blogformatedSteve and Jacque Johnson began volunteering at Warm Beach Camp over four years ago. The couple dedicated their lives to service for the Lord and enjoyed working with youth and overseas missions. Steve spent 41 years working with the youth group at Wenatchee Free Methodist/Sage Hills Church. In 2005, Steve and one of his best friends, Ron Bundy, bought a shop where they repaired cars for single mothers and widows, and spent years ministering to hundreds.

Steve’s life was cut short at the age of 73 by cancer. Those who knew him would say he did more for others in those 73 years than most do in two lifetimes. Steve gave every ounce of himself away to others. He was kind, generous, and very hard working.

Warm Beach Camp was blessed by Steve’s service. The work of his hands is evident here. He helped build the new Chinook Cabins, a new storage building at the stables, and helped to remodel 19 rooms of Cascadian Lodge. Steve also helped upgrade the lighting in Cedar Lodge, fixed countless Camp vehicles, and volunteered at The Light of Christmas!

We praise the Lord for the life of Steve Johnson!

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ladiesnightout2Ladies Night Out was an event that will not soon be forgotten. Preparations were made, prayers were said, centerpieces were placed, and the smell of bacon wrapped cheesy jalapeno hors d'oeuvres filled the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center in downtown Stanwood. I don't think I'm alone when I say that the Ladies Night Out Auction benefiting Special Friends Camp at Warm Beach Camp was wildly successful.

As all eyes were fixed on the video of a day at Special Friends Camp, a camp for adults with special needs, I felt a shift take place. Smiles widened, eyes became teary, and cheers came freely as campers whizzed by on the zip-line or tackled the climbing wall and rang the victory bell! No wheelchairs, leg braces, withered legs, or lack of sight held those determined souls on the ground!

Following the video, the 180 women in attendance were asked to consider sponsoring a day of camp for one camper at $92 a day. As the last words of the request for sponsors were spoken, the white bidder numbers flew off tables in an overwhelming sea of YES! Like a mighty wave cresting on the ocean, a powerful movement of compassion, generosity, and tangible joy moved through the crowd and flooded my heart with humbling gratitude.

I watched as women held their bidder number in one hand and displayed how many days of camp they would like to sponsor, if more than one day, on the other hand. Two days, three days, four days, 10 days... even 24 days were sponsored by individual women moved to change lives through Special Friends Camp!

Even as I type the words now, I am in awe of the movement of the Lord in those moments. The love and desire to make a way for those who cannot make a way on their own was overwhelming.

At the final count, 152 days of camp were sponsored and over $33,000 raised overall! This far exceeded any expectations and the whoops and hollers of victory were proof! Every minute of Special Friends Camp is an opportunity for a miracle, a life to change, hope to be restored, and worth to be realized. I am forever changed by the outpouring of kindness I witnessed in my own little town. What an amazing special night!

MargaretSpears headshot 150pxMargaret Elaine Spears
Special Friends Camp Chaplain/Lead Staff

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By Laurie Fertello, Special Friends Camp Director

1viv 450pxParis (left) and Vivan (right) at Special Friends Camp.Have you ever had someone declare, “You’ll be my friend for life!”? When it happens, it’s a very special day indeed!! And it happens frequently at Special Friends Camps for adults with disabilities at Warm Beach Camp!

One such relationship was shared between Paris, a buddy (volunteer), and Vivian, a camper. They became dear friends at Special Friends Camp and shared precious moments together. They were the best of friends...the “friends for life” kind. When Vivian passed away, Paris was heartbroken, as were everyone who knew Vivian.

When I think about their special connection, their special friendship, I’m reminded that this is what Special Friends Camp is all about. Loving as Jesus would, spending time together, and enjoying all the fun and fellowship camping has to offer.

Vivian found a friend for life in Paris. And Paris will tell you her friendship with Vivian was a tremendous blessing!

Special Friends Camp is a time of true wonder and excitement. As I watch campers arrive and step off the Dart Bus and out of the cars they are greeted by cheering staff and volunteers. I think to myself, “let the friendships begin”!

Staff and volunteers have endless opportunities to share the love of Jesus and relationships develop quickly. Many friendships reach beyond the boundaries of camp to include attending special events together like ball games, parties, church services and weddings. And for some, funerals.

