Page 1 (231) 796-pony (7669) Fall/Winter 2010

A look back and ahead...

At the time you are reading this article and newsletter I will have had the privilege of being at Cran-Hill Ranch for just over 5 years. Recently I was asked the question, “what things have we seen God do in the past five years at Cran-Hill Ranch and what things do you see into the future as you lead this ministry?” We have been truly amazed at all God has done. So I thought I would reflect a little and give you a glimpse into this incredible ministry God has provided for more than 42 years. So, in no particular order, here it goes. I hope you enjoy getting an inside look at the ministry of Cran-Hill Ranch. A Look Back • Almost immediately after my hiring, the Cran-Hill Ranch Board of Directors charted a new course with a newly articulated mission, vision and core values to set the stage for the growth and expanded ministry of Transforming Lives Into the Image of Christ. • In 2005 Cran-Hill Ranch had a significant bank debt load of roughly $500,000 and a declining summer camp (801 total campers) and campground (@5000 total nights booked) enrollment. (Total available nights per camping season = approximately 16,500 nights) • In 2006 Cran-Hill Ranch acquired and began operating the ministry known as Christian Adventures, a nationally known adventure ministry that has been in existence for more than 30 years. • In 2006 Family Ministry Weeks, with more activities and more programming for families in the campground, were created to encourage more families to take advantage of the wonderful camping ministry… for more than just the weekends. • In 2006 a new Summer Day Camp Program began, reaching out to the Mecosta County children and families to introduce camp to local children. • In 2006 lakefront cottages were opened for weekly summer rentals. • In 2007, construction began on the Saddle Ridge Cabin complex, completed in 2008 – A 2.5 million dollar project. The largest in the history of Cran-Hill Ranch. • In 2007 Cran-Hill Ranch joins the Woodall’s RV network and receives a 4 out of 5 star rating. • In 2008 – Family WinterFests began. Two, free, one-day events each winter for families to experience the wonder of God’s creation at Cran-Hill Ranch. It started with 400 attendees and has grown to over 2500 people in 2010 with local business sponsors providing resources and services for the event.

Transforming Lives Into the Image of Christ


• By 2009, most every facility at Cran-Hill Ranch had received an upgrade and/or facelift with new roofs, carpet, décor, paint and/or other repairs. • In 2009, Cran-Hill Ranch received the contribution of 160 acres north of the Haymarsh State Game Area. Current usage includes adventure and hiking camps and only God knows what the future holds for this beautiful piece of property. • In 2010 Cran-Hill Ranch is experiencing steady growth with Summer Camp Enrollment at 1024 campers (up 27%) and 5617 Campground Nights Booked (up 12%). • All of these items, and the dozens more of improvements would mean nothing if we weren’t seeing children and families transformed into the image of Christ. Praise God, many families and children are coming to know Christ and grow in Him through the ministry of Cran-Hill Ranch. In 2010 we know that well over 450 campers made either first time commitments or recommitments to live for Christ. Praise God! That’s what it’s all about! The Present Today, Cran-Hill Ranch is almost out of debt with only $60,000 of total debt remaining on the Saddle Ridge Cabin project. The 2009-2010 fiscal year ended “in the black” for the first time in several decades. $154.00 in the black, but in the black none the less. And, we are on a healthy ministry trajectory for the future. For that we are incredibly thankful to God and to you, our partners in ministry. It truly wouldn’t have been possible without all the volunteers, financial contributors and guests that sustain the Cran-Hill Ranch ministry. I certainly can’t think about the present without mentioning the incredible year-round ministry staff that serve the Lord at the Ranch. I am working with an phenomenal ministry staff who are fully dedicated to the ministry of Cran-Hill Ranch and are committed and excited to serve the Lord through Christian camping. It’s truly a rare privilege to be able to lead and serve alongside a staff like this one. In addition to these big picture items it is important to mention that this past summer was one of the most trying summers of ministry, and yet the most rewarding summers in our history. It seemed there was more trauma, tragedy and trials than I have ever seen in my 20 years of camping ministry. In addition to the unusually high number of ambulances this summer we also experienced two major tragedies. The first was the death of Mr. Mike Meyers, a long time faithful Cran-Hill Rancher, who died from a heart attack in the campground Memorial Day Weekend. And the other was the June tragedy in Estes Park, Colorado where a rock came off a mountain in downtown Estes Park and took a 17 year-old student, Audra Brownell, home to heaven following a wonderful week of adventure and spiritual journey activities with fellow students. Without a lot of detail, because this article is long enough, it was clear that God truly worked through both situations incredibly. In both cases the victims and their families were deeply committed and faithful Christ-followers. And wonderfully, both situations were noticeably covered by God’s amazing grace. Not only grace for the moment and for the families and others involved but also grace for all those impacted by the events. God used both of these life-altering experiences to bring more people to the knowledge of Christ and clearly brought many to a deep relationship with Him for all eternity. I am no theologian and won’t pretend to know why difficult things happen, but I can tell you that it was clear that in both cases God was absolutely present and glorified in both the lives of the victims and the world around them. Please remember the Brownell family and Meyers family in your prayers for even though God is glorified in tragedy… it’s still difficult here on Earth. God used these, and the many other trials for His glory this summer and I was able to witness the most incredible summer staff I have ever had the privilege of serving with. They were intentional at almost every moment, expecting God to work… and He did… in a truly powerful way this summer. I only wish I could tell you all the stories. I firmly believe the staff and campers from this past summer will be impacted for Christ for all eternity.

