.

This week we are in Goodland, Kansas for Traveling Day Camp (TDC). Goodland is a city in which almost every family either farms or has a family member that does. This makes for a very unique week of camp, especially when our theme is Gifted to Grow. These kids and their families have taught us more about “growing” than we could have ever imagined. So how do you teach kids, who at the age of 8, are driving tractors and getting ready to harvest wheat, about Growing? We look to the parables that Jesus taught us, we look for the not so physical aspects of growth but rather the emotional and spiritual ones.

We read in Genesis the creation story, and yes there is certainly a lot of physical growth happening, but how about the emotions of having day and night, land and sea, birds and fish, and humans? God saw that the creation was good, but how did God know it was going to be good? God had to have faith, had to believe that it was going to be good before creating all things. Or the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd decided the one lost sheep was more important than the other 99. The emotions of having to decide between staying or going, and then having faith that the lost sheep would be found. The herd of sheep is like our community, when one of our members strays away we emotionally feel as if we need to find that lost member, and then having the faith to seek them out and invite them back to the community.

Our theme teaches us that we are not only blessed with individual gifts but also blessed with the ability to share those gifts with others. These gifts may be physical, planting seeds to support families and communities, or emotional and spiritual, providing guidance, counseling, love, compassion to everyone in God’s kingdom. Our campers this week in Goodland have explored ways that even the smallest seeds planted can impact more than just themselves, that these seeds should be planted throughout their communities and continually be watered. We have loved our time in Goodland, walking alongside our campers, helping them identify their gifts, God’s gifts of growing, and how we can share that message with others!

God Bless,

Jeff Fairfax, TDC Coordinator

Traveling Day Camp in Burlington

Hello from this weeks Traveling Day Camp staff!

We just got back to camp after spending an incredible week down the mountain in Burlington, Colorado (about 33 miles from the Kansas border). Our week was composed of 45 kids from Burlington and surrounding areas at First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

This week presented many amazing opportunities for the campers and Sky Ranch staff. Surrounded by supportive volunteers and staff from the church, we were able to have camp in the morning and adventure in the afternoon. The camp took kids on a field trip each day: we completed a fun scavenger hunt at a farm to emphasize the parable of the sower, helped work at a vineyard to understand the parable of the workers at the vineyard (which the kids absolutely loved), sang to member of the community sharing our gifts of song with others, and finally splashing around at a water park and playing in God’s creation for a few hours!

The staff made great connections with the kids and went to one of their baseball games. The team with campers on it made a crazy comeback in the last two innings and we couldn’t have had more fun cheering them to victory!

At the end of the week the number of kids that ran up asking how they could come to Sky Ranch was massive. We were excited to hear kids asking their parents if they could check out the Sky Ranch website to get more information about the camp. We hope to see many of them up the mountain in the future.

We were blown away by the faith of the kids and the great energy they all had. The team worked really well together and we are all grateful to have spent the week at Burlington!

Blessings,

Hailey Johnson
Joe Kiel
Ally Miller
Jeff Fairfax

Adventures of Youth Go!

We have three campers this summer who are part of our two-week Youth Go! program, focusing on leadership training and service. It’s been quite the adventure so far!

Two weeks in the life of a Youth Go! camper…

Day 1-5: Spend time growing in community with low and high ropes. Dig deep into the summer Bible study and Lutheran Theology. Discover what it means to be a leader and realize your spiritual gifts.

Day 6: Head out on trail for a weekend of backpacking.

Day 7: Summit Signal Mountain, an 11,262 foot peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Day 8: Return to camp for a night of campfires and devotions.

Day 9-11: Head to Wellington, Colorado for a service trip to Harvest Farm, a rehabilitation facility for men struggling with addictions. Spend time listening to the residents’ stories and humbling faith journeys. Step outside of your comfort zone to walk a cow, weed gardens, and tend to newborn goats.

Day 12: Visit the Shambhala Center to experience the peacefulness of meditation. Begin a 24 hour silence retreat.

Day 13: Reflect on the experiences of the past two weeks and enjoy time in creation.

Day 14: Return home ready to lead and serve at church, at home, and in the world. Or stay on at Sky Ranch for another week as Staff-in-Training!

An Abundance of Gifts

Just days ago, youth directors and parents brought cars and vans  full of middle and high school students up a winding mountain road to arrive at camp. Since then, Sky Ranch has not been the same. This place has truly come to life in the past three days and this week’s campers have played a huge role in this transformation.

You see, we sent each camper a packing list with reminders to bring sunscreen, sleeping bags, hiking boots, and Bibles. And they came prepared with all of these things, carefully packed into duffel bags and backpacks. But the best things that the campers have brought with them weren’t on our packing list.

Each camper has brought a unique sense of joy and an incredible set of gifts. From the endless laughter during mealtimes in the lodge to the pure excitement at seeing a moose wander through the woods, these kids bring so much light to our lives. Several Seekers campers have shared their musical gifts with us by playing guitar and song leading at worship. Our Rendezvous campers have been working hard to fill our paths with new wood chips as part of their service project, before sharing in the adventure of whitewater rafting. Our High Wilderness backpackers have offered deep insights and appreciation for nature as they spend time on trail. Youth Go! has been exploring their faith journeys and gifts of leadership. Cabins are working together to wash dishes, pack for day hikes, and support each other through the high ropes course. The gifts that have been unpacked throughout the week are abundant.

As we pass the midweek point and we start to prepare to send campers back down that winding road, we hope that their backpacks and duffel bags will be overflowing. Not only with dirty laundry and tie dye shirts, but a new sense of their own gifts and how they can use them down the mountain, to serve others and to continue their growth. To all of the families and congregations that have shared campers with us this week, thank you for these amazing youth!

-Maddie, Outreach Coordinator