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Life at Camp

The Dirty Work

By | Life at Camp, Summer Camp | No Comments

This week Miracle Camp is full of activity in a different way—rather than cabins full of campers, our campus has been full of teams of workers helping us ready the facility for summer. While prayer comes first on the to-do list, next comes rolling up shirtsleeves and getting to work!

From flower beds to fire suppression, our Operations Team leads the way in making our facility safe and beautiful. Kitchen and Housekeeping Teams dutifully carry out jobs like taking out the trash, doing the dishes and making sure the facilities are clean and sanitary. Each of these teams model servant leadership for our whole staff! Even though they enjoy the quiet and unrecognized service, we enjoy pointing to their action as a worthy example and praise God for each member and how they serve!

Humility, servanthood and a willingness to be last: traits that will not win blue ribbon awards, yet Jesus described kingdom greatness just that way. While His disciples continually asked when he would become king or which of them would be in charge, Jesus pointed them toward selfless service every time.

While our teams continue to pray for fruitful ministry this summer, we are thankful for the work of our every single volunteer, contractor and team member to make our campus guest ready!

Smooth Transitions Start With Prayer

By | Life at Camp, Summer Camp | No Comments

Spring is when everything outside changes in Western Michigan! Seemingly overnight, brisk days of lingering winter give way to full flowering trees and birds returning for summer. While the weather takes a turn for the good, behind the scenes the Miracle Camp team changes pace as well, just in time to prep for summertime.

This year, beginning May 15, we will be hosting campers every day throughout the summer season until mid-August. We are so thankful to God for filling our calendar again with so many different groups and guests to serve! Each year our team works hard to prepare, so that every camper has the best week ever. But prayer is the precursor to everything we do as God’s people. That step cannot afford to be missed.

We know as a team that so many of our guests are also the key supporters of our ministry, and we are thankful for your prayers. Each Friday, we spend special time as a team praying that our guests would arrive safely and encounter Jesus through our ministry. This Friday, please join us in prayer for the following 3 needs as summer approaches:

  1. The home stretch of the Evergreen Project. Pray for a safe and timely finish with everything approved and ready for our summer campers!
  2. Three new interns will join our team this month; pray for their safe arrival and quick transition into summer ministry and gospel community!
  3. Program Office and Summer Staff begin training in early June, and this Summer we are growing the Camp Aide Program; pray for us as we build and train servant leadership among our groups!

Again, we are thankful for the many relationships we share with our guests and appreciate each prayer offered toward the ministry at camp. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

A Better Friday

By | Food for thought, Life at Camp | No Comments

The typical Friday routine begins by putting finishing touches on the grounds and finalizing last minute details in the office. Afternoons, our team gathers to pray and ask for God to work in the lives of our guests. While those regular parts of our Friday around the office will be missing, this week we will be taking time instead to remember Good Friday.

Miracle Camp is a place where lives are changed. For over fifty years, FEC churches and countless guest groups have encountered the tangible grace of God spending time having fun here. Good Friday reminds us that the fun and joy we share at camp is not without cost. The cost for Jesus was real to reconcile us to Himself and remembering the goodness of this day reminds us that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ.

The real catalyst for us to know faith in Jesus as Lord is the atoning sacrifice freely offered at the cross. (1) The Apostle Paul writes that He who knew no sin became sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2) This infusion of life offered to us in Christ was the world changing event by which everyone who truly knows God has access to Him.

While all of our guests are at home with their families and churches during Holy Week we want to remind them on Good Friday–without the events of this remembered day, our campground would be empty every weekend. But because the tomb is empty, we have life and love to share in Christ.
 
The Miracle Camp Staff want every bed made, every building built and each event we program to be fueled by the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. On Good Friday let our team commend to you what we tell ourselves constantly: Jesus did it all. Our role is to facilitate His work, by his grace, for his glory. Today we join our FEC partner churches and congregations everywhere to remember the weekend Jesus died, was buried and rose from the grave.
1. Catalyst is a word meaning rapid change or action from within. We use it on the MCRC team to describe how we partner with God’s work among our campers.
2. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Equipping and Leading

By | Internships, Life at Camp | No Comments

Ministry Leadership
Camp ministry has always intrigued Doug because he describes himself as “a ministry nerd.” You may have seen him around camp where he is often working behind-the-scenes. Doug is the Ministry Lead at Miracle Camp, a position involving many aspects. With a main objective of ensuring the health and sustainability of the staff that lives and works year-round, he ministers to the staff while working with the Experience Team in responsibility for the guest experience.

