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breaking through at highlands

by Kevin Starcher, Director of Summer Camp & Youth Events


t Highlands this summer we have been studying how God “Breaks Through” into our lives and molds us into who we are called to be. Throughout various sessions and worship experiences, we have heard Biblical stories of how Christ encounters individuals and people groups, calling folks out of lives of sin and brokenness and into new lives of healing, love, justice and community. At camp we are provided the opportunity not only to hear about these stories, but rather practice the community into which Christ calls us. On a hot July day at Highlands this summer, I had the opportunity to lead a hike to the top of Estes Cone in Rocky Mountain National Park for nine senior high students from Wichita, Kansas, who were visiting Highlands for the Adventures in Faith program. This group was embarking

upon a 3.2 mile hike (one-way) to the summit of Estes Cone, almost 1,600 feet above their heads when starting at the trail head. For a high school youth group from Wichita, who had been at altitude for less than 48 hours, this hike was sure to be a challenge and a very literal mountain-top experience. The excitement of the entire group was high as we left the trail head. All were intrigued by the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding us. The smell of the ponderosa pines, combined with Longs Peak showing off its magnificent diamond in our direction, lifted our spirits and eyes towards our final destination. But it wasn’t long before it became apparent that there were two distinct groups of hikers that were separated by ability. The majority of the group could have done this hike easily and in a _________________________________ Breaking Through - Continued on Page 6

summer camp facts and figures • 596 campers registered for Summer Camp 2009 (an increase over 2008), • Campers came to us from: Colorado, Canada, Washington, DC and 25 other states: HI, AZ, AR, CA, CT, FL, TX, UT, WI, WY, NE, NJ, NM, PA, SD, TN, KS, UT, WA, MN, MO, MT, NC, IA, and IL, • PLUS, two very successful Day Camp programs with approximately 60 children at each. • Normally, Highlands receives $11,000-$12,000 in scholarships requests each summer. To date we have awarded $16,484.00 in scholarships. • Donors have provided $12,167.67 in funds designated for scholarships. Our commitment is that no camper will be denied the opportunity to come to camp because of cost. • In Denver Presbytery 16 campers were given $2,378 in scholarships. • In the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks 33 campers were give $4,964 in scholarships. • 56 Campers from other churches or with no church connection received $9,142 in scholarships. • 81 coupons from church visits redeemed. Last year we had 40 coupons used. This is representative of both increased need and more church visits! • 31 Summer Staff (including guest services and food services), from12 different states and 5 countries. • 36 Camp Sessions with 28 volunteers. • 28 student nurses from our partnership with the Denver School of Nursing. Page –1– August 2009

Dear Friends,


hen we worked on developing a theme for our Capital Campaign, “Move the Mountain . . . Expand the Impact” seemed like a “nice” theme. And our scripture fit it well . . . “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20. It wasn’t until this summer, when we began the Closing Program for Week I of Summer Camp that I was overwhelmed by the impact of our ministry here and realized what an even greater impact we will have when we eliminate our debt. Listen to some of the things that Week 1 campers wrote to Respite campers who would be coming later in the summer . . . “. . . Coming up to Highlands is a blast! You have a full week of making a new family and letting God into your heart even more than he already is. Up in the mountains, a beautiful creation of God, you will never want to take a smile off your face. There is so much to do that the week flys by like the wind. It’s an easy thing to enjoy.” “. . . The birds are singing and the wind is tickling my face. All around me, people are laughing and playing games. The sun is shining and I hear a familiar crunch of Highlands gravel under wheels and shoes. When you get up here, this is what you will find. A wonderful fun place full of laughter and blessed children of God. Also the food is pretty darn good! Ha ha. Highlands is a place where you can forget about worries and things that hold you down, even if they follow you there. You can really be yourself. I am so glad you get to experience this truly amazing thing.” “. . . I am so glad you get to come up here and have as much fun as I did. I hope you find yourself and who Jesus is cause this is the place where I found Jesus. I always thought I already found him but I didn’t till today when Matt (the counselor) gave his story. I hope you can find Jesus like I did. AND HAVE FUN! “. . . Camp is AWESOME! You will learn so much about God in really fun ways! Everyday you will look on something different about our lord, and you will have a theam for the week too. You will have a chance to tranceform, listen, show compassion (and receive it), you will love and be welcomed. Througgout all that you will play games and eat delicious food! Have a great time!” We have had an amazing summer! Licensing and accreditation visits have recognized our commitment to safe, high quality programs. We’ve celebrated traditional partnerships with our community with the 4th of July community parade and picnic. And, we’ve started new partnerships with Boulder County Aging Services to provide one community lunch per week throughout the summer at the Allenspark Community Church. July brought the birth of Giorgi Gale Hilgenberg to Stuart (Director of Food Service) and Eka Hilgenberg! And new projects were completed with Energy Solutions and volunteers Goeff Noble and Dave Dittman. Our facilities have also been filled with the celebration of family reunions and unique groups like the Hummingbird Research Group. August will include two special Elderhostels . . . one for grandparents and grandchildren, and a second week that looks a lot like Adventure Camp for older adults! As gifts help us to reduce our debt, we are already expanding our impact. These are wonderful days for the ministry of Highlands! We are grateful for the faithfulness of so many who support this ministry, encourage its growth and dream about its future! Thank you! Thanks for giving your time, your energy, your imagination and your love to this ministry! With the faith that we see every day . . . in campers, in summer staff, in volunteers, in year-round staff, we know that nothing is impossible through God’s grace! Grace and Peace, Maria Shupe, Executive Director Page –2– August 2009



