Archive for July, 2015

Connectedness

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Joining the high school Rendezvous campers for lunch during our second week of summer programming, I was greeted by a familiar face. Ethan was one of my first campers when I began at Sky Ranch in 2012. After a week of enjoying camp onsite, Ethan volunteered at his home congregation for Traveling Day Camp where I once again got to work with him. Throughout his week this summer, I watched him take part in Rendezvous as he and other campers hiked to Emmaline alpine lake, went rafting down the Poudre, and made candles by the campfire. At the end of the week, I was encouraged to hear that Ethan was considering joining camp staff in the future.

Out of the daily themes from this year’s bible study, I find myself most often contemplating connectedness. Ethan is just one example of the many familiar faces I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with at Sky Ranch.  Seeing campers return and go on to become staff members, has caused me to realize the breadth of Sky Ranch’s community. While it can be challenging to observe the impact camp has made in the span of a week, the continuous community flowing in and out of this place is a testament to the rejuvenation and personal growth occurring at Sky Ranch.  In meeting volunteers, sponsors and campers with deep connections to camp, I enjoy reminiscing on what makes their experiences distinct and what continually draws them to Sky Ranch. This summer, we are blessed to share this community with each camper driving up the winding dirt road. Even for those who only attend camp once, Sky Ranch offers a chance to live with a greater awareness of one’s connection to nature, peers they may not otherwise interact with, and God’s enduring presence in their lives.  Each visitor, whether it’s their first or twentieth week at Sky Ranch increases my own sense of connection between Sky Ranch and the greater church community.  I pray the heightened sense of connectedness I feel when visitors arrive is shared and dispersed down the mountain as they depart.

Written by Dan Chell, Offsite Coordinator

Covenant and Photography

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This week at camp, cabins got to play with some cameras and explore A Love That Never Ends through photography and a practice called Visio Divina, latin for “sacred seeing.” There is an abundance of plants, animals, and places to see wonderful creation here at Sky Ranch, and we were able to talk about how nature is a part of God’s covenant to sustain us: through creation, we might experience God’s love. With eyes set for seeing God in the environment around camp, we went off on a slow walk to take notice, and as we noticed, take some photos. As each of our eyes sees differently, the photos that came from campers were all different as well. After a time of wandering and noticing, we gathered to each share a single photo that best showed A Love That Never Ends. Some chose photos of a flower, celebrating the beauty of God’s love. Pictures came of the sky, a reminder that God is bigger and beyond what we know. Others, small details of the forest floor, and showing the new life that emerges where we least expect it.

“So the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)

God’s love for us is even greater and more permanent than the mountains which surround us. And still, in the small moments we experience around camp this week, God’s love is abundant. Enjoy a sampling of some of the ways our campers noticed God this week!

Sky Ranch Olympics

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Staff in Training in a strange position to be in.  We’re still campers, but we’re also practicing how to be a staff member.  Only a very fine line separates us from staff.  Throughout the week of staff in training, we searched for the answer to one question – how can we best love these kids?

One answer was found in organizing the very first Sky Ranch Olympics.  Rather than just talking about how to love kids, we actually did something.  The SITs experienced how much time and effort it takes to create a camp event.  Despite the exhaustive hours of work, the Olympics may have actually been more fun for us than the campers.  We are just really big kids, after all.  Who doesn’t want to run around in a Viking helmet and cape and speak in obnoxious Scandinavian accents?

The Olympics went better than we ever could have expected.  We saw these kids show their creativity and grow their community in less than a day.  Some said it was the best community play they had ever had.  I know that the SITs decided it was our favorite part of the week and we hope to make the Sky Ranch Olympics a tradition that continues for a long time.

Kiersten Gromm, Staff in Training

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As an off-site guide, I have the fortunate opportunity to dabble in several different areas of camp. Throughout the 3 weeks of Summer programming thus far,  I have had the opportunities to help plan and lead worships, lead day-hike trips for several different cabins, facilitate the high ropes challenge course, go rafting with a bunch of high school campers, help volunteer in Fort Morgan, as well as leading devotions and bible studies.

All of these things probably sound like a great deal of fun, and they most definitely are. However, what I love about Sky Ranch is that we go beyond the fun to find God. With a summer theme focused on God’s never-ending never-failing love, this digging deeper is absolutely necessary. For example, after a cabin group had just finished careening down the zip line on the high ropes course, we asked them how it was. The initial response was enthusiastic and lovely. “Fun! Exciting! Challenging! Scary but once I heard people cheering for me it got better!” Then, we asked the cabin where they saw God and their responses were just as enthusiastic. They saw God’s promise to love in the promise that the ropes, cables, and safety equipment would hold their weight and they would not fall. They saw God’s love of connectedness in the encouragement and support of their fellow cabin mates and counselors. They experienced  God’s grace-filled love in the option to challenge themselves how they chose to, whether that was doing 3 laps around the whole course or just doing the zip line. Their responses are just one example of how God’s love shows up in the everyday activities of camp.

I hear conversations of discovering God’s love all across camp, from our evening worships to sustainability and art sessions. We often talk about how a love that never ends is God’s ability to love after our attempts have failed, but it is also a love that shows up in every single moment of our lives. The campers this summer are a testament to seeing God’s awesome and unwavering love in the seemingly ordinary moments of life, which only proves just how extraordinary that love is.

Tom Gehring, Off-Site Guide