Serving as the director of Camp Horizon began as the dream of a fifteen-year-old boy. As a young Camp Horizon staff member, I fell in love with camp ministry and with another staff member, Kitty. A few years later, Kitty became my partner in life and in the work of the Lord.
Our camp mentors Ted & Karen Thisse and Charlie & Norma Lacey would live to see us bring our family to serve at Camp Horizon full-time. Everything was in the perfect timing of the Lord when He had prepared us with the tools to serve His purpose.
Our full-time service began in May 2000. Over the last twenty-two summers, we have been blessed to witness hundreds of people of all ages come to faith in Jesus Christ. Others found the assurance of their salvation, met their life partners, discovered their spiritual gifts, and so many other good things. Children born since our arrival to camp have become campers, staff, and are now collegians. Former staff members are now parents, grandparents, and serve in a wide variety of roles including customer service, healthcare, government, public safety, military, and science. It is encouraging to see so many of them serve the Lord in missions, as camp directors or speakers, and various other fields of Christian Service. We feel privileged to be eyewitnesses to what God has done in the lives of so many people through the ministry of Camp Horizon.
…I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (Philippians 4:12b)
Ralph and Lucy VanDemark joined us in January 2002. Together, we served through a period of growth when seventy-two beds were added. We saw the Lord add the elusive Railroad Right-of-Way and ten acres of land to the Camp Horizon property. We served through storms and the rebuilding of the docks. We served when the economy tanked, and available funds were very limited. We served through the peak of COVID. We finished strong with a Dining Hall flooring project and the replacement of our freezer hardware.
Through it all, the Lord has always provided all that was needed. We feel honored to have witnessed God’s provision for this work. For those that love statistics, when we leave on December 31, 2021, we will have experienced over 2,500 overnight events and 200 Day Events. These events were attended by over 48,000 Overnight Guests and over 8,400 Day Guests. Kitty and Lucy have prepared over 6,600 meals to serve almost 695,000 servings of food (not including second helpings). It is our pleasure to have served the Lord in this way.
When Kitty and I announced to the Camp Horizon Executive Committee on January 4, 2019, that it was time to find our replacements, we agreed to stay through the fall of 2020 to make a smooth transition. We were caring for an aging parent and felt the pull back to life in Tampa but did not really have peace about leaving yet.
We prayed for that peace and guidance these past few years. We thought that peace would come when we trained our replacements, but replacements did not come. As the third year since our original letter of intent drew near, we consulted with our family and the leadership of our home assembly. After much prayer and some tears, on October 14 we gave the board notice of our intent to end our full-time responsibilities at Camp Horizon on December 31, 2021.
Our plans are to return to Tampa where Kitty will have more time to enjoy being a grandmother and to continue to serve homeschool families. I plan to spend more time teaching, writing, and doing grandfather kinds of things. I will be serving as an Administrative Consultant to the new Administrative Director, managing the websites, monitoring registrations, and working toward a smooth transition of responsibilities.
We feel privileged to have served the Lord at Camp Horizon in the peak of our physical strength and abilities. We are refocusing our efforts in ways that are appropriate for this season of our lives and our spiritual gifts. Our hearts will always be with the work of the Lord at camp, but our labors are best used elsewhere.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3)
So, how we have been able to serve at Camp Horizon for so many years? It is the prayerful support of folks like you that has made this possible. Thank you for providing decades of encouragement to us in this work. It is with grateful hearts that we reflect on our life of service at Camp Horizon. What a privilege it is to serve our Lord. Please pray with us for ready hands to continue the work at Camp Horizon.
Again, thank you for praying with us through the years and we value your prayers as we refocus our ministry.