Summer is in The Air

Summer is coming. With only 22 days between now and the start of the summer camp season at Barakel, things are busy and exciting.

In the past few weeks I’ve kept busy with work around camp and with my studies. I tried something different and took two tests in one day. The tests were: “Intro to World Religions” and “Here’s to Your Health”. Although I was slightly nervous about taking two at once, I did well and passed both, praise God. I celebrated by making tacos for supper – smothered with hot sauce, of course.

This past week I spent some time working on the zipline with Jeremy Linsley. We used the Skytrak as our ladder and checked all the tightness of the clamps, and replaced worn out components. In a couple of weeks I’ll take part in zipline training so that I can help run it during retreats.

Saturday was the first co-labor work weekend of the spring and we had a good group of eighty or so volunteers come up to rake leaves and clean buildings. I spent the day raking with a jolly crew most of the day. We cleared out all the leaves around three of the lodges. I finished up the day lifeguarding as a few brave folks jumped in the lake and some people went boating. All in all it was a wonderful day of rewarding work and good fellowship with the volunteers.

Thank you all for your prayers and care! Continue to pray for the ministry of Barakel as we near a summer that will be full of oppurtunities for the Gospel to be proclaimed, and hearts to be changed. To God be the glory!

A Recap

Here are some highlights in pictures of the last few weeks.

I turned 21.

My family visited for a weekend.

Drove the Skytrak.

I passed a DSST test on “The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union”.

Camp got a “new” Cadillac to use for highschool weeks this summer.

I got to see a limestone quarry near lake Huron.

My sister, Kristi, came and visited for a few days this week.

 

 

In Like A Lion

March came in like a lion this year, bringing with it our last winter retreat here at Barakel. Snow began to fall late in the day Friday as the campers arrived and continued falling throughout the night. The snow was wet and heavy, and fell steadily. Nearly all the staff men worked around the clock keeping pathways, roads, and ice rinks cleared.

Power was lost in the wee hours of Saturday morning. This didn’t stop camp’s activities as we have generators for Chapel and the Dining Halls, but it did result in campers having to go home early on Saturday evening instead of Sunday afternoon since we could no longer heat many of the lodges. The campers had a great time though, and I don’t think any of the campers or staff will forget the week of crazy snow and lost power.

I took the following week off to go home, see family, and to visit friends, and enjoyed going to church at home on Sunday. It was a great week. When I returned to camp I came back to summer-like weather with melting snow and clear, sunny, blue skies.

Titus Brown at Eagle Point, where we camped.

The lake was still frozen until this past Saturday afternoon when open water finally started appearing. The lake is totally clear now. March really feels like summer this year, and it’s strange. I don’t mind it though. I even camped out in Huron National Forest Friday evening and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

I’ve taken two tests since I’ve last posted, both of them on history of wars: The Civil War and Reconstruction and The History of The Vietnam War. Studying war is a dark thing, but it’s good to know the past and realize the fallen state mankind is in without Christ.

Now that winter retreats are over, we are cleaning up after the winter and getting ready for the spring and summer camping seasons. Today started “spring cleaning” with all of staff being assigned to various buildings to do a deep, thorough clean. Working with a group is a nice change and makes cleaning quite enjoyable.

With everything we do at camp I keep remembering that summer is nearing, and it’s exciting. Summer brings with it campers and many opportunities to share the gospel with them. Pray for Barakel as we prepare for summer.

Good Cookies Abound

The past two weeks have passed by quickly. The previous weekend went well with couples on one side of the lake and teens on the other side. This past week started smoothly with my test Monday. I rose early, got in my Jeep and headed west to Traverse City. The test was on “Environment and Humanity” and the subject material was Biology-meets-Humanities. I did well and passed the test, Praise God.

Done with my test, I drove straight home to visit with my family for the day. The sun was shining, the sky was a lovely blue, and the roads were perfectly clear, lending themselves to speedy traveling. I made it home in time for lunch. Coming home for the day after being gone for the past few weeks didn’t feel strange at all. It almost feels like I have hardly been gone.