If you would like to help and volunteer at our Family WinterFest contact Rylan at 231.796.7669


Into the Future The current season of ministry is clearly one of intentional growth and targeted improvement of the Cran-Hill Ranch ministry. Just the other day the staff had a strategic planning session. There we identified several strategic needs with the clear outcome of focused growth and improvement on the scope of ministry, the facilities, and the processes in which we serve the campers and guests at Cran-Hill Ranch. In addition to this clear direction, we are also focused on praying and waiting on God for the provision of the Ministry Center facility, which is the next step of the Master Plan. This building will increase our ability to minister to more campers and guests with a gym, increased meeting space and a more functional, updated dining hall facility. Now we simply wait on the Lord for those funds for that building. If you have ideas or would like to be involved in getting the word out about this exciting venture, please give me a call. In the meantime… we will continue to serve the Lord, improve our programs, services, facilities and ministry as we remain focused on our mission and vision to Transform Lives into the Image of Christ through Youth Camps, Family Camping, Retreats and Adventure Experiences. Thank you for your continued support of this great ministry. We sincerely cannot do it without you. Cran-Hill Ranch needs your continued prayer support, volunteerism and financial support as we continue into the future that the Lord has for the Ranch. It is our prayer and dream that someday the Ranch’s operations won’t be dependent upon gifts. We’ve made significant strides in this endeavor by having reduced our operational gift dependency from 40% to 25%. But we’ve got a way to go. So we are thankful that you are still contributing and giving of your prayers, your time, your talent and your treasure to see this ministry continue. So, on behalf of the board of directors, staff and campers… Thank You very much! And may God be glorified for all He has done! In Christ,

Scott R. Barger, Sr. Executive Director

Keep up to date on all the news at Cran-Hill Ranch by signing up for email reminders on our website


2010 has come and gone

There were a lot of highlights; An increased number of campers, a fantastic group of summer staff, great weather, and lots more. This past summer continues to stand out for me though for one other reason – We witnessed God changing campers lives in an amazing way more than ever before. Each week we would hear story after story of how God answered prayers, provided strength, was strong in our weakness, and redeemed His children to Himself through the blood of the Lamb. For me the summer was a very visible reminder of Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Each week as we asked God to give us opportunities to share His story with campers He would give us those moments. Week after week we sought God for the strength to not only continue to serve, but to love each other and every camper that came to us, and He allowed us to find that strength in Him. Time and time again we had the privilege of kneeling with campers as they prayed – knocking on the door of the Throne room of God – and being welcomed into the family of God. It is truly an honor to be able to join with our Lord in HIS ministry of Summer Camp. As the leaves fall and blow all over the grounds we are busy planning for Summer 2011. Our theme is set – MIGHTY TO SAVE – and we are planning for some great new activities for all age groups. New this summer for 13-17 year olds – A week of camp designed just for (and only accepting) your age group; with classic activities as well as specialty majors, lots of hang time, later breakfast, and late night praise-fests. For 10-13 year olds we are introducing a whole new camp – Adventure Camp at Pine Slope. It’s a whole new adventure – in a totally separate location! You’ll see some other campers around, but yours is a schedule designed just for the adventurous. Activities that happen ONLY with this group – preparing meals over the fire, hiking, back woods living skills, rustic campout and more. For 7-10 year olds we are redesigning the whole day to best suit you! Lots of activities as a cabin group so you get to know new friends, and brand new competitions to discover each weeks camp champs! So although the snow is about to fly – we’re thinking summer! A summer camp brochure will arrive in your mailbox very soon! Grab it and get signed up! See you this Summer!

