Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking back on 2015

It's a brand New Year: a time to reflect on the past. 
It's a time to be thankful for all the ways God has provided for our ministry here at Palomar Christian Conference Center. A time to recognize some of the accomplishments that have been made over the past 12 months!

Winter Camp in January was a big hit with our junior high campers! It was the first ever Palomar Winter Camp, and it's safe to say it was downright awesome! Of course when you bring back incredible summer counselors, have a party called "Pajama Jam", and put Jesus in the center of it all, it's hard to go wrong! (For a good laugh you should check out our video promotion for Pajama Jam on YouTube! It's a parody music video of The Muppets song-"Manah, Manah")
Each time kids come up the mountain they are sure to experience their favorite Palomar activities- like zooming through the forest on our 650ft zip-line, and crouching behind tree stumps and bunkers to avoid paintball attack! Laughter and energy brought everyone together at Winter Camp, sharing their most fond memories from summer and creating an atmosphere of unity and friendship that will be remembered. 
In the evenings, after full days of fun, we all came together as one body, praising and worshipping with hands held high to our Lord and Savior. What a powerful atmosphere where kids, some who had just committed their lives to Christ months before, could be transparent before their Maker and humbly seek Him in that time of worship. We are thrilled with this new program! 

As we progress, we are always striving to do more for the schools who make the winding trip up the mountain for Outdoor Education. Thanks to our Program department we've added a new class to the Science Camp curriculum options! "Weather Class" was offered as an option for the first time this spring and brought our total number of classes to 11!
We love Outdoor Education because we know it is significantly impactful to many participants. Science Camp (or 6th grade camp to some) has been one of the longest running programs here at Palomar Christian Conference Center, and adults who have come to retreat with will stop by the office just to let us know that they REMEMBER coming when they were in 6th grade to this same mountaintop! They were certainly impacted by the power of camp and the Spirit of God here, and we pray before each group of campers that the impact of their stay will be eternal.

A New Activity?! Yes! Our High Ropes Course was completed in May and opened for it's first guest use last summer!! For more on this awesome new activity, check out our previous blog post "Courage in the Trees!"

One reason we all get excited for summer is because incredible college-age, servant-hearted, young adults come alongside us on staff! This past summer we had about 45 wonderful personalities join our Summer Staff. They poured out for the sake of the Gospel and made sure Palomar's mission was first and foremost. Throughout the summer, we referred to ourselves as #PalomarFamily on social media because of our closeness and unity here on the mountaintop. Being part of this camp staff is special, and we hope each member of the "family" will come back next summer! If you know someone who would love to be part of the "Palomar Family" and serve on our summer staff, encourage them to apply online by going to our website!

What an INCREDIBLE summer!!! Palomar Christian Conference Center is a busy place year-round, but when Summer comes.. Look Out!! This year we had larger numbers than ever before! That means more campers coming through the gates, more meals in the dining hall, and most importantly, more individuals hearing The GREATEST Truth- that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!!! 

Hiking at Palomar is a great way to connect with God. His creation is so beautiful in this place and we love when campers have the opportunity to see more of it, so we are really excited that the trail to Fern Valley was completed this summer! Our Adventure Camp guys use Fern Valley as a campground, so this newly manicured trail is extremely helpful for them during their summer program!  

Outdoor Education isn't just Science Camp anymore! Leadership Camp launched this fall for High School Students and the first weeks were awesome! We're looking forward to more Leadership Camp weeks and the opportunity to dive into the Word with the kids who come!

A couple changes even happened in the barn this year. Sampson and Delilah (our extra-large horses) were both sold! We also had the opportunity to bring in CC and Turin- both quarter-horse mixes that will work great for our trail and arena rides!

Here at the Conference Center, you may see a few new faces who joined us in the past year! Here's a look at the changes that happened in our staff during 2015!

Finally, we want to be sure to thank our Volunteers who came to PCCC in 2015! Several wonderful organizations sent volunteers, and we are so thankful for each person who rolled up their sleeves to help out! MAPPers, SOWERs, Hard Hats 4 Christ, and local churches were all involved in improvements here at Palomar, and we are so excited about all the progress! Just a few of the major accomplishments that these volunteers were a part of... 
Our Gift Shop Remodel
Fresh Paint for Buildings & Our zip-line platform
New Drapes Made and Upholstery for Chairs
and last but not least...
Kerrigil II has seen SO MUCH improvement this year! It's incredible how many hands have helped with this building and we are extremely excited to open it for guest use in 2016!!

