Eddy had no idea that when he agreed to help Bill Stanley build a camp that it would someday be a place that would touch thousands of lives. When Eddy was first came to camp to volunteer over 50 years ago there’s no way he could’ve have imagined what Frontier Camp has become today, much less the new addition of Fossil Creek. No, that would only come later as Eddy’s devotion and involvement in Frontier Camp grew.
Thinking back all those years, all Eddy knew is that he was helping Bill Stanley build a place they planned to call Arklatex (which stood for “Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas,” the region they were called to minister to). Bill was the leader of the Christian Service Brigade, a young men’s service organization that operated out of Eddy’s home church, Spring Branch Community Church.
Bill was a hard working, blue collar-kind of guy and he was passionate about reaching young men with the Gospel of Christ. Bill had stepped up to lead an effort to buy and build a camp in the east/central part of Texas. These men had a vision that Arklatex would be a place where young men could get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and hear the Gospel.
Bill might have been a “good ol’ country boy” but he was passionate about the camp. He was able to raise money and recruit volunteers like a professional fundraiser. A good strong handshake and a slap on the back and before you knew it; he was into your heart and into your checkbook. He was never shy about asking for what he needed to help build the camp. He would call in favors from all over town. Over time, Arklatex evolved to become Frontier Camp, and today the “Stanley Chapel” at camp bears Bill’s name.
Even though Eddy regrets the fact that by the time camp was up and running he was too old to attend as a camper, he looks back with pride at the role he was fortunate enough to play in being a forerunner and pioneer in Frontier Camp’s early development.
Eddy grew older, graduated from school, met and married Pat and together they started a family. When their kids Jeff and Jennifer came along, Eddy and Pat knew that camp would be a significant part of their spiritual development.
As the kids grew older, Eddy and Pat sent them to several Christian camps and while they were all great experiences, Eddy always had a soft spot in his heart for Frontier Camp. He still remembers the feeling of hearing his son Jeff talk about how great his week of camp was.
There was nothing quite like the experience of hearing Jeff describe his week of camp. Eddy realized that even though the staff had changed and some of the cabins he’d helped build had long since been torn down, the essence of what made camp great, a place to encounter God, was still the same, still powerful enough to change lives.
Eddy’s old Brigade leader, Bill Stanley, was still around still involved at camp, serving as the camp’s board chairman. Just like he’d done when they were both younger, Bill challenged Eddy to increase and deepen his involvement in the ministry. Not content with Eddy simply sending his kids to camp, Bill wanted Eddy to serve on the camp’s board of directors. Eddy felt the tug on his heart but he knew that the timing wasn’t right. He had demands on his time with a young family and a new company he was trying to build. He knew he wouldn’t be able to give camp the attention it deserved. He turned down Bill’s offer.
Years later, when the kids were grown and out of the house, Eddy was sitting with Pat, looking over their end-of-the-year donation list. Eddy had been transferred to California with his company and had achieved a certain degree of success and was grateful to be in a position to be a generous giver. Like any thoughtful donor, he wanted to give his money to the places where he felt it would do the most good. He and Pat carefully considered the list.
It was Pat who originally had the idea to send part of their year-end giving to Frontier Camp. She remembered what the camp had meant to their family in the past and it seemed to be a likely choice for their year-end gift. “Of course!” Eddy thought and immediately went online to the Frontier Camp website to make the donation.
A few days later, Matt, sitting in the Frontier Camp office, saw the donation come across his desk. He wondered, “Who could be sending us money online all the way from California? And who is this Eddy guy?”
Matt followed up and called Eddy, not only to thank him for the gift but also to find out who he was and what his connection was with Frontier Camp. From the very first conversation, they knew they had a connection. They shared their love for camp through the telling of Frontier Camp stories and reliving memories. They found themselves becoming fast friends.
Over time, that annual donation became a commitment to monthly giving. Eddy had learned from missionary friend just how important those monthly gifts are to ministries. The year-end gifts are always appreciated but it’s the consistency of the monthly gifts that become any ministry’s life-blood. Eddy discussed it with Pat and they determined to change the way they gave to Frontier Camp.
Eddy and Pat moved back to Texas when it was time to retire. Once back, he was approached again about the possibility of being on the board. But this time it wasn’t Bill Stanley doing the asking. It was the current director and Eddy’s new friend, Matt Raines. He told Matt what he had been unable to tell Bill years ago. Eddy readily agreed to serve on Frontier Camp’s board of directors.
Today, Eddy is most proud of the role he has been blessed enough to play in the design and launch of Fossil Creek, the new teen camp facility at Frontier Camp. Fossil Creek offers continued summer camping opportunities for kids throughout their middle and high school years. Fossil Creek gives Frontier Camp the chance to continue their outreach to families by reaching these older students. As a board member, Eddy has been involved in the concept, design, fund-raising and construction phases.
Eddy has been involved long enough now to see things coming around full circle. The ministry of Frontier Camp continues to bless his family as his daughter and son-in-law are now sending their kids to Frontier Camp. That’s three generations of Eddy’s family that have benefited from the ministry of Frontier Camp. The truth is, God is ever faithful to bless the giver. His mercies are not only new every morning, they reach from generation to generation.