It is hard to think of just one moment or one thing that I have gained from going to Lonetree over the last decade. The impact that Steve, Lisa, and the entire staff at Lonetree over the years have been a wonderful example of the love of God.
I think 1 Thessalonians 2:8 sums up the way that everyone who works at the camp serves pretty well. Not only do they say that they love those that come to camp, but it is shown in the way that they interact with everyone no matter what the age. They pour themselves out for everyone that they come into contact with. It has made me realize more about what it means to be a servant and how to serve the youth that I am entrusted with. The most impactful moments have been just in the time that Steve has taken to check in on me. There may be a camp of over a hundred of people and probably thousands of things on his list to do, but he has always taken the time to sit down and just talk and to listen. Those moments are priceless and have left me feeling refreshed, encouraged, and excited for what God is doing.
Going to Lonetree means becoming a part of a family. Every time we come back we feel like we are coming home. When we first started attending camp my daughter was 2-3 years old. Steve and Sophie made it a point to make time to take her out on a horse that year by herself. It became a part of camp for her every year after that. One year in the closing ceremony at the rodeo Caleb brought her out on the horse and announced her as the rodeo princess. She talks about that to this day.
As a youth pastor I have seen kids lives changed by a staff member who spent time with them and invested in them over the week and by the teaching that they receive. They come back on a high because of what God has done in them and sometimes with new confidence because of the physical things they accomplished that they did not realize they were capable of. They look forward to returning to camp as much because of the personal connections that they make as they do for the activities that are provided. Many times the activities become the secondary attraction.
At this point our men’s ministry has been going to Lonetree for a couple of years now for their weekend retreat and it is a highlight for them. In fact, as soon as we leave these grown men are asking when we are going back. As a result of the fruit that has come out of ministry of this camp our women’s ministry has decided to begin using Lonetree for their retreats as well.
It is safe to say that Lonetree has made a lifelong impact on our church from top to bottom.
Lonetree has helped shape the man that God is making me to be, the father, the pastor, and the husband. I am forever grateful for each and every person that I have had the privilege of coming into contact with their over the last decade, and I look forward to what God is going to continue to do through them for the decades to come.