orty one years ago, when I was ten years old, I had my first opportunity to experience Highlands Camp. My family did not have much money back then but with the addition of a scholarship from the Westminster Presbyterian Church my parents made it happen. That first experience became the footing for a long and rewarding relationship there. In subsequent years, through junior high, going to summer camp at Highlands was something to look forward to. I was not the most outgoing kid back then, but always found camp to be a safe, friendly and enjoyable experience. Each summer I always found myself excited to return and sad to leave. Once I went to college I got busy and sort of lost track of camp. One day in spring when I was around thirty three years old, a workaholic and entrenched in my profession as a physician assistant, I found myself burned out. I was sitting at my desk wondering where to go and what to do. I had an epiphany and heard the Lord say “Go to Camp.” I picked up the phone, spoke with Sue Erickson, and found myself signed up to help out with the Tent Camp the very next week. Even though I was there to help with that week at camp it was a rebirth for me. Oakey McNight, the director of that camp reconnected me with the Lord and I experienced a reawakening, renewal and revival. It is hard even today to remember that without

pause. Since then, I have been back as a volunteer counselor many summers and recently as week long camp medical personnel. I am now fifty-one years old and have a family of five children aged four to twentyone years. Three were adopted from Eastern Europe. My memorable experiences at Highlands led to involving my children there as well. They have attended multiple grade level camps, Night Owl, Adventure, Horse, Junior High, Senior High and MAD camps as well as participated in church retreats that have been held there. My oldest boy was given a wonderful opportunity to work at Highlands this summer. As their parent, I treasure the values, hope, promise, inspiration and closeness to God that they feel there. Highlands is a Sanctuary where we are surrounded by God’s loving arms. With the beautiful outdoor setting, wonderful facilities and committed loving staff, Highlands has a vital role in our lives.

creative giving


by Brian Perry

by Carol Medsker

reativity and a dedicated interest in Christian camping came together recently when a supporter of Highlands Camp, Frank Medsker, decided to dispose of his coin collection. The result of this inspiration was a generous gift going toward reduction of the building debt at Highlands. First, contact was made with Maria Shupe, Executive Director of the Highlands Camp and Retreat Center, to ascertain whether this plan might be acceptable. Maria polled the Development Sub-Committee, the coins were given to Highlands, following which the Development Sub-Committee agreed to appoint the donor as agent for the sale, then gave their permission to proceed. The successful transaction involved categorizing the collection, deciding which coins might be saleable, contacting several individuals and dealers, and a two to threehour visit with a buyer. Creativity, serendipity, the work of the Holy Spirit - name it what you will, but the winners will be the debt reduction process and those who use the Highlands facility. Things are not always as they seem, and remaining open to possibilities can often bring unexpected benefits. The satisfaction of knowing one has helped others is its own reward. Page –3– August 2009

thoughts from mark sears

Joint Highlands Camp and Retreat Center Committee Chair


had an incredible summer! I spent two weeks at Highlands; volunteering as the Lesson/Worship Leader at Adventure Camp – Week I and Saddle Soars – Week IV. I’m so glad that I had two weeks to rest between camps, even though the campers energize me, those camps wore me out. Every year I am in awe of the summer staff we have at Highlands, and this year was no different. Summer staff this year was just AWESOME. It is a real joy to see God working through these counselors who welcome each week’s campers, show them Christ’s love and help God transform their lives in His majestic mountain setting. The theme of the summer was “Breakthrough” – biblical stories about transformations. The daily themes were: Jesus Welcomes; Jesus Listens; Jesus Shows Compassion; Jesus Loves; Jesus Transforms; and Jesus Invites. The last one “Jesus Invites” really spoke to me. Jesus teaches us, through the parable of the “Great Banquet,” that He invites everyone to His banquet and that we, as His servants, should go out into the streets, alleys, the country lanes and bring in the poor, crippled, blind and lame so that His house will be full. Summer Camp at Highlands is Christ’s banquet; we as His servants should go to every extreme to

wish list . . .

