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I 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.Add a comment
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As I looked around the room I saw unfamiliar faces, a rarity in my small town. Over 200 people had gathered at my church in Northern Indiana. As a pastor’s kid, I often got roped into every church event and activity. Soup for the Soul, our church’s meal program to the homeless, was no exception. For me, Soup for the Soul was different. As a flawed human being, I overlooked many of the people in my local community who would come to this bi-monthly event.
There were a diverse age group present, most of which I didn’t know. I learned new stories from elder shut-ins I would deliver meals to. They loved the sense of community and warm food. I got to play tag with the young kids two Tuesdays a month. These kids were guaranteed a warm meal and a place to feel welcomed without judgement or hesitation of acceptance.
As I look back at those days I realize that my passion for ministry was birthed from those moments and that I received far more than I gave. I was taught humility, the importance of community, and an understanding of the challenges this world is often filled with. Most importantly, I learned that God meets us where we’re at and He chooses to bless every child. Not just the children with clean clothes and brushed teeth, and not just the children who know Him.
Matthew 25:35-36 reads, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
After this experience, volunteering became so much more to me than a “duty.” I learned that the calling to serve others is mentioned so much in the Bible because it truly reveals the nature of our God and expands our understanding of who He is. What started as a begrudging way to fulfill God’s commandment was a catalyst of change in my own heart. He is a God who cares. A God who loves, and a God who does not forget His children.
Thanksgiving Working Weekend is just around the corner. This weekend is a time when people come and help Warm Beach Camp prepare for The Lights of Christmas festival. It is a huge blessing for the staff to have volunteers work alongside to create an event that brings the hope and joy of Christmas to others.
Would you please join us? Along with the blessing of serving others, it’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself and be part of the community of Christ at Warm Beach Camp. We would love to have you!
Thanksgiving Working Weekend is November 22-25, 2018. Come for a day or for the entire weekend. For more information and to register visit https://www.warmbeach.com/programs/family-programs/thanksgiving-working-weekend
Acts 20:35, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center
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“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” - Philippians 4:8 NLT
Have you done an audit on your focus? What do you think about? Would the things you focus on fit into one of the categories Paul provided for us in the Bible?
Most of the news cycle does not focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. How much time are you giving to news? There is a difference between being informed (usually a good thing) and being consumed (usually a bad thing) when it comes to issues of news and culture.One of the blessings of time spent in a retreat or program at Warm Beach Camp is the ability to refocus on what’s important in life. Here are a few good shifts-in-focus people experience at retreats and camps:
- Shift from a critical spirit to an encouraging spirit. This makes a big difference in relationships. People who deal with issues from a place of encouragement experience better results.
- Shift from rhetoric to honest and simple words that are true. It is helpful to be a person who speaks truth and resists unexamined rhetoric. Truth lifts up people to what is right.
- Shift from what is disgraceful to what is beautiful and pure. All one has to do is spend time watching a sunset, walking the trail on Port Susan Bay, or sit around the campfire with friends to be reminded that a life focused on beauty and purity is so much more satisfying than the ever present examples of broken trust and disgrace being paraded around our culture.
It is amazing to me that it is so hard to stay focused on the goodness of God. I have come to understand that having times of retreat and reflection are an important part of growing closer to God. My focus on life shifts to what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. My spirit is filled with praise to God. My focus is right.
Dear Jesus, thank You for these words from the Apostle Paul. They are as relevant today as they were when they were first penned into a letter. Thank You for helping us focus. Thank you for Warm Beach Camp, a place where people can renew and restore focus on the most important things in life. Thank You. In Jesus name, Amen.
by Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center
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Here are the projects currently being planned or are underway:
The Lights of Christmas set up continues. Watch for new features in the Wonderland area this year.
One Mt Baker Cabin deck is being replaced this month.
A staff cottage is going to receive new flooring this fall.
Landscaping improvements are underway near Cedar Lodge.
Volunteer assistance in areas of gardening, lawn mowing, carpentry, painting, The Lights of Christmas set-up are needed throughout the fall. Please e-mail Faith Oates or call 360-761-1267.Add a comment
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Kristine 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.Add a comment
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In 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!Add a comment
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“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” - Psalm 32:8 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.32.8.NLT
It is common for us to want the best. When it comes to the overall direction for our lives, we often find ourselves perplexed and frustrated because we don’t think we are in the best position, the best job, the right relationship, etc… and the search goes on.
Along comes God’s word.
He makes a statement: “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.” Would someone really do that for us?
I don’t know about you, but I have tried doing what I thought would be best for my life, and the results showed that my self-directed approach did not work. What I thought would bring meaning and fulfillment did not. What I thought would have lasting results did not.
Several years ago, I was at a point where my life was not working well in several areas. At that time I asked God to lead. To the best of my ability, I laid down my self-directed nature. I asked the Lord to lead and guide. He has, and He is.
He brought wise counsel into my life. I listened and acted upon the wise counsel. He also brought needed encouragement.
God speaks with more good news: “I will advise you and watch over you.” It is such a blessing to have thoughtful care and oversight. Even though we live in a world that celebrates self-sufficiency, there is no substitute for knowing that someone who actually loves you is looking out for you.
Thank you for God the Father’s leading and guiding in the way that is best. It may not be the easiest, but it is best. Thank you for continued guidance and oversight. I give up my self-determined nature to you. In Your name Jesus, Amen
by Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center
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Light hanging has begun for The Lights of Christmas Festival. The Donut Hut has been getting a new makeover and many other projects are underway.
Two of the three wells are now running on new automated controls. The third well will have new automated controls soon.
Shipping containers in the shop yard have all been moved for more efficient use of the space.
Two more staff houses have received flooring and some were serviced for repairs.
Cascadian remodel of the long wing continues. The lobby and short wing will be completed by spring of 2019.
A new sprinkler has been purchased for the horse arenas.
Volunteer assistance in areas of gardening, lawn mowing, carpentry, and painting are needed throughout the fall. Please contact Faith Oates for details at Faith Oates or call 360-761-1267.Add a comment
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This 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.”Add a comment
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After 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!Add a comment
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“Warm Beach Camp is where my faith in Jesus became real,” said one summer staff, reflecting on her years as a camper and now staff. As various youth camp staff shared how they had grown closer to God this summer, a deep unity and sense of holy purpose came over the group.
The staff shared about relationships, leadership opportunities, and a profound sense that God was living and working through them.
Over the course of the summer, the staff ministered to youth from local churches, students from Japan and South Korea, foster and adoptive kids, and kids who have parents in prison. Warm Beach youth campers come from very diverse backgrounds. They come for the fun and new experiences. They leave with Jesus.
With deep gratitude, we praise God for the 25 youth campers whose faith in Jesus became real for the first time this summer.
Thank you, Jesus, for the incredible group of youth camp staff.
Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center