By Jim Shields

Don’t you wish we all had 2020 vision? I like the old adage that “hindsight is 2020,” meaning that everything becomes more clear when you look back on it. It is hard to see what lies ahead, but I am encouraged and excited about what the Father has in store for your Camp and Conference center in the coming year.

I am encouraged, not in small part, by the 2020 ‘hindsight’ vision; this past year we have seen several accomplishments, made strides toward our Mile Marker 2025 goals and witnessed personal growth and accomplishments among our staff.

Most of you have seen some of the physical accomplishments from 2019 including (but not only) the development of the E. Harmon and Betsy Moore Banquet Hall and Conference Area, the addition of the walk in freezer and the re-facing of the Dining Hall. You also may have noticed some landscaping changes such as river rock replacing mulch, Edison lights to highlight buildings, and the recent clearing of land in anticipation of building a new Activity Center across from the Dining Hall. These are all steps toward making the overall atmosphere of Highland Lakes more user friendly and more flexible for the variety of needs that our churches encounter as they seek a place to retreat and reflect.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Highland Lakes Team and the Church Health Team, in 2019 we experienced a ten percent increase in attendance for our SCBI summer camps, and a 14 percent increase in attendance for non-SCBI summer camps over the previous year! Our average attendance for our SCBI camps was 183 campers per week, which gets us closer to our 2025 Mile Marker goal of 250 average.

Our staff continues to improve personally in ways to grow and serve. Office Manager Sarah Wickersham is heavily involved in learning ways to better utilize our CampWise software program to maximize efficiency. She is also availing herself to participate and help lead in a new retreat this year put on by our Church Health Team that is specifically focused on the needs of pastor’s kids.

I have to agree with Dr. McNeil in his recent statement about our staff; where else can you find a camp staff that is so actively involved in pulpit supply and intentional interim work for our state? While Director of Operations Rick Porter and I both continue to serve our churches in pulpit supply, Rick has taken it up a notch and has been instrumental in helping our churches during transition phases by accepting the role of interim pastor. It is a credit to his integrity that he is able to do so while never compromising his role here at Highland Lakes.

So what do we see as we look into 2020? More opportunities to bless and be blessed. More lives that we are privileged to speak into about the love of the Father. More expansion of facilities to better accommodate the current and future needs of campers, some of whom have not even been born yet. To do this, to continue the legacy and to build upon that which we have so richly inherited, we continue to request your help and support. Please continue to pray, continue to volunteer, continue to send your youth to camps and your church to much needed retreats. And please continue to contribute financially and sacrificially, through the Cooperative Program, to the Highland Lakes Offering and to the designated construction needs. If you have any questions about how you can be more involved in the ministry of Highland Lakes, please do not hesitate to give me a call, send me an e-mail, or better yet, come out and see me! Coffee is always on, and cups are ready. Looking forward to serving you in 2020 and beyond!

In Christ, Jim Shields Team Leader Highland Lakes