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That’s a Wrap!

By | Summer Camp | No Comments

It’s a happy kind of sad as the last campers turn the corner out of camp: happy because the past nine weeks have been filled with games, high-fives, deep conversations, new friends, old friends, and so much more. Sad because it is all coming to an end.

Summer has flown by, and this last Saturday we wrapped up our 2018 Summer Camp season. A few weeks of training combined with nine weeks of campers makes for a lifetime of memories. God worked in so many incredible ways this summer, and we were honored to have 1,345 campers in attendance. It is our prayer that each camper takes home what he or she learned and implements that into everyday life.

Our aim this summer and every summer is helping campers meet God or get to know Him better. Each aspect of Summer Camp pointed toward this and uniquely displayed it in different ways. Our Program Director, staff, and Program Office leaders ensured that camp ran smoothly through logistics so that campers would be safe and have the opportunity to see Jesus. Our Cabin Leaders modeled the love of Jesus as they connected one-on-one with each camper and led the cabins, creating a mentor relationship. Assistant Cabin Leaders helped Cabin Leaders facilitate discussions, worked different activities throughout camp, and modeled hospitality of Jesus as they connected with campers. Camp Aides stepped into their role of coming alongside the Summer Staff and reaching out to campers while developing leadership roles. These descriptions merely scratch the surface of the effort and energy put forth by each staff person involved.

Though the quieter campus now echoes a reminder of the absence of campers and Summer Staff, we are filled with gratitude. We at Miracle Camp are incredibly thankful for each camper who spent a week of their summer with us, and the parents and churches who made this possible. From blobbing to ziplining, campfires and meal times, high-energy games to stronger friendships and great cabin discussions, this has been one amazing summer. We hope the impact of this summer carries over into everyday life. Most importantly, we give thanks to God who has given us this place and the resources to share with you.

To find out more about Summer Camp, click the button below!

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!

Not Your Average “Camp Food”

By | Dining, Food for thought | No Comments

A line of energetic campers files out the door, awaiting the signal for dinnertime to begin. They stir with anticipation as the word gets out about tonight’s menu. Someone shouts, “It’s barbacoa night!” followed by a chorus of cheers and applause.

The made-from-scratch barbacoa taco meal with homemade queso sauce is just one of the favorites at Miracle Camp. Unlike a week of grilled cheese and chicken nuggets every day, we value variety, high quality, and nutrition, redefining the stereotype of “camp food.” Every meal, campers are provided an array of options: a different main course and sides, along with a salad bar and selection of desserts. Breakfast includes differing main meal options and features a regular oatmeal and yogurt bar. Menu plans are designed accordingly for each week’s age group, implementing unique ideas, such as the bread bar during Senior High camp.

A large amount of planning is required for the 50,000+ meals served between May and September. Not only do we strive for accuracy in quantity and excellence in taste, but accommodations for allergies are a high priority. Once the kitchen staff is aware of an allergy, they deliberately provide alternative food options for those who need gluten-free, dairy-free, or other selections.

We are privileged to have Beau Graf as our Director of Dining Services. Previously working in our kitchen for three summers (from 1997-1999), Beau joined our full-time staff in May 2014. He works diligently along with 24 part-time employees to ensure that our dining exceeds expectations.

Good food is a significant component of the camp experience. We are delighted when campers and guests are pleased with the cheesy potatoes, glazed ham, or carved pork loin with apple-cranberry chutney. And who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie mallow-bar?

We desire to provide excellent food to enhance your stay with us. If you would like to find out more about our dining services, click the button below!

Meet Our New Interns!

By | Internships | No Comments

We are excited to introduce you to our seven current interns in the Miracle Camp GAP Year Ministry! This program is a great way for exiting high school and college students to gain practical experience and discover their purpose. It provides interns with hands-on opportunities to grow in their vocational skills, knowledge, and the calling Christ has placed on their lives, whether it leads to a career in Camping ministry or simply the next place God is directing. Each of them has a unique story of how God led them to Miracle Camp and what they hope to accomplish in their time here.

Katie Rice
Katie is from Nampa, ID, and is one of our Culinary Arts interns. Her dad used to be the youth pastor at Lawton Church for eight years before they moved to Idaho. She heard about the internship and decided to come because of her familiarity with Miracle Camp. Over the next year, she hopes to learn more about cooking and different techniques in the kitchen, and she is excited for building strong friendships while she’s here.