The afternoon was spent in reading, talking with my family and relaxing. I finished reading on my Kindle a book that my dad bought me by John Piper called Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. The book was very good and encouraged me to know God better, so that I may better love Him, through His grace. Also, my amazing mom gave me a tin filled with her fresh chocolate chip cookies to take back with me. They’re the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.

As I drove back to camp that evening I realized that Barakel has become to feel like my second home. The community of people here, the woods surrounding camp, and the ministry here all make for a place where I feel I belong. This season at Barakel has been a blessing.

I plan on staying through the spring and on to summer, Lord willing. I’m excited about the possibilities. I’ll have a couple of weeks off during the spring, but other than that I’ll still be here at camp. Pray for me and the rest of the potential summer-staff as we prepare to be used by God in the lives of kids who come to camp.

This weekend we had teens on both sides of the lake camping, and they all had chapel together in the large east side chapel. We had over 330 people in that combined chapel and it was incredible to see. Pray for the campers who were here that their time was one of spiritual growth and challenge.

There are two more combined teen retreats left before the winter retreat season ends. Pray that we finish well and that camper’s lives would be changed. Also, a little fresh snow wouldn’t hurt either!

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Warm air and sunshine this week took a lot of our snow. Having no snow is a bummer when you run snow camp. But thankfully we retained enough to keep the tubing hill open, and had enough cold weather to keep the skating rink skate-able. It took a little manpower and ingenuity though.

To counter the loss of the snow we got a few of the guys together from around camp on Thursday, brought out two pickups and a big tractor with a snowblower and started hauling snow. The process really only took us half the day and we covered all the bald patches on the tubing runs. We went down to the RV park where we still had some good snow, blew it into the beds of the trucks, and then took it to the hill. The path up to the top of the hill was a bit icy so getting the pickups close to their destination was tricky, but with some skillful driving and sand the drivers made it.

Reuben and Lee putting down sand on the path to the hill.

The ice rink was also pretty sad looking, although it did have a solid base in spite of the weather. Friday night the temperature dropped low enough to lay down some good ice and Titus Brown and I put down a few sheets. Titus was a real trooper and stayed up late into the night making the ice smooth for the campers.

One of the projects I have worked on a little this week is the “zamboni” that we are making for the ice rink. It’s basically a tractor with two water barrels, a sprayer, and a giant squeegee to spread out the water smoothly. The zamboni is mostly together except for the squeegee part. Dan Haines helped get us started on the project by grinding away the extra metal in the way of the squeegee. Sparks flew and it looked pretty cool. Then I drilled holes for the rubber piece. All that’s left now is bolting on the rubber and seeing how it all works.

Dan Haines going all out on the metal. You can't see from this angle but he has sweet shades.

So in spite of the weather the campers seemed to have a good time. I helped out on both the thunder express Saturday in the morning, and the tubing hill on afternoon and evening. The evening runs were much faster when the temperature dropped on the tubing hill. I really enjoyed working the tubing hill and talking to the campers, and seeing their excitement as they sped down the hill. Spinning the tubers is my favorite, so I am always excited when they want to spin. I would smile when some of the younger daughters were bolder than their fathers and would spin while their dads would refuse my offers.

Even though things look a little bare around here, camp is going well and retreats all look pretty full. God is in control, so even though we want more snow, he knows whether or not we really need it!

In The Thick of Winter

Daily life here at Barakel has begun to feel normal. I’m getting used to the schedules, the activities and the responsibilites. This past week I kept busy with chapel cleaning, ice-making, program work, and odd jobs.

Temperatures were nice and low this week, except for on Thursday when it warmed up a bit and we lost some patches of snow. This meant that some of the ski trails had to be closed, but other than that all the activity areas kept enough snow to remain open. We even got a good blanketing throughout the weekend of the cold, fluffy flakes. At times the entire world looked like a snow globe. It was beautiful.

