Can we all agree that the "Twelve Days of Christmas” is played way to often this time of year? I hear it everywhere I go. Nonetheless, in the spirit of the season, I've borrowed the theme and bring to you the "The Twelve Months of 2016,” a month-by-month review of the year drawing to a close. It’s been an incredible season of ministry, with lives changed, seeds planted, and hope inspired. Here are a few highlights:
In January, 3 feet of snow pummeled us on the Saturday of Scrapbooking Weekend. It took “all hands on deck” to clear off cars and plow a pathway so the ladies could get home. We were blessed to see this comment on an evaluation form: “…the people that shoveled us out were truly a GIFT FROM GOD!!!!” Also in January: A pledge was received to pay off the remaining balance on the barn project. God is good!
February found us attending the Central Penn Business Journal’s “Nonprofit Innovation Awards” as a finalist in the category Brand Identity/Unique Marketing Campaign. Although we didn’t win, it was an honor to be recognized for trying some new things. Our annual women’s retreat was a success, with one lady commenting “I had such a wonderful weekend, and my soul feels so light and energized and full of God's grace.”
In March, 40+ folks joined us at Root, a restaurant in Lancaster, to celebrate “A Tradition of Joy.” During the event, we heard stories of impact from recent staffers, and several folks committed to support Camp Hebron on a monthly basis.
We hosted a local 5th grade class for a week of outdoor education for the 41st consecutive year in April, an event picked up by ABC 27. We also raised an astounding $33k through our “Boots & Blue Jeans” benefit auction. A new A/C unit was installed in Sylvan View, with volunteer labor provided. What a blessing!
Memorial Day weekend in May represented the unofficial kick-off to the summer season, and we ushered in pool season with a jam-packed campground. Guest groups like Slate Hill Mennonite Church and Forge Road Bible Chapel enjoyed the last of the cool spring air.
June was of course the start of summer camp season, with Moms & Tots, Alpha Adventure, Pioneers, and Wrangler-in-Training week leading the charge. One parent commented, on behalf of her daughter, “The best times were during vespers and getting to meet and connect with new people. She enjoyed growing closer to God and creating godly relationships.”
Summer camp remained in full-swing through July, and we were blessed to realize a 12% increase in summer camp attendance. Over 1,200 children & families participated in our camps! Even in the midst of our intense camp schedule, we continued to serve guest groups. During one weekend alone we hosted groups that were Ukrainian, Nepalese, Indian, and Spanish-speaking, along with the “Navigators,” a mission-agency working in over 100 countries. Truly Camp Hebron is “ministering to the nations!”
August brought about the close of summer camp, along with this parent comment: “One of the greatest things I got to do on the way home in the car was to hear my child laugh [and] giggle for an hour and half while telling me all her adventures and stories about her camp week. She had an amazing time and I was happy with the whole camp experience for her.” Also in August: 340 missionaries descended upon little ‘ole Camp Hebron from all over the world for a 4-day conference, an event only possible with the support of countless volunteers.
Fall retreat season was in full swing in September, beginning Labor Day weekend with West Chester Chinese Evangelical Church. We were honored to serve groups such as Blossom Hill Mennonite, the “Monday Night Men’s Group,” “Women’s Serenity Group,” Lancaster Mennonite cross country runners and Susquehanna Service Dogs, just to name a few.
250 people came out the first Saturday in October to help us celebrate “Homecoming.” Attendees braved a rainy day but enjoyed family friendly activities like the climbing wall, face-painting, pony rides and a bounce house, followed by a brief program and a square dance to close out the evening. The event helped raise $15,000 toward the ministry!
In November, $25,221 was raised through Lancaster County’s largest day of online giving, the “Extraordinary Give.” The result met our matching fund goal of $25,000 and resulting in over $50,000 raised! Also in the month, mothers & daughters bonded during our Mother/Daughter Slumber Party, and nearly two dozen people joined in on our volunteer workday.
This month, December, the Camp Hebron Board of Directors blessed the staff with a lovely Christmas party. We’re honored to host a number of Christmas parties and banquets ourselves, and are also overjoyed to see year-end contributions coming in nearly every single day. Thank you!
As I said at the beginning, it’s been an incredible year – and it’s only been possible because of you. Thank you for participating in our programs, volunteering your time, sharing your wisdom, and giving financially. Together, we’re continuing to cultivate a sanctuary where people connect with God, nature and each other.