In 2009, he finished his Biblical Studies degree while working with a janitorial business and helping church plant where he would eventually join full time staff as an Executive Pastor. He says that “through my years serving and learning at Christ the King Church, I was able to see a bigger vision for ministry than I previously held.”

When Miracle Camp created the new Ministry Lead position, this seemed like a job right down his alley. He was already familiar with the camp as a guest and FEC pastor, and he knew of Miracle Camp’s reputation of quality and hospitality to guests. As another facet of his role, Doug is building the intern program – recruiting, training, and equipping the interns to prepare them for the direction God has for them.

Vision
The purpose of the internship is to give students who aspire to do ministry a year to set a course for their life’s work. Most of the training experienced in college or the field is useful and specific. Many times, students need time to practice, get feedback, learn some basic 21st century life skills and set a course for work and ministry that will sustain them for the long term, which is where the internship comes in. This means discovering gifts and developing a life plan, but it also involves practical aspects like budgeting and calendaring.

In a sense, the internship philosophy is to learn by doing, which means plenty of opportunities for growth, feedback, and discovery. Doug acknowledges that camping ministry is extremely broad, so “we have a huge ministry sandbox to play in here,” offering students who are pursuing vocational ministry the chance to develop their gifts and translate those into a role with experience under their belts. Gaining confidence planning events, working behind the scenes, and working with our wide range of guests here is the perfect environment to learn and grow. In turn, Miracle Camp hopes to be a resource to local churches and ministries who are looking for qualified interns ready to transition into positions of leadership.

The MCRC Summer Camp Staff Alumni include more church leaders across the Midwest than we can keep track of—our Executive Director being one of the many. Our internship, similarly, has a lineage of people who are in cross-cultural missions, local church leadership and para-church ministries. We want to see God grow leaders through our ministry pipeline here at Miracle Camp, and building the internship is a huge part of that happening.

Miracle Camp and Beyond
Each of the intern roles involve some common opportunities such as emceeing an event, coordinating the young adult weekend, taking out trash, cutting grass, snow removal, cleaning, organizing, and completing administrative tasks. Additionally, each internship has an area of focus where they will spend their time working within one of the three teams on the Miracle Camp staff.

Do you or does someone you know have a desire to gain experience in camping ministry? Check out the positions below to see if one of these areas may be a good fit for you!

  • Guest Service & Administration
  • Digital Design
  • Camping & Hospitality

Check back to our website in mid-late March for more information about the intern program!

Doug Shell is a former summer camp prankster like any good church kid. God called him to ministry in high school and he proceeded to spend a decade attending three Bible colleges, earning one degree and a lot of stories to tell as a result. Some of the more fun ones involve being on a team that started a coffee shop and planted a church. He and his wife Melissa have three boys and their family moved to Michigan about a year ago from their hometown of Cincinnati.

A Recipe for Discovery

By | Internships, Life at Camp | No Comments

They both came to Miracle Camp with a desire to learn about culinary arts, hope for direction for their next steps, and with the same name. While they share these qualities, Katie and Kaity ended up here in unique ways, each bringing their own strengths and abilities to the team.

The Details
Although Katie Rice is from Idaho, Miracle Camp was a large part of her history because her family lived in Paw Paw for eight years when her father was the Youth Pastor at Lawton Evangelical Church. Because she came to Miracle Camp for youth group retreats and her family’s close connection to the FEC, her mother discovered the internship from a Facebook post.

Kaity Renzema, on the other hand, grew up 20 minutes away from Miracle Camp in Vicksburg, MI. She came to summer camp as a camper in 2009, and some friends told her about the internship opportunity. At the time she applied, she was looking to obtain culinary skills to use in an overseas mission setting.

The Draw
Katie was finishing high school when she knew she wanted to pursue cooking and baking. As she neared her graduation date, she decided to apply for the internship. Besides the draw to the Christian aspect and positive environment of camp, she knew this internship would be a great opportunity to determine if she truly wanted to pursue cooking and baking.