Both sides of the lake had teenage campers from various church youth groups. West side had the Senior-highers and East side the Junior-highers. I worked on the West side with the Seniors. The speaker for the week on the West side happened to be my uncle, Ken Pierpont. Hearing my uncle speak was a treat. He’s one of my favorite speakers. My cousins Chuck, Dan, Wes, and Hope came along with him. My uncle’s oldest son, Kyle, was also up and had brought his youth group. So it was a regular old Pierpont reunion. I hadn’t seen either Kyle or Chuck for the longest time, so it was good catching up with them and the rest of the clan over the weekend.

Sunday afternoon I went home for the first time in four weeks and was able to go to church with my family. Reuben came along and we stayed the night before leaving early the next morning for Traverse City. We brought my brother Luke with us and traveled to Northwest Michigan College for my test. “Art of the Western World” was the DSST test I took and thankfully passed. Even though the roads were a bit snowy, we made it back to camp mid-afternoon. I Praise God for more college credit and safe travels!

Luke will be hanging out with me this week and helping with the work around camp. Luke is already taller than me and he’s not afraid to work, not to mention he’s a lot of fun to be around. We got a lot of work done today with his help!

Luke and Reuben with a truckload of tubes that we moved this afternoon.

While it’s hard to believe it, this is the mid-point of the winter retreat season here at Barakel. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! Keep praying for Camp and the campers that will hear the Gospel preached this weekend. Pray that hearts will be changed and an eternal impact will be made through the camping ministry here at Barakel!

Shoveling, Tubing, and Ice-making

A white onslaught of snow and ice tried to hide the road as I returned back to camp midday Tuesday. I had passed my Astronomy test which I took in Traverse City that morning, and even though I was nervous about the test I did well. The roads on the way there had been clear. Not so on the way back. But God was gracious and I arrived back at camp late afternoon intact.

The next day began with the weekly West Side chapel cleaning with Lee and Reuben, followed by Staff Fellowship. Barb – who has served in Africa for the past 30 years as a missionary and is now on staff here at camp for a year – shared her testimony with everyone. Hearing of how God had taken care of her through everything from wars to a plane crash was encouraging. All the staff had lunch together and then went back to work.

The Hockey Rink with a fresh coat of ice.

Ice skating is a highlight of the retreats for many, so making the ice and maintaining the rinks is a big deal. Jeremy Linsley shared his knowledge of ice making with me Wednesday afternoon and put me to work. I helped snowblow and then sweep off the ice. Thankfully both jobs are accomplished with tractors. We then put down a couple of fresh sheets of water on the ice. The job of ice laying is a little tricky as you have to try and keep the massively long hose from going over where you’ve already been, but I mostly got the hang of it.

The rest of the week before the retreats started I spent doing various jobs around camp. The biggest of the jobs was snow removal. Thursday between a couple of snow shovels and a snowblower, Reuben and I cleared half of West Side camp. The ten-degree air kept us from overheating and we even had the joy of knocking down some huge icicles.

The tubing hill is another highlight of winter at Barakel, and I had the privilege of helping run the hill for the first time Thursday night when we had people from the community come and tube. Tubing was fun to watch and I even went down the snowy hill for the first time.

Reuben hard at work shoveling in front of a West Side lodge.

The view early in the evening from the top of hill was amazing – Venus was shining brightly over a few black clouds on the horizon as the last tinges of sunlight faded away and night took over. It was a beautiful sight that I won’t soon forget.

Friday evening the retreats started full swing and on the East Side it was our last Father-Son retreat of the winter. I saw four boys who all had been my campers over the past two summers and was able to meet and talk with their dads. It was a lot of fun.

The weekend flew by and I was exhausted by Sunday afternoon when all the campers had left. So today has been spent mostly resting and catching up on sleep, but I will be back at it tomorrow morning! Pray for us at camp for our strength and joy as we serve for Christ’s glory.

