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There is a running joke at Warm Beach Camp that once you work or volunteer here, you end up coming back over and over again for the rest of your life. Scott Brandenberger, one of our current volunteers, is evidence that this may be more than just a myth.
Rod Brown, former Associate Director at WBC, recruited Scott from Greenville College in Illinois to be a summer staff counselor in 2003. “I didn’t know anyone when I got here.” said Scott.” But he was quick to make friends, friends that he would have for years to come. “That was such a great summer; awesome people. We had so much fun.”
When the summer was over, Scott returned to Greenville College to continue his education. He returned to Warm Beach in 2004 as a Volunteer Counselor for Youth Camps while also completing an Internship with Operation Night Watch in Seattle. After completing his degree in Sociology and Urban Cross Cultural Ministry in 2005, he returned to Warm Beach as a Resident Assistant for the summer staff boys’ dorm.
Since then, Scott’s travels have taken him from Warm Beach to Missouri to Maine and back again. He moved back to the Seattle area three years ago, and up until this past February, has been up and down the coast building everything from houses to boats.
That was when Scott came back once again to join the WBC family, this time as a volunteer working with the other unsung heroes of the Camp’s Maintenance Department. He has been assisting with everything from trash runs to demolition.
When I asked Scott what keeps him coming back time after time, he answered simply, “friends,” — some of those same friends he made that first summer at WBC.
As a volunteer at the Camp, you may not get paid a nickel but the connections you make and the relationships you build with people are ones that can last a lifetime. To learn more about our volunteer opportunities go here. If you are interested in volunteering, please call Jessica Beach at 360-652-7575.Add a comment
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Is this your year to experience the joy of The Lights of Christmas from the inside out? Have you ever wondered what it takes to staff a night of this amazing multi-faceted event? ("How do they do that?") Well, it takes a lot of warm, smiling, hospitable people with willing hearts and helpful hands - one hundred fifteen volunteers or more each night, plus a small army of staff.
Even though nearly all of the Camp's staff are involved in the effort, it takes a combination of staff and volunteers working together to make it all happen. You, your family, or your church group could complete the team.
Whether you can help with one night, or a number of nights, young and old alike, we need your help. And, no matter what your skills and interests are, there is a task that will work for you!
Do you know someone who enjoys a fast pace and dealing with money? They could be ticket sellers or retail sales clerks. How about the animal lovers or horse people? The Shepherd's Keep and Pony Rides need you! Then, there are those gregarious folks who just naturally make guests feel welcome and comfortable; they would shine as hosts in the various entertainment and dining venues, and as outdoor greeters.
What about the behind-the-scenes, low-profile folks? We definitely have a place for those servant-hearts. Each night there are many cars that need to be directed to a parking space. As guests finish enjoying their dinner or snacks at one of dining spots and leave their tables, those tables need to be bused and cleaned. And, some of the best FROSTYS or WHISTLESTOP CHARLIE BEARS have been the shyest people - being in costume can bring out the clown in all of us.
Children and teens can definitely be an important part of volunteering at The Lights. Call for details on opportunities for youngsters to volunteer on their own or with their parents in a learn-as-you-serve role.
We often work with teams such as youth groups, civic organizations, 4-H Clubs, home fellowship groups, Sunday School class groups, and families. If you are looking for a unique service project or an unusual fellowship event, we have some great ideas to help you meet your goals! Call early this fall to save your group's spot as a Lights of Christmas Team! For the answers to all your questions e-mail Jessica Beach, Volunteer Coordinator.
Looking for a paid position for the holidays? We also have a limited number of seasonal, paid positions available during The Lights of Christmas. For more information, or an application, email Becky Collins, or call her at the Camp at 360-652-7575.Add a comment
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Standing less than five feet tall, Linda is known at Camp as the "little nurse with a big heart for service." For Linda, this opportunity has been a match made in Heaven, a great fit for her nursing skills with Warm Beach's mission of sharing the Gospel through Christian Camping.
When Linda first started volunteering at camp, her youngest child, Heidi, accompanied her on rounds in a backpack. According to Linda, volunteering at Warm Beach has had many positive effects on their family. "My children have been close to Warm Beach all these years," exclaimed Linda, "and the Lord used this opportunity to shape me and my family in areas of service and leadership."
Not only did her three children attend every appropriate youth camp (at a discounted rate) that was in session while she was volunteering, two of them went on to work at Camp. Her son, David, went through both the Counselor In Leadership Training (CILT) and the Wrangler In Training (WIT) programs, and served as a lifeguard his last summer here. After receiving wrangler training, Linda's oldest daughter, Erika, served as a wrangler and counselor in the Camp's Horsemanship program.
