The Firs UpdateThe Impact is for Life!
THE FIRS UPDATE
During the summer of 2017, 2,071 campers attended Firwood and we had 1,575 registrations at Fircreek. An additional 308 participated in our Awesome Summer Adventure which integrated into our Fircreek program. Each of these kids were supported largely by DSHS and represented a sector of at-risk kids that we care for year round. Totaling them all up we had just shy of 4,000 kids in our summer programs at the Firs.
It cost up to $479 a week to attend camp at Firwood. It costs $182 a week to attend Fircreek and 60% of our kids there come for more than one week. Think about those parents who have more than one child they are sending and the cost rockets up. It’s an expensive proposition for many families.
For many years now we have operated under the NOLO challenge as a staff and organization to the best of our ability. That means we are determined to have no one left out. If a child wants to come to camp but can’t because of financial reasons we don’t turn them down. Our Campership Fund allows us to pay for part or in some cases all of their registration costs. This past summer 105 Firwood campers and 151 Fircreek campers were awarded camperships (about 6%). A total of a little more than $56,000 was disbursed.
Coming off the summer our campership fund is deplete – even more than depleted. And, like every year, we are dependent upon folks like you to bring it back up to where it needs to be in order to keep up. It’s one of the most important things that any camp will tell you that they do and we are no exception. So please give prayerful consideration as to how you might help make a difference in the lives of children and youth for eternity and click on the link below. Under “What would you like to support?” use the drop down menu to find “Campership Fund.” Thanks so much!
Tom Beaumont, Executive Director
Begin the Christmas Season on Saturday, December 2nd with a wonderful holiday meal, decadent dessert, good company, and festive entertainment! Back by popular demand, Justyn Rees and Russ Rosen will once again bring their down-to-earth, fresh and entertaining approach to gospel stories through Music and humor. To register, call or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Firs Annual Extravaganza was held on October 21st this year with a room full of enthusiastic givers who donated over $35,000 that evening to support the kids of The Firs. $12,000 of this total was raised to go directly to our Campership Fund which enables us to give scholarships to kids who couldn’t otherwise afford to attend our programs. We’re so encouraged by the generosity of the people God has surrounded us with.
The first two weekends of October were filled with life-giving moments between friends at The Firs scrap-booking retreat held at the Chalet. 85 ladies were served coming from everywhere in-between Canada and Olympia. They experienced all the elements including snow, rain and sunny days and had an exchange teacher with them who had her first experience seeing snow among these incredible women. 10 new people were added to the group and they raised over $300 for Firs Camperships by selling homemade greeting cards and espresso drinks throughout the weekends. It was truly a great time among friends and many were recharged and refreshed by the experience. We’re so honored to host such a fun-filled, refreshing time for these ladies year after year.
The dust is finally settling as ASA transitions from summer to a new school year, with new kids, new families, and a new staff! Every day, 80-100 students are gathered from 6 schools and brought to the ASA Hero Academy. This year we are training in every way to be Heroes in our schools, families and communities. We are learning through God’s word how ordinary people, like us, become heroes when exercising the powers He gives us. We are learning that good prevails over evil when we choose powers like forgiveness, kindness, thankfulness, and faithfulness. Take a look at this brief video to get a glimpse of our super heroes at ASA.
Please be praying for our talented ASA staff: Hailey Nichols, Bryn Knapp, Megan McCardle, Madison Moore, Tyler Rasmussen, Brad Anderson, Rebekah Jensen, Talon Ellsworth, Skylar Jones, Elizabeth Holte, Mariah Harbaugh, Kaitlyn Neary, Cory Henson, Baylor Smith, Anna Crowe, Caleb Copper, Patricia Mallett, and Aaron Wright.
Our Adult Retreat that was held in early September and was a rich time for all who attended. The event speaker, Justyn Rees, is a story teller who told stories describing the encounters with Jesus by different disciples and other New Testament people, interwoven with music by Russ Rosen. Great hymns and choruses were led by Ray and Judy Pearson and a presentation on the Reformation in England was led by Mike Pooleon. There was a picnic at camp Firwood and bus trip and day at The Firs Chalet at Mt Baker. The event was wrapped up by a banquet and entertainment. Be sure to save the date for next years event, September 4-9, 2018!
