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Staff

More Than Seasonal

By | Ice Camp, Life at Camp, Staff | No Comments

Snow tubing. Worship. Coffee. Gold Rush in the snow. And dodgeball. Lots of it.

The end of the semester and holidays are approaching, which also means it’s almost time for Ice Camps! For ten weekends beginning in January, youth groups come to these winter retreats to bond over great fun, worship, and biblical teaching. These weekends are an exciting way to help students grow closer to God and each other as they have fun and experience life-changing chapel sessions and activities.

Our returning summer staff members help make Ice Camps possible. Not only do they serve seasonally in the summers, but they view their roles as more than jobs by coming back repeatedly. They choose to serve completely voluntarily as they give up their time and gas money to spend weekends here during the winter season. The relationships they formed over summer camps with each other and the other staff are a large part of their desire to return, as well as their commitment to the ministry of Miracle Camp. Our staff, as well as the groups who come to Ice Camp, are immensely blessed by their presence.

These returners get to reconnect with their summer staff coworkers while making hot chocolate and running snow tubing in the woods. Other ways they serve are by crafting hot drinks in the coffee shop to warm up from the cold, constructing unique creations over conversation in the craft shack, and facilitating basketball, dodgeball, and volleyball in the gym. Their friendly faces provide a welcoming presence at the front desk and in the Trading Post. Not only do they get to laugh with the groups as they lead games and activities, but they have the opportunity to participate in the work God is doing in each student’s life.

While our summer camps focus on each camper’s personal relationship with Jesus, Ice Camps are a time for students to be a part of group discipleship. Our staff plays a key role in letting youth leaders relax, have fun with students, and grow in Christ together. We have opportunities for every returning summer staff member, whether it is indoors, outdoors, behind-the-scenes, or on the stage.

Please check your schedule with the weekend dates listed and stay tuned to your inbox!

JH/SH 1: Dec. 30 – Jan. 1

JH 1: Jan. 4 – 6

SH 1: Jan. 11 – 13

JH/SH 2: Jan. 18 – 20

SH 2: Jan. 25 – 27

JH 2: Feb. 1 – 3

SH 3: Feb. 8 – 10

JH/SH 3: Feb. 15 – 17

MS/JH 1: Feb. 22 – 24

JH/SH 4: Mar. 1 – 3

For more information about Ice Camp, click the button below!

Building the Kingdom: Work that is Lasting, Eternal, and Good

By | Life at Camp, Projects, Staff | No Comments

Every person has an opportunity to portray God’s love in a unique manner. He has gifted everyone differently for a purpose, and when those gifts are applied, God’s glory and kindness emanates through His creation. Those who seek to glorify Him through their talents and abilities as they serve not only demonstrate His light and love, but also receive joy that comes from participating in Kingdom work.

This is the epitome of volunteers at Miracle Camp and why we believe they are so valuable. From the paint on the walls to the flowers in the ground to the shingles on the roof, volunteers have played a part in nearly every aspect of our facility. This means that the kids who attend summer camp, guests that book a weekend, or families at our programmed events get to experience the end result of what was once a volunteer project.

Volunteers contribute largely to make Miracle Camp what it is today. Their astounding work is what allows us to operate at our highest potential. Volunteers fall in the same category as our maintenance and housekeeping staff in that they are the hands and feet of the unseen, hard work. The work they do is rewarding in a multitude of ways. Not only do our staff and guests benefit from their contributions, but volunteers themselves get to see the positive changes that happen because of them. Several times a year, volunteers come repeatedly because they enjoy the opportunity to serve. We have those who visit regularly to help with landscaping, maintenance, or any projects they can find. Also, many of our Summer Staff members come back to volunteer for Ice Camps, just for the sheer joy of participating in the mission of Miracle Camp.

Our volunteers remind us of Paul’s words in Scripture: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (2:4-7).

This mindset is what our volunteers assume as they exemplify Christ, sacrificing their time and energy to be a part of the big picture of what God is doing through Miracle Camp. They selflessly give and do what they do for others and to glorify God. Hundreds of guests are in and out of our campus every month. As volunteers use their gifts and abilities, their impact goes deeper than many realize.

