May 17th, 2012

By: Jeff Hoeben

Nearly ten years ago, God lead me down a path. Since then, the path has been filled with joy, abundant blessings and of course, as with any path in life, a few challenges. Beginning with a Camp Gray water bottle that I saw while attending a young adult conference in Cleveland Ohio, God introduced me to Camp Gray. From there, I met a counselor name Reba, I strengthened my love of the outdoors and teaching and, of course, I learned more deeply the meaning of service. Reba and I met in 2003, eventually we married in 2005 (in Camp’s St. Francis of Assisi Chapel) and she served as the Program director from ’05-’07. In 2008, God called us to go deeper into life at Camp Gray. We began directing and the path has continued to challenge us and bless us all along the way.

Today’s second reading on the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord is the same reading I read the day I interviewed for the job as Camp Director. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians says, “I, then, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received” (Ephesians 4:1) I love this challenge. It reminds me of the great charge that I have been given as a leader of one of the greatest Catholic camps in the US. Each year I strive to live this out. Last year, as many of you know, I was pulled away from Camp to fight a more personal challenge. The diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just a month before the start of summer camp was a tough blow to not only my family but to you, the camp family as well.

With the tremendous love and support we made it through that challenge, and I am so grateful for the generosity of so many of you. The prayers, cards, kind words, and love truly do help to carry a person through those difficult times. Today, I wish that I could say that we have arrived at the one year anniversary clean and healthy and ready to begin again. Unfortunately, I cannot. The cancer has returned after only five months in remission. This morning I am heading in for a bone marrow biopsy and next week I will meet with a new Oncologist at the UW to discuss the next round of treatment. It will be far more aggressive and it will involve a bone marrow transplant this time around.

I thank you all in advance for your love and support. No, this cross will not be an easy one to bear although we’ve fought this fight once and we will do it again. Please know that plans are in place here at Camp to ensure that each and every one of your children this summer will have a tremendous, safe experience. Topher will once again be the Summer Camp Director and Reba will be here, as much she is able, to carry out her duties as Executive Director. They have put a phenomenal staff in place and much work has gone into improving the facilities and the programs, especially the morning program area rotation around camp.

Ephesians also says this morning, “May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call…”

We are a people of hope. I hope and pray that everyone has a fantastic summer. Thank you for taking the time to read this today and thank you again for being a part of the family.