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Shepherds Change Everything

Shepherds Change Everything

We’d like to tell you a story. A story about how camp has changed over the last 25 years, but more importantly, about how it has not.

In the fall of  1994, Pastors Tim and Mary Canniff-Kuhn moved their family, Matt, Jesse, and Nathan, from Apostles Lutheran Church in Florida to the mountains of Arden, NC where they began their shared calls as Program Directors for Lutheridge.

“During that first summer, we were just trying to hold on. We tried to learn as much as we could,” said Pastor Mary. After that, they began dividing programs and tasks in ways that best matched their individual gifts. They brought their own vision for change to the ministry. Pastor Tim worked to strengthen the Outdoor Adventure Program and make music central to the camp experience. Pastor Mary brought creativity to the programming and found her storytelling voice.

“Music and story move faith from head to heart,” she reflected.

While Pastor Tim and Pastor Mary brought their own changes to the camp, the world was changing too. “When we started, Hwy 25 and Airport Road were both two lanes,” said Pastor Tim. “There are also changes like cell phones.” Pastor Tim and Pastor Mary both laughed about counselors lined up outside of Efird waiting their turn for 10 minutes on the payphone. They each spent time reflecting on upgrades and facility changes over the last 25 years including the new pool, dining hall renovations, the Faith Center and new cabins at Lakeside. “Those improvements have offered greater ministry opportunities,” Pastor Mary shared.

“We have seen tremendous change in 25 years,” said Pastor Tim, “and yet, there is something about the core of camp that has never changed. For me, that is the cabin group.” Pastor Mary agreed.

“One counselor, shepherding 6-8 campers learning how to live together is the core foundation of the ministry.” Pastor Mary reflected on John 14, “Jesus tells his disciples, I will ask the Father, and he will send you another counselor to be with you forever. We see the way Jesus lives with his disciples, teaching them by example. When you live in small cabin groups, and the counselor models Jesus, the children can’t help but soak up Jesus, and that changes everything.”

In cabin groups, children learn and practice sharing, respect, cooperation, and kindness. Jesus’ example becomes a way of life for counselors, even in difficult situations.

“Hundreds of counselors have discovered their gifts and passions,” said Pastor Tim. Being in this intentional Christ-centered community changes their vocational direction and gives them the skills and courage necessary to be who they are called to be. Even with all the changes to the campus and world over the last 25 years, modeling Jesus in small camper groups remains core to the ministry identity of Lutheridge. Living in this way fosters hope.

“Hope means things can be different,” Pastor Mary said. “How can a week or a summer make a difference? Because things are different at camp. You’re not being bullied. You’re a leader. People listen to you. It’s safe to be yourself. You can just be silly…It is different for every camper, but they each find what they need here. They might not be able to make that change happen back home but they know it can happen, because it has happened. They know that things can be different. That’s hope. And hope changes everything.”

The Canniff-Kuhns have shared that this past summer of 2019 will be their final summer as Program Directors at Lutheridge. Join us in giving thanks for their 25 years of faithful service to campers, counselors and guests. Join us in praying for their transition as God calls them to a new chapter in their lives. We will miss you!