Laborers For Christ, LCEF News

Strengthening Outdoor Ministry for Future Campers

February 14, 2017 | Posted by LCEF

When a longtime and much loved Lutheran outdoor ministry in Iowa decided to tackle a major update, participating in Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s Laborers For Christ “was not a question but a definite decision,” said Doug Kading, Camp Okoboji executive director.

Their role in the new state-of-the-art activity center marks the fourth time for Laborers to work for the camp, located near Milford in the state’s Great Lakes region.

And while he sees a potential cost savings of as much as 20 percent on the project, Kading says the benefits of partnering with Laborers For Christ extend beyond money – benefits such as construction expertise as well as the spiritual uplift when camp staff and volunteers join in Laborers’ daily devotions.

“It’s amazing how God brought together these men and women and provided them with the skills they each needed to work well together,” Kading said of the Laborers team that has been serving at Okojobi since September.

Special bond with Lutheran camps

According to new Laborer Mike Vandercar, he and his wife, Verna, couldn’t have picked a more satisfying first project. All four of the Seymour, Indiana, couple’s children grew up going to and then serving as counselors at Camp Lutherhaven, a Lutheran outdoor ministry in Indiana much like Okoboji.

Three of the now grown siblings are involved in professional church work – including son David Vandercar, executive director at another Lutheran camp, Lakeview Ministries in Seymour.

Now Mike and Verna “get to enjoy camp,” Mike says, while they work with fellow Laborers to strengthen Okojobi’s outdoor ministry for future generations.

“It’s a beautiful lake setting, nice cabins and a great camp atmosphere,” Mike said of Okojobi, which was started in 1940 by Lutheran pastors and laypeople.

Partnering with Capital Funding Services, Too

As part of last year’s 75th anniversary celebration, the camp is participating in Laborers For Christ to build the 5,600 sq. ft. DISCOVER Activity Center, with a central meeting area surrounded by six classrooms.

Unlike the deteriorating building it replaces, the new center can be used year-round for more than crafts. “We already have a technology camp scheduled,” Kading said.

To raise needed funds for the $1.4 million center – which ultimately will include a two-story lodging facility – the camp also is partnering with LCEF’s Capital Funding Services.

“We’ve had great support, from our Iowa District West and our board of directors as well as pastors and lay people who have utilized the camp over the years and have a love for outdoor ministry,” Kading said.

‘Come be one of the guys!’

Laborers arrived in September and expect to finish their portion of the project in the spring – “in time for the start of their busy summer season,” said Mike Vandercar, a former construction equipment salesman.

Because this is his debut as project manager, Mike appreciates that veteran project manager Bob Natzke, a retired Laborer, traveled from Greenleaf, Wisconsin, to share his experience and encouragement.

The rostered Laborers on what Mike calls “a great team” include two women – his wife, Verna, and Marilyn Vogel, from Peyton, Colorado, whose husband, Jim, is also a Laborer. Plus, htye get to work with Laborers Karl and Nancy Koenig from Wichita, Kansas; Dave Paige Rohlf from Forsyth, Missouri; and Al Dawn Springer from Anoka, Minnesota.

“I enjoy being outside and it’s a good way to get exercise at this age,” said Verna, who encourages other women to “come and be one of the guys!”

Do you want to travel, meet people and, most importantly, spread the Gospel? Interested in becoming a Laborers For Christ member? Sign up here or call 800-843-5233.