 

 

 

Snow!

We got a healthy blanket of the stuff this past weekend. The snow fell mostly late Thursday night and left a good eight inches on the ground, making everything a beautiful winter wonderland. This is what I expect of a northern Michigan winter. I love how the snow transforms and gives new life to an otherwise dull landscape.

The snow makes camp life busier as we prepare for the campers, but it is definitely worth the work. The campers were able to enjoy tubing this weekend, unlike last weekend when we didn’t have enough to open tubing.

The big project during the week was painting a sign to put up here at camp for 2012. Reuben Peck and I worked together for the most part tracing the design and then painting the five sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood that made up the sign. The goal was to get the sign done and up for this weekend’s retreats, but by Thursday it looked as if it wouldn’t be done in time. Reuben decided that it would be done in time and took up the challenge and kept working on the sign late into the night and finished it just in time. I on the other hand had succumbed to a cold so I went to bed early that night. Thanks to Reuben’s efforts the campers had a very cool sign to take pictures by this weekend.

Friday I was in the skate hut for late night skating and it was a lot of fun to see the fathers and sons come down to skate and play hockey. Barakel has a nice hockey rink and a second rink just for skating giving the campers plenty of ice. The next morning I got up bright and early to drill some holes for ice fishing with Reuben. We have the hang of the auger now and we drilled the holes very quickly compared to last weekend. My morning schedule was free so I caught up on sleep a little bit and then kept busy in the afternoon with human ice bowling and flag football. Flag football was hilarious to watch as all the guys gave it their all on the snowy field. Definitely more entertaining than professional football any day.

Sunday was another full day and I was pretty worn out, but God gave strength and everything went well. After worshipping with the fathers and sons in their chapel the little guys left for their own chapel message. Their ages ranged from six to eleven and they all were full of energy, so keeping their attention is quite the trick. I helped out with them and it was neat to see the little guys learn about Christ as Chris Knobloch taught them.

After helping with lunch dishes in the dining hall I went to church at Christ Our Life Church with the Boeve family who are on resident staff here at camp. The building was small but the people inside filled it with life. It was good to spend time in church with fellow believers and hear the Word preached.

Keep me in your prayers as I take a DSST test on Astronomy tomorrow for college credit. I love the stars so studying for the test has been enjoyable.

God has provided greatly for me in many ways, and I am thankful for all of you who have been an encouragement to me and have been praying for the ministry here at Barakel. You are a real part of the ministry here through your prayers.

First Retreats and Loads of Fun

Busy and exciting. That’s how I would describe this weekend. This weekend began the winter retreat season here at barakel with two retreats: College and Career on the East Side of camp, and Father and Son on the West Side. My work was mainly with the Father and Son group.

Campers on both sides of the lake started showing up friday evening, all excited and ready for the weekend. I got to run the Thunder Express with Lee Brown in the dark for the campers who were brave enough to slide down the ominously black tunnel. Mostly it was the fathers and sons but a few of the college and career people came over. Seeing little guys going down the dark hill with their dads was pretty entertaining. Everybody absolutely loved it, and since we had a little snow on the ground they really shot out at the end of the tunnel.

The retreats kick-off with the first evening chapel session. Tom Harmon was speaking to the Fathers and Sons, and on the East side Doug Rutledge spoke to the College and Career group. I went over and sat in the East side chapel and listened in on Doug. He preached on the will of God and doing what’s right. His basic point that I remembered was that no matter how lowly the job, God can use you. It was good solid stuff and he was an entertaining speaker as a bonus.

After evening chapel I didn’t have anything scheduled so I was able to go down to the ice rink and watch people play hockey. There were also lots of former summer staff that I knew from the past two summers that I was able to see and visit with.

