Leadership at the Speed of Obedience – Ben Myers – Arrowhead Camp (PA)

Ben Myers has been leading Arrowhead Bible Camp in Brackney, PA, for almost two decades, from a solo effort to a growing team of dynamic emerging leaders.  

During that time, he finished his undergraduate degree and his master’s degree via Eleven:6 integrated programs with Clarks Summit University, one of our partner schools.  He then began investing that value in transforming the camp into a discipleship platform, using the principles and platforms – with his own powerful gift mix and skill toolbox – to shape and launch young leaders into their calling.  And he has strategically partnered with us along the way to plug into accredited degree pathways.  That includes creating The Launch Initiative (TLI), their Christian gap year program, and the Leadership in Disabilities (LID) program, a multi-year internship with undergraduate and graduate degree pathway options.

Our conversation hits a range of topics, from the unique dynamics of leading a fast-growing program for individuals with developmental disabilities, to launching and running integrated college and master’s degree programs with Eleven:6, to leadership tips for next gen leaders, and a passionate focus on developing a dynamic faith-driven ministry culture… “at the speed of obedience.”

Watch the video, listen to the audio, and/or read the (edited for flow) transcript below.

About Arrowhead Bible Camp

Ben W – Today we’re connecting with Ben Myers, Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp in Brackney, Pennsylvania. Thanks for taking some time to connect and share.

Ben M – Yeah, it’s a pleasure.

Ben W – Awesome. So we’ll dive right in real quick because if I wasn’t connected and hadn’t met you a bunch of years ago and had the crossover, I might not know, what is Arrowhead Bible Camp? What do you do? Where are you at? Tell everybody just a little bit about who you are, what you do.

Ben M – You know, so we’re a little Bible camp up in Northeast Pennsylvania. And what started as I would say, a small amount of programming spread across the year uh, has just exploded. And when I first got here, I was talking to one of the guys when I noticed that we were going to be full in a session leading into the next summer. And I said, hey, what have you been doing? He goes, I’m just running the program. He goes, what have you been doing? I’m sorry. I don’t know. I’m just doing maintenance and running staff. And I was like, I think maybe God’s growing this thing. And so we, thankfully, were paying attention enough to know that God was doing great things. And we just had to move at the speed of obedience.

And so the camp has been around for, oh goodness, this is year 78. And specifically one of our big programs that has become the heartbeat of who we are is our Shepherds Camp program for teens and adults who have developmental disabilities. That has been a thread at the camp since the early 60s. And so that makes us heading into summer number 62, which is exciting. But that has really become our niche, our baby, the thing that we’re super passionate about, that has become a catalyst for a lot of the other things that we’re doing in ministry here at the camp. So.

We’re just up in Northeast PA sitting on 11 acres with a pretty pristine lake and well, I guess still some old parts of camp that still have that rustic feel to it. Although things are really shiny, a lot of new stuff and additions along the way.

Strategic Intent in Programming

Ben W – So you said Shepherd’s Camp is kind of that thread or has become kind of a primary platform. Talk a little bit about the other programs — you have the James Project, you have the GAP program, you have the Leadership in Disabilities (LID) program, and other things, maybe things I’m not even aware of at this point. Because Arrowhead is unique in that everything is mutually supporting, but also pointed.

Ben M – Well, to me, it just makes sense. Why wouldn’t everything mesh together and matrix into a strategic path forward? I think maybe that’s not normal that people think that way. Someone told me I tend to think about the end game, and what I envision happening — knowing full well that is on mission and positive in all areas of ministry — and then I work myself backwards to, okay, what do I do today? I just thought that was normal. Maybe I just walk around daydreaming more than, more than most. So we started adding things into the ministry or making adjustments as we went, which just made perfect sense for gaining traction, and responding to the fact that God was growing our special needs ministry.

One of those was taking typically the high schoolers that would serve with us in the on the support side of things in the kitchen, and pulling them out of that role. We knew they were all going to become counselors as they got older. Because we serve adults who are disabled, we have to wait until someone’s 18 or older. But we were able to create a counselor training program, obviously nothing new for camp. But when we did that, it created a hole in our support ministry. So we started filling that hole with missions teams (The James Project) that come and serve with us on a week-long basis or a weekend basis, depending on the time of the year. This year, we will see just over 325 of those missions team volunteers come through camp.

