Mr. Matt's January 2023 report:
The Season is upon us! Maple Syrup Season that is! It is Harvest Time in…January
Yep, that’s right! It is the third week of January as I write this letter; it is snowing outside after having an unseasonably warm week which got me into the woods earlier than ever to tap the Maple trees on site. Looking out into our woods, it seems lifeless and inactive; the trees are bare, everything looks dead. Yet this apparent dormancy is actually a time of great activity - we just can’t see it! But there is a Harvest ready to be had of maple syrup! I diligently got all my taps in and am already cooking the sap (40 gallons = 1 of syrup!). Give me a call to go to breakfast! I’ll bring the syrup (which I named Angel Tears), and as we share about our lives, we can celebrate the sweet goodness of the Lord’s working in them EVEN when we can’t see Him doing it!
As I write this report, I will share of some of the sweet goodness of the many years of faithful ministry finally bearing fruit! We also will celebrate the dormancy of our Legacy Dining Hall, trusting that the Lord IS working behind the scenes! And some of my report will be like the sap that is collected. Although the process is the same each season, the experience is always different but so rewarding! I love how our Lord is refining us as a tool and a ministry as the work must go on; children’s lives are at stake and we labor in Hope of a Great Harvest!
CALLING: I often ask myself, “What keeps you at this ministry? Why not do something else?” My answer is that this is a calling. Until every hurting child hears about Christ, and as they become young men and women who have committed their lives to Christ and then create families who are living in obedience to Christ, I/we will not be finished! The Maple season is short and quickly over, usually by mid-March. Once the sap turns milky and sour, we’re done. Like my maple syrup, there’s a short season to reach these kids before they turn bitter too. We must do all we can while there’s still time. We work diligently now so we can spend the rest of the year enjoying this sweet goodness. “…God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him, and does what is right, is welcome to Him.” Acts 10:36
I am happy to report that Pine Valley has completed another year of ministry, our 27th, Pine Valley’s 61st, and we’re staying on Mission: “Rebuilding Broken Lives through Jesus Christ!” Our values are FAITH, FAMILY AND FUN: Faith in Jesus Christ is foundational, we are committed to helping the Family as satan and our culture continues to attack God’s plan and structure! And we continue to build bridges for our campers and staff to Jesus and His Body through Fun!
Staff, Teens and Campers: Finding good godly staff continues to be a challenge, yet the Lord provided just what we needed for another ministry year, both in summer program and our Light of the City choir! There are so many campers who have received Christ’s love. Every week the majority of our Teen campers pronounce at our campfire their commitment to living for Christ! The Maple Syrup of Summer: Please send us your High School and College age children. It will change their life and the Lord will work through them in a mighty way! Year-round Leadership Staff: I thank the Lord for our godly and committed staff who are seeking to disciple our young staff and campers throughout the year and grow themselves in the Lord and His Word! Welcome Erin Marlow to our team; she is helping us reach out to our Vet staff! We would still like to hire a Teen Program Director/Administrator if you know anyone.
Legacy Dining Hall: Delay, Delay, Delay! But…we believe God is in the Delay! We received our Foundation Permit in August and were to begin construction in the fall, then early winter, but as of December 31st, nothing was started. However, we got a call this week that the rebar is finished and construction will begin in February! Like our trees and the sap, there is a lot of movement behind the scenes. The wood is here for the trusses, the plates are being made, and the steel package is being finalized which allows us to finalize our plans and submit the rest of the plans for a permit. Thank-you for your continued prayers!
Angel Tree Campers: Thanks to many of you, 200 Pine Valley campers who have a parent currently or formerly incarcerated ALL received a gift this Christmas! To God be the Glory! PLEASE consider getting your church involved in the Angel Tree Christmas Program. We hope to connect these families with a local church.
2nd Season: We started another round of “Strategic Planning” meetings in November with Arnold Consulting. With that we will refresh our summer ministry, enhance our areas of care and service to all who serve this organization, and for our 2nd Season (September-May), look into different opportunities to fully utilize our new facilities both current and our future dining hall. We want to “Steward” these new facilities to serve our camper families and do it together with the church for the glory of the Lord. More details to follow as we get clarity from the Lord. Just know I am so excited about the potential for impact in these new endeavors.
Growth and Expansion: Our full-time families are growing, Mark & Kelly are expecting baby #4, Abel and Mia have two little ones, and Matto & Jen are holding at eight with the youngest, Bella, officially being adopted in February! Plus, we’re housing interns and young staff who are called to camping ministry. It’s exciting, but we also need to expand our housing options. The good Lord provided us with two older homes in Ellwood City that we’ve been remodeling over the past three years but they still need a lot of work. Plus, Mark has raised most of the funds for an addition to his house but could use help and/or additional funding to finish it.
Connected: We invested $23,000 to update our internet service. Armstrong Cable donated the fiber-optics and we paid to run a 2,000-foot line from Matto’ house down to the camp office. We went from a #3 power to 300! It’s so much faster! In addition, our new Votacall system will connect our buildings for more efficent intercamp communication.
Looking ahead Summer Camp 2023: Pre-covid our attendance was at 740 campers. In 2020 – 249; in 2021 – 444; and in 2022 - 514! We are praying for a full camp in 2023. I have many big ideas but we need workers to go into the harvest!
Finance$: What a tremendous outpouring this year! We were able to end the year in the black! PTL! From last year to this we were able to raise an additional $783,000 for our Legacy Dining Hall giving us over $3 million in pledges and gifts!!! I am looking to raise another $1 Million for this year, Lord willing. Anything left over will be used to expand camping ministry to reach more kids for Christ.
No matter how fierce the winds of this world blow or how deafening the thunder of worldly opinions can be, I choose to live in the Light and Hope of Christ! I choose to continue to labor in anticipation of sweeter days ahead. Thank you for choosing to do the same and for partnering with us! Who knows what’s yet to be accomplished for Christ; we will never really know until we’re all gathered around His Throne, and then…OH How Sweet that will be to see our efforts come to fruition…Maple Syrup delicious! I can’t wait!