buddy check

Things We Teach Our Summer Camp Counselors – Part 2

By | MC Squared: Parents, Safety, Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

Last week we began a series on things we teach our summer camp counselors. We want to give you a sneak peak into the ways we train our staff before they take care of children over the summer. We think that if you see how hard we work in training, you hopefully will feel even more secure with sending your children to summer camp in Michigan.

Before we continue today, we should say that there are many summer camps in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio and many really good Christian summer camps as well. Most of these camps have great trainings, policies and procedures in place. But we can’t speak for all of them. So even if you don’t send your children to Miracle Camp, you should still be asking some of these questions of the camp that you do send your children to.

Today’s Topic – Emergencies

The section of our manual on emergencies is probably the thickest section of the manual. This is because there are so many different scenarios that we want our staff to be trained on. Obviously, this section is much too large for a blog post, so I hope today to give you a quick overview of some of the topics.

PLEASE NOTE: Most of these scenarios never happen or extremely rarely happen, but we want to be prepared if they do.

Possible Emergency #1 – Lost Campers

First, let me say that in the past 15 years (and probably longer than that) we have never had to enact a serious level of our lost camper plan (which means we have found every camper within 0-10 minutes). Campers are always with a staff member and even during their “free time” option there are staff patrolling the grounds and lifeguards keeping very close tabs on campers in the water.

But in the case that a camper does get lost, our staff and leadership team is trained on how to look. First, our leadership team of 10 staff drops what they are doing to look for the camper. They communicate using radios and spread out around the camp. In the past 15 years at least, they have always succeeded in finding the camper in 10 minutes.

However, if they were not able to find the camper, we would enact a lost camper situation in which all the campers go play games in the gym with some of our staff while the rest of the staff (around 30-40 or so) spread out systematically (with pre-assigned locations) to look thoroughly for the camper. Staff members are assigned to search along the road even in case of a camper wandering off. Before camp starts, we drill this situation two times as well as talking through the situation.

Possible Emergency #2 – Extreme Weather or Fire

This emergency situation is quite common unfortunately, and also unfortunately is out of our control. But we can control how we act in this situation. Fortunately in Michigan, we are out of “tornado alley”, but we do get very severe thunderstorms from time to time as well as high winds.

For a situation like this, our staff again communicates with radios and uses a system of warning signals to warn campers and staff. When campers arrive at camp we train them on these signals so they know where to go as well.

Here’s our emergency signals:

  • Continuous ringing bell – if this happen our staff knows to head to the gym. This could be a signal for a lost camper, but usually it’s signaling a coming thunderstorm and for everyone to take cover. In the gym we’re able to have fun with the campers and keep close watch over them as well.
  • Fire alarm – if there’s a fire alarm in a building, our staff know to exit with the campers and head to the gym.
  • Warning siren – if there happens to be extremely high winds or a tornado warning, we sound a siren and have all the campers head (unless it is too dangerous to do so) to the lower level back hallway of Bankson Lodge where they will be underground and surrounded by concrete.

Possible Emergency #3 – Waterfront

Anywhere there is water and children, there is the potential for danger. That’s why we take tremendous precautions in this area to ensure that emergencies don’t happen in the first place. We train lifeguards multiple times in how to deal with multiple emergency situations on the waterfront from an injury on the blob, a swimmer in distress, or an injury while tubing.

Michigan state standards require us to have 2 lifeguards on duty for the number of campers that we have swimming at one time. However, we usually hire 8-9 lifeguards. We believe that in this area, prevention is the best policy.

When campers arrive at Miracle Camp, they all go through a swimming test so we can gauge their swimming ability. This allows us to keep children who cannot swim well in an appropriate depth of water or with a life jacket.

Every 5-10 minutes our staff conduct a “buddy check” (shown in the image above) which lets our lifeguards know that every camper who has come to the waterfront is still in eye sight. If someone in the swim area is missing a buddy, the lifeguards follow the emergency plan, close the waterfront, and our staff searches for the camper.

If an emergency does happen on the waterfront our training ensures that lifeguards know what to do and each lifeguard is assigned a task from clearing campers out of the swim area, to calling the camp nurse, to helping the person in need.

We had a mild back injury a few summers ago on the blob and when emergency personnel arrived they praised our staff for how calm they were and how under control the situation was. That was a great confirmation to our training!

Possible Emergency #4 – Medical Needs

All of our staff receive basic first aid training during their week of training. We also have at least one nurse on site at all times and usually there is at least two. Our training prepares staff to handle the emergency calmly and to get the on site nurse as fast as possible. Our leadership team uses a system of radios to communicate and the nurses on site carry a radio as well so that communication can happen quickly and efficiently.