So it’s pretty impactful. And the great thing is they show up, a new group every week, every weekend, with big smiles and hearts ready to serve. They come with extra things to say thank you and celebrate with the staff or for the campers that just add exponentially to the impact of the ministry. So our missions opportunity is one of the big ones, what we call the James Project, which if you’re looking at Scriptures, that idea of both being and doing for God.

A High Staff Success Rate

Along the way – this was another surprising one – we had staff or alumni that would check back in with us and say, hey, I just got a job.

Good for you. That is the next step. What are you doing? And they’re like, well, it’s with a group home serving many of the same types of adults that we serve at camp. And a crazy thing happened in the interview. I knew all the answers, which they didn’t think I would. Or they were asking me about my experience, and the interviewer would say, hey, we’re going to, we’ll probably just skip this next section. But have you done any of the following? They’re like, well, yep, yep. And when quizzed about it, they’re like, how did you… How did you know the answers to this? Where did you gain this experience? It’s just what we do at camp!

Or I was hearing about staff that their applications were going to the top of the pile because it had our name on it. That one just floored me. I didn’t think we were doing anything extra special or big or super impactful. We were just running camp. I mean, I was having a blast. I was in my early twenties. So I used to tell people you can kick me twice in the shins every day and I’d still smile because here I was full time, a place to live, just married and serving God. So we realized that a lot of these applications were going to the top of the list. Our staff were getting jobs when other people couldn’t find jobs who were in a similar stage of life or just getting out of school, high school or college. And they were thriving in it.

A lot of jobs in our field (disability care), especially out in group home settings or support services, they can really burn people out. And our staff were surviving and thriving longer than anybody. So that’s when we, again, paying attention to what God is doing something here. We’re not just running camp and serving people and making disciples, but there’s this leadership training component where people are going out in life and being successful.

It’s going in this direction that’s very specific, caring for people with special needs. But even that’s not unheard of. That’s just good old life. You’re going to take care of your kids, you’re going to take care of siblings, you’re going to take care of your neighbors. You may even take care of your parents when they get older. So we really are doing just normal life stuff, it’s just that we’ve got a bunch of young 20-year-olds that are knocking it out of the park, years or even decades before other people are doing that.

So that was a big one that caused us to say, hey, if we could put some academics around this, it would not only take our efforts and call us to a higher level of doing it well, doing it with excellence, but then it would benefit our team as well.

Ben W – I do want to talk about TLI and LID in a minute, because I think what you’re putting your finger on is essential. I’ve told the Arrowhead story and the Ben Myers story to a lot of different people, but without all of the context. Without the full picture, it’s hard to really give it the depth that it actually has.

But what you’re saying — and what I’ve observed over the years — is that you stepped into the official leadership development program and the academic side of it, because something was already happening that was a by-product of how you were doing ministry. Even without the structured programs that you’re working with now, people were walking away, having gained skills, successful. And it was not just individuals being successful, but you built a reputation, a brand. It’s who you are, and the level at which you operate.

For me, I graduated with a finance degree, went and applied at a big credit union in Harrisburg, PA. Later on I asked my boss, why I got that interview? I knew there were applicants that had degrees from bigger schools. It was a pretty good job for right out of college. And he said, you know, I was interested in this wilderness thing you did and the skills that you listed. And then in the interview, he said, I asked you about it and it was clear that you understood people, you knew how to have conversations, you were team oriented, all of those things that came out of my college internship experience.

And to me, like to you, I thought, doesn’t everybody think that way? Well, no, actually not, especially anymore. So I love that. That’s helpful to put some context to how you got where you are. But I want to zoom out a little bit and talk about your roots, your story. How did you get there in the first place to Arrowhead? What was your life trajectory that landed you at Arrowhead? And when you got there, what was the foundation you started with?

College “Dropout” to Leading College-Level Leadership Development

Ben M – Well, the secret sauce — the thing that was my trajectory — is I was a college dropout, which is always, always fun to say, especially when we’re hanging out with a bunch of college students and teaching them college courses at different levels. And really that was what I needed. I was in college. I was working my way through a Bible degree focused on camping ministry…

I don’t know if I was one of the dullest crayons in the box, but it always seemed like God was going to put one thing in front of me, and I just had to run hard after that. That seemed to be the way he was doing it. And so I was just trying to pay attention, be obedient, and move forward. I like getting things done yesterday, so I was just moving with blinders on, moving as hard and fast as I could.