Whether it is utilizing your green thumb in landscaping, operating your handywork skills, or applying your knowledge of computer networking, there are many practical ways you can get involved. As the Evergreen Project comes to a close over the coming winter months, the specific construction skills listed below are in high demand. Remember to click the link at the bottom of the list to sign up for our volunteer database, and stay tuned to your inbox for work crews organizing on weekends coming soon!

  • Concrete forming/Finishing
  • Drywall hanging/Finishing
  • Cabinetry/Countertop installation
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Framing
  • Roofing
  • Finish carpentry
  • Painting
  • Landscaping
  • Spring cleaning
  • Leaves/Stick pickup
  • Pressure washing
  • Computer Networking/IT
  • Welding
  • Other applicable skills

If you are interested in volunteering with us, click the button below and fill out the form to sign up!

The Men Who Deserve the Most

By | Life at Camp, Staff | No Comments

If a light bulb goes out, it’s not out for long. Does a sink need fixed? It’s repaired in no time. Our maintenance team ensures that Miracle Camp is operating at its possible best. When our facilities are running smoothly, no one notices the work it takes to make that happen. Our maintenance staff is intentionally unseen and unheard so that our place and the work God is doing through it can be highlighted.

Not only does this staff fix problems that arise, but they do the prep work to prevent any foreseeable complications. They work quickly and efficiently, and their contribution to the Miracle Camp staff is priceless. They are some of the hardest workers, and what they do on a daily basis is of equal importance to any other job here. Essentially, they are the army behind the scenes, making the wheels of Miracle Camp turn.

In addition to the tasks of maintenance work, they are large facilitators of growth. They discover ways to enhance the functions of camp. They ensure that the appearance of the campus be in top shape. Our maintenance team recognizes the gift that God has given us in our accommodations. They pour into projects, such as Evergreen, so that we can reach our full potential and strive to glorify God in every action.

Paul talks about the different kinds of work and gifts that the Holy Spirit gives in 1 Corinthians 12. Our maintenance staff exemplifies their gifts of hard work and serving, and the end result is seeing “the same God at work” in them just as much as our other staff. The maintenance men as a whole have been gifted with skills and keen abilities, but even amongst that team, each individual has specific qualities that allows them to work well. As they wholeheartedly do their jobs, they make it possible for guests to be fully present and in tune with what God is doing in their time at camp.

We are extremely grateful for each of these men and the work they do. Though challenging labor is often required, they dive in without complaint, all the while embodying Christ. God continues to use Miracle Camp, and we recognize that He does so through the work of our maintenance staff. We would especially like to thank Sam Short for his many years of service. Though he is retiring, his contributions to our team do not go unnoticed. It has been a blessing to have him on Miracle Camp staff, and he will be missed!

Serving in the area of maintenance is a great way to get involved with Miracle Camp. Stay tuned for more information next week on practical ways to use your God-given abilities!

Preparing the Dwelling Place

By | Life at Camp, Staff | No Comments

Another weekend wraps up as the last guest drives out of camp. While the quietness settling in indicates a time of rest for many staff members, this is a signal that the work is only beginning for our housekeeping staff. With smiles and hearts of service, this team does so much more than clean. Though often unseen, they are just as valuable to the functioning of camp as the staff who are up front and on stage.

The cleaning itself is a tremendous task. Just this fall, hundreds of people stream in and out of campus, providing a constant flow of work. When it comes to the status of cleanliness, “good enough” does not cut it for Miracle Camp. We strive to ensure that our accommodations are more than presentable; comfort, cleanliness, and quality are important characteristics of our space. Our housekeeping team goes above and beyond as they do the job well, embodying the scripture, “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

Due to the number of guests and continuously full weekends, the housekeeping staff prepares for many quick “flips” as we call them. Often, when guests leave, another group will come in later the same day or the following day. Our team works quickly and efficiently to ensure a smooth transition between guests, even though the job is thankless at times. They clean after groups, whether it be a teenage youth group or family reunion, removing any hint of mess. They transform the rooms like new, and the process repeats itself. More than the responsibility of cleaning bedrooms, they prepare all the meeting places and buildings to be welcoming and organized spaces.