The Lord has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy.
-Psalm 126:3-

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why Launch Camp?

We are SO excited to launch our newest program in 2016 - LAUNCH CAMP!  Launch Camp is a day camp for campers (grades 1-5) that will run Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm, at church facilities down in your neighborhood!

We have witnessed the incredible power that comes from a week of camp surrounded by God-loving counselors and staff.  Lives are changed at camp as God works through our worship experience, the staff, and activities.  Doing a day camp allows younger students to experience camp without having to leave home for an entire week.  It will also enable churches to reach out to their communities and attract kids to spend a week learning about Christ and finally connecting them to a church.  This allows the church to minister to campers long after camp ends.  Lastly, Launch Camp will prepare kids for a week long camp experience when they graduate to sixth grade.

Stay tuned for dates and locations to come for your campers!  We are always looking for potential churches to partner with us.  If you think your church would be a great fit for Launch Camp - Suggest a Church to us. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Palomar Story - Phillip (Arrow) Moreno

My Palomar experience…..
       My story started way before I even went up the mountain.  It starts about 6 months before at APU. Now, how I heard about about Palomar is pretty crazy in itself.  How I got recruited was all thanks to God and my roommate. I didn’t hear about Palomar until my roommate brought in a flyer and left it there on my mini fridge - not even telling me about it. However, little by little I would see the card and day by day I read it. It wasn’t till about a month later that I finally read the whole thing and decided that I wanted to help Palomar change the lives of the campers. The rest is all history; I applied, got the job, and was set to head up the mountain for Staff Training.

       So fast forward to the end of May and I am all packed up and ready to head up the mountain. The whole ride up I was so excited for the adventure that was ahead. When I finally arrived at camp I was greeted by everyone jumping and screaming and just looking so excited that I was there. I even remember at one point thinking to myself, I think they have the wrong person, but I was wrong. They knew who I was and that made me feel so at home!

       The specific camp that I had the blessing to be a part of this summer was Adventure Camp!  This camp is everything that the title says it is, an adventure!  Outside 24 hours 7 days a week, sleeping under the stars, having the sun as an alarm clock, and cooking everything you eat over a camp fire. And that is only in the first 12 hours of the weeks!  I could go on to list everything we did in the week, but that's top secret P.A.C. info only - so sorry, no spoilers.  Every week was full of growth and new experiences that to this day I still reflect on because they still help me grow even today.  I got to witness guys so fired up to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior that they couldn't help but jump and shout for joy.  And I saw loving and compassionate young men willing to serve all out and at all times of the day.  Experiences like these truly helped me grow and continue growing in all aspects of my life.

       July 28, 2015 was the last day of summer and man did I love every minute of it. As my time at Palomar came to a close I took some time to reflect on what I got to be a part of. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow what a summer!" I came up to this camp not knowing a single person or a single thing about it. I leave now feeling like I am leaving home. I sure am gonna miss this place and all of it’s beauty - because this place is truly breathtaking - from the view over the clouds and down to the valley below, to the hike up Death Mountain to see the beauty of God’s creation on the mountain all around us. The glory of God is on display wherever you look on this mountain. However, I soon discovered that the true glory of God does not lie in what is around the camp, it is in how he's moving here. From saving lives of children, men, and women to continuing to mold the full time staff into godly men and women. That is where the true beauty of Palomar lies - in the hand of God moving in this place to save, transform, and redeem all who call on His name. 59 days I spent at Palomar, 59 days I got to see the hand of God at work in ways I had never seen before. I feel so blessed to be able to see how God moved at Palomar this summer.

       I went up the mountain for the first time not knowing a single person and not knowing what to expect or what I would learn in my time there, I left feeling like I left a family behind because and a new sense for being able to how see God moves in the lives of other.

And that is my Palomar experience….. which is to be continued :)              

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Palomar's Extended Family

What a blessing these amazing, godly, servant-hearted loved ones have been to Palomar!  Meet the Gunns, the Davidsons, and the Tibonis.  After years of serving God at different camps and ministries, these SOWERs (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready) have volunteered their sweat, tears, and their hearts to Palomar.  They starting doing early (I mean EARLY;) morning testimony time with all of our staff.  On different days they would schedule for a staff member to come share their personal life-changing story.  What a neat way to get to know the staff and for us to get to know them!

