God At The Climbing Wall
posted in BLOG | Saturday, January 10th, 2015
With MUD right around the corner I have found myself thinking a lot about our last big youth retreat, Thunder.
On the weekend of October 24th, over 400 middle school students came to Cascades for the annual middle school retreat called Thunder. I have never been to a middle school retreat, let alone helped to facilitate and run one, so this experience was a bit stretching for me. I have helped run retreats before, but nothing like this, and if I am going to be completely honest, it was a bit intimidating. It is something that I don’t think I will ever forget, not because of how it turned out, which was amazing by the way, and not because of the organized chaos, or the sheer mass of the event, but I will remember my first experience with Thunder, because of what I witnessed at the climbing wall. That Saturday, I was stationed at the climbing wall to belay the kids who wanted to rock climb, and it was here that I witnessed God fully at work.
Here at Cascades, we have two different sections of climbing wall, one that is 50-feet high and the other 25-feet. As you can imagine the 50-foot wall is a bit more difficult then the 25-foot wall.
Towards the middle of the climbing session there was a boy who wanted to climb the 50-foot wall. He tried so hard and for so long, but could not get up the wall. When he was unharnessed, he walked quickly away and I could tears falling down his cheeks. I assumed he was embarrassed, frustrated, and over all upset with what had happened, and my heart broke for him. I knew how he was feeling, because at his age, I was that kid. His youth leader ran after him, and after awhile both came back. The boy was still visibly upset, but he had decided that he wanted to try the 25-foot wall.
After being harnessed in he began to climb. The wall was wet, because it had been raining that day, and he began to struggle. You could visibly see his confidence leaving him as he tried with everything in him to climb the wall. It was at this moment that another boy, unprompted by anyone, got harnessed and started to climb the 50-foot section of the wall, which runs parallel to the 25-foot section. He climbed up next to the boy on the 25-foot wall and spoke directly to him, encouraging him, giving pointers, pointing out foot and finger holds. As one boy began the climb the other boy climbed and both stayed side-by-side, one showering the other with encouragement and love. Eventually both got to the top of the 25-foot section, every person watching cheered. When the boys came back down, I stood in awe of what I watched unfold in front of me. The boys hugged, thanking and congratulating one another and walked away, both of their arms and hands shaking because of the time spent on the climbing wall that day.
As I sit now, like I have from time to time these last few months, replaying this situation over and over again in my head it is clear, abundantly clear, that God was at work. I have never seen anything like this from middle school boys, let alone with many adults. It is so clear to me that what happened at the climbing wall that day was God tangibly showing, how God cares for each of us, and is begging for us to allow God to help. Sometimes we are so in our own heads that we can’t hear, or see God, and all we can do is focus on the next foot or finger hold. It is at these times that we need to remember Immanuel, God with us. God is begging for us to get out of our own heads and see that God is next to us, showering us with encouragement, love, and grace.
- Tom “Hoopla” Eaker...readmore
The Christ Child is Born
posted in BLOG | Saturday, December 20th, 2014
Every year the A Cappela Choir of my high school, back in New York, does a concert for Christmas called Vespers. Each year as the choir exits out of the building they sing “Silent Night”. When I was in the choir this was my favorite song to sing, and to this day is my favorite Christmas song. It wasn’t up until recent years that this song has taken a different meaning for me. When I was in high school this song meant nothing more then just a pretty Christmas carol. Today, this song means more then I can truly put into words. It’s hard for me to explain exactly what this song brings up in me, but I will try.
When I hear this song I am reminded of Luke 2:8-15. I find this passage absolutely perplexing, and not because of how hard it is to understand, or the issues within the text, but it is because of the events that take place in it that capture my attention. Luke 2: 8-15 explains that the first people to hear of the birth of the Savior of the world, and to see the baby Jesus, were shepherds. The first people welcomed into the physical presence of the Christ child, who would eventually give all to reconcile creation to its vast Creator, were people that no one wanted to be around.
Every time I think about this I cannot help but think about what was going on in these shepherds’ heads. I imagine their thoughts to be something like my own, “How am I worthy of all that is found here?” Or “Why have you chosen me to be a part of this?” Every time Christmas comes around I sit and ponder these thoughts. “How am I worthy of all that you are, my Lord Jesus Christ, and why have you chosen me to see you the way that I have?” I can only imagine that these thoughts are a finite fraction of the questions and thoughts these shepherds had on that blessed night.
