January 27, 2021
In a year in which we all experienced change, our family expected lots of change moving into our new role as the managers of the National Royal Rangers Training Center, but we never expected the change that we received. With a move to a new state, the kids starting at new schools, and Becky and me starting new jobs and ministries, our goal was to figure out how to run a camp and get through Camporama at the same time. From day one, we set out to learn everything we could about the camp and what needed to happen to have everything ready for Camporama. Rick Barnhouse, Karl Fleig, Gary Weber, and Alan Binkelman walked us through what to expect and what needed to be done. I began laying out plans and figuring out costs, and just like that, it vanished. COVID-19 was upon us. Groups cancelled, Camporama was postponed, and the future was uncertain.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Becky and I had prayed so much in the days leading up to our move to Camp Eagle Rock. We knew that the Lord was leading us to this ministry, but we didn’t know that our first year was going to be a trial by fire. Despite the uncertainty, changes, and fear that overtook all of us this year, I can say that the Lord has been faithfully by our side.
Camp Eagle Rock is blessed to have staff and volunteers who love the camp as much as any Royal Ranger in the country. When the virus put a halt to many of our camps this season, they stepped up to use the pause the Lord provided to improve upon everything we do at Camp Eagle Rock.
We are blessed to have many pieces of heavy equipment at Camp, but this year we dealt with our fair share of breakdowns and failures. This would have been catastrophic for Camporama as most of these failures occurred just prior to the start of the spring season. With the break in our schedule, we have been able to begin to repair our equipment ourselves, saving tens of thousands of dollars. Our small Kubota Tractor is now current on all its maintenance and has a new clutch. Our large zero turn mower has had the frame weld repaired, new engine mounts installed, fuel systems flushed, and a new radiator installed. The small zero turn mower is currently undergoing a complete engine rebuild so it will be operational for the 2021 season. The mini excavator, used for all of our major digging operations, has had all the failed hydraulic hoses replaced, a new seat installed, and new tracks installed that were donated by Pathfinder Missions. I am blessed to note that a majority of the more than ten failed hydraulic lines on the mini excavator were replaced by Krista Alden, head of housekeeping, and Becky Krause, conference service support. Our large Kubota tractor broke a valve cam shaft in March. It is currently in the maintenance shop undergoing a major disassembly to attempt to extract the broken cam shaft.
In an effort to make our operations at camp more efficient, we began a major cleaning, repairing, and organizing effort all over camp. Our warehouse and the surrounding areas have been completely reorganized and cleaned. Many may not realize, but there is a rear door in the warehouse. Now, you can drive a truck straight in the front and out the back. Parts and materials have been organized. With the help of Mary and Alan Binkelman, you can walk down the electrical and plumbing isles and pick through organized bins like you were shopping at a home improvement store. With the cleared space, we have been able to move Camporama canopies and pools to be stored indoors instead of outside under tarps.
Our shops have been completely cleaned and organized. Equipment was either repaired or replaced. A new staff office has been built in the middle shop, providing a much-needed meeting space for our staff to start their days off in devotion and prayer followed by planning and job briefing. The main men’s and ladies’ restrooms at the Johnny Barnes Lodge have been remodeled, and new step covers have been installed in the lower Johnny Barnes dormitory (Camporama hospital). The outside of the Deaverton Townhall has been repaired, and the entire building has been painted. Eagles Resort has had countless repairs and painting completed by Darrell and Frieda Offutt (US Maps, RV Maps).
With a generous donation of materials, Alan Binkelman spearheaded the upgrade of the Stanekville electrical systems. These upgrades include additional receptacle circuits, overhead ceiling fans, interior lighting, and exterior porch lights. These upgrades make staying at Stanekville so much nicer for our guests, and the amber glow of the iron porch lights brings life to the valley at night.
Apart from answering all my questions, Rick Barnhouse was essential in helping us remove dead trees from the property, clearing areas near pavilions for Camporama attendees to eat in the shade, and helping with anything that needed done.
We were blessed to have a Pathfinder Missions team with us this summer who built a porch on the rear of the Eagle Lodge, replaced rotten logs, and repaired doors. This has been a much-needed project, and their energy helped make it a quick reality. We were also blessed by the women of the group who helped repair curtains, clean, organize equipment, inventory climbing and paintball gear, and so much more.
Our NSSP firearm storage room has been completely remodeled—completing the walls and adding a ceiling to the room. New firearm racks have been built and installed for storage of our air rifles and BB guns. A firearm cleaning station has been built to make it quick and easy to clean and repair firearms following use. The Archery, Air Rifle, and Rifle ranges have been cleaned and organized, including new bow hangers and arrow organization racks, built by Darrell Offutt. Upon seeing a new shooting sports opportunity for our men’s ministry and couples groups, we have transformed one of the two pavilions at the Air Rifle Range into a new Pistol Range, complete with paper and steel target stations.
Through all of this repair and organization, a gray hair gentlemen, who most know as Commander Stanek (namesake of Stanekville), came each week to help us mow because the grass never quits growing and he never quits serving.
We were still able to host twenty-nine small groups this year and were blessed to have Gary Weber continue to lead our food service, helped by Penny Weber (Gary's sister), Mary Binkelman, Wendy Trembly, Velda Stanek, and Becky Krause. Our guests love Camp Eagle Rock and never cease to comment on how wonderful it is to be in middle of God’s creation.
As I think back to Jeremiah 29:11, God’s plan for our camp this year was perfect. Without the stress on our marriage and family, Becky and I got to learn more about the property this year than we ever would have in a normal year. We were able to prepare and plan for the future, get things set in motion for what God is planning to do in 2021, and most importantly to carry out our mission, which is to facilitate the moving of Christ in the lives of young and old. Despite our small group sizes, we saw dozens of kids, youth, and adults come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and many more found renewed strength in His arms.
Please continue to pray for Camp Eagle Rock and the groups that we facilitate throughout the year. Our plans for 2021 include getting the camp ready for Camporama 2022, expansion of our hiking trails system, construction of the FCF Grove stage, painting of buildings, reroofing several buildings, and much more. We look forward to seeing all of you at Camporama 2022! If you would like to help in our mission at Camp Eagle Rock by donating monetarily, donating equipment/materials, or donating your time, please contact Branden Krause by phone at 417-271-3900, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at PO Box 133, Eagle Rock, MO 65641.