Standing on Other’s Shoulders

Vel Shicks   1934-2015            1523885_profile_pic

Much of what we do in Christian camping is in the here and now: we currently have this many staff, this many buildings, and we offer these programs. Thinking on the now is good and dreaming of the future is great; however, I do love to ponder the past as well.

I need to be reminded of whose shoulders I am standing on today!

Our founding director, Vel Shicks passed away this week; he was 80. His obituary included this paragraph:

In 1977, Vel accepted the call to go in to full-time Christian ministry as camp director for the Central District of the Evangelical Free Church. Vel directed several summers of youth and family camps at various retreat centers around Iowa. It was in the summer of 1979 that Vel and Pat were driving around the beautiful countryside near Dayton, IA. They “stumbled” upon a hidden 640-acre piece of property, undeveloped, but lush with ravines, trees, pastures, a creek and bountiful wildlife. The campaign to “Own Our Own” began and soon the property was purchased by the District and named, Hidden Acres Christian Center.

So, I thank Vel and Pat for their work- their vision- their labor of love as they sacrificed during those beginning months to create a place called Hidden Acres.  My prayer is that we have become what Vel had only imagined and dreamed about back in 1979 when the property was purchased.

I have started my second book: Be the Director I Could Follow.  I am asking 10 to 15 former directors from different camps around the country to write their story.  As I begin to hear back from these directors, I am over-whelmed at their vision, their drive and their purposeful living that helped create the camps that they directed for 25 or more years.

For those of you who are currently serving at a camp or another ministry, build today what others will stand on in the future; remind yourself often that you are playing a part in the future of others who will follow you.  Do your job well; do your job faithfully; be a servant.

Even Walt needed Roy


Occasionally I get labelled as a visionary: We have been able to build a camp with new buildings and the systems and the processes that have made it successful. I have been reading a book, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek…. and I have discovered I am not really the visionary that others have thought me to be.   I am the HOW-type of person and not the WHY-type of person.

This was great insight for me.

If you really are the person who casts the original vision for your camp, you have figured out you need a HOW-type of person to put all the pieces together for your vision. I recently visited a camp in Arkansas that had the original visionary person in the 1970’s, but the visionary never found the HOW-type of guy to carry out his vision. His vision still remains on paper, carefully laid out in words and pictures, but not ever executed.

From Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

“WHY-types are the visionaries, the ones with the overactive imaginations. They tend to be optimists who believe that all the things they imagine can actually be accomplished. HOW-types live more in the here and now. They are the realists and have a clearer sense of all things practical. WHY-types are focused on the things most people can’t see, like the future. HOW-types are focused on things most people can see and tend to be better at building structures and processes and getting things done. One is not better than the other, they are just different ways  people naturally see and experience the world.  Bill Gates is a WHY-type. So were the Wright brothers. And Steve Jobs. And Herb Kelleher. But they didn’t do it alone. They couldn’t. They needed those who knew HOW.”

“If it hadn’t been for my big brother, I’d have been in jail several times for checks bouncing,” said Walt Disney, only half joking, to a Los Angeles audience in 1957. “I never knew what was in the bank. He kept me on the straight and narrow.” Walt Disney was a WHY-TYPE, a dreamer whose dream came true thanks to the help of his more sensible older brother Roy, a HOW-type.

Great ideas are just that: an idea. HOW-type of people can make them a reality. Got a great program idea that you can’t get off the ground? – find a How-type gal to make it happen.

Peter Drucker wrote: “Vision without execution is delusion!”