It’s that time of year again, where we come together for a fine dinner and bid on auction items to raise money for Firs programs. Join us this year, at the Bellingham Golf & Country Club on Saturday, October 21st. Silent auction begins at 5:30 followed by dinner and live auction at 7:00 You don’t want to miss the hot ticket items this year: we’ve secured both Disneyland & Mariners tickets as well as dining certificates and vacation packages. There will be something there for everyone thanks to our generous community who continues to donate items that we all want and need! To register for the event, click here or call our office at 360-733-6840.
A long time Firs home across Cable Street has been upgraded over the summer and turned into what is now being called the Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is already a great asset to our children’s ministries and, in particular, After School Adventure. The Clubhouse is being used for the 4th & 5th graders as a comfortable space to decompress after school and have a snack. It’s also currently being used for Homework Club every day. This project – with phase one completed – was made possible because of a generous donation by one of our supporters.
Another summer at the Firs has come and gone and with it an energetic mass of children and youth attending our camp programs. FIRCREEK saw its second summer in a row of really high attendance with an average of 209 per week and 1,883 (which includes our AWESOME SUMMER students) for the season. A number of kids were left on the waiting list with no room at a few of our camps. FIRWOOD took in 2,071 campers this summer which was 78 more than last year. That means an average of 230 campers attended over the nine week season. It’s been great to see increasingly good numbers in each of our camp programs these past few years. If you do the math we had 3,954 kids come with the opportunity to “encounter Jesus and experience the love of God.”
Firwood Week 1:
Centerstage message: “God’s Escape Plan” – The narrow and wide path explained from scripture – how the world makes the wide path seem easier and more attractive, but that it leads to destruction. Many campers responded and made a first time decision to follow Jesus Christ. Another group made the choice to follow Jesus more closely.
Well, another Marathon has come and gone! 100 holes of golf were completed last Monday by twenty golfers and they have survived to tell about it, once again. It was an extraordinarily beautiful day for our 9th annual edition of this event and we are pleased with the results.
The combined effort of our golfers, along with the support of sixteen local businesses, brought in over $51,000 in contributions and pledges. The exciting part is that after expenses for the event are removed those monies will go directly towards the program ministries of The Firs and, in particular, Firwood, Fircreek and After School Adventure. As a result this will, once again, be a huge boost in our efforts to provide a quality, life-changing programs and keep them affordable for all.
Our Talented Maintenance Team!
There is never a shortage of capital projects to see accomplished at our sites as we continue the battle against deferred maintenance and seek to improve our facilities. Here is a partial list in front of us as we head towards the summer. Some of these projects are funded and many are not. Some have already started and some are a ways off from starting. But they will give you an idea of what is happening on this front at The Firs:
- The small cabin at South Cove (Firwood) is being renovated and will be put to use this summer.
- Four roofs need to be replaced on accommodation buildings at the Retreat Center.
- A water main that runs through the grounds of the Retreat Center needs to be replaced.
- A new fireplace for the main floor of the Chalet needs to be purchased and installed.
- A Firs house next to Fircreek is in the process of being re-purposed to serve as a Clubhouse for ASA and all of our Children’s ministries.
- A patio with pavers needs to be constructed below the Alpine Room along with a new stairway
- A good condition, used 4x4 truck/SUV needs to be found and purchased for Chalet Food Service usage.
- Sidewalks need to be replaced and more landscaping added at the Retreat Center.
We are so grateful for the help of our corporate sponsors who made it possible for proceeds made to go to help send kids to camp. The overhead for The Firs Golf Marathon was significantly reduced because of these gracious donors. Our event sponsor this year was Robinson’s Hardwood followed by our course sponsor, HUB International. Our cart sponsors were Church Mutual, Cigna, Larson Gross and Pioneer Foods. Our hole sponsors were Aqua Technex, Ben & Rebecca Kaemingk, Curt Maberry Farms, Hometown Values, Larry Steele & Associates, Lee Family Dental, Lynden Door, Pearson Construction, Salish Wealth Management, Thrivent Financial & Valley Market & Deli.
On April 22 we had over 150 participants in our annual Superhero 5K Run/Walk! Parents came out with their kids and had fun with them on the course dressed as superhero’s and engaged in beating the villain in order to win a prize at the finish line. It has come to be such a great family event for folks in our community. All of the proceeds from the 5K will go to help families who are struggling financially to send their kids to camps and after school care within our ASA program.
Take a look at all the fun that was had!