Our nurses are trained by our resident nurse on staff and our policies and training are a set of standing orders which are signed by a physician each year to make sure they are current and up to date.

Possible Emergency #5 – ????

No amount of training can possibly prepare our staff for every situation. Unfortunately in today’s world there are many unforeseen circumstances. So in our training we provide a basic overview of what to do in those situations. The most important thing we train our staff to do in any situation is to STAY CALM. Not panicking allows our staff to think clearly in any situation. So whether it’s the waterfront, a storm, a medical emergency, a suspicious guest, or something more severe, we want them to stay calm and care for the campers that have been entrusted to us.

As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns about safety or emergency preparedness, please feel free to reach out to our staff. We’d be happy to help, listen and learn. We’re always doing what we can to make Miracle Camp a safer place.

As always, our staff (and many people around the midwest) are daily in prayer for the safety and ministry of Miracle Camp. We believe this is a very powerful thing…the spend time praying and trusting God’s sovereignty. We do everything we can in our power to protect campers, but we also encourage people to join with us and spend time in prayer asking God for his protection.

summer camp counselor training

Things We Teach Our Summer Camp Counselors – Part 1

By | MC Squared: Parents, Summer Camp | No Comments

With Summer Camp just around the corner, we thought it would be nice to give you an inside scoop on some of the things we teach our counselors and summer staff each year.

We take our training very seriously and pay our staff for a little over a week before any camper first arrives. We want to make sure that they get a great training experience and are ready to go when the first campers arrive at our location in Michigan.

For this week’s topic, we wanted to let you know our summer priorities. This is one of the first things that each staff member learns and is something that we continue to teach and remind them throughout training and the summer.

Priority #1 – Safety

Most of our training revolves around this one aspect – safety. There are so many aspects to safety at summer camp that go beyond making sure campers don’t get scrapes and bruises. We also want to make sure campers are safe emotionally, sexually, relationally, nutritionally, and spiritually.

We spent time training about bullying, what to do if a camper is lost, how to report potential abuse,

In a future post we will tell you a little more about some of these trainings.

Priority #2 – Spiritual Growth

Miracle Camp’s mission is to facilitate life change by helping people grow closer to God. It’s pretty natural then that our next highest priority would be spiritual growth. We must make sure that we do not allow the fun of summer camp (though it is always going to be fun) to shadow the most important thing to our mission.

Every day campers will have two chapel sessions where they will hear the word of God preached. In addition they have a cabin devotional time led by their counselor as well as a personal Bible reading time in the morning. Once a week, each counselor will spend at least an hour of one on one time conversation with each camper as well. We stress in training to our counselors for them to focus on preparing well for the one on one conversations as well as the cabin devotional times. These are the two areas that they are able to control and we stress to them to not miss that opportunity to impact the lives of kids.

Priority #3 – Fun

What is summer camp if it’s not fun? It wouldn’t be much of anything that is for sure. At camp, fun sort of happens naturally, but there’s a few things that we try to stress with our counselors to make the week more fun.

First, we want our staff to spend QUANTITY time with their campers. Yep, we said QUANTITY and not QUALITY. We believe that quality time comes out of quantity time spent in any relationship, and the same is true for summer camp. We have found that campers who have the most fun have counselors who spend the most time.

Second, we try to help our counselors think creatively and to come up with fun memorable experiences that campers typically wouldn’t do at home like watch the stars, camp out in the woods as a cabin, invent new games together, have gigantic water fights together and much more. It’s those little fun moments that kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

It all comes down to hiring

This list certainly isn’t all inclusive as their are many aspects to camp; however, it’s a great start and helps focus our staff when they arrive.

We have found that the staff members who live these qualities at camp are the ones who live these qualities everywhere else in life. So when they arrive at camp, they aren’t doing anything new, they are just being themselves. That’s why we take such great care in selecting our staff.

Our staff, coupled together with a guiding vision, helps produce one of the most memorable weeks of a campers life, and more importantly one that will hopefully help them safely grow closer to God.


JH1 15774


By | Keeping Faith, Life at Camp, Projects, Updates | No Comments


We have graciously received a $100,000 matching gift for the Maple Ridge expansion and a $200,000 matching gift for the Oakwood Chapel renovation.


The Keeping Faith campaign is an ambitious project that will allow us to better serve our guests and fulfill our calling. We strive to connect to people’s hearts and prepare them to listen to Jesus. The Gerber’s story is one example:


Maple Ridge

The Maple Ridge expansion will add a meeting space that can accommodate up to 175 people; this will allow us to house guests in Maple Ridge and Evergreen and provide them with a place to meet.


