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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Timber-Lee closing and Trinity College and grad school going virtual only.

 Two places near and dear to me are ending their work as we know it in the coming months.  These places are Camp Timber-Lee in East Troy,  Wisconsin, and Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois.  Both of these establishments have long histories, both recently celebrating a milestone.  In 2022 Trinity College celebrated its 125th anniversary and Timber-Lee celebrated its 75th.  If this were the Electric Company short, Letter Man, The villainous Spellbinder would take out his magic wand and change the first E to a  second L making milestone, millstone.  I'm not sure what to call the millstone. Perhaps it was  Covid, perhaps a change in the culture of education, perhaps a change in the paradigm of Christian camping; likely a combination of all 3.  But the millstone around Trinity International University whose umbrella is around both Camp Timberlee and Trinity has caused business as usual in the college's case and possibly business altogether to come crashing to a halt in the very near future.  

 I was never a student at Trinity, but I have visited their campus on multiple occasions over the past 40 years.  I have slept in their dorms, eaten in their cafeterias, and played frisbee in their courtyards.  I have attended classes, visited students, and borrowed materials from their library.  I even at one time had a Trinity library card. 

In 2016, Camp Timberlee was gifted by the Evangelical Free Church Association (EFCA)  to Trinity International University (TIU).  I have a long history with Camp Timber-Lee. I was baptized in their lake in 1986 at a church picnic. I did a polar plunge in the same lake in January 2020. My wife Amy and our children once attended a home school camp there and our family slept in one if their famous cabooses. I have visited friends who worked there on multiple occasions. I even flipped over a snapping turtle  who had was trapped on his back bicycling near their grounds while visiting a staff member. I was bicycling near the camp, I'm assuming the snapping turtle was a pedestrian. 

Over the past 15 years, I have chaperoned a half dozen or so arctic blast and winter X-treme trips with our church kids groups and youth groups which has included at least one of my children on each occasion. 3 of my favorite things to do at those winter retreats are

1. A trip to their nature center where there is always an obligatory snake pic taken of one of my children.

2. To spend hours playing gaga ball with students.

3. To spend hours playing nine-square with students.

There is a multitude of other things to do at Timber-Lee: Ropes course, rec room, x-country skiing, zip line, sledding, tubing, tobogganing, horseback riding, broomball, and karaoke, just to name a few.  Of course, camps are a lot of fun and make lasting memories.  But Timber-Lee was all about sharing the gospel and promoting Christian growth.  This spiritual aspect of their ministry is the main reason why so many people are shocked and saddened about its demise.    

When camps like these go under there is often talk of getting new funding and continuing the ministry.  Sometimes something comes out of it like the recent change of ownership of what used to be called Cedar Campus in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  Timber-Lee has a plethora of staff, campers, and alumni who would love to see the ministry continue to grow.

As for Trinity College the class of 2023 seems to be the last class as a residential college as they make the transition to distance learning only.  TIU sees this as a new beginning that fits with its global strategy.  I, for one, hope that is true, but need time to reflect on the past and what will surely be missed.  




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