So I was in the middle of getting my Bible degree, with a focus on camping ministry. That’s when I landed here for a summer and saw that as I served, all the different jobs I had in high school growing up, a few jobs in college… also the fact that I was being formally discipled by our student ministry pastor and was gaining experience in ministry and leadership and even being challenged to disciple others myself.

All of that seemed to be just culminating in the experience that I was having during what was going to be this one summer of a great resume build out. So I did, I dropped out and came here full time. And what that did was it basically made the rest of my degree and the experience I was going to get (for the remainder of college) at the tail end or in a small way, insufficient or unnecessary.

Then I was recruiting Summer staff for camp, met your family and folks that were doing things outside the box. And they waved the flag and said, hey, we’ve got something that will allow you to finish up your degree in a super meaningful way.

Now I wasn’t completely dropped out because I kept taking classes at a local community college to keep pushing forward, but I had hit a roadblock, right? Traditional college wasn’t going to to meet my needs and wasn’t going to help me move forward. And so once I connected with you, I was able to use camp as my classroom. It was great because I was already working (at camp), so it was just going to mesh things together.

But it also challenged me to take things to the next level. I remember being in the midst of it and thinking, huh, I wonder if I would be doing this (project) if I wasn’t challenged with the coursework and making camp my classroom. But it was wonderful, it was a great experience, and I was able to graduate.

Then a few years later, this idea of a master’s program came around, I was like, oh, if I could do that same thing… and it was really working in tandem because it was we’re doing something special here at camp that I think if we put the academics around is going to accelerate the experience and the outcomes for our staff and the people that are around us, as well as for myself thinking… I wonder how this would propel the ministry forward. I wonder how this would challenge me. And so my master’s degree was the catalyst for that.

Ben W – So from a timeline standpoint, you’re in college. You do the summer at Arrowhead, decided to go all in, drop out, do courses online. And what was your role at camp at that point? Program? Were you leading?

Ben M – Yeah, I’d like to think I was cooler than I was, but I just, so I didn’t have the title of Director, which I do now. But I was the only person on full-time staff. So a lot of decisions I made day-to-day affected me. And yeah, so being the only one here meant I got to have my hands in just about everything. We did have folks that would come in seasonally to serve alongside of us to make the programs happen, to serve in different capacities. But as far as the experience of full-time ministry, I got to go home in the evening and tell my wife all about my day, which was great.

Ben W – Wow. So at 21, you are essentially leading and running a camp with the Shepherd’s ministry and some other things going on. You’re learning on the fly. Did you have a background in disability ministry coming into that or were you picking that up as you went?

Ben M – That was all new to me. It was really a learn as I go. At the same time, again, the whole idea of having the blinders on and just following the heart after God, I was up for anything. I’d been saying that and even writing it in papers that I wrote in high school, right?

A friend of mine, even in our public school writing classes where you’d have to talk about your future or plans or write a paper about… yourself or something like that. We used to put an asterisk at the end of our papers and then at the bottom put “All plans subject to change according to God’s will.” I mean it was just this fun thing and it was it was a mindset It was it was a heart posture of man I’m gonna I’m gonna keep moving forward and whatever God calls me to do. That’s what I’m doing. And so when I got here, it just made perfect sense.

COVID — An Exercise in Missional

Ben W – And it’s interesting because I’ve watched you over the years and there’s this compelling weave of intentionality and responsiveness. There are people that are very responsive and really work well in response mode. They don’t tend to be as intentional and forward thinking. And there are people who are very forward thinking and visionary that don’t tend to respond really well. You have a very interesting weave of intentionality, skill development, solving problems. As an example, share how you navigated COVID as a camp.

Ben M – Yeah, that was tough. I mean, for us, if we had kept our programs going, it would have been like opening up a nursing home hotspot. The average age of our campers is 55. So we have some that are as young as 14. And our oldest camper just turned 96. So we’re not just a kids camp where it’s like, man, I know the kids are gonna have a blast. I hope the parents aren’t too upset. What happens if people get sick?

