May 12 dawned warm and sunny at Camp Evergreen, Sundre, Alta. – one of the first beautiful days of the year. Leaves were silently unfurling, horses munching new grass, the waters of Fallen Timber Creek gurgling gaily between its banks, when suddenly the peace was broken by a child’s terrified-but-excited shriek and the whirring of trolley wheels against a steel cable: the morning’s first zipline ride kicked off Camp Evergreen Mennonite Brethren Ministries’ first annual general meeting.
As a newly independent not-for-profit society, Camp Evergreen aimed for its first AGM to be different from the usual sedentary, coffee-saturated, information-heavy meeting. To show, rather than tell, members what Camp Evergreen is about, the AGM let them experience camp in the same way the more than 2,200 yearly guests do.
Members flung themselves down a zipline, held the reins of a trail horse, paddled a canoe through the pond, and contorted their bodies on the climbing wall. Three churches were represented with 56 individual member showing their support of Camp Evergreen’s continuing – and active –ministry.
Following lunch from Camp Evergreen’s legendary kitchen, the meeting got underway in the activity centre. Andrew Baerg, interim executive director, began with a summary of the camp’s history, vision, and mission statement: to see lives transformed through the power of Jesus Christ. He related his own experience as a staff member at Evergreen, calling it a turning point in his life.
Baerg stressed the importance of local partnerships with individuals and churches, who help the camp fulfill its mission and carry it far beyond the cabins, lodge, and activity sites.
Courtney Armstrong, program director since 2005, kept things moving by leading members through “soccer head,” “Venus Flytrap,” “bump on a log,” and “star jump” – warm-up exercises that open each chapel session during summer camps. Evergreen hosts a variety of programs, from seven weeks of summer camps on- and off-site, to outdoor education groups, and winter youth retreats.
Board member Richard Baerg spoke briefly about the relaunch of the Cabin Fever! project. Two of twelve new cabins have been completed to date, with fundraising in progress for the others. The cabins will be named after supporting churches, leaving a lasting legacy at Camp Evergreen.
Following treasurer Kevin Thiessen’s report on the camp’s current financial situation, members recognized the contributions of three individuals who have completed their service to Camp Evergreen: Kerry Precht (executive director), Dave Reimer (site manager), and Vic Penner (board vice-chair).
With the departure of Vic Penner, a vacancy was created on the board of directors. Occasional staff member Cody Hoffman was nominated and unanimously elected to the sixth spot on the board, serving alongside Andrew Baerg, Kevin Thiessen, Keith Thiessen, Bob Thiessen, and Barry Langendoen.
After all the information had been presented, votes counted, and questions answered, Camp Evergreen’s famous cinnamon buns lured everyone back to the dining hall for coffee and fellowship before heading home.
At the close of the first AGM as an independent society, the staff and board were thankful for members’ support. “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” Psalm 78:4.