By Lane Brown, Vice Chair, National Alumni Board
It’s easy to feel connected to the joyful atmosphere of all Adventure Unlimited programs as you look through Valerie Lodge’s large windows. You can watch the flittering aspens with yellow leaves peek through the tall, swaying pine trees in the forests that meet the bunkhouses, or watch them dance along with ripples on the lake, waving to the hills across the valley.
Valerie Lodge serves as the makeshift board room for the National Alumni Board (NAB) annual retreat, turning from a place of camp songs and bustling foot traffic to an incubator for big ideas that serve an alumni population spanning more than six decades.
The retreat was held this year October 11-14 at the A/U Ranches and provided members with yet another strong reminder (beyond the lovely scenery!) of why we volunteer to serve.
We serve alumni to make sure the inspiration, fellowship and life lessons from DiscoveryBound and A/U Ranches programs never fade, regardless of where you live or even how long it’s been since you’ve been involved.
This year’s retreat featured a renewed focus on the basics: communicating and connecting with alumni. We are dedicated to pursuing connections through direct, one-on-one communications and gathering alumni groups together through regional events and Mini Camp reunions. Throughout all this, we want to continue to illustrate for all alumni the value of Adventure Unlimited programs for participants, staff and volunteers.
The weekend meeting for the board is our planning session for the year ahead. Part of our planning includes reports from the headquarters, A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound teams and a chance to hear about progress for each part of the operations.
A few highlights for us:
Updates from HQ
DiscoveryBound Outreach and Compass programming continues to evolve, as the organization builds more events and groups each year to reach families, teens and adults. In addition, as the DB National Leadership Council (NLC) moves forward through its second decade, it is revising and clarifying its curriculum to empower today’s teens and strengthen their servant leadership capabilities.
Meanwhile, back at the A/U Ranches, planning for the new Hub is well underway, and the hunt for the perfect team of subcontractors is happening now under the stewardship of alumnus and general contractor Andrew Fahrney. Summer 2019 camp attendance grew over previous years, thanks in large part to a specific prayerful focus, additional staffing resources focused on enrollment, and a new, transformative grant from a group of anonymous donors. This funding group helped provide camperships for youth and adults to participate in Youth Camp, Family Camp and Adult Mini Camp, above and beyond Adventure Unlimited’s efforts.
NAB Working for You
This new grant also helped adjust seasonal staff salaries to make working at camp a competitive employment option for many who want to balance earning needed income with making a positive impact within the Christian Science community. In fact, many staff members found they could earn as much working at the A/U Ranches over the summer as they could in a job elsewhere.
This was of special interest to us; some of our discussions within NAB committee work explored how we can further bolster seasonal staff (they become brand-new alumni when they turn 18!) by helping them capture the broader, career-specific benefits of working at camp and 100 Elk Outdoor Center. As many of us know, working at the A/U Ranches is more than just a summer gig! We plan to extend career-specific framing tools to NLC alumni in future seasons as well, as they move on to education and work opportunities beyond high school.
This work is being taken up by one of four NAB committees, Communications. This, along with the three remaining committees (Program Outreach, Mini Camp / Reunions and Regional Alumni Events) focus on alumni outreach that complements existing Adventure Unlimited programs.
Another example of our work is planning next year’s Mountaineering Reunion! We invite mountaineering majors (that includes anyone involved in climbing, mountain biking, hiking, caving, peaking, backpacking and ropes course navigating) – and anyone else who wants to join the fun! – to mark their calendars for August 16-22, 2020, for the Mountaineering Reunion during Adult Mini Camp at the A/U Ranches. Come on out to see camp friends, climb the ropes course, scale the rocks and explore the mountains like A/U Ranches mountaineers have done for more than 50 years.
Rotation on the NAB
Each passing year, we also have the opportunity to thank those who have served on the board and welcome new members to join us. We want to share a special thanks for the dedicated work of Brittany Maples, Virginia Early and Katie Jensen as they move on from the board this year into other adventures.
And we welcomed five new members to the National Alumni Board this year — Joy Anderson, Jennifer Dale, Karen Ostler, Rodger Sheehan and Leslie Welles — as they begin three-year terms on the board. Read their profiles here.
The view of the fall aspens each year never fails to impress us, no matter how many times we get to see them. Similarly, the opportunities to serve alumni, to celebrate the adventures that bind us as one shine as bright as the yellow leaves dancing in the autumn wind.
Do you want to connect alumni in your area? Are you looking for a way to get back involved with the A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound? We want to hear from you! Email [email protected] with your ideas or look for your local representative on this contact page. You’re an important part of the family.