Linda brings a rich background to this job. She is currently the Nursing Program Director at Wenatchee Valley College. She holds a BS in Nursing from Seattle Pacific University and a Masters of Science in Nursing from Gonzaga University in Spokane. Besides this formal education, Linda has had years of practical experience in nursing education and clinical practice (both family practice and acute care pediatrics).
With a confident look, Linda testifies that, "God is faithful. He always provides wisdom - the right amount at the right time for the particular situation that I am dealing with as a volunteer nurse."
While their children are now grown and in careers of their own, Linda still arrives at Camp every year in her little VW Bug. Her husband, Gary, owner of CNS Solutions, a company specializing in computers, networking, and software, is getting the itch to also volunteer at the same time.
Through the years, Linda has encouraged other nurses to volunteer at Camp. Linda assures prospective volunteers that, "The program is well organized with protocols and standing orders provided by Dr. Dale Thuline and Dr. Garret Stanley, local physicians. Their medical expertise is only a phone call away."
There are still openings for volunteer nurses this year. If you are interested in serving in this capacity please email Maggie Allen, Volunteer Coordinator, or call her at 360-652-7575.Add a comment
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From June through September nearly every year, Don Gazaway volunteers his time, energy, riding tractor, and weed eater, taming the fast-growing thorny blackberries, stinging nettles, and tall grasses along the dirt paths, steep banks, and parking lot areas. Keeping the paths cleared at Warm Beach Camp is a challenging project. Thanks to Don's dedicated labor, many campers and visitors are able to more fully enjoy the winding paths and quiet, wooded solitude at WBC.
Friends to the camp for 50 years, Don and his wife, Joyce, have roots in the Free Methodist Church that run deep: They grew up in strong Christian homes, attending FM churches, and met while attending Seattle Pacific College (now University).
Among the earliest WBC lease lot owners, they chose their first treed lot in 1956, not long after the property was purchased and became Warm Beach Camp. In 1995, these retired teachers became part-time residents on their lot along W-Bar-B Road. Here they reside in their fifth-wheel RV during the summer months, away from their winter Sky Valley home in Desert Hot Springs, California.
The Gazaways are woven into the WBC heritage in many ways, and the family camping background and commitment is long-standing. Joyce, her dad, and aunt worked at the old Burlington FM camp location for years. Joyce's brother is John Glancy, a member of the Camp's Board of Directors, and this couple - along with her sister and husband, and brother and wife - recently memorialized one of the rooms at the newly dedicated Mt. Baker cabins at Warm Beach.
Volunteering and family heritage are only part of the story, however. Don and Joyce are also quite the team when it comes to making quilts! Don measures and precision-cuts the fabric pieces, while Joyce sews and quilts the project to completion. Some quilts have made their way into the Extravaganza auction at the Camp, while others have gone to family and friends through the years. Ask them to show you some of the photos of their many and varied quilts; they are colorful, complex, and creative! Ever heard of the Azteca Rose quilt pattern? Don assures us that this was the most complicated appliquéd quilt ever constructed by Joyce and him.
Quilt: A cover made of two layers of fabric stitched together with an interior padding of cotton held in place by decorative intersecting seams. Don and Joyce's lives make a wonderful analogy to a quilt. The two layers of fabric represent each of them; the cotton padding holds the life experiences shared together; and the decorative intersecting seams are the visible evidences of God's colorful, intricate handiwork weaving them together - all of it reflecting His presence and purpose in their lives.
The Gazaways' servant hearts demonstrate love and dedication to God. They firmly believe the Lord has brought them both through deep waters over the years, and He has always been faithful. We're glad their heritage has been long and faithful, not only to the Lord, but also to Warm Beach Camp.Add a comment
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Warm Beach Camp has been blessed with many volunteers, both young and old. Without them, our organization would not be able to function the way it does. Here, we would like you to meet two of our younger volunteers who are leaving their mark on this ministry.
Michael Stemple is not your average 20-year-old. I found this out when I asked him how he came to live and volunteer here at Warm Beach Camp. About four years ago Michael and his mom, Linda Roodzant, moved from Arlington to Warm Beach Camp, and Linda's plan was to be a full-time volunteer. The two of them moved their fifth-wheel mobile onto the grounds and settled into their new home.
