By Mary Whalen
Located just north of Spring Valley, Minn., Good Earth Village remains one of the “best kept secrets” of the area, but the camp staff members are hopeful the word is getting out in 2019 as opportunities to celebrate the 50th anniversary begin! Years of praying, planning, and constructing were necessary before this family friendly campground began, so those making plans for the celebration decided to take the entire year to commemorate, acknowledge and remember the last 50 years. Good Earth Village (GEV) is inviting everyone to join with them!
The History of Good Earth Village began when 500 acres were gifted by the late Dr. Lowell Colvin Barr, who gave credit for the inspiration to donate the land to Mr. Ham Huus. The mission statement expresses a core value commitment which is followed still today, “Exploring God in Creation, growing faith in community, engaging the world as followers of Christ.” The idea of preparing visitors to carry the values focused on during camp and utilizing these values as they head back into their everyday lives is a key reason this Christian camp is so successful, plus everyone agrees that the food served is delicious!
There will be many chances for people to observe the 50th anniversary, yet the weekend gathering of GoodStock is an extra significant event since not only are staff from years ago invited back for a time of reunion, but everyone is welcome to join the fun. Tyler Anderson, director of Retreat Services, remarks, “This is the first time we have done something to this scale with our weekend GoodStock event. Good Earth Village used to host a Bluegrass and Gospel Festival in the early to mid ‘80s and we have the old posters and pics! So this celebration gets us back to hosting a music festival for the public to help celebrate our 50th anniversary! Our staff and board of directors are very excited. We recently started doing weekly Band Announcements for GoodStock on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/goodearthvillage/posts/ and will be continuing to announce our performers and update our website with that information.”
Keeping up to date with all that is offered plus sharing individual stories is an important way to celebrate Good Earth Village. Stories from camp counselors and campers as well as their parents abound and the GEV staff look forward to hearing them.
Staff witnessed the sharing of stories on Monday, May 13 when a full house gathered for a “Lunch and Learn” with Al Batt. The meal prayer included a musical rendition of a blessing set to the “We’re gonna win Twins” fight song led by Paul Little, Food Service and Hospitality manager, who also introduced everyone to onion salad. At the closing of the meal, Al Batt was invited to the microphone. Al is a gifted wordsmith and lover of the feathered creatures in this world. Sharing his stories of battling cancer and the joy of pigeons he witnessed, Al reminded everyone that all people are fighting some sort of battle. He mentioned that we “don’t get to pick what’s wrong with us” then mused, “I’d go with hay fever!” His inclination to being “wisely frugal” led him to discuss the ideas that, “I loved my dad, just never believed I become him,” had the audience remembering their parents and a life growing up where sharing stories was an everyday occurrence. Paraphrasing a quote from Muriel Rukeyser, Al stated, “The universe isn’t made of atoms, it’s made of stories,” mentioning how God loves to hear our stories.
The stories filling Log Lodge entertained and inspired those gathered and snippets of birding lore enlightened and challenged both avid birding folks as well as those who knew little about ornithology. A word originating in the late 16th-century, Latin ornithologia, meaning “bird science” from the Greek “ornis’ (bird) and “logos” (theory, science, thought) became a focus for Al early in his life and for 50 years he’s been sharing his enthusiasm in southern Minnesota and throughout the world.
Listing the many species of birds he’s seen this spring, Al shared tidbits about different techniques for feeding and planting flowers to make yards and gardens more appealing to the feathered creatures. This 50th anniversary event offered a touch of what Good Earth Village has been living since its beginning – there is a harmony possible when human beings and nature are given the opportunity and the time to experience each other.
The chance to assist with projects at GEV has also been present for 50 years, and property manager Steve Atwood welcomes any one who wishes to lend a hand a chance to do so. An ideal way to celebrate the joy of volunteering is being offered this entire year. “Good Earth Village has decided to offer a chance for people to help with 50 different projects,” mentions Steve. “I have put together a list of 51 for each year to commemorate our camp’s existence, so people of every age and every level of skill level can become a part of our anniversary year. We count on those who volunteer and I hope folks will contact the office if they are interested in helping out.”
Preparations are being made for upcoming public activities and, of course, GEV has summer camps for youth beginning soon.
The celebratory events actually began in March with the Healthy Partnerships Workshop for the Congregation Leaders, the Annual Meeting, and a Lunch and Learn, with Damon Ramaker sharing his knowledge and dog sledding dreams. In May, the Open House and on the 13th, the second Lunch and Learn, with Al Batt sharing his love of birds filled Log Lodge took place. Now is the time for “saving the date” for upcoming events!
The schedule provides a rich variety of experiences: Women’s Day will be Saturday, June 29; GoodStock, a family filled weekend of faith, fun and music is planned for August 16, 17, and 18; Flapjacks, Flannel, and Firewood in September; 2019 Rekindle: Fall Youth Retreats are taking reservations for grades 3-5 from September 27-28 and October 18-19, and for grades 6-9 from October 4-5; and the Sixth Annual Good Gifts Gala is October 24 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. See registration and program details for all of these events by contacting Good Earth Village at 25303 Old Town Drive, Spring Valley, Minn. 55975; calling the office (507) 346-2494, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the GEV website. goodearthvillage.org.