Kicking It Off: Run with Endurance

First steps on a new adventure

On Aug. 6th I will go to work in a new workplace that is very different from any I've had since graduating from college 33 years ago. I will encounter circumstances much different than those I've faced working with software and electronics systems. While I've served as a volunteer at the camp for many years, taking daily responsibility for ensuring the camp is prepared for the next group of campers and visitors presents an exciting challenge for me. Having watched our staff deliver a tremendous summer camp season for 2015, I'm honored to join a team that is dedicated to providing an outstanding experience for the campers at Wilderness Ridge.

At church this last Sunday I was asked by a long-time friend whether I would miss working in the high-tech industry. While it is difficult to leave behind the technology and service challenges that have shaped my career, I'm ready for this transition and anxious to move on to this next stage of life. I want to finish strong in my life of service and this an opportunity to achieve that goal. The sermon that morning was on Hebrews 12 - running the race. I'm ready for the final push in the marathon the writer of Hebrews refers to. While I've served throughout my Christian life, going full-time now feels like a natural transition for me. I love the way Eugene Peterson presents Hebrews 12:12-13:

"So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!"

My goal at Wilderness Ridge is to provide opportunities for young men to come and enjoy a unique and powerful camp experience at a reasonable price. Christian camping reaches youth in ways that no other ministry can. A week or weekend spent immersed in the Lost Pines and camp activities provides an opportunity for change and growth. Rather than a one or two hour session, camp ministry takes place over a sustained period spent in the fellowship of others, facing new challenges, receiving lessons reinforced immediately in the hours after delivery, and the opportunity to reflect on the lesson in setting where the distractions and burdens of everyday life are left behind. 

While our onsite summer program is now complete, on August 8th Bryan & Claire Turner, Cody Benge and Daniel Benoit will lead a group of summer staff on a retreat to the mountains of New Mexico. This trip is not just a reward for serving, but an opportunity to take on new challenges where each team member can reflect on their commitment to service in God's kingdom. The altitude of the Santa Fe National Forest will also give a break from high temperatures they endured during the last weeks of camp in the Lost Pines. Please pray that this team will have a safe and blessed trip.

If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer at Wilderness Ridge or provide other support, please contact me(neil@wildernessridge.com) or  Ron Hunt. We still have open weekends for Fall and Spring retreats. If you would like more information about bringing a group please contact Jeremy Thomasson.

Congratulations to Jeremy and Lindsey as they rejoice in the arrival of Jackson Lee Thomasson. Born on July 30th, he is a blessing to this family and we look forward to him growing in wisdom and stature under their watchful care. 
Please keep Ron and Sandy Hunt in your prayers as Ron works through some medical issues. He is working to transfer day-to-day operations to me and shift his focus to development of volunteer programs and partnerships.


I just finished reading an insightful book on youth camping written by Ron Smith of Georgetown, TX and titled Tales of Modern Day Mountain Men. Ron and I crossed paths at Cadence Design Systems in the 90s - he worked as a technical recruiter providing candidates for my team when I served as a Technical Services Manager. A few years later, Ron left the technology business and began working as an educator. He built up a youth-leadership, travel-adventure camp for boys named Fort Smith Mountain Men Adventure Camp.
If you want to gain a better understanding of why camping is important for boys and young men, take the time to read Ron's book. While the Mountain Men approach camping by using a road trip through the western states rather than activities in the Lost Pines, the goals and learnings are similar.  The book is an entertaining read and provides insight into the unique opportunity that comes when boys are jarred from their comfort zone by spending an extended period in remote settings among peers and leaders who direct them to their creator.

One more thing. If you decide to buy the book through Amazon, please take time to sign up and use the Amazon Smile program. Select Wilderness Ridge Inc as your charity when you first visit smile.amazon.comand each time you buy at the site 0.5% of the purchase price will come to the camp. This does notchange your costs for purchases from Amazon, but provides an easy way to help support the camp every time you buy from Amazon.