The most important part of their work lies not in the vacuuming or laundry, however. For our housekeeping staff, it is not just about the cleaning. It is prayer. These members pray over the beds and meeting spaces because they recognize that this is a haven for people. Our facility is a dwelling place, and God’s spirit is in the midst of it. The staff finds it a joy and privilege to prepare a place for God to meet people. When guests come to camp and find it clean and well-kept, they can concentrate on their time with God without distractions. Our housekeeping team is motivated by the perspective that they are making ready a space of rest and retreat so that others can enjoy it, especially as they step away from everyday life to be regenerated, renewed, replenished, and refreshed.

“We don’t mind the messes left behind,” they say with a smile, “as long as the people leave in better condition than when they came.”

We are so grateful to have such hardworking and thoughtful housekeeping staff members here at Miracle Camp. Especially on Sundays, after worshiping they come to work with a ready demeanor to prepare the camp before Monday. They make Miracle Camp function physically, and their prayers are changing the lives of everyone who encounters this space.

Stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks for partnership opportunities as we strive to maintain and upgrade our facilities so that guests can focus on Jesus during their time here!

Our Favorites for Fall

By | Staff | No Comments

The leaves pop with bright oranges and yellows, signaling autumn’s arrival. While the beauty is evident, we know it means the cold season is fast approaching. The next few months provide the perfect opportunity to not merely endure the time spent indoors, but to enjoy it. Settle in for a movie or game night with hot cider, curl up with a blanket and good book, or get out the speaker and add some new rhythms to your day. If you are looking for some ways to prepare for the upcoming season, here are some favorite suggestions from our staff and interns of ways to make the most of time spent inside! We hope you find these ideas helpful, encouraging, and fun.

Books

  • Gospel Fluency – Jeff Vanderstelt
  • Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  • Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  • Garden City – John Mark Comer
  • Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis
  • Desiring God – John Piper
  • When I Don’t Desire God – John Piper
  • Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Acts: A Visual Guide by Kevin DeYoung and Chris Ranson
  • With – Skye Jethani
  • Celebration of Discipline – Richard J. Foster
  • Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling
  • Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands – Paul David Tripp
  • Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series – easy to read Bible commentaries that show how Christ is exalted in every chapter and verse of Scripture

Movies

  • “The Story of God” documentary series with Morgan Freeman
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • “Courageous”
  • “Saving Private Ryan”
  • “A Christmas Story”
  • “Princess Bride”
  • “Pride and Prejudice”
  • “Amazing Grace”
  • Harry Potter series
  • “Pink Panther”

Music

Artists

  • Elevation Worship
  • Matt Boswell
  • Steve Taylor
  • Larry Norman
  • The Lowly Heirs
  • John Denver
  • Chris Renzema
  • John Tibbs
  • Cory Asbury
  • Ben Rector
  • Taylor Swift
  • TobyMac
  • John Williams

Albums

  • Living Hope – Phil Wickham
  • Followers – Tenth Avenue North
  • Vice Verses – Switchfoot
  • Gold – Britt Nicole
  • Fortunate Fall – Audrey Assad

Books For Kids

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series) – C. S. Lewis
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw – Beverly Cleary and Paul O. Zelinsky
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) – Trenton Lee Stewart
  • God’s Very Good Idea – Trillia Newbell
  • Little Dog Lost – Rene Guillot
  • The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth George Spear
  • The Berenstain Bears – Stan & Jan Berenstain
  • My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George
  • Any book by Mo Willems or Jon Klassen

Movies For Kids

  • “Ratatouille”
  • “VeggieTales: It’s a Meaningful Life”
  • “Ferdinand”
  • “Peter Pan”
  • “Robin Hood”

