Farewell to Eugene and Holly
Warm Beach Camp Ministries is immensely blessed with individuals that come alongside the ministry to help uphold the values of the mission. In even rarer instances, an entire family that shares the love of Christ will create a space where others feel seen, heard, and welcomed. Eugene and Holly Barnes and their children exemplify that. Warm Beach Camp is grateful to have had the Barnes family be a part of the Camp community for the past 30 years and help make it an enjoyable place for all!
Eugene Barnes grew up in Poulsbo, Washington, where he was heavily involved in horse programs throughout his youth. He was a Wrangler at Island Lake Camp, where he first heard about Warm Beach Camp from Rod Brown, the Horsemanship Director at Warm Beach Camp at the time. Eugene was later the Horsemanship Director at a camp in Ohio, where he met his future wife, Holly. The two married four years later and ventured to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to manage a guest ranch. It was there Eugene and Holly felt called back to working in ministry. While looking for work, Eugene discovered that Warm Beach Camp had an opening for the Horsemanship Director position. He interviewed with CEO Bob McDowell at a church in Denver that just so happened to be led by Ed McDowell, who would later become the CEO of Warm Beach Camp Ministries. Through twists and turns perfectly orchestrated by God, Eugene, Holly, and their two young daughters, Christina, age 4, and Kimberly, 2, arrived at Warm Beach Camp on April 1, 1993.
They quickly settled back into camp life, and Eugene and Holly were involved in various departments at Warm Beach Camp. Holly started doing laundry for the Camp in Accommodations, progressed into working in Food Services, and worked part-time in the Camp Store. She was integral in overseeing the petting farm, a year-round endeavor that was also a family favorite during The Lights of Christmas annual event. Also, Holly is a CHA-certified riding instructor. She has lent her expertise over the years to the Horsemanship program whenever they have needed extra support.
Eugene was the Horsemanship Director for seven years before transitioning into a Guest Services Host, then was promoted to the Guest Services Director a year later. Eugene then became the Director of Hospitality Services and settled into the General Manager position in 2020. Additionally, for the first fifteen years of The Lights of Christmas, his role was offering draft horse wagon rides to all guests. Eugene stated, “Horses brought me to Warm Beach Camp, but it was working with the guests that kept me here.” He was most fulfilled in his work at Warm Beach Camp when he could be an example and help instill excellent customer service within everyone he worked with.
Upon meeting Eugene, it is evident he has a true gift for identifying the needs of those around him before they even know it themselves. He is generous with his time, energy, and, most importantly, his heart. When asked what his favorite part of Warm Beach Camp is, Eugene quickly answered, “The people: the staff, volunteers, the board, and the guests. The whole Warm Beach community”.
In January 2001, Eugene and Holly opened their home and hearts to three siblings, Jessica, CT, and Brianna, whom they fostered and adopted. All five of their children have worked at Warm Beach Camp at some point. Christina, the oldest of the five, has been on staff since 2006 and is the HR and Business Services Manager. As Eugene and Holly return to Washington to visit their five children and six grandchildren, there will always be a place for them at Warm Beach Camp.
Eugene and Holly have been offered a remarkable opportunity to semi-retire in North Central Wyoming, where they will be resident caretakers of a 360-acre private ranch at the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. Their new primary role will be overseeing the ranch and caring for the owners and their families while they are visiting. Some exciting excursions they will offer the owners are mountain trail rides on horseback, hunting trips, and sleigh rides in the winter! All at Warm Beach Camp Ministries are excited for Eugene and Holly as they step out in faith to start this new chapter of their lives, ideally suited to each of their God-given strengths. May Eugene and Holly continue to be a light where God leads.