• • • •

Mugs for guest use. Pulpit or Lectern for use in Retreat Center meeting rooms. 3 tiered scaffolding with rollers. $950 toward the purchase of a custom set of window shades for Longs/Meeker meeting rooms. The set we have for the Hidden meeting room has proven invaluable to program and guest groups in darkening the room for projector presentations and movies. • Audio Visual Carts.

plan your family, holiday or church gathering now!


new banquet menu at Highlands provides a delicious selection of appetizers, beverages, entrees, and desserts for your next church or family celebration. Slowcooked prime rib, roasted leg of lamb, or grilled salmon are among the delicious options for you to select from. Page –4– August 2009

make sure all camps are full. I challenged you in the last newsletter to be responsible for at least one person attending a camp at Highlands this summer. Did you accept my challenge? If so, I greatly thank you faithful servant. This year, Highlands gave out over $16,500 in scholarships. To date we have received $11,667.67 in dedicated funds for scholarships. Our commitment is that no child will be denied the opportunity to come to camp because of the cost. We can use your donations to balance this year’s scholarship budget deficit, but more importantly we are going to need your donations to fund scholarships for our second season youth retreats for Middle School and Senior High youth. Next year I challenge you to send yourself; send a family member; encourage someone else; and donate a scholarship for someone less privileged to attend. Many lives were transformed and renewed at Highlands this year; experience the joy of helping transform someone’s life next year. It will be one of the most important gifts you will ever give yourself and someone else. Have a Happy Fall – Find an Excuse to Come to Highlands, Mark Sears, Your Fellow Servant in Christ

capital campaign: “move the mountain expand the impact”


“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you!” Matthew 17:20


t is in these summer months, when Summer Camp is in full swing, that we see the impact of Highlands’ ministry in the lives of campers, summer staff, and families. We dream of the day when our debt is gone, and the money spent on interest each month can be used to expand this impact in the lives of many! Our Capital Campaign continues to make progress! At the July meeting of the Joint Highlands Camp and Retreat Center Committee one member told the story of making visits to donors in Sterling, CO. He told of a visit to a donor who asked what the amount of our current debt was. When the donor was told that it was $2.2 million his response was “I would be honored if you would let me contribute 10% of your debt.” The Committee member then delivered a check for $220,000. With joy we celebrate this gift, and the many gifts and pledges that are helping us to meet our goal of $2,800,000. To date we have raised $599, 374.95 in gifts and pledges (21.4% of our goal). This represents 198 gifts from 84 donors. We hope that congregations will consider a gift to the Highlands Capital Campaign in their 2010 budgets.

financial update


ur current mortgage balance is $1,606,760.44. Our current line of credit balance is $348,400, bringing our total current debt to $1,955,160.44.

licensing and accreditation


e have had very successful visits for our health inspection, our licensing inspection, and our American Camp Association accreditation.



his summer, we have participated in a unique program with Energy Solutions Unlimited. This program retrofitted light fixtures throughout Highlands, allowing us to take advantage of a one-time Boulder County grant and rebates from Platte River Power Authority for reducing wattage. Overall we had three cabins rewired to bring them up to code, and fixtures throughout camp replaced. We expect to see an energy savings of $2,335 per year. Total cost of the work done was $22,126. Our cost on this project, after rebates and grants, is $3,647.

fall work day Saturday, September 26th 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Lunch Provided

Please call or email to let us know you’ll be here!

Page –5– August 2009

Breaking Through - Continued from Page 1

short period of time. It was obvious that the second group would need to take their time in making the destination with many breaks along the way. At first, this caused a bit of concern to me. How was I supposed to get this group to the summit all together? Would the first group just take off and leave the other group behind? Would the second group just give up and quit? But my subtle fears were quickly dismissed as I observed these youth interacting with each other. Even though there were two distinct groups, characterized by skill and ability, these youth were determined to hike together. A small discussion about one mile into the hike confirmed my confidence in the maturity of the high school students. Together, they decided that since they had started the hike together, they would summit and leave the trail head – together. I was impressed with the patience and encouragement that this group shared with each other. It was truly an example of maturity and attitude of togetherness before my eyes! And sure enough, this normally 1.5 hour hike to the summit was completed – 3.5 hours later – all together. The views were absolutely stunning, but what was more impressive were the smiles and sense of accomplishment that were expressed on the faces of all the participants.

