[Ken and Deb 07/20/2018] We were the solo SOWER unit at Kidder Creek Orchard Camps this month. When that happens, Deb and I usually team up and work through the month’s projects together. It’s a lot of fun for me, but it makes for a lot of work for Deb since the lady SOWERs are not expected to work a full day. I really enjoy working with her and am glad that she is willing to tough it out, especially when it is a sunny, one hundred degree afternoon, like it was several days at this typically-temperate, northern California camp.
The volunteers' RV Park at KCOC will comfortably accommodate twelve RVs – at one time it was pretty cozy with ten RVs in the campground. Several units were with ‘Heavenly Wheels’ out of Redding, California; we made new friends and served a bit alongside, Bob and Jackie, Dave and Susan, and, Mark and Angel. But more exciting than making new friends (not really), in the campsite next door, we witnessed first-hand the damage that a ten-pound Sugar Pine cone does as it falls from a 200 foot tall tree! Note to self: Do not camp in KCOC RV Site #5 during Pine Cone Drop Season!
In my opinion, KCOC is the closest thing we have seen as SOWERs to a true High Adventure Camp. It reminded me of the kinds of places we visited during my years with the Boy Scout organization. The mission at KCOC envelops the notion, however, that it is easy to see Christ at work when your physical limits are being challenged, when you are immersed in the beauty of nature, and when you are aligned and encouraged by the teachings that the great leadership at KCOC offers. What a fantastic place to engage today’s kids in conversations about Jesus!
The wisdom behind KCOC's adventure curriculum is that the camp does not try to create the whole adventure at their facility. By accessing neighboring National Forest land they can accommodate more campers in a week than the typical Christian camp. Some of the programs offered take the kids (and sometimes moms and dads, too) on overnight trips off-camp so the adventure experience is broadened. They are a hub for backpacking treks, rafting trips, horse-back excursions, and mountain bike trips in the surrounding Marble Mountains and even up into southern Oregon. Smiling kids are always coming-and-going, climbing in-and-out of vans and buses as they participate in the camps designed adventure challenges.
The energy level is very high at KCOC. We loved seeing the kids moved around camp on “stage coaches” (modified cargo vans) with songs and cheering. The staff is trained to maximize enthusiasm in every activity, even if it is just a hike to and from the Dining Hall. Deb and I found that infectious, which made it even more fun to serve at KCOC. By the end of our time, we were singing some of the camp songs, too!
First, we served by turning a sizable pile of beautiful cedar into four luxury picnic tables, carefully finished with TLC. Then, the camp had just received decals for their corporate vans and trucks, so we got to [ever so carefully] apply those decals to twenty doors of ten of those vehicles, as well.
We also removed/repaired/replaced rotten wood on the 'Changing Rooms' building near the swimming pond, planed the doors so that they would open/close properly, and put a new roof on the small building. We then caulked and painted the outside. We made repairs to one of their utility trailers and painted that, also. At the end of the project we were asked to paint a sign for the Changing Rooms, and once complete, we hung that between the doors on the building. Ken also got to make several custom concrete blocks to be used as parking barriers.
While the KCOC facilities may not be as expansive as some of the other camps we have seen, it packs in all the essentials and more! There are simple cabins scattered throughout the hillside woods, a stream-fed pond for...
...swimming fun, campfire circles, a soccer field, mountain bike trails (actually designed for real mountain bikes), a sizable horse ranch and arena, an outback camp and trail system, two high ropes courses, and even an apple orchard. As I think back to my 33 years in the Boy Scout organization, the facility could easily pass for a gotta-go first-class adventure Scout Camp (tents and all!).
The staff at Kidder Creek invited us to share some meals with them and the campers. It was such a blessing to be around the kids. Walking to-and-from the Dining Hall it would not be unusual to see one (or more) of the KCOC counselors sitting with kids on a patch of green grass overlooking the horse meadow and discussing a bible passage. What a great ministry ... WooHoo!
Kidder Creek is owned by Mount Hermon, a well-respected Conference and Training Center in Santa Cruz. Deb and I have friends there, Mike Romberger was our pastor at Mission Hills Church who is now Mount Hermon's Executive Director, and Dave Burns who was our Worship Pastor at Foothills Bible Church (both in Littleton, Colorado) who is now the Director of Adult Ministries at Mount Hermon. At the Kiddder Creek Camp, we want to say THANK YOU to Tim (Operations Director), Danna (Ranch Director), and Andy (Camp Director) for allowing us to be a part of your family for a few short weeks. We were certainly blessed by the experience!