Not long after, Linda fell and shattered an ankle, leaving her unable to fulfill the volunteer requirements for her and her son to live on the grounds. So, Michael, at the age of 16, stepped forward to volunteer and fulfill the weekly commitment.
Over the years Michael has become a Jack-of-All-Trades here at the Camp. He has volunteered in recreation, helping on the high ropes course and climbing wall. He has been a volunteer light hanger, decorating the grounds for The Lights of Christmas. During The Lights Michael has filled several volunteer positions including security with his step-dad, Dale Roodzant. Michael has also worked with the Maintenance Department and is currently volunteering in the Accommodations Department.
However, Michael's connection to the camp extends much further beyond the volunteer hours he puts in. Michael spent a lot of time in his formative years here at Warm Beach Camp since his grandparents, John and Barb Manke, were residents and former staff members at WBC.
While living at the camp, he has built strong relationships with several of the Camp's staff. Those relationships are a part of what makes Michael's time here so fulfilling. He says, "There isn't any other place out there to work at like this."
Michael also appreciates that where he lives and volunteers is also a place where he can share and grow in his faith. "This is a God place," Michael said. He expresses the same sentiment as many of our guests do, that the spiritual atmosphere at Warm Beach Camp is special; it's a place set apart, where you can feel and experience God. And, for Michael, this is a place where he can be God's hands to others.
"God has always been important to me. Even though I can't always express my faith through words directly to the guests, I am able to show them God's love by treating them well, and by doing my job well."
Micah Reinsma is another exceptional young volunteer here at Warm Beach Camp. Micah's volunteer career began at the age of eight! He and his father have helped direct traffic during The Lights of Christmas for the past seven years. Micah is now 15 years old and has filled many volunteer positions, including serving in the Recreation Department where he assists with the climbing tower and high ropes course, and has assisted in the maintenance department.
Micah is a self-starter and a great helping hand. Maggie Allen, Volunteer Coordinator for the Camp, says, "Micah is dedicated to his position in parking during The Lights of Christmas. He is very dependable and has been helping around here since he was really young. At the age of 12 he began helping to direct traffic on his own, and has done so well that, now, they often put him right up in the lead position."
Micah's interest in ministry extends beyond the boundaries of Warm Beach Camp and even those of the United States. In 2006 Micah was a member of a Teen Missions team that traveled to Trinidad. The team of 18 youth spent two months building dormitories and a Teen Challenge course at a YWAM (Youth with a Mission) base. Micah said this was a life-changing experience that helped him to learn to trust in God.
Micah lives at home with his parents, brother, and four sisters and is home schooled. When I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up Micah told me that he wouldn't mind working for Boeing or pursuing a degree in Forestry. Micah has many outdoor interests including hiking, camping, hunting, climbing, sailing, and crabbing.
While the news media spends a lot of time reporting about notorious troubled youth today, you won't hear about these two young men on TV. But, in my opinion, their dedication to ministry and heart for service to others certainly make them noteworthy. Don't you agree?Add a comment
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"This is a dream come true," exclaimed Dawn Morton, as she unfolded the story of how she and husband, Eugene, ended up at Camp. They arrived here last September with their motor home to become year-round volunteers.
"I grew up in the city," Dawn continued, "but always felt like a displaced country girl. After volunteering at a few Working Weekends, I always wanted to live at Camp. Now I walk the grounds and feel like I have come HOME!"
Over the last few years the Mortons have been swept off their feet in a flurry of activity. They met and fell in love while attending the Shoreline FM Church, and in 2004 their pastor, Jeff Horton, helped them tie the knot, with their church family actively involved in the wedding celebration.
After Dawn retired from working 17 years in various positions in the corporate office of Gene Juarez Beauty Salons, they sold their home, and went "camping."
Preparation for volunteering began many years ago for the Mortons. Dawn graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in teaching. After teaching for several years at the elementary level, raising her children, and working in an office environment, Dawn now does many different things at Camp - painting, computer input, stuffing envelopes, sewing, raking leaves, and Lights of Christmas projects, all the while radiating the love and grace of Jesus.
Eugene, clad in bib overalls with pockets weighted down by tools, declared with a captivating twinkle in his eyes, "I'm just a farm-boy at heart."
Born in Kansas, he grew up helping his dad farm. After a stint as an "electrician's mate" in the Navy during WW II, he became an industrial commercial electrician, beginning in Oregon. His trade took him all over the Northwest, and even to the Azores, the group of islands off the coast of Portugal.