It is these questions that will keep me up at night thinking about how vast and grand the table of the Lord is, and how all are welcome. It is these thoughts that remind me of what hope is, and where it is found. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the child that later, as a man, gave all of humanity new life – and for some reason I am allowed to be in His presence. What excites me the most is not that I am alone in His presence, but that we, all of humanity, are invited and beckoned to be in his presence.
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born
- Tom “Hoopla” Eaker...readmore
Psalm 69:30 Praise and Thanksgiving
posted in BLOG | Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Psalm 69:30 “Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor God with thanksgiving.”
This morning as I was going through my daily morning routine it dawned on me, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It seems almost impossible to me that this day is already here. Just a few months ago I was taking my first steps out of a plane on to Washington soil for the first time, and then a few hours after that I was taking my first steps onto Cascades property. Little didi know that God would be leading me to spend a full year here, and would be blessing me beyond belief.
When I think about all the things that have happened in the last few months of be being here, and think about all that has happened in the last 25 years of ministry at Cascades Camp, I find myself utterly in awe of God. This last summer was Cascades 25th year of camping ministry and even before that the blessings that God poured out upon these grounds is remarkable. I have been placed smack dab in the middle of the legacy of love extended by Cascades, empowered by God. We here at Cascades have so much to be thankful. We have been blessed beyond all reason, and for that, and many other reasons, we turn to the Godhead in praise.
And at the same time I am reminded of those around the world who are in great need. At times it seems like the world has spun out of control, and it is so clear to me that we are all in need of Christ. So in this season of Thanksgiving we give praise and thanks for our good God, but also ask for God’s hand of love to be seen and felt in a world that often times seem so lost.
Please pray with me:
Lord, we thank you for all that you do for us.
We are blessed beyond what we deserve, and we thank you for this gift.
We ask that your love may be seen and felt in a world that seems so lost.
Be with all of us in a time that can be hard for many.
Help us to see past our own lives and extend help and love to all.
May we who have so much to be thankful for, return it to you by blessing those in need.
May we be instruments of peace and love.
May we sing with all of creation, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of the Lord’s glory.”
- Tom “Hoopla” Eaker...readmore
Donations and The Global Church
posted in BLOG | Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Sometimes Cascades gets to participate and work with people and/or organizations that are doing incredibly cool ministries.
This past weekend we posted on Craigslist that we were trying to sell a bunch of chairs that we no longer have need of. Two different men, working with two different organizations contacted us about the chairs. Both organizations wanted the chairs to send over seas to Africa to help schools.
We ended up making the decision to donate chairs to both organizations. We also ended up giving away a bunch of mattresses and bunks. We here at Cascades have been incredibly blessed, and so we made the decision to donate what we can to these organizations to help meet their needs. We figured it was better for us to give them away to organizations that will use them for the betterment of lives than to hold on to them or sell them. Cascades fully supports global church and we feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be able to be apart of the global mission of the church, and to pair with both organizations.
One of the organizations that we able to donate to is though Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center in Portland Oregon. The hospital will be sending a volunteer group of nurses and doctors to Ghana to help in schools, where the supplies we were able to provide will be going. If you have any questions, want to help support, or help meet the needs they have, contact the hospital and ask for Akwasi Sarfo-Kantanka or any other nurses or doctors involved with the trip to Ghana.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Sariang “Sam” Marong who is involved in Heeno-International. The things that we donated to Heeno-International will be sent to The Gambia. Heeno-International is a non-profit dedicated to “…the advancement of education, understanding and socio-economic development in The Gambia and other countries in and outside Africa.” They believe that global poverty and the environmental crisis are two of the world’s biggest challenges today. If you would like to help support Heeno-International or have any questions, check out their website, heenointernation.com
- Tom “Hoopla” Eaker...readmore
Photos and Thoughts: God’s unrelenting pursuit
posted in BLOG | Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Last week I spent my morning going through archives of old camp photos. As I searched through these photos, I became overwhelmed at the thought of the events that occurred for this place to exist. In 1989 Cascades first opened, but before then there were three other Covenant camps, Driftwood Point, Covenant Beach, and Circle C Ranch, that pooled their resources together, after years of ministry, to make it possible for Cascades Camp to become an actual thing, and not just a pipe dream. All four of these places have a rich history of sharing the love of God with thousands of people for decades. It is because of this legacy of love that I find myself reflecting upon the steadfast love and faithfulness that God continuously shows creation.