PRoject 19: new hope christian schoolS
[June 2018] When we arrived in the RV Park for New Hope Christian Schools in Grants Pass, Oregon, we were a little bit road weary. This was our first SOWER project of the year and we had driven almost 2700 miles since we left Livingston, TX, to get there. When we were in Maine (2016) we were only 1900 miles from Livingston and we thought that was far. In fact, the people across from our RV site at NHCS had guests from Anchorage, Alaska, one evening and they had come [only] 2600 miles to get to the city of Grants Pass. So, at this south-Oregon project, we were actually closer to Anchorage, Alaska, than we were to Livingston, Texas! Whew!
We were joined at the assignment by Rich and Barb who are full-time RV'ers from Medford, just a few miles from Grants Pass. They had served at NHCS several times before and knew the project well. They were also a big help when it came to local sightseeing and where to shop -- that certainly made it easier for Deb and me!
NHCS is a prominent PreK to grade 12 Christian school. And it is is one of those places where there is always something to do. The campus is nicely landscaped and well-cared for -- the school grounds are immaculate. But there is a lot of hustle-and-bustle that goes into keeping the place as nice as it is. And once school was out for the summer, the work had piled up!
Speaking of nice places, the weather was fabulous during our stay. Early morning temperatures were in the low forties, and the daily highs never exceeded 84 (and hardly any humidity). We had rain on only one afternoon, and that was just drizzle. A few days were cloudy, but blue skies appeared to be the norm. It reminded me of Colorado in so many ways.
The Lower Rogue River Valley, home to Grants Pass and Medford, is a very popular place to live, and now I know why. According to a large street-banner downtown (a most reliable source), the reason people flock the Rogue Valley is the pleasant year-round climate. Not to mention the rolling hills, beautiful rivers, blue-water lakes, great wineries, and green mountains that surround, of course.
For the first two weeks of the project, school was still in session and access to make classroom repairs was limited. We were presented with a list of out-of-doors Gotta-Do-Tasks that had just been piling-up during the school year; no matter the chore, we were glad to help. During our time, the SOWER ladies cleaned windows and repaired blinds in the school cafeteria. They also weeded all of the flower gardens. On the other eleven days of the project they joyfully weeded around a huge elementary-age playground. All around. I cannot tell you how hard these two amazing ladies worked pulling weeds almost every day of the project – and how fantastic the playground looked when they were through! Zowie!
Because we had an extra week to get to our next SOWER assignment, we had the opportunity to stay at NHCS a few extra days and work on some extracurricular things for them. Deb got to finish, almost single-handedly, the PreK classroom mural that Ken had worked on during the first week of the project. After the wall mural was fully painted, Deb designed and painted a large bulletin board in the shape of a tree that would become the centerpiece of the mural. It looked so fantastic that Tami, NHCS Facility Manager even stopped by to help out. Too much fun!
The SOWER men were challenged with a punch-list, as well, starting with repairing the roof on the well house. From there, we transitioned to repairing and trenching for a damaged irrigation control line, doing quite a lot of painting (including an after-hours opportunity to be creative in the PreK classroom -- WooHoo!), doing landscape work, and repairing the pump on the "Back To the Futurish" tri-super-latte-espresso machine in the cafeteria (sure made all of the teachers happy!).
The two SOWER men also built a frame to hold school banners, repaired sizable areas of damaged sheetrock in the ceilings of two classrooms, painted a road sign, and crossed numbers of other items off the Gotta-Do-Task List. We also had time to share with many of the wonderful students, teachers and staff at NHCS. They have a terrific team!
New Hope Christian Schools is a special place. We want to offer our thanks to all of the staff at NHCS for inviting us and for their hospitality, and especially to Marsha and Bob, who were eager to help us when we had questions or needed guidance. Thanks also to Elizabeth for taking care of our mail for us. Most importantly, our thanks to Tami, the Facilities Manager who entrusted us with significant work around the campus. She was confident and encouraging, fully trusting us with meaningful assignments. Her patient leadership was appreciated.
We are so blessed to get to work in Kingdom-focused places like this, but also for getting the opportunity to meet such great Brothers and Sisters as these. We had a great time serving here -- the time flew by. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Thank you, Lord.
Playing with Gadget in the front yard at the New Hope Christian School RV Park