As we celebrate our 20th year in business, we also celebrate everyone who has been a part of the journey to where we are today. Kevin VanderKlok, Executive Director at Camp Geneva, shares the story of our partnership in the community over the past 20 years.
Q: Tell us a little about you and your organization.
A: Life is busy. You may have noticed there are more opportunities for your kids than ever before – ways to connect, stay active, get better, succeed, and achieve. These are all important. And yet there’s a part within our kids (and within all of us) that yearns for a little space. A break from the busy and doing – a place to be free.
Camp Geneva meets kids here.
We invite them out of their normal environment into a place free of distractions, demands, and expectations. We surround them with counselors who love them and live out the love of Jesus in a tangible way. We intentionally encourage a community of kindness, compassion, enthusiasm, creativity, and presence. Our program is built on opportunities for campers to have fun while experiencing God’s love and grow in their faith. They are able to get a glimpse of the Christian faith in all of its fullness. Since our beginning in 1948, we have created a haven where all those who come to GENEVA will feel the freedom, acceptance, and love of Jesus Christ, and be spurred on to share this indescribable love with others. We all need a place where we can be who God created us to be.
Q: How long have you and DISHER worked together?
A: We have records that date back to 2008, but I believe our partnership goes back further!
Q: Can you share a bit of history about your partnership with DISHER?
A: DISHER has been an incredibly wonderful partner with Camp Geneva. Not only have they made a difference by making it possible for children in the community to attend camp on scholarship, but the team at DISHER has helped prepare the grounds for the summer camp season. Words that come to mind when thinking of DISHER employees are positive attitudes, servant hearts, and a willingness to do anything.
Here’s a sampling of what DISHER has accomplished at Camp Geneva:
- Lake Michigan keeps rising and with it brings portions of beach stairs, decks, and other driftwood. The DISHER team helped us clean up the beach and hauled up enough trash to fill a long dumpster.
- The amphitheater is one of the few remaining areas of camp from the 1940s. It’s where every all-camp photo has been taken for 71 years and is a main gathering area for Bible Studies, all-camp games, and sunset worship services. The DISHER team worked hard to clean this integral space and prepare it for the above-mentioned activities. I appreciate the efforts of the DISHER team on this project every time I see the weekly all-camp photo!
- The team that split and stacked wood made it possible for the over 4,000 campers during the summer to enjoy campfire dinners and s’mores. Think of the vast number of marshmallows consumed because of this team’s important work!
- One team washed the chairs in the ARC (Activities and Recreation Center), Shores Dining Room, and Pines Dining Room. As a result, we have a great looking ARC interior for the roughly 9,000 people who attend summer worship from Memorial Day to Labor Day and for the roughly 10,000 camper parents to enjoy the closing ceremonies program at the end of each week. The over 2,000 Shores campers and 800 Pines campers will get to sit in clean chairs at every meal. This team tackled 1,200 chairs in total! I was so impressed they were able to get every single one of them cleaned. I enjoyed seeing the friendly competition for quality and quantity.
- It would have been nearly impossible to get the grounds completely ready for campers without the hard work of the weeding team. We received many compliments about how pristine the landscape is looking at the front entrance and much of the credit can be given to the DISHER employees. A hospitable front entrance is vital to setting the tone for everyone who arrives.
- For Camp Geneva to offer a fun and safe environment for Day Campers, we needed to add A LOT of sand to the playground equipment area near the Retreat Center. We would not have been able to open that specific area to campers without the help of your volunteers. Not only is it safer and more fun for campers, but it looks absolutely amazing!
Q: Do you have any specific stories or memories from partnering together over the years?
A: DISHER was the first group to meet in Camp Geneva’s Retreat Center after the renovation and expansion. Throughout their off-site, I was struck by the overall energy and positivity that emanated from the DISHER team. Whether it was volunteering for a portion of their day or listening in on one of the sessions led by Jeff Disher, it was impressive to hear how DISHER not only sought to live out their mission with intention in everything, but actually accomplished it. It is evident Making a Positive Difference is DISHER’s DNA. Thanks for all you do!