Music For Kids

  • Sing the Bible – Randall Goodgame
  • Seeds Family Worship albums
  • Bullfrogs and Butterflies: God is my friend
  • Hide ‘Em in Your Heart – Steve Green

In the Kitchen – This season is the perfect time to try out new recipes! Here are a few cookbook recommendations:

  • Mexico One Plate at a Time
  • The Escoffier Cookbook
  • The Whole30 Cookbook

Games

  • Pandemic
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Codenames
  • Unlock! Escape Adventures
  • Telestrations
  • Dutch Blitz
  • Sushi Go Party!
  • Euchre

Present in the Details

By | Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

The newest t-shirt arrivals hang at the front of the room. Everything from drawstring bags to stuffed animals to jogger sweatpants and hats line the shelves. The freezer is stocked with chipwiches – a Miracle Camp classic. Assistant Cabin Leader Emma Zenz places the finishing touch on the merchandise before turning the sign to “OPEN” as kids gather at the door. She runs the Trading Post, our camp store, which is an especially popular place during Summer Camp.

Emma can’t contain her excitement as she beams: “I LOVE my job.” She’s one of our 18 Assistant Cabin Leaders for the summer and is from Northwest Ohio. Emma’s involvement with Miracle Camp began over ten years ago, ever since she was old enough to attend: first as a camper, then a Camp Aide; simultaneously, her family has been a part of Family Camp for eight years. Her roots at Miracle Camp shaped her love for ministry, which she wants to pursue vocationally. When Summer Camp ends, she will begin her Freshman year at Moody Bible Institute studying Youth Ministry. Therefore, this summer job aligned perfectly with her hopes for the future.

The essence of being an Assistant Cabin Leader is to serve alongside the Cabin Leader so that they can lead the campers well. This means helping facilitate conversations, allowing the Cabin Leader to have one-on-one time with each camper, leading devotions on the Cabin Leader’s night off, and much more. Intentionality is huge regarding interacting with the campers because they are only with the cabins at specific times, such as meals and certain activities.

Each Assistant Cabin Leader has a specific job in addition to helping lead. Some are assigned roles in areas such as Hospitality, Outdoor Adventure, Lifeguarding, Health Office, and Shake Up Kalamazoo. In Emma’s job at the Trading Post, she oversees inventory, preorders, stocking, and opens during free time for campers to visit. “Specifically in my Trading Post job, I get to connect with a lot of campers,” Emma says. “I like to make it a safe and inviting place. Campers can come in knowing their company is wanted if they don’t have friends to hang out with.”

While Cabin Leaders see a more obvious side of spiritual growth in campers, Emma offers a unique perspective of Assistant Cabin Leaders. “We get to see God cultivate conversations not only in devos, but even in free time.” She goes on to describe that even though something may not be seen as “spiritual,” God is still present. “I’ve seen God unite cabins through games and dance parties,” she explains. “He can initiate conversations over ice cream; you don’t have to only be in chapel or small groups to talk about Him.”

The Assistant Cabin Leader role balances out the Cabin Leader role as each position focuses on different aspects, yet both put Christ at the center. Assistant Cabin Leaders are able to step in and bring a new energy or support their Cabin Leaders in the most helpful way, even through simple details. Emma notes that even the details are important when it comes to the bigger picture of the gospel. She loves getting excited about “the little things that help campers get excited. When we make the gospel something we get excited about as well, it’s contagious.”

To find out more about becoming a future Assistant Cabin Leader, click the button below!

Leading by Following

By | Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

Meal-time chants. Dodgeball. Team-building. Afternoons on the water. Reading and reflection time. Worship and soaking in speaker messages. All these contribute to the familiarities of Summer Camp. The general structure sets the rhythm even though every week looks different from the next. “So much can happen inside each week,” Cabin Leader Kendall Miyakawa says. He enjoys the balance of an incredibly fun week while also leading the kids spiritually.

This summer is Kendall’s first experience with Miracle Camp. Born and raised in Indianapolis, he also spent seven years in Thailand, and considers both places his home. One of his high school teachers grew up coming to Miracle Camp and told him about the opportunity. Kendall is currently a sophomore at Taylor University, which is where he met several people who spent their summers at Miracle Camp. He discovered more details about working here from a friend and applied to be a Cabin Leader.