Due to Kaity’s interest in culinary arts, she prayed about the Miracle Camp internship opportunity after some prior plans did not transpire. Believing the Lord provided this opening, she applied to gain more of a culinary perspective. She knew she needed basic culinary skills, and especially wanted to discover the behind-the-scenes of cooking for large groups of people.

The Discovery
The culinary arts internship has been a beneficial opportunity for these two. Under the direction of the Dining Services Director, Katie says she “increased her knowledge of culinary arts and learned a lot from Beau.” For example, Kaity mentioned gaining knife skills and realizing its necessity to being in the kitchen. Their main responsibilities included but were not limited to preparing and serving guest meals and learning how to lead meal shifts.

Beyond culinary skills, this internship focuses on areas of personal and spiritual growth. As part of the team, the interns learn together in a weekly morning meeting to discuss biblical content, life application to current and future roles, and the status of personal and work-related growth. These conversations enable good dialogue and provide positive challenges in a multitude of areas. Additionally, Katie and Kaity’s participation in a women’s discipleship time brings much value to weekly studies. Kaity notes, “I’ve learned a lot not just about culinary, but about myself and my relationship with God. Plus, I’ve made some really good friends.”

The people at camp play a large role in the internship experience. Guest interaction as well as the staff who are like family have impacted both Katie and Kaity, making the people and the atmosphere of Miracle Camp their favorite parts of the internship. “It’s a joyful and powerful place,” Katie emphasizes.

As the end of their internship nears, Katie and Kaity are in the process of applying to other camps. Kaity always knew she wanted to be involved in ministry, but this program helped her discover her excitement for camping ministry. In addition to camp possibilities, Katie hopes to find a position at a bakery.

Check back here in mid-late March for more details about our 2019 intern program!

Katie Rice is from Nampa, Idaho, and graduated high school just 17 days before moving to Miracle Camp for the internship program. She plans to pursue other camp opportunities or find a position at a bakery closer to home. Katie finds joy in coloring books, reading, baking, and experimenting with new recipes.

Kaity Renzema grew up in Vicksburg, Michigan. Prior to interning, she finished high school and worked in the custodial department at her local library. She plans to pursue other camp ministry opportunities or a job in the area. Kaity loves everything involving musical theatre, playing instruments, reading, board games, and knitting.

The Right Timing

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What may have seemed like a delay in plans turned into a perfectly timed adventure. Margaret had eagerly just begun her first summer on Summer Staff in 2017 when three days after arriving to training, she broke her leg. Though she assumed her chance to serve at camp had come to an end, the Lord had different plans. As He continued to place thoughts of camp on her heart, some friends strongly encouraged her to look into the intern program.

Passion

Growing up in an FEC church, Margaret has been coming to camp since 3rd grade. Her love for Miracle Camp and its mission was rooted in her since she first attended and grew deeper through her years as a camper and then Camp Aide. Now, “the intern program has given me the opportunity to serve a place I deeply love,” she says. Most importantly she loves being “a part of the mission of furthering the gospel at camp throughout all seasons.”

Growth

The intern program was the next right step for Margaret in a variety of ways. After graduating from Taylor in 2017 with degrees in Christian Ministry and Biblical Literature and working at Upland Community Church for a year, she was not sure of her next steps. The opportunity to join the intern program supplied possibilities to explore different potential career areas while also working a job that she loved. Gaining experience in various areas is a significant component of the program. Specifically, Margaret has grown in her hospitality skills through working in the office, with guest groups, programmed events, and running activities. She loves “being able to help further the overall mission of Miracle Camp by taking care of the smaller, behind the scenes things.”

The Right Timing

Breaking her leg appeared to be a devastating turn of events; little did she know what awaited her only a year later. Margaret stepping into the intern program was a matter of God’s timing. In this setting, she is gaining experience in ministry with people and various kinds of work. In addition, she says, “I’m learning more about myself and my Savior. I’m surrounded by people who truly care about me and how I’m growing, both as a person and in my faith.” Growing in these ways aided her in the decision to stay for a second year in the internship. Staying for a second year is beneficial for multiple reasons. She adds, “Rather than facing another learning curve, knowing how things already work frees you up to grow deeper in the skill sets you’ve already started developing.”

