Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category

By Kathy Landis

Obviously campers are a significant part of Wilderness Wind. Not so obvious are the volunteers, board members and sometimes the staff that make it all happen. Each has played a part in Wilderness Wind’s history, for as each person “cares for their project” we are able to get to the next layer of needs or priorities. For all who have offered their time to Wilderness Wind, thank you. As I worked on this group of people, the blog became long so I  divided it into two posts. This one is only about volunteers who have stood out – people who have either taken on a large project or have over the years helped in many ways through their contributions of time. This blog is dedicated to you and the many other volunteers who have made many things happen!


Freeman and Arlene Christner: Freeman and Arlene became connected with Wilderness Wind in the early 90’s (Freeman helped build the garage in 1990), and have continued to participate since. Whether they helped install windows, built screen doors, made oodles of cookies, varnished paddles, organized the 25th anniversary meal or prayed for us, their contributions have been felt and wide spread.

Dan Coyne: Though previously on staff in the 90’s, Dan’s most pivotal contribution was reconstructing the foundation under the food prep building in 2006. For years, we wondered how to care for the aging foundation of one of our primary buildings. Dan stepped up. In August, he and his father-in-law, Stan Bohn, poured footers under the building. The following April, he replaced all the old supports and joists. What a new feeling it was to walk on a floor that didn’t bounce anymore.

Mary Gilbert: Mary always came to camp in May just as camp was opening. Her timing often coincided with a large group of Goshen College May term students who were also volunteering in camp for several days. She fed them very well and creatively. She also designed the gardens at Lakeside. The latter has changed our weekly routines for the better and resulted in good meals and learning about the challenges and joys of nurturing soil in the glacial fields of MN.

Elroy Holsopple: Elroy has been a consist volunteer for the last four summers. Not only has his timing of volunteering been phenomenal, the skills he offered have been crucial. Bringing skills in both construction and coordinating others, Elroy has lead youth in working on the bunkhouse, the worm farm/storage addition and the dovetail building.

Stan and Marilyn Kamp: I think it is fair to say that Stan and Marilyn’s contributions to camp have crossed into all the work and interest areas of Wilderness Wind. It is simply hard to imagine Wilderness Wind without them. In the many  years they have volunteered at camp, they have built kitchen cabinets, repaired camping gear, cooked, done office work, painted, made buildings inhabitable, and brought produce and other volunteers with them. In the off season, they have solicited donations, created visuals for camp (stained glass windows and paper cranes – to name a few), and offered encouragement and prayers!

Jeff Gundy,Ann Hochstetler, and Julia Spicher Kasdorf: This group of writer’s brought leadership to each of the writer’s retreats. They fostered good writing and experiences for the participants, many of whom have come back since or whose writings about their Wilderness Wind experiences have been published.

John and Kay Reimer: John and Kay are our most consistent SOOP volunteers and have joined us annually for two weeks since 2006 (Service Opportunities for Older People). John has participated in many building projects and provided the patience to seal entire buildings and strip paint off old doors making them useable once again. Kay has been a God-send in the office. She has waded and sorted through many a detail, offered perspective and brought deep tear-filled laughter to the office. Imagine that!

Meagan Baldwin and Carmina Sutter: If given the choice of photos in envelops or photos in books, most of us would choose the latter. When it comes to an organization with history spoken in photos, having them in books is all the more important. I am indebted to these two women for assisting me in getting innumerable photos into accessible books!

Kevin Wilder: Every organization needs traditions, and Kevin is the creator of one that has been going since 2006. Kevin brought up his first “Fish and Serve” group to camp to help build The Gathering Place. Each group since has helped with a major building project. Yes, the group fishes when they aren’t helping us on a project… but honestly, I think they spend more time laughing than fishing.

Steve and Julie Zoss: 
Steve and Julie came up for three weeks as SOOP volunteers. They came in 2009, the first year we hosted Big City Mountaineers. Given Steve’s previous work at CAT, he was a great driver for the BCM groups and he caught up on vehicle car. More significant than that however, they made a huge stride in building care by scraping and painting the three oldest buildings at camp – a rather laborious task. Since their work, many people have noted that the buildings are well cared for and inviting… not something we would have heard in 2005!

The changes to Wilderness Wind due to the help of these folks and many others are remarkable! It has taken each and every volunteer’s help to be where we are today. Thank YOU!


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Dave Leonard and Don Molgren set the foundation of this year’s project.

By Kevin Wilder, current board member and past volunteer

For the past 7 years I have brought a small group of guys every other year to help with foundations for construction projects and to fish in the evening. It has been a good experience with each intergenerational group of men. These groups have included high school age, college age, a “senior” college professor, young adults, a retired carpenter, a couple of industrial arts teachers and a refinery worker as participants. We created the basic structure for The Gathering Place at Lakeside (2006), foundation and floor/platform for the 30-foot Yurt at Lakeside (2008), the foundation and floor for the bunkhouse (2010) and replaced the foundation for Bear’s Den for the BIg City Mountaineer’s (BCM) storage building this year. My body is always extremely tired from the physical labor, but mind and spirit are rested. I am teacher and student so this is a welcome break for me. We have worked with Kathy on all these projects and with Dave on the last three. It has been good. The relationships with the people on these projects have all taken a depth that would have taken much longer in our normal interactions. I am extremely grateful for these relationships. Living, working, fishing and driving together has made for great conversations and memories.

2012 Project: Create foundation, gut, insulate and put walls and ceiling back up in Bear’s Den.

John Reimer installing much needed insulation.

2012 Fish and Serve crew: Roger and John Reimer, Kevin Wilder, and Don Molgren.

I am finishing my first year on the board and I am very excited about what we offer for individuals, families and youth on our wilderness trips and cabin rentals, but what made me want to be a board member is our connection to Big City Mountaineers. There are a couple reasons for this enthusiasm. First, part of my story is a two- year service assignment in Indianapolis where I took inner city kids on canoe, hiking and bike trips in connection with my work in a teen center that networked for social services and led Bible Studies for the kids. I really believe that these canoe trips can reframe the way people see themselves and the world. Secondly, I have been reading Outside Magazine for over 20 years and in the past few years they have written about the work of BCM. I always wanted to do something that made Outside Magazine. We have all been part of something that is impacting people, and Wilderness Wind is doing just that. I already have guys asking about the 2014 Fish and Serve trip.

Glimpses into past Fish and Serve Projects and People:

2006: The Gathering Place at Lakeside begins.

One of the next steps.

All ready for people to gather.

The Beginnings of the foundation of the 30-foot Yurt at Lakeside.

Brent Gehman came all the way from PA to help build.

A sizeable contribution, indeed!

The 2008 Fish and Serve crew: Don Molgren Luke Wagner, Elliot Widner, Brent Gehman and Kevin Wilder

2010: Mark Ropp joins the bunkhouse project.

2010: Mark Horst joins the bunkhouse project.

 Matt Ropp and Kevin Wilder… I am not sure I would call that a cookie break!

Buildings are always a bit of a balancing act. Marion Bontrager, Dave Leonard and Glenn Gilbert.

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