We have older folks who have very high care needs, many of which are medically related. So for us to continue to be open and operating would have been ridiculous, pointless, disastrous. We didn’t want to be that Bible camp in the news that was still going. But we made every effort to provide that camp experience to our campers, to their families, to give them some sort of respite where they could utilize camp. So we literally opened up camp and activities to one or two camper families that could be separate across the property in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we created Camp in a Box where we could get all the normal things that were super exciting about a week of camp that the campers got to experience or take home with them. And we sent those out. We did custom videos that had YouTube links for our campers to find that were just for them.

We just we did as much as we could. Looking back on it, I wish we had done more. I wish we had just pushed the envelope on it. But certainly it was a difficult time where we had to weather that. We also had to weather the financial part of it as well. Which was, it was an amazing thing to watch God’s blessing and provision through that as we had a little campaign going called Save the Summer, trying to recoup what we were going to lose so we wouldn’t lose traction heading into the next year.

Ben W – In our conversations over the years, gaining a an appreciation for the fact that you not only provide camp for campers, but you provide respite and tools and care for families that are caring for individuals that just have a lot of needs. It was a different dynamic during COVID, when you add isolation and the inability to get out and breathe in fresh air, the level that your team went to solve that as best as could be solved in that environment was an encouragement to me, anyways. It was impressive.

And that’s just one of the… I think you undersell what you guys did. Because again, I think you think a lot about what you do as normal, because it’s normal to you. But your ministry, the dynamic, the team, what you do on a day-to-day basis is just a whole different level. So I enjoy being an observer and being involved a little bit.

Making the transition, we were talking before about the leadership dynamic, individuals coming out of staff and being successful, getting hired, et cetera, finding that as a dynamic that you said, hey, what if we doubled down on that and actually put some structure around it? And so we’ve been connected for a long time through your (personal) education and other things, but a few years ago you decided to start The Launch Initiative. Talk a little bit about what the thought process was and then just even the process of going from concept to reality and how that’s worked out for you.

Christian Gap Year Program — The Launch Initiative

Ben M – For us, it was a pretty easy transition again, because there was some substructure to the community we have here, the discipleship and leadership training focus. And if things weren’t already happening, they were kind of just bubbling and boiling under the surface.

Right after I got done with my masters degree, I turned around and started adjunct teaching for a couple schools, which was great. I mean, we were doing kind of an intensive class, one at a time over three weekends or over the summer. And so it was light enough that I could add that into what I was already doing. And and that’s how I cut my teeth and really formulated my own kind of background… I can educate people and I can run all the details and keep it all organized and move forward.

And then the idea of creating a gap year program emerged, one that would utilize what we do and who we are as a ministry melded together with the academics. That seemed like a no-brainer. It also made sense that the college staff we normally have to chase after for the summer would already be onsite. It provided an attractive option for them. And, consequently, we are able to run more weeks of camp because they are onsite.

One of the things we love to do here as a full time staff is talk about how God has wired us, how he’s created us, the things that we’re great at. It’s one of the things we’re always talking about as a team. One of those is, for me, is coming up with new ideas, right? It’s being able to dream stuff up. It also happens that one of the other things that pushes to the surface in how God has created me is being excited about telling people about what we’re doing next. So, I’m actually my team’s worst enemy because I will come up with an idea and then want to get moving on it and tell everybody about it.

So to me, as soon as [the gap year concept] hit the table, I was pulling in several aspects of what we do that could be added in. When we talk about vision and what we envision happening in the future within our mission here at the camp, I mean, I can see it clear as day. Everything from sitting in class to the textbooks and even what I was assuming and praying would be the impact for the students.

That program (The Launch Initiative) is 30 college credits that we offer onsite. I do a lot of the teaching. I bring some people in to supplement or to add in just because they’re fantastic at a specific subject or course material or something specific that’s tailored to a student. And then gap year students serve here at camp while engaged in the academics. And this becomes their home, becomes a place where they live and hang out and relax. It’s all encompassing, which is really one of the reasons why I love camp. I say it all the time, that camp is all of life all the time. So it’s prime for discipling through your 24/7 all day, every day. You know, you don’t have to wait till you see that person tomorrow or next week. You’re going to see them in five minutes, and we can keep moving forward with team dynamics and discipleship and mentoring and conflict resolution, spiritual formation and growth. It all gets to happen all the time.

