By Glenn Grow, National Alumni Board
This year, all of us at Adventure Unlimited are exploring the idea of what it means to live generously – to live with a clear sense of the abundant good God provides. Rusty Signor has spent the last five decades living and loving Adventure Unlimited. He was a camp counselor starting in the late 1960s, helping in everything from corral to mountaineering to assistant ranch manager and instructor. He also was a full-time chapter adviser in Colorado and has served on the Board of Trustees. In gratitude for his nine-year term on the National Alumni Board completed in October (his second stint on the NAB!), we recognize here some of the many ways Rusty has lived generously with the organization.
Rusty’s enthusiasm for giving is palpable. “Don’t be a hoarder!” he says in his affable Texas drawl. “Only five percent of Christians shed the light!” He heard this “don’t be a hoarder” comment from a minister while working together in the prison ministry in Austin and has adopted the phrase as another way of saying, “live generously.”
Rusty has “retired” from official Adventure Unlimited service duties – of which there have been many – but he continues to live generously with the organization. He makes hundreds of calls to alumni to draw support for programs and reunions. His giving ranges from picking up the tab for the recent National Alumni Board (NAB) dinner in Denver to joining with a few fellow donors to complete the funding needed for a new horse care barn at the A/U Ranches. Rusty also recently volunteered with the Rainbow Valley Resource Network’s program at the A/U Ranches’ 100 Elk Outdoor Center.
He explains his generosity toward Adventure Unlimited and his many friends this way. “I have been on my own since I was 16. I went to six universities, and I have no college friends because I was working full time,” Rusty says. “All of my dear friends are from my camp days.
“In high school, I was not living up to Christian Science standards,” he laments. “My Sunday School teacher, who was a friend of Cap Andrews, practically dragged me by the britches to camp. The last thing I thought I needed was to work at camp for $250 for a summer.”
Within a week of being at camp, Rusty realized something special was happening. “I thought, oh my goodness, here are a bunch of Christian Scientists who are the same age as me. I met Stu Dill, quarterback at Princeton, and Hank Paulson, a Dartmouth football player who went on to become U.S. Treasury Secretary, and I thought, these are not nerds. These are really neat people.”
Since that first summer at Sky Valley Ranch, Rusty has served the A/U Ranches and its chapter program (now DiscoveryBound) in many capacities. Most recently, he finished his ninth year on the National Alumni Board (NAB) and also served three years as a trustee.
‘Doing it for God’
Doug Moser, an A/U Ranches alumnus and resident of Buena Vista as well as new NAB member, remembers when he, as an eight-year-old camper, had a healing with Rusty as his counselor. “At camp, I really wanted to climb a fourteener, but I was not allowed because I was not 10 years old yet. Rusty gave me a chance to prove I could do it by making me carry a heavy backpack around camp, and up to Harvard Lakes,” recounts Doug.
“On the way down from Harvard Lakes, I tripped and turned my ankle,” he says. “Later at camp, I asked my counselor, Rusty, to know the truth for me. He said, ‘no problem’ and taught me how to ‘know the truth.’
“I was getting worried that I would not be well enough to climb the fourteener later that session,” Doug continues. “Rusty began to sense that I was anxious about it, and he asked me, ‘Are you doing this for God or for Doug?’
“This was a wake-up call. I was healed and was able to peak the mountain. Fifty years later, I met Rusty again – but I had never forgotten him!” Doug says happily. Today they are great friends, and see each other periodically when Rusty stays in his second home in Buena Vista.
Another alumnus, Don Gregory, remembers when he was healed by something Rusty said. “In 1967 I was brand-new to Christian Science,” he relates. “I was about to embark on a 50-year career connected with horses, but right then I needed direction and to be grounded in Science. I got both these at the A/U Ranches that year, where I was told this story.
“At a party, two young CS couples who did not drink or smoke were asked, ‘Why?’ One of them replied, ‘First, I don’t like to. Second, I have just as much fun as anyone who does. Third, people respect me more if I don’t.’ Rusty Signor’s relating that incident to me healed me on the spot, without my even trying. The desire just left. That was a very big deal to me.”
Rusty continues to touch lives of his fellow Adventure Unlimited alumni in many ways. One of the highlights of his year, for example, is calling friends during the Christmas season, many of whom he met at camp or while serving on the Board of Trustees or NAB.
“The NAB was a better fit for me – I like hands-on situations, and seeing all my old friends, that was kind of my thing,” he explains. “It’s just exciting talking with people I haven’t talked to in decades, and I’ve been calling people who haven’t been to camp in 40 years – and they are coming now. I have the best time talking with them.”
Conversations with Cap
Since Rusty grew up on a ranch in Texas, Cap Andrews thought it natural for him to work in the corral during the mid-1960s. But Rusty was a jack-of-all-trades and willing to do almost anything.
“I remember Cap saw me one day – I was teaching judo, riflery, corral and a couple of other things,” Rusty recalls. “He shook his head and said, ‘You’ve got to figure out what you want to do.’ That’s the only time Cap was ever mistaken about me because I ended up being a camp director. I taught all that stuff and oversaw all those programs. I still remember him looking at me – I had all this gear and equipment, and he was just laughing.”
During Rusty’s early days with Cap, he worked in the corral and as a ranch hand. This led him to establish a corral training program from 1991 until 2005, as well as create a mountaineering training program from 1988 to 1990. Cap even asked him to come into Denver to be the first full-time A/U Chapter adviser of the Denver chapter, where Rusty brought his trademark enthusiasm and energy.
“Cap kept moving me around doing many things,” he says, including hosting dozens of camp shows in Austin and taking five trips canoeing in the Canadian Boundary Waters.
Supporting the future
Rusty’s capacity to give has spanned the decades. In his life outside of Adventure Unlimited, he runs a construction business in Texas, is active in his local branch church and is a happy grandfather. He’s drawn on the renovations of Washington, D.C., Seattle and Houston Christian Science churches – where he has friends from Adventure Unlimited – as a model for his work as project supervisor for the building of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Austin. And he’s been a Christian Science chaplain in a youth detention center for 25 years.
Of all Rusty’s giving activities, he is most outspoken and generous toward his Adventure Unlimited friends. “You don’t need a name tag to be on the National Alumni Board. Cross the cattle guard [at camp] and we are alumni!”
When asked whether Adventure Unlimited has influenced his life, Rusty is unequivocal. “I know my involvement with this organization has blessed me. We have been so successful in my career and family. We have wonderful children and they love what they did at camp and the skills they learned.”
“The great thing about it is, all the things they learned at church and at camp will stay with them and they can share those with other people. We are changing things. These kids are really going to bless the movement!”
Looking toward the future of Adventure Unlimited and the Christian Science youth movement, Rusty is enthusiastic about the impact of DiscoveryBound programs, including the National Leadership Council. “Kids now have so many priorities in the summer that they can’t always attend camp. It’s so important to continue to support and expand the DiscoveryBound programs. Even people who don’t have kids want to support it. When you see how it has completely changed a young person’s life, how can you not support that? The testimonies of these young people are where it’s at.”
Rusty continues to support the organization through putting on camp shows and helping kids to come to camp for the first time. He works with his business and church connections to keep them informed about the success of DiscoveryBound, and the more than 150 testimonies in the Christian Science periodicals. “This is huge! This is why you need to support this organization. It is so important!”
From all the Adventure Unlimited alumni out there, we are grateful to you, Rusty Signor, for your life of service and generosity. Thank you.