If you have ever sat under someone who has wisdom and discernment, then you know what it was like for the past couple months for us as we fell in love with these SOWERs.  They would always have encouragement, prayers, smiles, and great hugs for us!

Please, PLEASE come back to Palomar when the Lord allows!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Courage in the Trees

After a year of construction, the High Ropes Course is finally OPEN!  The course has four elements that are suspended in the great oaks, cedars, and firs of our forest.  The challenge starts 10 feet off the ground but as the elevation changes, you might look down to find yourself 40 feet in the air.  This challenging and, breathtaking at times, experience will push your courage in exciting ways!  If your group is coming to Palomar and you are interested in reserving the High Ropes Course, please speak with our Retreat Coordinator in the office!



Do you have courage and determination?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Palomar's Kenyan Missionary - Francisco Villa (Diesel)

It has been several weeks now since my return from Africa and I’m still not sure what my thoughts are.  My greatest joy and heartache are one in the same: the people of Kenya.  I love Kenya but it hurts.  This was one of the best and hardest trips I have been on.  I saw amazing people making hard decisions - who gets to eat and who doesn't.  Everyone who we worked with came from an orphanage.  Everyone at an orphanage knows a kid at a feeding station, and everyone at a feeding station knows someone who will not get to eat.  The ones at the training center do get to eat and they learn that all of it is provided by God and people who love God.

After taking several mission trips to different parts of the world, the Lord finally laid Africa on my heart five years ago.  May of last year I connected with Cherie Creech.  Cherie has been working in Africa with orphans and widows for years and heavily influenced my choice to follow Christ years ago.  I expressed my desire for missions in Africa and she told me there was a open spot to work with Kenya Widows and Orphans (KWO Ministries).

The hope of Africa became a reality.

After days of travel, mishaps, loads of snow, half of our team unable to come, supplies getting lost, we finally made it to Dirubi.  We were staying in a small village where I believe the first KWO orphanage was located.  On the other side of it was the two year old training center.  When students turn 18 and leave the orphanage, they have the choice to come and study a certain trade for a year.  

Each night we had different spiritual themes that we taught the students.  Unity was the first.  The students came from thirteen different orphanages, different tribes, different languages.  One of our main goals was to teach them they have more in common that they realize, that Christ makes them one.  We wanted them to learn how to work as a team.  To protect each other.  One day we spent talking about sex and how Godly men and women treat each other, as well as dispelling myths.  We also covered God's purpose in there lives and how they have value.  We helped them understand the impact they can have in the community.  Each night we presented the topics, held small group discussions and even played games to better illustrate the ideas.  We ended the camp with camp songs and a small dance party.  It was a sight to see!  Everyone was enjoying songs like the YMCA, Who Let The Dogs Out, and The Twist.  The students had smiles on their faces the size of Texas, as did we.

The students were amazing, loving and willing to be open.  Willing to share their lives with us and each other.  Willing to be open about their hurts, their struggles as well as their hopes.  All of them understand that they have an amazing opportunity, but are sometimes saddened because they know others who do not.  They began to realize that they can take what they learned back to where they are from and make an impact on their community.

It was organized chaos, and not what we had planned but it was what the Lord had allowed, and that was good enough for me.  We had a phrase that was said throughout the week and it holds true for all of us.  Even though we don’t call them tribes, we all come from one.  Be it families, schools, friendships, or hardships that we have suffered together, we come from different tribes, we have different stories some good and some bad.  They make us who we are and do not change who our God was, and is and continues to be.  One Voice.  One Tribe.  One people.  One God.

I urge those of us who have the choice, to do things that make us uncomfortable, to go to places we don’t want to go.  This doesn’t always mean crossing an ocean, but it can be.  My hope is that we would not look at hardship as a wall God is setting up and saying no.  It may just be that we must work harder and push past our comfort zone, and trust that God is working, and even though he doesn’t need us, he wants us.  We will not always have a peace about the hard decisions in life, but they have to be made, and we must trust in God to work things out.

"Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told" Habakkuk 1:5