I had no idea that Cascades existed until my first year of seminary in 2012, and I didn’t actually set foot onto Cascades property until June of this year. If I could have known the impact that this place would have had on me in just three months, I wouldn’t have believed it. This summer, being the staff pastor, I was placed in an interesting position to see how God was working amongst not only staff, but also campers, families, and guests. I watched and listened to people search earnestly after God but I also watched and listened to God chase after God’s beloved creation, us. There were times this summer when people talked to me that it was clear that the person was searching for God; at times it was even more apparent, however, that God was searching after them. It was in these times that I could not deny that God’s hand is extended towards us every moment, even when we have turned our backs. It is clear to me that God is sprinting towards us even when we have turned and tried to walk in the opposite direction.
It was through looking at these photos that I was reminded of God’s unrelenting pursuit of us. The events that have allowed Cascades to happen, and the ministries that were at work before this place are all evidence of God’s love for us. It was through seeing the countless unknown faces within photos, and thinking about the even greater number of people that were affected by these ministries that I am truly taken aback. It is such a blessing to be a part if a place such as this, and take part in the legacy that Cascades was born out of, and fully participates in now, in showing God’s love to all people.
- Tom “Hoopla” Eaker...readmore
Join in welcoming the new 2014-2015 Interns!!!
posted in BLOG | Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Summer camp has come to an end, and as many of you know, that means that a new set of interns have joined the Cascades Family. Now introducing (drum roll please)…
Tom “Hoopla” Eaker will be working alongside Claudia Fisher and Erin Liden as this year’s Marketing/Program intern. This past summer Tom was the staff pastor here at Cascades. Tom originates from Jamestown, New York. Before arriving at Cascades in June, he was attending North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, pursuing a Masters in Christian Formation. He will be graduating from North Park this coming December. Tom feels called to this internship, because he has a deep love for camping ministry as a whole, and plans to pursue a career in it. When asked about the internship Tom said, “I am excited to see what camping ministry is like from a year round perspective, and not just from a summer staff point of view. I am excited to learn as much as I possibly can about camp, and about God. This will be both a growing and stretching experience that I am incredibly excited about. I cannot wait to use both my graphics and ministry degrees in the same setting.” An interesting fact about Tom is that before coming to Washington State he had never seen mountains before.
Reid “Swarley” Palmer is the new o-team intern. He will be working alongside Cean Willard to help keep Cascades Camp in good running order. Reid originally hails from Apple Valley, California. It was in California, Costa Mesa to be specific, where he was a barista at Starbucks, and a student at Orange Coast College before arriving at camp for the summer. This past summer Reid was one of two S.A.L.T. Crew leaders, leading and serving alongside multiple groups of high school age kids doing work projects around camp. When asked about this next year as an intern Reid said, “I feel that camp is a place where I am constantly challenged spiritually, mentally, and physically and am encouraged to grow and learn by those that surround me here. I think this year will be a great opportunity, because I think God will teach me a lot, and I will be challenged in many ways. I hope to come out of this internship a more learned man.” A Fun fact about Reid is that he ran in the LA marathon, in the snow, and uphill both ways. We’re not too sure how the “uphill both ways” works, so you’ll have to ask him yourself about that.
This year in the kitchen Jordan “Toxic” Nelson will be working alongside Mike Bothman as the new 2014/2015-kitchen intern. This past summer Jordan worked as a counselor, working with a wide range of kids of all different ages at both Camp Timber Rock and Brightwood Station. Jordan is originally from the same area that Cascades Camp is located, Yelm, Washington. This past summer was his second summer on staff. Before being a counselor, he first worked in the kitchen for a summer. Jordan has not only been on summer staff for two years, but he also participated in the S.A.L.T. program when he was in high school. Before coming to camp this summer, Jordan was working at a Stihl dealership. Jordan is looking forward to a year of being able to focus more so God. Camp has been like a second home to Jordan and he is extremely excited to work in the kitchen. A fun fact about Jordan is that he has a pretty big family. He has four older brothers, a younger sister, and then two older stepsisters.
For this upcoming year Erin “Tiltro” Liden, who is be the new program intern, will be working alongside Claudia Fisher and Tom Eaker to plan upcoming events, and preparing for the upcoming 2015 summer. Erin is originally from Yelm, Washington. Fun fact though, she was actually born in Frankfurt, Germany, where her Dad was stationed while in the army. This past year, before coming to camp, Erin was participating in AmeriCorps. She had an internship teaching environmental education at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Cheney, Washington. This summer, here at Cascades, Erin was one of the two program leaders at Camp Timber Rock. When asked about why she feels called to intern at Cascades Camp this year she said, “I feel called to camp to explore the opportunity to combine my passion for camping ministry with my passion for getting kids outside in nature. I grew up going to Cascades as a kid and have worked here for many summers. It is a place I have grown to know Christ and hope to help facilitate that opportunity for others.”
