bobBob Strodel, Executive Director

The last nine years have not been pleasant for those involved in the financial sector or those who have new issues with their home mortgages. Areas of the economy that have been fairly predictable have experienced a level of unprecedented uncertainty. For those who have investments, the best advice seemed to be not to open up those window envelopes filled with disappointing statements; just throw them in the drawer and hopefully stocks will rebound from today’s loss.

A few years ago we had a family donate stock to our organization from a very reputable and highly rated insurance firm. I’m thankful they made the donation when they did since the stock price went from well over $20 down to $1.58 per share. Seven months previously this stock was a “strong buy” and now it is worth less than a roll of toilet paper! This illustrates the critical importance of timing involved with investments; what was good 7 months ago has lost its current appeal.

One of the largest investments we make in life, and in the future, is the raising of our children. The United States Department of Agriculture tried to determine the “average” cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 17.  The department looked at several areas: housing, food, transportation, health care, childcare and education. Without going into great detail (you can read the study on the Department of Agriculture web site) the “average cost” of raising a child came out to $300,000. Housing makes up approximately 1/3 of that number; but still, it was staggering to see the bottom-line conclusion. Call me biased, but I believe that one of the best and safest investments you can make is in sending your child to camp. Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, while delivering a recent keynote address to a large conference of camping professionals said, “ No matter what the background of a child, camp opens doors, exposing children to possibilities and opportunities they might never know could be theirs. Camp transports kids with everything to a place where they have close to nothing. In so doing, it takes kids away from things they value, to teach them the things of real value.”

Camp is a temporary summer community involving an outdoor environment, with a child-centered program, safely conducted by trained leaders. Investments at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost also provide important spiritual objectives. The temporary community is created away from the normal distractions of life. It is amazing the “noise” we have to deal with from the television, iPods, Xboxes and cell phones. Sharing a cabin with others includes responsibilities and learning to respect each other and their property. When issues arise, campers have an opportunity to become more independent by resolving problems without the help of Mom and Dad.

The outdoor setting is a great place for that community because it is safe, healthy and provides openness and conversation as campers learn real life skills. To provide a great support network at our camps, we strive to hire a staff that possess character, and we train them to share their skills and their faith with the campers. Faith is the core of our camp experience. The spiritual objective is to point the campers on a journey of a lifetime by creating the desire, the will, and the ability to follow Jesus.