Kids love coming back each year to our Spring Break Camp at ASA. So much so, that we were at capacity this year with 90 kids! This year’s theme was Seuss-O-Rama complete with Dr. Seuss inspired games and activities. The kids took field trips to swim at Arne Hanna and went across the border to the Vancouver Zoo.
This program does great work for the families in our community and a week-long program is no different. Have a look at the fun:
The Firs was represented at Missions Fest Vancouver in January. It’s the biggest event of its kind in the world. For three days, Missions Fest takes over the Vancouver Convention Center in downtown Vancouver, BC and fills it with well-known missionary speakers, missionary led seminars, and over 300 displays from mission and ministry focused organizations from around the world. The Firs has been attending this for event for over 25 years. The Firs has two booths which contain backdrop banners, videos, and brochures in order to spread the awareness of Camp Firwood, the Chalet, and the Retreat Center. We meet lots of people; many have come to The Firs in the past. Some of our current campers and guest group members come by say, “hi!” and to look at the pictures and video, and we make many new contacts with people looking for a camp or a place for their church or youth group to hold a retreat. It’s a long weekend with over 32 hours spent at the booth, but well worth it.
On January 25, 2017 over 65 pastors gathered at The Firs, as has been there practice over the past several years. They come from numerous churches, a variety of denominations, and a wide range of doctrinal and ecclesiastical differences. But, they all love to proclaim the message of Jesus in our community and over these years they have grown to love and support each other as well.
Next month, another group, just recently formed, will be meeting at The Firs for similar purposes. They are a growing group of non-profit CEO’s from Whatcom County who want to begin to meet, network and pray for each other. This, too, will take place at The Firs around a lunch meal. The opportunity for The Firs to participate with and serve these two groups of Christian leaders is tremendous!
The Firs hosted a Scrapbooking Reunion weekend January 18-20 where 108 women gathered to scrapbook, and reminisce about the last years of getting together since 2009! This event has grown significantly over the years and we are thankful for relationships built and sustained. To get involved and see the upcoming 2017 dates, visit cropwiththefirs.org.
Mark your calendars! We hope you’ll join us at Bloedel Donovan Park on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017! Race will begin at 9:00 am, with check-in from 8:00-8:45.Proceeds from this event allow low-income children in Bellingham the opportunity to play, grow, and explore during summer and after school at The Firs’ Fircreek Day Camp and After School Adventure. More importantly, scholarships (“Camperships”) create bonds between under-privileged children and staff who are often their strongest influences, loudest encouragers, and fiercest champions; because every kid deserves a hero. Click here to register: Superhero Registration
The Firs Chalet has been a part of the ministries of the Firs for sixty years now. It continues to be a fabulous asset for us and one that continues to astound people with its beautiful setting. You just never grow tired of seeing Mt. Shuksan framed through the windows of the main floor of this building.
Recently we heard from Jon Kvernmo who shared some pictures with us of the construction of the Chalet back in 1956. Jon’s father Ivar was contracted by the Firs to build the A-frame structure along with some staff and volunteer help. These pictures are a great reminder to us of God’s wonderful provision for us back then as well as now.
We’ve got this thing at the Firs called the ‘General Fund’. It’s a line item in our budget every year and it represents donations received not earmarked for any specific cause at the Firs. It’s kind of boring and certainly not very sexy at first glance. But the reality is that it may be the MOST IMPORTANT line in our budget and the most significant way you can support the ministries here.
When the ‘General Fund’ gets fed it means that we can keep costs down for our campers. When we meet budget with this fund we can keep improving our programs and expanding our reach. So help us ‘feed the general’ this month by sending in a donation or following the link below and giving online. The General thanks you (and so do we).
Justyn Rees, a longtime friend and past speaker at Firs events, came with Russ Rosen and band to put on a very creative and impactful presentation of the story of Christmas at our Firs Noel this month. The humor and upbeat music and wonderful, dramatic storytelling combined to provide an incredible display of the true meaning of the season. All in attendance greatly enjoyed the evening and we look forward to having Justyn back to the Firs in the near future.
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Firs Business Partners
A big THANK YOU to all of the local businesses that have partnered with us to support our children’s ministries!
If you’d like to partner with us, please contact Rebekah or call 360-733-6840, x226.
Firs Business Partners
A big THANK YOU to all of the local businesses that have partnered with us to support our children's ministries!
If you'd like to partner with us, please contact Rebekah or call 360-733-6840, x226.