By Stephen Hinson, Operations Pastor, Foothills Community Church, Arvada CO
During fall 2017, a portion of Foothills Community Church’s pastoral and administrative staff traveled down to Ponderosa to see if it would be a good alternative for our various youth camps and annual staff retreat. We had the chance to spend some time with Marcus as he showed us around and updated us on the many enhancements and upgrades he and his team have been able to bring to Ponderosa over the decade he has led the camp. It was so encouraging and had us individually reminiscing about our different experiences of life change during camp. It wasn’t long before Sr. Pastor Kyle Morris innocently asked, “What if we brought our whole church down for camp?”.
A brief conversation with Marcus and Marty Unrein yielded a possibility the weekend of June 22 – 24, 2018. Our conversations continued with our leadership teams, and we determined the opportunity was too good not to do it. We have never taken our whole church to camp before, and we weren’t certain exactly how it would be received by our people. We were certain, however, that an event like this could radically change our church in a very good, compelling way. As a result, our theme for Camp Foothills was This. Changes. Everything.
Over 300 people, ranging in ages from two months to 75, made the trip to Camp Foothills at Ponderosa for an amazing weekend. Our experience from Camp Foothills highlighted three Themes: Leadership, Partnership, and Transformation.
Leadership. Camp Foothills came together because of great leadership. From the initial conversations about even trying Camp Foothills to the planning team creating an experience everyone would enjoy, the commitment of Foothills’ leadership never wavered. We went all in, including moving our regular Sunday morning services to Ponderosa for those who couldn’t attend Friday or Saturday. Sr. Pastor Kyle Morris was committed to creating an event that would be meaningful. We enlisted key staff and lay people to plan, coordinate, and implement Camp Foothills, empowering them with the responsibility and authority to maximize participation. This team was faithful from the first planning meeting to the last prop packed for home Sunday afternoon.
Partnership. Effective leadership from Foothills was only one part of the success of Camp Foothills. The critical partnership Marcus and his team formed with our church was immeasurably valuable. In some respects, Ponderosa hasn’t hosted an entire church throughout its whole camp in the way we envisioned. Everyone on Marcus’ team was flexible, supportive, and entrepreneurial in their effort to serve us (highlighted by a last minute hay ride for young children Saturday night). We were able to take advantage of virtually every recreational offering Ponderosa has, and everything the Ponderosa staff promised, they delivered. Foothills’ partnership with Ponderosa turned into a great friendship because of the mutual passion for connecting people to Jesus in a meaningful way. Thanks, Marcus, for all your team does to serve people and, ultimately, the kingdom.
Transformation. The most compelling part of Camp Foothills, however, was the transformation that we experienced as a church. We regularly long for our weekend and mid-week services and programs to reach our people in meaningful ways. Camp Foothills provided 36+ straight hours of disconnect from the busyness of life and the opportunity to connect more deeply with Jesus and each other. Creating safe environments where people can be authentic opens the door for conversations that really matter. New friendships were made, old friendships were celebrated, and we learned that great things can happen when we don’t take our selves too seriously and give the Holy Spirit space to move among His people.
If you want to create an experience for your church that could transform your community within and touch those around you, consider Ponderosa. It has great accommodations and can host groups of almost any size. You can’t find a more economical venue and partnership so close to the metro area. Marcus and his team will take care of you and give you the freedom to make Jesus real in a very powerful way for your church.