Mal Reeve Program Director

Make sure you get our email update for special summer camp disounts


Winning at Home Week 7/10 - 7/17 Doug Swink and his family will be joining us again this summer as we continue to partner with the great family ministry Winning at Home. Be a part of this special week as we focus on the importance of building and maintaining strong families.

young FAmilies Weeks

New this summer, two special weeks designed just for families with younger kids. Come August 22-26 & August 29-Sept. 2 for great weeks with activities planned especially for kids 14 years old and younger.

Book your dates now

You can book your week-long reservations at any time up to 1 year in advance. This is great for planning family vacations and group outings. This year December 6th, at 8am, is the ďŹ rst day to book open weekend reservations. Reservations can be made by phone. Call 231.796.7669 to book your lot today.

Special campground Dates April 30 Spring Clean-Up Weekend June 10-12 Summer Celebration May 6-8

May 13-15 May 27-29

(camp for free) Ranch Round-Up (bring a friend and you both camp free) Kid’s Fun Weekend Memorial Day Weekend (special rates, call for details)

June 18 July 1 July 2

*Alumni Reunion *Volunteer/Donor Appreciation (June11) CHR County Fair Kids 4th of July Parade Chicken BBQ

July 24

Christmas in July

Aug 76 15th Annual Triathlon Aug 20 5th Annual Corn Roast Sept 2-5 Labor Day Weekend Sept 9-11 Kids Fun Weekend Sept 16-18 Apple Fest Sept 23-25 Chili Fiesta Sept 30-Oct 2 Pumpkin Days

Cran-hill Ranch now offers camper storage Just $1 per day call 231-796-7669 for more details


A change of seasons

The Cran-Hill Ranch family has added 2 new members since the last newsletter, Nicole Erler and Rebecca Sexton. Nicole is taking over as our Horsemanship Director and Rebecca is our new Director of Ministry Advancement. As we welcome Nicole and Rebecca we also say farewell to Mike DeVisser and Elissa Peterson. Both Mike and Elissa had weddings this summer. Mike in July and Elissa in October. Both have moved on in their new lives and we wish them all the best.

golf marathon Update

In August we had our 2nd Annual Iron Horse Golf Marathon, to raise money for camper scholarships. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we raised over $40,000 to help kids in need come to summer camp. A special thanks goes out to all those wonderful golfers who made this possible.

!!! New Website!!!

We are in the final stages of our new Cran-Hill Ranch website. This new site will have more updated info and have many new features. Make sure to check us out at


Cran-Hill Ranch would not be what it is today without the servant’s heart of volunteering that so many of you have. It takes an army of God’s people to make the ministry as successful as it has been over the past 42 years. We need your help on projects of all sizes throughout the year. No matter the age or skill level, all of God’s servants can help bless this ministry. Here are just a few of the projects we still need help with this season: •Nature Trail Work •Building Drains •Boat Docks

•Campfire Ring Repair •Firewood Stacking •Fence Repair

•Yard Work •Landscaping •Stone Masonry

This is just a short list of the many projects that there are around Cran-Hill Ranch. For more information on how you or your group can be involved please contact Don Nunn at

For dates for all 2011 events check out upcoming events on page 7



Family WinterFest

21-23 High School Retreat

6 Weekend RV Reservations 10-12 Winter Friendship Retreat

28-30 Jr. High Retreat

17-19 Summer Staff Reunion


Family WinterFest


11-13 Jr. High Retreat

4th-6th gr. Retreat

18-20 High School Retreat 25-27 Jr. High Retreat




Spring Clean-Up


Ranch Round-Up

13-15 Kid’s Free Activity Weekend 27-29 Memorial Day Weekend

prayer 365

The Scriptures teach that Prayer is a very important part of every believer’s life. It shows that we are dependent on the LORD and that we acknowledge that HE is in control and is Sovereign. There is nothing we can’t pray about. The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing” and “in everything give thanks to the Lord.” (1Thess 5:16-18) We find intimacy with God through communicating with Him in prayer. We go to Him in faith, knowing that He hears and answers all our prayers (1John 5:14). Let me encourage all of us to pray. We are so Thankful for those who have signed up to be a part of our Pray 365 team. Please join us in praying for the ministry of Cran-Hill Ranch? If you would like to be added to this team and receive prayer updates from time to time from the Ranch, simply email us at