Margaret’s story is a testament to how God works despite circumstances and uses them in ways even better than we can imagine.

Check back here in mid-late March for more details about our 2019 intern program!

Margaret Gruendyke is from Upland, IN, though her family currently lives in Whittier, CA. She graduated in 2017 from Taylor University with degrees in Christian Ministry and Biblical Literature. Before beginning the internship program, she worked as the Youth Ministry Associate at Upland Community Church. Margaret plans to complete a second-year internship at Miracle Camp. She is passionate about American History, all things British, books, baseball, and baking.

Saying “Yes”

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“Say yes,” was a piece of advice I received from a friend, and it was the one thing that made all the difference as I moved from Texas to Michigan and adjusted to life at Miracle Camp. When transitioning into a new place, say yes to dinner or game night invitations, yes to meeting new people, yes to uncomfortable situations – because eventually, it will be worth it.

Through a series of events and God’s timing, I discovered Miracle Camp online and the opportunity to be a Guest Services intern. My undergraduate degree is in Christian Ministry, and I had just completed my master’s degree in Professional Writing. I was interested in camping ministry, and after setting foot on campus for my internship interview, God made it abundantly clear that this was my next step. As I said yes to living in a new area and taking on a new role, I formed lasting friendships, made great memories, grew in my relationship with God, and much more.

Yes to the New

I was drawn to the different facets of camping ministry this internship provided, but I knew this experience would prove useful whether I ended up in camping ministry or a different field. Saying yes to this internship did not simply mean gaining a new job. It meant being open to the new direction God was taking me, learning what it means to be fully present in a place, no matter how temporary. Through encouragement from others, I decided to dig in to everything this opportunity held, even if the newness was uncomfortable.

Yes to the Challenges

One of the hardest, yet best, challenges in this internship was getting out of my comfort zone. Before this, I would not have imagined being able to run every position on the zipline, lead groups through initiatives, host guests, and write blog posts for Miracle Camp on a weekly basis. For my internship experience to be the most effective, it was critical to step outside my box of familiarity. Even when I was uncertain, I said yes to being open to learn from expertly trained staff, and through specific training, critiques, and learning experiences, I gained a confidence I previously lacked.

Yes to the Rewards

Various challenges and these new experiences have led to a multitude of rewards. You not only build an amazing community amongst the staff, but you form friendships and connect with guests. This internship equips you with skills to prepare you for the future. The staff took my education and experience into consideration, and they gave me projects that fit my interests and abilities while simultaneously challenging me.

Following this internship, I will begin working at a women’s ministry called Revive Our Hearts, using my knowledge of writing and hosting events, as well as a multitude of other skills I gained during my time at Miracle Camp.

I’m glad I said yes. “Yes” opened the doors for friendships, opportunities, fun, and a new career. “Yes” gave me a passion for the ministry of Miracle Camp and they will be a forever family for me. More than anything, I said yes to following God’s lead, and that is the best kind of “yes.”

Be sure to check back here in mid-late March to find out details for our 2019 intern program!

Micayla Greathouse grew up in Hays, KS and lived in the panhandle of Texas before moving to Michigan for the intern program in Spring 2018. She graduated in 2014 with her bachelor’s in Christian Ministry and completed her master’s in Professional Writing through Liberty University’s online program in April 2018. This spring she will join Revive Our Hearts, a women’s ministry located in nearby Niles, MI as a Publishing & Events Project Manager. She has a deep love for all things Michigan, donuts, sunrises, and road trips.

Be Part of Something Bigger!