Kaity Renzema
Kaity is also a Culinary Arts intern and the most local of the bunch, coming from Vicksburg, MI. She found out about Miracle Camp from a friend during a time when she was unsure about her next steps in life. After praying about this opportunity, she believes God very clearly led her here. Through this new experience over the next year, she hopes to grow both spiritually and in knowledge of culinary arts.

Margaret Gruendyke
Margaret is from Upland, IN, and very familiar with Miracle Camp as she grew up as a camper and camp aide. Camp has a large place in her heart and she wants to give back in the way that it has given so much to her, crediting it for making her who she is today. Margaret graduated from Taylor University in 2017 with a degree in Christian Ministries and Biblical Studies. She is one of the Guest Services interns, and in her time over the next year she hopes to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of camp, gain more business experience, and discover how to serve guests by giving them the best possible experience.

Micayla Greathouse
Micayla, originally from Hays, KS, is the other Guest Services intern. She felt God leading her to Michigan and has always been interested in Camping ministry. When she discovered Miracle Camp’s GAP Year ministry online, she knew He provided this opportunity. Micayla has her bachelor’s in Christian Ministry from Southwest Baptist University and recently completed her master’s online through Liberty University in Professional Writing. She is excited to discover more about Camping ministry while learning how to better serve people, further her writing skills, and grow in community with others and relationship with Jesus.

Caleb Kroeker
Caleb, from Bellefonte, PA, is no stranger to Miracle Camp. He started coming to Family Camp at age 10 and has since come nearly every year. Caleb graduated from Penn State in May, and he is here for the summer as a Shake Up Kalamazoo intern. During this season, he is excited to help serve the people of the Kalamazoo area. Additionally, he looks forward to growing personally in his faith and knows that this is a great place for that.

Michael Boyd
Coming from Illinois, Michael began the GAP Year Ministry a year ago in Guest Services. He has been on Summer Staff since 2014, and the opportunity for the internship arose after last summer. Since then, he has switched over to the Health Officer internship. He believed God called him to the program, while also knowing if he didn’t pursue this possibility, he would regret it. Michael will finish his year this August and then move to Chicago, where he hopes to adjust well to city life. He is excited to stay open and see what God has in store for the next season.

Wyatt Gulick
Wyatt, our Maintenance intern from Montpelier, OH, is well acquainted with Miracle Camp. He began his time here as a camper in the third grade and has been coming ever since.  Wyatt was then on Summer Staff for two years prior to becoming an intern. He began the GAP Year Ministry shortly after, and has already spent a year with Miracle Camp as an intern. Wyatt will be completing another year in the program, and we are excited to have him here a second year.

The three main purposes of the Ministry are: 1) Discovering gifts; 2) Building vocational skills; and 3) Exploring calling and life plan. If you would like to find out more about our intern program, click the button below!

Family Camp Starts Next Week!

By | Family Camp | No Comments

Family Camp is almost here!! We are so excited for our grounds to be filled with 41 families next week. 184 people will be attending July 4 – 7th, with 70 of those being kids. These fun-filled days ahead will include engaging sessions, adventure, delicious food, and of course, quality family time.

Our speaker for the week is Nate Hamblin. Nate and his family are from Adrian, MI, and have been long-time attendees of Family Camp. We are delighted to welcome them back and hear from him next week.

The temperatures for next week will be perfect for Blobbing, tubing, or finding some shade on the sandy beach. Time on the water will be a must, whether it’s enjoying Bankson Lake from a kayak, canoe, the water trampoline, or slide. In addition, here are some more activities we will feature:

  • Zipline
  • Archery
  • Trap-shooting ($6 for 12 shots)
  • Fishing (bring your own pole)
  • Climbing Wall
  • Game Room
  • High Ropes
  • Disc Golf
  • BB Guns
  • Game Room
  • Scooters 🙂

The craft shack and coffee shop will be ideal for pausing to refresh in the midst of all the action.

We love providing a place for families to bond over games, worship and pray together, and enjoy God’s creation in a relaxing atmosphere. It doesn’t get much better than wrapping up the summer days as families will enjoy the campfire time, complete with s’mores.

