We so thankful to have Doug Scherer as our new Retreat Center Food Service Director. He and his wife Julie moved to Sudden Valley about three years ago to be closer to their children and grandchildren; they are still finding their way around Whatcom and Skagit county. Doug says that “one of the blessings of working at The Firs is the elimination of a 140 mile daily commute to Seattle, and believe me, I’m truly thankful for that.”
Dear Firs Family and Friends,
As you probably know, The Firs is part of the Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA) and has been for many decades. In fact, Grant Whipple was the first president of the association (1962-65) and later became the chairman of its board of trustees. My membership with CCCA dates back to the mid-seventies and it has been my privilege to serve a couple of stints on the board of trustees where I am currently the vice-chair.
One of the great values of our connection with CCCA is the networking that takes place with other camping leaders around our region and even across the country. We learn from each other, encourage each other, and, in many ways, motivate each other to greater heights. Currently, there are 870 camps in the association. An in-depth survey takes place among member camps, every few years, and I thought you might be interested in how The Firs fits into the size, shape and emphasis of other members. Here are a few recent facts:
- We are in the top 8% in the country, in terms of size, with a budget of over $3 million. Over 50% of camps have a budget of less than $500,000.
- The Firs sits on a combined 145 acres including the 4+ leased acres at the Chalet. The national average is 112 acres.
- Our camp is not affiliated with a denomination (54%) and operates as an independently-owned nonprofit (42%).
- We (Firwood, Retreat Center, and Chalet) have the capacity to sleep, each night of the summer approximately 600. The industry average is 367.
- Our facilities are used for outside group rentals (like 88% of camps) and we have programs that are run entirely by our staff (around 79%).
- And last, but not least, The Firs serves over 95,000 meals in a year (excluding our staff) and the national average is 48,073.
As we look at the other camps in our association, we note both similarities and differences. Yet we each contribute to the whole effort that seeks to use unique outdoor settings, committed staff, and creative programs, to reach out to hundreds of thousands of children, youth and adults with the life-changing message of the gospel. Now that is a great thing to be a part of – don’t you think?
- Praise the Lord with us – we have a new food service director for the Retreat Center and FC/ASA. His name is Doug Scherer and he comes to us from a lifelong career in food service. Pray for him as he gets acclimated to the job and people and for our need to hire one or more part time cooks.
- Pray for unity amongst all groups of The Firs, from staff to Council to Board. Almost 90 years ago Otis Whipple stated that the two essential principles for The Firs were faith in the Lord and oneness of spirit. Those both are so true today as we look to carry out our mission.
- This is a very important time in the recruitment process for summer staff for both Firwood and Fircreek. Pray for Darell, Steve, Joel, Brad, Justin, and Cameron as they work hard towards finding the right people for the right jobs this summer.
- The search has begun for a new Director of Camps and Retreats. The search team includes Paul Peterson, Eric Frazier, Darell Smith and myself. Others will be brought into the process as appropriate. Please bathe this process in prayer that God will lead us to just the right person for this crucial job.
- We need three new board candidates to fill the positions of outgoing board members. This is a very important decision as we look ahead. Please pray that the right people will be asked and that God will lead the right people to be elected.
- Our annual Golf Marathon is a few months out and as before is a very important event in raising funds to support our programs and campers at The Firs. Please pray that we will have a great response from people willing to golf and businesses willing to sponsor the event.
- The Firs Annual Meeting is scheduled for March 24th. Please pray in anticipation of this meeting that it would be informative, open, and productive and serve to set the stage for great unity moving forward.