Now he’s about to wrap up a full summer of camp, reflecting on his time here and recognizing how God has been working: “I’ve had to learn a lot about finishing up one week, having expectations for how the next week is going to go, and learning to drop those.” Realizing that each camper comes with a different background and worldview, a large part of being a Cabin Leader has meant discovering what each camper needs and learning to connect in the best way, rather than walking into a week with a set plan. “You never know what direction a camper’s heart will go,” he notes. As a Cabin Leader, you need to “be sensitive to how the Lord is working inside each of your campers and do your best to meet their needs.”

The Cabin Leader role encompasses many aspects with one focus: pointing campers to Jesus. Miracle Camp trains each Cabin Leader to share Jesus, and weekly meetings occur to aid in that training and pray for opportunities to utilize it. This not only directly impacts the campers, but the Cabin Leaders get to carry that training over to relationships outside of Camp. As Cabin Leaders interact with campers, they are reminded to model the hospitality of Jesus. They embody this by connecting through one-on-ones, which are intentional times spent with each camper. This time is built into the schedule to listen to individual needs of the campers and speak the truth of Jesus over their lives. For Kendall, this involves asking questions and getting some perspective. He looks for relevant ways to share the Gospel as he listens to the Spirit for what each kid needs to hear.

Cabin Leaders begin their day with team prayer and personal devotional time. They implement their training as they pour into their campers by reflecting on chapel sessions, playing hard in games and activities, laughing together at meals, and meeting for one-on-ones. Sharing the gospel directly may not always happen, and Cabin Leaders may not see campers meet Jesus for the first time, but the training helps them prepare for those moments and glorify Christ through their actions. Kendall enjoys facilitating cabin discussions and seeing the campers invest in and encourage each other. One of his favorite parts of Summer Camp is seeing how campers arrive on Sunday and where they are when they leave on Saturday – the transformation that takes place. Cabin leaders have a unique front seat to the work God is doing in each of the campers. Miracle Camp is grateful for each Cabin Leader and their energy, intentionality, and servanthood as they exemplify Christ.

To find out more about becoming a future Cabin Leader, click the button below!

The Framework of Summer Camp

By | Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

Planning details is both necessary and important, but when you work in an environment like Summer Camp, flexibility is a key part of the job description, especially for Olivia Gramling. She is one of two Assistant Program Directors for Summer Camp, serving alongside 11 other Program Office (PO) staff members. Her role is difficult to describe because essentially her job is to make everyone else’s job easier. She works to pick up the pieces to make sure the other staff can accomplish their jobs.

The PO is responsible for running Summer Camp. With this team, leadership is the focus as they plan Summer Camp along with Eric Rupp, the Program Director. Additionally, they serve by helping other staff members, coming up with ideas, and more.

Planning Summer Camp is no easy undertaking, and while the groundwork begins months in advance, much of the preparation takes place onsite. Officially, the PO members spend a week of intensive training before the rest of Summer Staff arrives for two weeks of training. Orientation is a large part of this time, as well as getting familiar with the team and the flow of camp. During this week, the brainstorming begins to form the big picture. “It all comes together when you’re together,” Olivia says. “You work off of each other.”

A typical day for the PO varies depending on the circumstances, but there is a general structure. They meet every morning to get on the same page and determine who needs help with what activities. The day is a mix of planning schedules for the next week, facilitating the current week, setting up and tearing down, and being available for any changes that arise. These regular assignments create a routine for the PO.

Olivia describes Miracle Camp as her “second home”; she began attending as a second grader and never missed a year. She heard about Camp through her friends and her church that is affiliated with the FEC. After participating as a camper, she became a Camp Aide, then a Summer Staff member before joining PO, making this her second year serving as Assistant Program Director. Olivia’s position fits her well because she enjoys the behind-the-scenes work and her love language is acts of service: “I get to minister to the staff, who ministers to the kids, and that’s what I want to do in life.” After this summer, Olivia will begin a year-long fellowship at Sky Ranch in Texas.