Over 200 volunteer buddies are needed for Special Friends Camp each summer. Would you, or someone you know, be interested in volunteering? If so, go online to www.warmbeach.org/sfvolunteer or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Faith Oates at 360-761-1267 or via e-mail.

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LOC 450px9 full time light hangers began setting up The Lights of Christmas after Labor Day

73 seasonal paid jobs were provided to the local community

18 lead decorators directed a decorating crew to transform 75 sleeping rooms and over 20 event areas into a Christmas wonderland

700 people donated 16,000 volunteer hours to the event

75 volunteers came on December 20th to clean up the grounds after a strong wind storm

74 entertainment groups performed on five stages throughout the event

3 engagement proposals (that we know of) occurred at The Lights of Christmas this year

$3,600 was collected for Kids 2 Camp scholarships through donation cans and the wishing well at the Festival

68,862 guests enjoyed the event in 2018

1737 people attended Dinner Theater/Sunday Dessert Matinee, with 14 nights of performances

540 rooms were booked for overnight stays

2,535 guest enjoyed a delicious breakfast after their overnight stay at The Lights of Christmas

Countless lives were touched by the Christ-centered hospitality of The Light of Christmas

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CourtesyCartThis past week I visited with two volunteers, both have driven courtesy carts for The Lights of Christmas Festival for many years.

The first volunteer told me of a grandmother arriving on the public bus with her two grandchildren on the last night of the event, just before 5:00pm. “I only have an hour!” she told the cart driver. “I promised them they could ride the train! Can you take us there?” The train wasn’t running yet, but the suggestion of pony rides brought delight, followed by Bruce the Spruce the talking Christmas tree, donuts and more. Each stop the driver would leave them, serve someone else and come back to take them to the next stop, culminating with the hoped for train ride on the Warm Beach Express before meeting the bus just in time. The grandmother was beyond grateful for this gift to her grandchildren.

The second volunteer cart driver told of a man escorting his elderly mother. “Could you drive her around to see the lights?” the man asked. “She can’t walk very well.” The elderly woman was filled with joy as they drove, admiring the lights and displays. When they were ready to leave, the son turned to the driver, “Thank you. My mom has been given three months to live and you just gave her the best Christmas gift of her life.” We both had tears in our eyes by the time he was done telling me the story, praising the Lord together for the opportunity to be His hands and feet to the thousands who come to The Lights of Christmas each year.

Volunteers - You make a difference in people’s lives! Whether it is driving a courtesy cart, parking cars, or cleaning the bathroom - what you do matters. Thank you for serving Jesus with us.

Jeannie100pxJeannie Patterson
Charitable Gift Planner
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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Frosty 450pxI love coming to The Lights of Christmas! True, it’s often a bit warm for me - but the things I see – those things make it worth all the sweat and the few pounds of snow I shed!

I see so much each evening. Folks of all ages in and out of Joyland Courtyard - eating cotton candy and snacks from the Cafe, visiting the Ornament Shop, listening to the choirs and other groups in the Concert Hall, shopping at The Emporium. There is much hustle and bustle and eager anticipation as they come and go.

I watch the Dinner Theater guests come in, often rushed and hassled from a day of Holiday busyness, but then laughing and content as they wander back to their cars at the end of the evening. I see the school band and vocal performers on their break bursting out of the auditorium after a performance, ready to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas.

Oh! And I see the children! Have you ever seen Christmas through the eyes of a child? The wonder and amazement that fills them as they take it all in refreshes my heart. And not just mine! I watch the parents and the grandparents gratefully smile as they watch the little ones and regain a bit of their own wonder as they do.

I love coming to The Lights of Christmas Festival, because I see God at work in people’s hearts and lives through the beauty and wonder that is all around them. I see the Holy Spirit quietly speaking the truth of God’s miraculous gift to a broken world.

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Kristine new 450pxKristine Campbell, a Warm Beach Camp resident and volunteer, has been participating in the Therapeutic Horsemanship Program, at Warm Beach Camp for several months. Kristine has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease of the central nervous system. MS can cause fatigue, eye problems, cognitive problems, heat sensitivity, and balance issues, just to name a few. For Kristine, having MS means that she has to be vigilant whenever she is walking so that she doesn’t lose her balance.

About a year ago, Ginger Reitz, Therapeutic Riding Coordinator, encouraged Kristine to come to the barn and give riding a try. Horseback riding can improve balance and core strength and can also help with anxiety, cognitive and social conditions.

