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service

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!

Culinary Arts Internship Opportunity!

By | Dining, Internships | No Comments

For over fifty years now, Miracle Camp has existed to facilitate life change by helping people draw closer to God. While the year-round events we facilitate for our guests are designed with this in mind, Internships also provide a meaningful avenue for us to facilitate life change for transitioning students. Interning with us provides opportunities for personal growth while serving alongside our full time staff in a specific area of interest.

Knowing how to choose a career path without the benefit of much work experience can be a challenge even for the most prepared students. While schooling can enlighten us with new ideas, the classroom doesn’t often provide opportunities for practical application. An internship, on the other hand, provides specific opportunities to gain valuable experience in a field before committing to a future course.

Your vocation represents the biggest time commitment in life, and the place we have the most opportunity for relationship with others. For our interns, this means we equally value the work that happens behind-the-scenes and on the stage; no matter what type of career path you are preparing to take, our program will give you the tools to see your workplace as a mission field for you to creatively pursue your God-given purpose.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts “the demand for head chefs, cooks and other culinary specialists is on the rise. The agency has gathered the numbers and determined that the field will grow by an estimated 9 percent between 2014 and 2024.” Here at Miracle Camp, Chef Beau Graf has been faithfully serving our guests since 2014. As a trained chef with over 16 years of experience in commercial kitchens and working with vendors, Beau is excited to share his knowledge and help prepare interns with skills for ministry in culinary arts.

Applicants for the Culinary Arts Internship will be eager to learn basic cooking principles, knife technique, baking and grilling, as well as more restaurant management skills like ordering, inventory and production planning.  In addition to team-based training and individual career coaching, the Culinary Arts intern will receive ServSafe Certification and attend the CCCA Cooks Advance Retreat.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2018 Culinary Arts Internship, in addition to accepting 2019 applications for our other areas of emphasis. For more information, click on the button below!