The Oakwood Chapel renovation will develop and transform the entire facility. This expansion will allow us to accommodate up to 600 people and will remodel the existing meeting space so that we can have multiple meeting rooms.


In Matthew 28, Jesus commands His followers to go and make disciples. In this passage, He gives them authority and power to accomplish His spiritual work and lead the church. But this authority is not a power to take the land with the sword; it is something much more complicated. Their job was to connect to people’s hearts, and prepare people to listen to Jesus. The point of this passage is ingrained in what we do at Miracle Camp.



Become a Ministry Partner


Keeping Faith

General Fund

Camper Scholarship

You can also visit our Keeping Faith website to learn more about our ministry:

Keeping Faith

Miracle Camp Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith Celebration – October 3

By | Keeping Faith | No Comments

Miracle Camp and Retreat Center’s (MCRC) Keeping Faith Campaign celebrates what God has faithfully done throughout the last 50 years of ministry and focuses our eyes ahead to what He will do in the next 50 years. Keeping Faith is a vision for the future and how MCRC can support the local church while impacting the world for Christ.

And while we are excited that we had the opportunity to serve roughly 14,000 guests last year,  we unfortunately had to turn away nearly 4,000 individuals. Why does that matter? Because we know God uses MCRC as an avenue to change hearts and each of those individuals represented a life we had the opportunity to impact. That is why Keeping Faith is one of the most important things that will happen this year at MCRC. And because it is so important, we hope you will be deeply involved in everything that has to do with Keeping Faith and our 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Some may look at Keeping Faith as simply a fundraising program or as a name for our October Anniversary Event – but Keeping Faith is so much more than that. It is a chance for those of us who believe in the life change that God does through camp to honor Him with a faithful response. It is a way to give back to God and ensure that 50 more years of life change are possible for adults, youth, and children. It is an investment in ministry to thousands of people each year and for generations to come.

We are excited as we look forward to MCRC’s 50 Year Celebration and we invite you to come join in the fun as we share memories of the past 50 years and celebrate all God will do in the next 50 years of ministry.


       October 3, 2015

       Miracle Camp and Retreat Center
       25281 80th Avenue
       Lawton, MI 49065

       Friday, October 2

6:00 p.m. – Dinner for past Board members and Camp Directors (Invitation only)
7:00 p.m. – Registration Opens
8:00 p.m. – Camp Memories

Saturday, October 3

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast
10:00 a.m. – Staff Memories
11:00 a.m. – Free Time Activities
Noon – Lunch
1:00 p.m. – Free Time Activities
2:30 p.m. – Celebration Service
4:00 p.m. – Free Time Activities
5:00 p.m. – Dinner
6:00 p.m. – Evening Activity

Sunday, October 4

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast

*This event is our free gift to you. Free will donations will be accepted.


By | Keeping Faith | No Comments

IMG_9695-2It’s week 3 of our storytelling campaign, and we’re introducing Wade Slechter! Wade served as a youth pastor for 6.5 years and is now a Campus Life Director in Findlay, OH. Visit the Keeping Faith page to hear how Miracle Camp and Retreat Center has impacted Wade and see how memorizing Scripture changed the entire trajectory of his life!


Keeping Faith

By | Keeping Faith | No Comments

Keeping Faith Campaign Launch

A few days ago, I sent out a letter so some people on our mailing list.  I would love to make the text of that letter available to everyone.  We are excited to announce the launch of Miracle Camp and Retreat Center’s 50th Anniversary.  We are naming this year “Keeping Faith” and are collecting stories about life change on our website at miraclecamp.com/keepingfaith.  Be sure to follow along in the next few months to hear stories of what God has done at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center!

OK, here is the text of that letter…


Dear Friends of Miracle Camp and Retreat Center,

This summer, my daughter, Brittney, and my son, Brady, experienced summer camp at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center (MCRC) for the very first time. You would think that kids who are raised at camp wouldn’t find it all that special to attend summer camp, but that was not the case. They loved it! But they didn’t love it because of swimming, or playing dodgeball or even because of the amazing food. They loved it because of their counselors, Lyndsey and Alex. Our staff is incredible and is the heartbeat of this place.

But what about my grandchildren? What will Brittney and Brady’s children experience someday?

This year we are celebrating 50 years of life change at MCRC. But while we will take time this year to look back at the past 50 years, our main focus will be “Keeping Faith” for the next 50 years so that someday my grandchildren will have the same experience that my children had this summer. Keeping Faith is a vision for the future. It is purposed to increase capacity, ensure safety, and steward the resources entrusted to us so that we can make the next 50 years of ministry here at camp as powerful as the last 50 years.