Gene retired in 2003 after 60 years in the electrical field. But, he's not through doing electrical work. His latest project was wiring the Camp Horsemanship Director's new office near the stables. While willing to do whatever is needed at Camp, Eugene makes it clear: "Electrical is what I love to do, and I'm still licensed in the state of Washington!"
There's no doubt the Mortons have transitioned into the staff and life at Warm Beach. After being at Camp for five months, Dawn sums it up, "The environment is so peaceful. It helps me unwind; it touches my heart. I've always loved to go to the ocean and the woods to experience rest. We have made incredible friendships with everyone at Camp and the trust we feel is hard to put into words."
Between the two of them, they have six children and a host of grandchildren spread out across the U.S. The closest ones reside in Stanwood, though - another plus for living at Warm Beach Camp.
In between stints of volunteering at Camp they are planning a few road trips in their RV to Arizona, Alaska, and the East Coast.
We are thrilled that this couple has chosen to keep actively working during their "golden years" of retirement and have lined up with their talents, expertise, and experience to embrace Kingdom work here at Camp. The Mortons are like GOLD in the hands of the Master and worth it to Warm Beach Camp!Add a comment
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Never in a million years did John and Carolyn Overton realize how immersed their entire family would become in the life of Camp when they brought their children to Home School riding lessons at WBC eight years ago. That set off a chain of events that eventually led to a move in 2004 from their residence near Snohomish, Washington, to a home overlooking Bayview Ranch House and the stables at WBC. This move was made so their five children, ranging in ages from 7 to 21, could just walk down the hill to be involved with Camp.
John, a computer programmer who runs a software company, Vital Soft, Inc., stated with a gleam in his eyes, "We've never owned a horse, but we don't have to ... we now have 80 of them to look at!"
After moving to Washington State from the Silicone Valley in California in 1998, the Overtons looked for opportunities to meet people and get their kids involved in meaningful activities. They attended a WBC Outdoor Education camp with their children, and later, they purchased the Camp's cinnamon rolls in the August Extravaganza auction. These were delivered to their door each month for one year, a dozen at a time.
While those yummy baked goods were capturing the family's taste buds, their hearts were connecting with the ministry of the Camp and with the Camp staff. John declares, "What makes the Camp a special place for me is that the staff cares about kids and people. It has been nice to get to know them personally instead of just through my children."
The family soon became involved with the volunteer effort needed to prepare and staff The Lights of Christmas. After attending a Thanksgiving Working Weekend, the older children signed up to volunteer with the pony rides during the event. That soon led to mom and dad getting involved, including helping to take down the event at the end of December. Within a couple of years, even the youngest, Luke, was helping along with his mom in the petting farm, as a train conductor, and as one of Santa's Elves.
Carolyn has Christian camping in her blood. She grew up attending summer camp and worked as a counselor at several of the Pioneer Camps in Canada. While she was growing up, her parents ran youth camps for several summers. "After our oldest daughter, Lydia, had such a positive experience growing and learning about God in WBC's Counselor In Leadership Training (CILT) and Wrangler In Training (WIT) programs, we wanted our other children to benefit, too. WBC is such a special place that we wanted our family to be closer," Carolyn says. "As a mom, it's wonderful to know that WBC is a safe place to send my kids - you feel it!"
After donning a security vest for a couple of years during The Lights, John began to pray that the Lord would let him use his computer skills to assist the Camp in some way. Little did he realize that some of the staff were praying for a volunteer with his capabilities to write a program that would help coordinate the volunteer program for The Lights. It was literally a "match made in heaven!" In 2003, after spending many hours, John produced a complex program that tracks the nearly 120 volunteer positions that need to be filled each night of the event, and who is assigned to fill them. "It does everything except greet the volunteers when they arrive," says Maggie Allen, volunteer coordinator for The Lights. "And each year, John has continued to refine and improve the program to make it even more amazing."
WBC has definitely become a family affair for the Overtons. Lydia, age 21, is presently on Recreation staff and has been one of the light hangers for The Lights this year. Hannah, age 18, has served as a WIT, and is a member of the Camp's new Vaulting Team. Ruth, age 15, volunteers at the stables, helping with trail rides and cleaning horse stalls. She is also on the Vaulting Team. Julia, age 11, has assumed many roles at The Lights, including acting in Stage II, and is a Vaulting Team member. Luke, age 7, who helps the rest of the family care for the petting farm animals, is taking vaulting lesson. But, he has determined that his favorite role is being the "Train Conductor" at The Lights because he gets to say, "ALL ABOARD!" and tell the guests the rules.