Jessica “Diesel” Nordlie this past summer was one of the five wranglers here at Cascades, at Sunrise Ranch. She is now the 2014/2015-ranch intern, and we are all very excited about it! Before coming to Cascades this past summer, Jessica was working at Fax Valley Veterinary Hospital, Tinny Ackers Stables, and was also, busy showing horses. Her hometown is a place called Harvey, which is in North Dakota. When asked about this up coming year, and her feeling of being call to be the new ranch intern, Jessica said, “I feel called to work at camp because, I love working with horses, and what better place to do it than the beautiful place of Cascades. Here I am surrounded by good christen people that help me grow in my faith. I love to see horses used as a tool to show kids God’s love, and to use it as an opportunity to teach them more about the Lord.” A fun fact about Jessica is that when she is back home, in North Dakota, she drives a 92′ Cadillac, which has mounted to the front of it a pair of three-foot long horns from a Texas Long Horn.
We are all very excited to have these five new interns joining our family for the upcoming 2014/2015 year. Join us in welcoming them all to their new intern positions and our Cascades Camp family!!...readmore
Reflection upon the 2014 Summer
posted in BLOG | Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
As I sit and I think over this summer and the events that occurred, I am amazed that it actually ended. This summer felt like time would never end, and I mean that in the best possible way. This summer was incredible.
When June arrived, and I took my first steps on Cascades Camp property, the month of August seemed so far away. We all tell ourselves and “know” that the camping season will come and go before you know it, but when you’re in the go of things, with however many kids and guest around you and building relationships with all the other staff, you tend to forget what you thought you “knew”. You become focused on how days seem long, but forget that the weeks are short.
It has been incredible these last three months to see how God has moved, and see what God has done and is doing amongst the campers, families, guests, and staff that have come and gone during this time. It has been a truly awesome and awe inspiring gift to have been given the opportunity to be here, and work in such a beautiful and Jesus-centered place.
This year at Brightwood Station (grades 4-6), campers played massive, crazy ‘Around the World’ themed games. They also spent time in their cabin groups doing numerous activities all around camp, including a camp out at Frontier Village, where they slept in teepees. Each night, they heard chapel talks from Fender, the Brightwood Program Leader, about the love and grace that God extends towards creation.
At Camp Timber Rock (grades 7-9), they played loud and exciting games such as ‘The Woodland Games’, where kids were split into teams and the contest raged all week to see what team would be the champion on Saturday morning. Each week a new speaker came to Timber Rock to teach about how our personal story meshes with the entire story of God. Campers learned about how God can take our individual stories and turn it into something unexpected that reflects Christ’s love towards others.
At Sunrise Ranch the campers learned a variety of different skills when it comes to horses. The campers from both Brightwood and Timber Rock blazed trails, had arena classes, learned vaulting techniques, and so much more. The ranch also had two weeks of horse-centric, all horses, all the time camps: Sunrise Ranch Horse Intensives and Classic Horse Camp, where campers were able to further their equestrian skill levels and go deeper into the word of God.
Rainer Kids Day Camp was bigger than it has ever been! The program ran for a total of eight weeks serving and hosting a total of 262 kids. Every day was a new adventure with Rainier Kids as they experienced swimming at the waterfront, going on pony rides, playing big camp games, and most importantly, learned about the love of Christ.
This year the S.A.L.T. (Servant And Leadership Training) program served a total of 97 students and carried throughout the entirety of the camping season! The S.A.L.Ts dove head first into the Word and into service projects, helping within cabins, and fellowshipping with one another during their time at Cascades. Without them, camp would not have run as smoothly or have nearly the energy that it did. They did an amazing job at leading and learning under the supervision of their enthusiastic and passionate S.A.L.T. leaders.
Our Family Camps this year were filled with the joy of families coming together for both relaxation and fun. Not only did families have fun doing a myriad of activates, but also, they worshiped alongside each other, learning, and growing closer together and with God. This year we served a total of 1095 individuals during our four different family camps.
All in all, the things that have happed this summer were all because of the love and grace of God, whom was and is working among not just the staff, but the guests and campers of Cascades Camp. Thank you all for your prayers and generous support. God has blessed and been faithful in abundant and awesome ways this summer, and we look forward to what will happen in 2015!