Did you know that last year, while almost 14,000 guests had life changing experiences at MCRC, nearly 4,000 had to be placed on a waiting list? Even worse, for some of the 4,000, we had to say “no” to them coming to camp at all. We never want to have to say “no” or “wait” to someone who wants to attend a camp or retreat. Why? Because we know God uses us to provide life changing experience to people who come here. This has happened in your life, in your family’s life, in my own life, and in Brittney and Brady’s life at MCRC.

That is why Keeping Faith is one of the most important things that will happen this year at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center. And because it is so important, we hope you will be deeply involved in everything that has to do with Keeping Faith and our 50th Anniversary Celebration. I am asking that you keep your eyes open for more information about Keeping Faith. I am asking you to be a part of the events that will happen this year as a part of Keeping Faith and our 50th Anniversary. And, I am asking you to join us on this Keeping Faith journey. It is a spiritual journey where we will be asking God, “What do you want to do through me to help more people experience life change?”

On behalf of the staff at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center and on behalf of my children, Brittney and Brady, thank you for your faithful partnership with MCRC. While many things change at camp from year to year, your faithfulness has been a constant that has been used by God to see His impact in the lives of kids, youth and adults. For all you have done for camp, please know it has been used to make His life change happen.


jason-coon-signature web
Jason Coon
Executive Director

Changes at Camp

By | Life at Camp | No Comments

On October 15, the Miracle Camp and Retreat Center (MCRC) Board of Trustees named Jason Coon as its Interim Executive Director effective November 1. Jason Coon replaced Dale Boone, who served MCRC as the Executive Director from June 1, 2010, through October 31, 2014.

Under Dale’s faithful leadership, MCRC observed an increase in guests who experienced life change for the glory of God. During his tenure, several new impactful programs were developed, the camp hired and trained new staff, and a number of young adults were discipled through the internship program.

MCRC continues to facilitate life change by helping people draw close to God through providing affordable quality, gracious hospitality, and creative programming. As MCRC moves towards its Jubilee Anniversary (50th Year) the MCRC Board of Trustees announces the search for an Executive Director who will continue the vision to build on the past with renewed focus and initiative for the next 50 years.

The Executive Director application and job description are available at www.miraclecamp.com/employment. The Executive Director Search Committee will receive applications and resumes through December 15, 2014. Please send all inquiries to jobs@miraclecamp.com. The desire of the Search Committee is to have a recommendation for the MCRC Board of Trustees by February 15, 2015.

Michigan Men's Retreat 7

Tips for a Great Marriage

By | Marriage Retreat | No Comments

We are excited to be hosting our 2nd of two Michigan marriage retreats this year.  More than 80 couples will have participated in these retreats, and it is exciting to see how God works in each marriage while couples are here.

For those of you who weren’t able to attend a retreat, we thought we would pass along a little advice for your marriage.

  1. Spend time together each day (watch less TV) – take 30 minutes to talk together, play a board game together, or take a walk together.  It’s hard to make this happen at first, but you won’t regret it because over time you will crave that time together.
  2. Go on dates each week – It might be hard to accomplish this financially, but you could have a date night at home once the kids go to bed.  Take some time to cook together and watch a movie together.   Once again, it will be that time together that you need.
  3. Pray together and individually – pray about your marriage, pray for each other, pray for your work, and pray for your children.  Every time you pray you grow closer to one another.

There is certainly much more marriage advice we could give, but these are 3 simple, doable areas that you can start implementing right away!

We hope we can see you at next year’s marriage retreat!

Where are your roots?

By | Ice Camp | No Comments


Have you ever heard of the “Five Solas”?  Not many people have, but these are considered to be the five pillars of the reformation many many years ago.  They are foundational to a Biblical faith and worldview.

  • By scripture alone – this is the idea that the foundation of truth must rest on the Bible alone.  The Bible is the ultimate authority of truth.
  • By faith alone – True faith, repenting and turning to God, is the only way to salvation.
  • By grace alone – Our salvation is not based on what we do or by keeping a list of rules, but rather the grace of God.
  • Through Christ alone – Only faith in Christ enables God to save us by his grace.
  • Glory to God alone – We shouldn’t worship a pastor, Bible figures, created things, or anything else other than God.

So where are your roots?  Do you believe these five statements?  More importantly…does your life reflect these statements?

We are looking forward to seeing campers’ lives change as they encounter these roots of our faith at youth group winter retreats in 2014!