While the darkness was still thick, Reuben and I went down to the lake the following morning to auger some holes in the ice with Lee Brown. This time it wasn’t just a practice run. After drilling Thirty-one holes in the ice both Reuben and I had the hang of drilling holes with the power auger down. I absolutely loved being out on the lake and seeing the dark skies turn light while thick snowflakes fell.

Human Ice Bowling. Where fathers toss their small sons into plywood pins.

The rest of the day was spent helping with human ice bowling, broom ball, “egg zipping” in the west side chapel, and flag football. I even got to join in on a couple games of broom ball for a team that was short a player. I knew the guys on my team already and we had a blast. They won both games and went on to win the finals with the help of my younger-bigger brother, Taylor, who filled in for me.

The rest of the Chapel sessions during the week were a little different from the first one. The first chapel Tom Harmon spoke to the whole group of Fathers and Sons, but for Saturday’s and Sunday’s chapel some of the younger boys left midway through the chapel to go to a chapel service geared towards them. Chris was the speaker and did an absolutely fantastic job of keeping the attention of the kids and teaching them biblical truths. I was there for “crowd control” but Chris was great with them and I didn’t have much crowd controlling to do. The little guys really seemed to enjoy it a lot and learned well.

Zach, Dan, Me, and Reuben in front of the pink elephant of Mio Pizza.

Sunday afternoon after all the campers had left, a couple of my good friends from this summer, Dan Knox and Zach Waltz stayed the afternoon and went and had Mio Pizza with Reuben and I. The pizza was excellent as always and the fellowship with the guys was great.

All in all it was a great, exciting week and a good beginningg to the winter retreat season. Today I’m taking it easy and doing a bit of reading for my coming test on Astronomy. I thank you all for your prayers and support, you have been a blessing and an encouragement. Continue to pray for the ministry here that we would be used by God for His glory.

P.S.

Both of my trailer-mates and fellow seasonal staff guys have blogs which they update regularly. Check out Reuben at lausdeoatcamp.blogspot.com and Cody at excitingcody.blogspot.com

It has begun…

A bright sun and blue skies made the day cheery as I drove up to camp earlier this week on Tuesday. The roads were clear and made for easy traveling. I arrived at camp mid afternoon.

In little more than an hour I settled my things into what will be my new home for the next few months, a placed affectionately called the “trailer” by the young guys who have lived in it during the summer as YAPs or as Seasonal Staff like me. I have two “trailer mates”: Cody and Reuben. Cody is the “old guy” who has been around and knows all the ropes. This will be his third winter season here at Barakel. Reuben is the “young buck” and is new to seasonal staff like me. I’ve known both of them for the past two years, and we all get along well.

Yesterday I enjoyed the special “staff fellowship” time with all the full-time staff and the other seasonal staff. We spent the morning singing, hearing the Bible recited from memory, then listening to the Gardener’s life story, and even shared communion as a group. I had the privilege of hearing my dad guest preach during the fellowship from 1 John 4 on the subject of loving each other. Messages like that are timeless and I know I needed to hear it. You should read 1 John 4 if you get the chance. God’s word is powerful.

The rest of yesterday afternoon I spent learning some camp procedures and then working together with Reuben on assembling some broom ball goals. That was pretty much the whole day, and after supper I made my way down to the ice rink and played a game of hockey with the numerous staff children and Cody and Reuben. My skating and hockey skills are lacking but I hope to improve them over the winter.

Reuben carefully cutting out a bowling pin.

My first full day of work was today, and Reuben and I spent it working together on a few different projects. We put foam on hockey goals, repaired and replaced “human ice bowling” pins, and learned the ropes from Lee Brown on ice fishing procedures and even augured a few holes in the lake. The ice is a healthy five inches thick, so it should be good and safe this weekend for the many campers who will want to fish.

It's ice auger time!

Campers will be arriving late in the day tomorrow, so it should be a full, busy day. I’m excited as they come. Pray that we’d be prepared and give the campers a great stay here, but most of all that they would see Christ in us as a staff.

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