“When you’re hired at Miracle Camp,” Olivia goes on to say, “you know that everyone is here for the same reasons, especially on PO. We’re all in similar walks of life, figuring out our faith together, and I value that a lot.”

The other Program Office staff members are:

Tanner Young – Activities Coordinator
Gabe Short & Olivia Gramling – Assistant Program Directors
Natalie Hoffmire & Jason Kimball – Head Male & Female Cabin Leaders
Lyndsey Rupp – Videographer
Jacie Smeltzer – Photographer
Annie Niedeck & Brett Holder – Camp Aide Coordinators
Mallory Tyree – Chapel Coordinator
Ellie Rupp – Health Assistant
Sarah Faivre – Head Lifeguard

If you would like to find out more about Summer Camp employment, click the button below!

What We Teach Our Summer Staff: Fun!

By | Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

With our staff all here and campers coming in just a few short days we are so excited to share with you how our staff is preparing for Summer Camp and how much we long for your camper to have the best week ever!

FUN!

It might sound shallow, but we truly hope that every camper has one of the best weeks of their life while they are at Miracle Camp. We truly do believe that campers have as much fun here as at Disney World!

CREATIVE PROGRAMMING

Our summer staff makes it a priority to put in the extra effort to plan creative activities for Summer Camp. Our all camp games, like Gold Rush, are some of our favorite activities that we program. Every year, we love using our creativity to provide new and excited games and activities for our campers.

THINGS YOU CAN’T DO AT HOME

We have be blessed with lots of awesome things that provide an experience that is way different from anything that our campers could do at home over the summer. Some of our favorites include our zipline, climbing wall, tubing, the blob, paintball, and so much more!

MEANINGFUL FRIENDSHIPS

Camp wouldn’t be the same without the other campers and staff members that your child will meet while they are here at camp. It always brings a smile to our faces to see the friendships that campers can make after just a week of being together.

It is such a joy to us to see campers having one of the best weeks of their lives here at Summer Camp. If you would like to check out more about Summer Camp, or if you would like to register, click on the button below!

What We Teach Our Summer Staff: Spiritual Growth

By | Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

Our Program Office staff has been here for almost a week now preparing for Summer Camp this year! We are so excited for the rest of our summer staff to arrive this upcoming Tuesday and begin training for this summer. As we touched on last week, safety is our number one priority. Right along with it, though, spiritual growth is one of the main reasons we exist and put so much effort into our Summer Camps.

SPIRITUAL GROWTH

Right behind safety, our second priority at summer camp is to make sure that each camper grows closer to God while they are here. We want to make sure that the Bible is preached clearly and relevantly to every camper and that each counselor challenges campers to apply God’s word to their life. Our desire is to see you son or daughter learn more about Jesus Christ and grow in their walk with Him.

ONE ON ONES

Another way that we encourage and challenge your child in their walk with the Lord is through one on one conversations they have with their cabin leader. These discussions are put into place so that each cabin leader can help each camper grow closer to God personally. Our staff is trained to challenge students to read and apply God’s word and to spend time in prayer.

CHAPEL SESSIONS

Campers get to experience 2 chapel sessions each day that include worship and a Bible teacher who will communicate God’s word on a level relevant to the age of the campers. We believe that the Bible is powerful and changes lives and we want campers to experience this each week.

DAILY DEVOTIONS

After the morning chapel session, campers will spend some time outside with their Bible and daily devotional. Our desire is to see campers reading and studying God’s Word both here at camp and continue these habits as they go home. Each cabin will also come together after each evening chapel session for cabin devotions. These times provide a space for cabin leaders to lead discussions on what the speaker talked about during the session and allow campers to see how this topic applies to their life now.

Our staff is focused on helping people know God in a deeper way. We believe that relationships are the heart of ministry and each summer, our Summer Staff will pour their hearts and lives into the campers in their care. If you want to see more about what Summer Camp is like, click on the button below!