- Tom “Hoopla” Eaker...readmore
Independence Day Family Camp 2014 Goodies!
posted in BLOG | Thursday, July 24th, 2014
2014 Recap Video
You know how a picture says a thousand words? Well it turns out a video says around a million words. We had far too many exciting things happening at Family Camp this summer to explain with words, so our media technician, Hiccup made this video, which happens to be worth one-million words. WOW!
Watch this super-awesome recap video to see all the super-awesome things we were doing at Independence Day Family Camp.
2014 Sermon Recordings
All of the sermons were recorded and uploaded to the Cascades Podcast. Enjoy sermons by Pastor Peter Sung and Pastor Greg Yee.
Every sermon is available for free download or direct streaming via the Cascades Podcast on iTunes. Or you can simply click below to listen.
Pastor Peter Sung
Pastor Peter Sung
Pastor Peter Sung
Pastor Peter Sung
Unavailable due to
Pastor Greg Yee
Pastor Greg Yee
Pastor Greg Yee
If you are having a hard time listening to the sermons please do not hesitate to contact us!...readmore
Celebrating 25 Years of Ministry at Cascades
posted in BLOG | Thursday, May 15th, 2014
|Take a minute to check out this fun video depicting God’s faithful ministry at Cascades for the past 25 years!|
Summer Staff Reflection: “Gracioso”
posted in BLOG | Friday, February 28th, 2014
Starting in January, we hit the road in hopes of recruiting some stellar young people who are excited to serve the Lord at Cascades. Recruiting season has recently wrapped up, but we’re still very much in the midst of hiring. Slowly but surely, the pieces are falling into place and our 2014 summer staff is coming together.
In the spirit of the season and in anticipation of another great crew, we’ve been highlighting a few of our summer staffers from 2013. This week, we’re sharing a reflection written by “Gracioso,” our kitchen intern last year and worship leader last summer.
My experience at CCACC has been a long and multifacted one as I’ve cycled through many of the roles. Only missing one summer in between 1999 and 2013, I have been at camp as a camper, S.A.L.T., or summer staff member, and even spent nine months as the kitchen intern. I think it’s safe to say I’ve had the full experience, even working in most of the departments. Over the years, no place has been more influential than Cascades Camp in bringing out dedication in my faith and the outright goofiness in my personality.
I recall working at camp my very first summer in 2011. Camp was kind of like celebrating your birthday for me. It was something you got to enjoy so infrequently that the anticipation building up to it was almost unbearable glee, and the time actually spent there was always magical and packed with excitement. Something slowly began to change when I had worked there one week, two weeks, three weeks, two months, and so on. Camp did lose some of its magic, but that emotion was replaced with something better. Camp became a home to me. The passionate love that I had for camp gradually settled into a steady, reliable, dedicated sort of love for the place and what we do there. Instead of being like a birthday party, camp felt like finally coming home after an arduous day of school or work.
I had the privilege of working summers on program both as a counselor and worship leader, and as a kitchen leader. I loved getting to taste both sides of camp, in the forefront of our ministry and behind the scenes. There are so many lessons to be learned, and so many different ones depending on what aspect of camp you serve in. Being a counselor stretched me in new ways, teaching me to rely on God more than ever to do His work through me when I was doing more than I ever thought possible. In the kitchen, God taught me to appreciate service that doesn’t get praised and I discovered the deep satisfaction of making something that provides for people’s needs in very practical way. Without a doubt, God has changed my life in monumental ways through my experience at camp, providing me with mentors and giving me an opportunity to mentor others in turn. Never have I been a part of a community that was so jointly dedicated to seeing God’s kingdom come by their impact. People come together and serve this purpose and leave so much capable of living for Jesus in their own circles.
One of Cascades’ mottos is to do everything with excellence. You hear this sort of thing all the time, recycled for countless missions and purpose statements. Honestly, it gets a little bit old. It was incredibly refreshing to work at camp and notice that this was the first place I’ve been where the staff models excellence more than they talk about it. Every person showed me what it means to do everything to the best of their ability, and having that rub off in me is one of the most valuable things camp has given to me. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything in the world, and still when I pass under those wooden gates, I know I’m coming home.
Check in periodically to read about the experiences of other summer staffers – and if you know of any qualified post-high school/college-aged individuals – especially Jesus-loving dudes – who might be interested in serving at Cascades, send ‘em our way!...readmore