As we were approaching the trail head and reflecting upon our time together that day, I realized once more the importance of what we do at Highlands. By teaching, and practicing our preaching, we learn how to live together as a community rooted in Christ. We learn that our journeys together as Christians are journeys marked by community, and not just individual expectations. We learn that the satisfaction of achieving our goals is greater when we achieve a goal while patiently supporting and encouraging one another. This high school group from Wichita is a prime example of what can happen to a group of people when God and others are placed at the center of our value system. A group can succeed all-together when we forget about our individual needs, and make personal sacrifices for the sake of the entire group. We live in a church today that is often marked with stereotypes. Liberal. Conservative. Traditional. Contemporary. Big. Small. Fast hikers. Slow hikers. I often think that if the issues that divide our churches today could be resolved in the manner that these high-school campers showed me, then our church and our world would be a much better place. Perhaps we all need a week or two at camp to show us what’s important in life. It’s not about getting to the destination before everyone else, but rather, it’s making sure that we ALL get there in a supportive and nurturing Christian community.

senior high retreat Date: November 6 – 8, 2009


he 2008 Retreat was awesome. Now get ready for 2009! Our theme this year will be “Digging Deeper.” All too often, we dwell on the surface of life.  We exchange smiles and pleasantries, and tell everyone that everything is alright when we know that there is so much more happening in our hearts and souls. Similarly, we do the same thing with our faith. We occasionally go to church, and might even pray once in awhile, but more often than not we just go through the motions and live on the surface of our faith life.  This retreat is designed to engage you at a real and personal level. Of course, we are going to have a good time with new and old friends and have a lot of fun, but more importantly, we want to get to know you on a deeper level. We want to ask some questions, and really hear what you think about life, faith and Christ. We also want to dig deeper and challenge you to grow in your faith in Christ, and ask “what does Jesus mean to me?” Last year the retreat sold out. Register early to ensure you and your group get a spot at the 2009 Highlands Senior High Retreat. Early Registration: $110 (all forms and payment by October 19th)  Regular Registration: $125 Registration closes October 26th Page –6– August 2009

2009 Elderhostel Programs at Highlands Aspen Glow and Mountain Folk: Autumn in the Colorado Rockies September 13 - 17, 2009

Way-Points is a cooperative venture of 13 Presbyterian sites around the nation. Highlands will offer:

Rocky Mountain Halloween The Stanley Hotel and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night October 29 - November 1, 2009

Longs Peak: Towering Treasure of Rocky Mountain National Park September 27 – October 2, 2009

Dancing in the New Year with Glenn Miller December 29, 2009 - January 1, 2010

Be sure to go to and check out all thirty-nine of the programs that will be offered around the nation!

Be sure to go to for full details and to register!

Mark your Calendars! for the annual Christmas Party and 2009 Highlands Auction, “Palettes & Pieces” the afternoon of Saturday December 5th, 2009


his year’s auction, “Palettes and Pieces,” will feature all types of handcrafted items. We are currently looking for items such as paintings, woodworking pieces, pottery, and quilts. The money raised will again reduce the mortgage on the Highlands retreat center, helping to ensure a strong financial future for the camp. If you or someone you know is interested in donating an item for the auction, please contact Chrissy Starcher at or 303-747-2339. All items must be received by Saturday, November 7th, 2009.

Page –7– August 2009

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage


Omaha, NE 68102 Permit No. 1951

P.O. Box 66 Allenspark, CO 80510 Address Service Requested

what’s inside:

Breaking Through at Highlands.................................................. 1 Summer Camp Facts and Figures................................................ 1 From the Executive Director......................................................... 2 Howdy!............................................................................................ 3 Creative Giving.............................................................................. 3 Thoughts from Mark Sears........................................................... 4 Wish List . . . . ................................................................................. 4 Plan Your Family Holiday or Church Gathering Now!........... 4 Capital Campaign: “Move the Mountain . . . Expand the Impact”.............................................................................. 5 Financial Update............................................................................ 5 Licensing and Accreditation......................................................... 5 Operations....................................................................................... 5 Fall Work Day................................................................................. 5 Senior High Retreat....................................................................... 6 Elderhostel Events......................................................................... 7 Way-points Events......................................................................... 7 “Palettes & Pieces”......................................................................... 7 Page –8– August 2009

MISSION The mission of Highlands is to provide gracious hospitality and quality Christian programs in a majestic mountain setting and to nurture spiritual renewal and transformation in a safe and inclusive environment. For more information about Highlands Presbyterian Camp & Retreat Center Contact 303-747-2888 u

August 2009 Newsletter  

August 2009 Newsletter

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