Ben W – I think that’s one of the things too that’s a little unique about your program in its practice. The design is not hugely different from some other programs, but as it relates to how it plays out, your gap year students are part of the team. They’re not just there to have an experience. They are intimately involved in the ministry. They’re involved with campers, and that’s a key part of not just experience, but also development and training. They’re involved with other staff members. So team dynamics isn’t an idea. It’s not something that they just kind of do in the space together as students. They are intimately involved with everything that’s going on at a level that’s different. A lot of gap years are more download or “have an experience” oriented in how they play out.

Ben M – Yeah, that’s my favorite thing. We’ll mentor, we’ll disciple, we’ll train up leaders and we’ll do that through anything that’s going on in life, whether it’s, they’re trying to communicate with family members, or there’s some conflict, or they’re trying to figure out how to change the oil in their car, or…

Or they’re saying, “I know God wants me to go do something, but what is it? How do I know if I’m called to something? What’s my purpose?” So it could run the gamut.

The coolest thing is that we get to customize that. So for instance, one of our students was thinking that creative writing and being a nonfiction writer would be his future. It was a path he wanted to explore. So we got to dovetail that into one of our courses and invite a special guest speaker who’s actually a published Christian fiction writer. He is somebody who could speak as an expert and also is very accomplished in that field. It worked for our coursework. And this particular student got several hours with our guest speaker where he was writing and actually having him proof read it and give feedback Eventually, he realized writing would be more of a hobby for him. He didn’t want it as a job. Or another one of our students that changed her degree program halfway through college, because she realized through the experience she was having here that her original plan wasn’t a good fit. And she actually changed gears and went in the direction of her hobby, which ended up being a job where she was producing revenue. It was fantastic.

Ben W – Are there any other highlights of student experiences, journeys, et cetera, beyond those two that stick out for you?

Ben M – Any time a student can test drive, prototype or even use camp as a place where they can figure out how to add value and how God has designed them is fantastic. I would say probably one of the more recent ones is a young lady who was serving with us this summer. She changed her whole course because she realized that the experience she was having here, combined with the integrated academics we can offer, would give her a path forward. And so she went from, “hey, “I’m heading this direction at this school” to switching gears, coming to Arrowhead where she can continue to do something that she loves and is passionate about, while completing her degree. We can also make her role here part of her resume building. She realized when she shows up for her first interview (after college), she will have the experience, the knowledge, and will have lived in a community where her character was challenged and built, and her spiritual formation and growth was a focus. So I think that’s one of the most recent ones that’s huge because it’s life-changing.

Ministry Internship — Leadership in Disabilities Program

Ben W – And that’s a good dovetail because that student is in the Leadership in Disabilities (LID) program, right? Is that correct? In which is distinct from The Launch Initiative, which is a gap year for students coming out of high school, moving towards potentially college, career, next steps, et cetera. So it’s really more entry level skill development. The Leadership in Disabilities program is targeted a little bit later in a student’s journey. If you’re thinking about academic journey and course alignment, etc. Talk about that program in particular, because it’s a newer one, what its aim is and what you see the trajectory of the program being.

Ben M – Recently, we kept running into students or young adults for whom the gap year program wasn’t going to be a great fit. But but they were a great mission fit at camp. And so we started expanding our footprint in the academic program offerings so that we could meet their needs. They could have extreme value here at camp. And again, it propels them forward.

So our gap year program, The Launch Initiative is, it’s kind of like the 70/30, where it’s mostly coursework and academics with the ministry and camp in there. And then we created a second program, the Leadership in Disabilities program, that kind of flips that on its head. And camp is going to be the majority of what you’re doing. The ministry is going to be the majority of what you’re doing. And then we’re going to put the academics in there. And so we have a little bit of a longer timeframe to accomplish that.

But they’re also older as a student. They’re not coming in fresh as a freshman. So they’re usually able to hit the ground running. So our Leadership and Disabilities program is meant to give them super in-depth ministry experience, adding in the academics, and then again, customizing for their trajectory.

And then some of our full-time staff is also engaged in pursuing their undergrad and grad degrees while serving here full time. So it’s kind of like step one, step two, step three. We’re just running the gamut. And again, it’s wonderful because we’re meeting them where they’re at. They have a customized trajectory that we can engage with while they can do meaningful, real life, day to day ministry that’s not going to burn them out, but it will allow them to do all of that and thrive.