There seems to be no end to the ways that the Overtons find to participate at Camp. After Luke and his dad attended their first Father/Son Weekend last May, John exclaimed, "I've never played so hard in all my life!" With four of the Overton children involved with the Camp's Vaulting Team, it was Carolyn who made classy uniforms for the entire team, giving them a professional look for their competitions. For the last two years, John has served as the coordinator of the auctions at the Camp's August Extravaganza. Their involvement just keeps growing!
They even ended up with a new "daughter" in the family when Emily Anglesey, a young staff member at the Camp, came to live with them to be closer to the Camp.
John summed it up for the entire Overton clan, "It's nice for our family to be part of the Warm Beach Camp family!Add a comment
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By Laurie Fertello, Youth Program Director
Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree Program started in 1982 as a Christmastime ministry to the children of prisoners, one of the most at-risk segments of today's youth. In 1995, the program expanded to involve these children in summer camping experiences.
When Warm Beach Camp was invited to participate, we responded with a resounding "Yes!" not knowing it would become one of the most profound youth ministry endeavors we had ever undertaken. Angel Tree and Warm Beach Camp agreed to partner together in funding the costs of providing camp for these at-risk youth.
I will never forget the first bus full of Angel Tree campers pulling in to W-Bar-B Ranch. The excitement was high as I greeted and walked through the registration line with them. I recall the awesome week of camp and the joy in our hearts as we waved goodbye, knowing every Angel Tree camper on that bus had made decisions to follow Christ.
The powerful events of the first summer would be followed by many more memories. I was once asked to share a highlight from our second summer with Angel Tree Camping. To say it best, let me read from a journal entry:
JULY 2002 - I got a call from the dean at W-Bar-B Ranch this evening, asking me to come down and talk with three girls who have been struggling since they arrived. I introduced myself and told them why I was there. Laquisha was closed off, literally. Frustrated and angry, she had her hooded sweatshirt pulled tight across her face. Marika sat sideways, her gaze fixed forward. At every comment and question, she shook her head. Tierra was sitting quietly, a steady stream of tears rolling down her cheeks.
Once we covered the issues that brought us together, the Holy Spirit began to move. Laquisha poured out her heart and in one revealing moment, she blurted out, "Words are powerful!"
"Yes Laquisha, they are."
"You don't understand. The word ‘love' has the most power of all. You people say you love us and you don't even know us. How can you love us when you don't know anything about us?"
"Laquisha, Marika, and Tierra, you are absolutely right. Love is the most powerful word of all." I explained to them how it is that we can use the word ‘love' honestly, and where that love comes from. For the next half an hour we had a powerful conversation about the Lord. The Holy Spirit moved in their hearts, He revealed Himself to them and they began to understand. It is a joy to say all three girls made earnest decisions to walk with the Lord.
Tierra Howard's story continued as she attended Warm Beach Camp two additional summers. In 2006, Tierra was accepted into the Counselors In Leadership Training (CILT) program. As a junior counselor, Tierra was able to relate to the girls in her cabin and they poured out their life stories to her. According to her lead counselor, Maggie Parks, "God gave Tierra this opportunity to open up and grow spiritually - to understand that she, too, can make a difference, not in spite of her background, but because of it." God used Tierra's story, and three young girls came to know Him as their Lord and Savior.
We've had high hopes God would establish leaders through the Angel Tree Camping Program. We've prayed for and believed that one young person would step out and step up to the challenge of leadership, knowing others would follow. Tierra Howard was the first. Because of her efforts, three additional Angel Tree Campers have plans to attend the CILT Program next year.
I may not have been there during that first meeting, but I have no doubt: Truly, this has been a "God thing"!
Please pray for this vital ministry that is breaking the chains of sin that would lead these youth down the pathways followed by their parents, and instead, is setting them free to follow Christ. Your gifts to fund the Angel Tree camping program are always needed. To help, send your gift to the Camp marked for Angel Tree Kids, or go to Kids 2 Camp.
[Ed. Note: Some names in this article have been changed.]Add a comment
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Fifty years ago, Warm Beach Camp was birthed in prayer. The camp founders passionately cried out to God to direct them to the right piece of property for this ministry, and to unfold His plans for this place we love.Add a comment
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I wasn't there that day in 2001 to attend the meeting, but I've heard a hundred times over that it was a "God thing"-the way He drew the people with passion and vision together to establish the Angel Tree Camping Program at Warm Beach Camp.Add a comment