If you would like to see more about what happens at Family Camp, click the button below!

A Taste of Miracle Camp

By | Life at Camp, Summer Camp | No Comments

Kids shout with echoes of delight. Boats hum with ecstatic tubers on the lake. The zipline whirs in the distance. Birds chatter in the trees near the archery, paintball station, and high ropes course. Worship music floats out the chapel door. What do these sounds have in common? They are all heard at Miracle Camp!

In today’s non-stop society running on caffeine and jam-packed schedules, you could describe Miracle Camp as an oasis. The camp’s layout perfectly complements the surrounding nature, resulting in a pleasant place of respite. The waterfront view, winding trails, and myriad of activities provide high-quality adventure. An aura of wonder fills the air, allowing space to slow down and enjoy life. What could be better than the small-town feel with the 100+ acres of land offering opportunities to play, relax, and wander?

Adding to the beauty, the sense of community at Miracle Camp is prominent. Joy radiates from the staff as you pass them within the comfort of Bankson Lodge. Their inclusiveness embodies the love of Jesus, and you will smile as the housekeepers greet you by name on your way to breakfast. The 45 Summer Staff and 11 Program Office leaders serve with a genuine sense of caring, leaving no one a stranger for long. One of the seven interns runs from one activity to the next, waving as you head to the beach for some kayaking. The top-notch hospitality creates a home away from home.

Prior to your arrival, each staff member is equipped with proper training, provided with opportunities for discipleship, and encouraged to employ a component of personal retreat. These elements are necessary as the teams prepare for a busy season hosting campers and guest groups. Organization is key, and arrangements for comfortable lodging, delicious food, and an exciting itinerary are drawn up to ensure the success of your stay.

While many roles of the staff are obvious, the behind-the-scenes people and work are just as important to the most efficient and successful functions of this camp. You may notice the cleanliness, but miss the woman diligently sweeping the room or the man power-washing the windows. You may observe the beautiful landscape, but not see the ones spending hours on their hands and knees planting flowers. Behind your enjoyable stay were hours spent on the phone and in the office in preparation. Frequently, the Friends of Camp, the regular volunteers, are onsite contributing to the work that plays a powerful role in the daily operations.

The whiff of a campfire drifts through the evening breeze, mixing with a hint of freshly mowed grass. From the interactions with the staff to pleasant accommodations to activity preparations, bringing glory to God is evident throughout every detail. The safe and relaxing atmosphere at Miracle Camp offers loads of laughter, stretches of rest, and opportunities to encounter Jesus. As you pass the lake on your way out, you will glance back at Miracle Camp in your rearview mirror with a renewed spirit, happy memories, and the anticipation of planning your return trip.

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

Summer Camp is Finally Here!!

By | Summer Camp | No Comments

Summer Camp is one of our favorite programmed events that we put on here at Miracle Camp. Every year, we love seeing the hundreds of kids that come to camp and hear the message of Jesus Christ preached.

We are just finishing up our first week of camp with over 120 middle school campers who have been busy ziplining, enjoying the waterfront, making lots of new friends, and diving into the book of Philippians during our chapel sessions. Our staff has had a blast putting everything they’ve learned in training over the past couple weeks into action as they care for and encourage the campers who are in their cabins.

This year we will have over 1,300 campers come through our doors and 46 summer staff who oversee everything that has to do with Summer Camp. Our ministry here at camp isn’t all about numbers, but we are always excited to have the opportunity to see the Gospel preached to more and more kids every year!

Evergreen Project Update!

By | Keeping Faith, Updates, Video | No Comments

We are so excited to share with you the progress we have made on the Evergreen Project this year! It is hard to believe that in just a couple months one of our cabins can look so different. Only so much can be communicated in words to describe this renovation. That being said, we would love to give you a better picture on just how much work has been completed on Evergreen through this short timelapse video showing everything that we have done so far this spring!

As you can see, there has been so much progress on this renovation. We always want to thank you for your support of Miracle Camp and the Keeping Faith Campaign. Because of your generosity, Miracle Camp can continue to grow and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with more and more guests every year!

We would love to continue making camp a better place for our guests and we know that we can’t do that alone. If you would like to learn more about the Keeping Faith Campaign, or would like to donate, click the button below!