Kristine said, “When I am on my horse I feel free. I don’t have to worry about my balance and I feel like I am doing something I like that will help my health.”

The Therapeutic Horsemanship Program at Warm Beach Camp uses horses to encourage and strengthen individuals in a safe and supportive Christ centered environment.

More information about Theraputic Horsemanship can be found here

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printSeason of Giving 450pxIn December 2017, Tracy Graves and her three kids decided to make their Christmas all about giving and dedicated the entire month to volunteering at The Lights of Christmas festival. Tracy, Jessica (14), David (13), and Isabell (11) joined their grandparents, Bob and Evie Graves, and the whole family teamed up to help make The Lights of Christmas a success. David worked with his grandpa at the Polar Express train. Jessica joined her grandma helping in the Ornament Shop and bussing tables in Tinhorn Town. And Isabelle worked with her mom, Tracey, at the petting farm and pony rides.

“The kids loved it.” Tracy said. “We want to do it again and again.”

Every year, volunteers come from far and wide to help make The Lights of Christmas happen. It takes over 125 volunteers each night and last year volunteers donated over 15,000 hours of service. Volunteering focuses on others, and is fun. There is something for the whole family.

“As a parent, it’s nice having the kids understand that they can give back at Christmas time.” Tracy said.

We all know that Christmas isn’t just about the giving and receiving of gifts. It’s about celebrating Christ’s birth. Christ, who loved others, valued community and a spirit of giving. Thank you to the Graves family for embodying the spirit of Christ through their volunteer service.

If you would like to volunteer for The Lights of Christmas 2018 sign up today!

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Korea Article 450pxThis August, several Warm Beach Camp staff returned from a two week ministry trip to the Republic of Korea. The theme for the camp the team cohosted was, “I am blessed.” The Holy Spirit knit the team together with Korean hosts. Lives were touched and children and youth came to faith in Christ.

Camp in Korea is much like camp in the U.S. with the addition of English language learning lessons that are the main attraction for Korean families. Educational enrichment is something of a national obsession in South Korea with English learning one of the top priorities.

Our passion is Jesus and our platform is an English Summer Camp we call Warm Beach Camp Korea. The love of Christ was on full display as US and Korean team members worked side by side in worship, teaching, games, and activities. Elementary age kids took part in English classes taught by the US team, while middle and high school youth joined their US counterparts for team-building and leadership classes. Campers responded to the gospel; lives were touched for eternity.

Stepping into ministry with South Korean friends humbles, inspires, and amazes. Their devotion runs deep and their passion is strong.

Koreans are blessed with contagious joy. Whenever ministry teams co-labor with Korean friends for the sake of the gospel, they are blessed, inspired, and humbled.

Blessed with rich new friendship and a clearer vision for Christ and His global church, the Warm Beach Korea Team came home inspired by the message they preached, “I am blessed.”

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Auction Photo Final 450pxAfter a little rain to cool the runners off, the summer sun peaked out from behind the clouds. The hustle and bustle from attendees entering the auction tent filled the room with excitement and joy. The day was packed with activities and fun. We were all excited to raise money for the many kids wanting to go to camp.

In fact, 80 people showed up in the rain that morning to participate in the Kids 2 Camp Benefit Run. There were runners of all ages including a cross-country team who were here for a weekend retreat, and families who were running together.

Then, even more people arrived for the Kids 2 Camp Benefit Auction. With nearly 300 items in the Silent and Live Auctions, there were lots of treasures for the bidders to bid on. The Silent Auction items went quickly, and we took a short break for lunch.

The anticipation grew as the auctioneer took the stage for the Live Auction. It was obvious by the bidding, that everyone wanted to help support Warm Beach Camp and the Kids 2 Camp Scholarship Fund! By the end of the day, more than $235,000 was raised, the most money ever raised from this event! All we can say is, “Wow!” and “Thank You!”

We want to give thanks to everyone who participated: the enthusiastic runners, the generous donors and bidders, and our cheerful volunteers.

The success of this event will bring kids a life changing experience at camp. We are projecting more than $265,000 worth of scholarships will be given this year, bringing more than 1,530 campers to Warm Beach Camp!

Do you want to join the fun? Next year’s Kids 2 Camp Benefit Day will be held on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Mark your calendars!

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