Come enjoy the ranch for a day, all year, for a small day use fee. call for details 231-796-7669



Kid’s Parade


Summer Celebration


Chicken Barbecue


Family Ministry Weeks Begin


Independence Day


CHR County Fair


CA/CHR Adventure Challenge

22-24 Christmas in July Weekend 2-5

Labor Day Weekend Kid’s Free Activity Weekend


15 Annual Triathlon



2nd Annual Golf Marathon

16-18 Apple Fest Weekend


4th Annual Corn Roast

23-25 Chili Fest Weekend


Family Ministry Weeks End

Mark your won’t want to miss a thing!


Summer 2010 Recap

Christian Adventures was blessed with an amazing summer of ministry, leading 10 weeks of trips in 5 states and Canada! From backpacking through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to cycling past Niagara Falls, God used CA to impact the lives of many students and adults. In the face of triumph and tragedy, we experienced God in amazing ways. From one youth group that had to deal with the tragic death of a fellow student, to other groups that experienced the highs of exploring God’s Creation. It was remarkable to see the community that developed on each trip. Students and adults learned to depend and support one another through many physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. And at the end of each trip, it’s obvious that they encountered God in ways they never imagined! As I reflect on the long-lasting impact of these adventures, I am reminded of the numerous stories people have shared with me over the years about their wilderness experiences. There’s something special that happens when people abandon their busy and hectic lives to enter into the solitude and peace of God’s Creation - they always leave with a new vision of themselves, God, and community. This summer was no different! People entered into the holiness of creation and community, and left with lives that are forever transformed! Thank you to each person who participated in a Christian Adventures trip this year. Thank you to each person who diligently prayed for our ministry. And thank you to our Great God who calls us to the wilderness to hear His voice!

Thank-you 2010 Groups •Rockford Reformed Church -

•1st Baptist Church - Cambridge, MN •Calvary Lutheran - Omaha, NE

Rockford, MI

•Christ Church - Grand Rapids, MI

•Sunset Bay Chapel - Lithia, FL

•First Reformed Church - Zeeland, MI

•Northbridge Academy - Fenton, MI

•Campus Ministry @ Grand Valley State University - Allendale, MI

•St. Gregory Episcopal Church Deerfield, IL

call rylan or eric @ 866.796.HIKE or go to


2011 public tour options Florida Spring Break Date: March 21-25, 2011 Cost: $750 Description: Warm up those legs this spring with a trip to sunny Florida! Tour inland lakes and forests, soak in the beautiful gulf coast, and see everything the Florida Panhandle has to offer. Ride a casual pace of about 50 miles per day, camping at Florida’s fantastic State Parks. Join us for a great week of cycling, new friends, and Christian fellowship! West Michigan Cycle Weekends Date: One Weekend per Month (May - September; specific dates TBA) Cost: $125/weekend ($550 for full 5-weekend tour) Description: Join Christian Adventures next summer for an opportunity of a lifetime! In five weekends from May to September, you can cycle the entire shoreline of Lake Michigan - over 500 miles! Ride two 50-mile days each weekend of some of the best scenery and cycling Michigan has to offer. Choose to ride every weekend, or join us for just one or two rides. Either way, it will be a summer to remember! Shore-to-Shore Cycle Tour Date: August 13 - 14, 2011 Cost: $150 Description: Put your pedal to the pavement in this epic weekend tour across Michigan. Start with your wheels in the waters of Lake Michigan, and end with a dip in Lake Huron! Push your limits to ride 100 miles each day.

2011 Group trips- Now booking your adventure

Colorado Basecamp: Accommodations: Tent Camp at 9,000’ overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park Adventure Options: Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, White Water Rafting, Adventure Courses, Team Building, Service Projects, and more. Cost: Starting at $350

NEW! Michigan Basecamp: Accommodations: A-frame Cabins in the heart of Michigan forests Adventure Options: Backpacking, Hiking, Canoeing, River Tubing, Mountain Biking, Road Cycling, Adventure Courses, Team Building, Horseback Riding, Service Projects, and more. Cost: Starting at $300

Watch your email for more public tour trips in 2011


Cran-Hill Ranch Hitching Post  

All the news from Cran-Hill Ranch

Cran-Hill Ranch Hitching Post  

All the news from Cran-Hill Ranch