By: Jeff Hoeben

Jeff and his dad

Jeff and his dad learn to ski way back in 1986.

It was what I like to call a “brochure day”. It embodied all the “stuff” that flashy marketing materials are made of. The sunshine was glistening off the new fallen snow, the sky was as blue as half of the campers on Cassidy games night, and there was a spring-like sparkle in the air. It was a magnificent morning for a ski. What a brochure snapshot of the morning will not tell you is that the mercury was struggling to get above single digits and the steady wind was working effortlessly to drag the temps well below zero.

It was one of those mornings where the windblown tears on my glasses instantly froze to my lenses, as did the snot dripping from my nose. Too much detail there, oops, sorry- let’s move on. Now, you may be stuck on that thought though thinking, “frozen snotzicles, you’re crazy.” Yet, somehow I eat it up, I long for it when I can’t be outside. I love the morning ski. I love the quiet, the stillness, and the physical challenge of moving my body rhythmically up and down the hills. I love to be in the presence of the Creator skiing through one of His great masterpieces.

This love for me came in large part from camp. I owe a lot to the camp experience. It was at camp as a kid that I had some very positive and challenging experiences outside. It was there that I met friends that I still call friends today. The photo you see was taken in 1986 as I skied along with my dad at Camp Shepard tucked away amidst the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Western Washington. Dad and I learned to ski together. Way back in the 5th grade – I did not know it at the time – I was learning a lifelong skill. However, just as the “brochure” cannot capture the outside temperature, this photo cannot capture all the learning and experience that was taking place. It was not merely the physical ability to ski; there were some serious internal lessons and skills beginning to form, as well. Camp gave me a vehicle through which I can experience companionship, solitude, and adventure.

There is so much of the camp experience that we cannot capture. If we could capture pictures of the soul we would see tremendous growth and change. It does not all happen at once. It is at camp that a foundation is laid and year after year we build upon it to develop tools – tools that no matter how hard we try, will not show up in the pictures.