By | Giving, Life at Camp | No Comments
Oakwood Chapel. The heartbeat of Miracle Camp. The spiritual gathering space for each camper, be it youth during Summer Camps and Ice Camps, church groups throughout the year or families during retreats. Inside this sanctuary is where fun icebreakers introduce new friends with laughs of joy, fellowship occurs as groups grow closer to the Lord together and lives are changed as messages impact listening ears with His grace and unconditional love.
Much more than a building, the chapel is a space where God works and people respond. Our mission of facilitating life change by helping people grow closer to God is transmitted from the chapel stage. A critical tool for the each chapel session is our audio and visual technology. High quality audio and video elements are essential to providing the best experience for our guests. While we are thankful for our current setup, it has aged beyond a normal life cycle and is overdue for a replacement.
Thankfully our time of need has been met with a great end of year opportunity. The Lord has provided a matching gift opportunity for the end of 2018, enabling a contribution toward the chapel audio and video needs to go even further!
In today’s fast paced culture having adequate audio and video for a gathering space ensures that the message is prioritized and distractions are minimized. Giving our highly skilled guest speakers and bands the right tools to play their role allows us to continue bringing in gifted communicators. In our team’s effort to be good stewards of the prayer and planning invested in our chapel gatherings, we are convinced this is the single biggest replacement ask we could have to immediately impact ministry in 2019!
A new audio and video setup in Oakwood Chapel will provide our team with the tools needed to transport our guests from a world full of distractions and interruptions to a peaceful environment where they are free to focus, worship, and open their hearts and minds to God. Please give before the end of the year using the link below!

Altars of Remembrance

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“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” – John 1:16

Grace upon grace – the phrase that encapsulates our staff’s sentiments, particularly as we reflect on and give thanks for everything this past year.

Miracle Camp is like a winter wonderland this time of year. Walking along the paths, fresh snow crunches and buildings glisten. The stark white atmosphere emits an excitement in the air. Just a month ago, camp was flooded with color on the trees, and crisp days made for perfect campfire nights. Only a couple months prior, boats hummed across the lake and campers clustered in Center Circle, indicating summer in full swing.

The transformation of seasons and the bustle of people in and out of our facility provides us the prime opportunity to see God’s faithfulness remain constant.

Several changes have occurred this year that we celebrate with thanks. For the first time, we hired two culinary arts interns, which is a new addition to the internship program. Many upgrades have been made to our facilities, including a new roof that previously leaked for years and fixing the drywall damage as a result. Our maintenance intern, Wyatt, articulates his excitement about many projects in process, such as upgrading all the wi-fi access points, “adding additional ones for more coverage throughout camp,” and replacing the fluorescent lights in most buildings with LED lights.

Evidences of God’s grace are everywhere – in the changes implemented and events that transpire. In the meaningful conversations over coffee in the lodge. In the smiles of guests as they express their joy after “a wonderful weekend.” In the tears prompted by a heart-opening chapel message. In the friendships formed after running up and down the basketball court. In the blessing of camaraderie over delicious food. These seemingly small moments form the big picture of why Miracle Camp exists.

We are immensely grateful for the life-changing moments God facilitates here, and none of it is of our own doing. Our desire is that in every dish washed, in all the beds made, in each light fixed, in every detail planned and activities ran – may we glorify Him through it all.

As we give thanks, we are most thankful for Jesus Christ and the abundant life He gives. Because of Him, we are thankful for His church we serve, the ministry that happens here, and for the readers and people connected to Miracle Camp who help us give God the glory. It’s all grace upon grace.

Season of Thanks

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

God is doing amazing things at Miracle Camp. Each season and every single year His faithfulness is evident here, and especially in 2018 as Evergreen has transformed month by month. Approaching the holiday season, we are very thankful for the continued and ongoing progress through the service of our partner churches and volunteers!

After finishing the concrete pouring just in time before winter, the team looks forward to moving inside to being framing and seeing the inside come to life. To see more details about the completed work in Evergreen, check out this post. In late September, a group of volunteers helped with the exterior, and the underground plumbing was in the works. This allowed for the building to get closed up before the cold season, which set the groundwork for the progress currently happening.

While it is exciting to look forward, this Thanksgiving season reminds us of God’s faithfulness in 2018 through the fulfillment of our $300,000 match gift. We celebrate that success and continue to rely on God’s steady provision. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to give to this project and be a part of the continued ministry that will happen for future generations. Whether you are a former Summer Staff member or a Miracle Camp veteran with deep roots in FEC, an attendee of events or someone who recently heard of our ministry, we invite you to partner with us! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and we ask that you consider this project in your end-of-year giving plans as well.

Check out the video below to see the status of Evergreen and current updates! We look forward to watching God work throughout the project in many ways.