Pioneers and Legacy

In 1958, a group of at least eight men explored the piece of property east of Hinckley that would eventually become Camp Nathanael. On Tuesday, I attended the funeral of one of those men. He was 92. Back in January I attended the funeral of another one. He was 88. Back in 2011, one more. I know for sure that at least two of the others have also passed away, and I found obituaries online that appear to be for yet two more. I wonder if those guys would get together in heaven and stomp around in some remote areas looking for another place to build a camp. It wouldn’t surprise me. They were men with a vision and a plan.

I don’t know if any of them ever thought about the idea of creating a legacy. I suspect not. I think those who create lasting legacies think less about how the future will remember them and more about faithfully pressing ahead to take hold of that for which God took hold of them.

But I’m so grateful for those men. The thing they built shaped my life and thousands of others. Those men are gone but their legacy is not. We always grieve the passing of men like these, but we need not be concerned about the lasting impact of their investment. I’m confident of this because we’ve stayed true to our mission. From Camp Nathanael’s earliest years there has been a commitment to raising up young men to be Christ-following leaders. More than 500 high school guys have studied and practiced Christian leadership at Nathanael. That’s a legacy.

 All six of our 2016 program staff leaders (Ben Aurich, Andrew Banker, Wesley Butler, Kelson Oram, Garrett Orlow and Sawyer Clement) are products of Camp Nathanael’s commitment to leadership development. They served competently and sacrificially. Twenty-five noncoms served this summer, sacrificing the opportunity to sleep in, get a summer job, and hang out with friends. Instead, they were role models and leaders for hundreds of boys, building legacies.

 We’re proud of our first three Legacy Noncoms. Kyle Berndt, David Carlson and Jonah Figueiredo. Last fall they committed to pursuing a program through the school year that would require them to meet regularly with a mentor, study a book on Christian leadership, lead a Bible study, mentor a younger guy, memorize a significant passage of Scripture, complete a project that contributes to the ministry at Nathanael, participate in at least one promotional event, lead a training session for their fellow noncoms, and more. We presented their Legacy Noncom rank at an evening campfire during the summer. Currently, we have four additional guys pursuing the Legacy Noncom rank.

 May God continue to richly bless this ministry of raising up Christ-like leaders.