So I would say for the future, we’re excited to see the master’s degree program enrollment continue to increase because I think it’s a big need. And we are able to provide those young adults or students with the actual real life ministry experience that spans the whole ministry. And so it’s not just pigeonholing into one area or giving them only a little bit of experience. We want them to be in it. We want them to be responsible and acting and operating as owners, which is going to give them the best experience.

Integrated College and Master’s Courses

Ben W – So real your own words — because I have my words for it — but you do this probably better than just about anybody in our network. We talk a lot about integrated learning or integrated courses as opposed to like a bolt-on online course. What does that look like for students at Arrowhead… what does integration look like with coursework?

Ben M – Yeah, that’s one of my favorite parts. Of course, I keep saying that, so I may have to pick a favorite. So we’ll take a course and the structure of the coursework culminating with an application project, and then we’ll add on these layers. So the first layer is, what is the student passionate about? What do they want to explore? Do they think there’s a small seed of something that God is calling them to in the future or something they could be great at. Because you don’t have to be great at something now. You know, it might be something that God’s instilling in you that’s going to become a passion for life, a passion for ministry or for vocation. So we’re looking at what the student is bringing to that application project, whether they’re ready to fire on all cylinders, or it could be this the small glimpse of something that God’s doing. Then we’ll add in a layer of what can we offer?

What do we have here that fits? Whether it’s a certain department here at camp that they can serve in or have experience with, or an area of the ministry that is just a fit for that application project. Then we’ll layer in content… information. We need to build more knowledge or we need to try to create the skillset through some part of our ministry that may be small or not exist yet. So we’ll layer in, how can we supplement? And then we’ll layer in, what can we bring in from the outside.

And sometimes that means we’ll have somebody come to camp and join our ministry that will be able to impact that project for the student or we’ll send the student out somewhere. We like to think we’re getting pretty good at a lot of things, but we’re not great at everything. So we love it when people can come alongside of us or we can point our students to the right place to get that expert experience, skill, knowledge. So we like to try to integrate on all levels. Just so happens it tends to benefit camp and add value to our ministry, whether it’s something that’s existing or it’s something that we want to try to create, which as we know is something I like to do.

Looking Ahead: What’s on the Horizon?

Ben W – See it, create it, talk about it, then build it, right? That’s awesome. And it’s interesting because I try to explain to people who are new to the process or investigating the process that in the framework that we use, when you have objectives and learning outcomes, academic outcomes, that you’re ultimately going to be assessed on — which in your environment and all of the environments of our partners are our actual deliverables in real ministry context with real people in real places and all that — the rules for how you inform and load that process go three dimensional instead of a flat two dimensional dynamic. It’s not curriculum, it’s a framework that gives you all kinds of creativity.

It gives you all kinds of ways to bring value to that process. And you can lean into that at the granular student level, cohort level, et cetera. And the power of that opportunity in shaping individual trajectories and really stewarding them is pretty significant. So it’s interesting to hear even how you played that out with each individual student and cohorts and at the different program levels in what you’re doing.

In the interest of time, because I’m sure you have some things to do, thinking forward with Arrowhead and where you’re headed, with the programs that we work together on, but more broadly, missionally, what are the things that you see ahead that you’re stepping towards, stepping into, casting vision for… where’s Arrowhead headed?

Ben M – Yeah, it’s always needs based, right? Discipleship is needs based. First and foremost, we need a Savior. And then we need to learn and know and experience what it means to be a follower of Jesus and to become more like him. We also need to know how to do things like put our shoes on the right foot in the morning and then how to have relationships with people and gain emotional intelligence and you know, how to fix our car and how to go to work and how to plan for the future and retirement. So it’s all needs based, right?

And so for us, we look at that two-fold when we see the future. One is, what do we as a ministry need? Because we are definitely going to have needs to be able to move forward. But then we have young adults and folks that are serving with us, and they have a certain set of needs. Then there are others who aren’t serving with us yet. They’re the folks that we’re out looking for, the folks that God is bringing here and they have needs as well. And so what are those needs and how can we meet them? How do those all culminate?

So for us as a ministry, we need staff. Part of that is the overwhelming demand of our program. Like you said before, we are providing that unforgettable experience of camp to our campers. For some, it’s multiple times a year. For many of them, it’s for decades of their life. And then on top of that, we’re also providing respite for their family members. Some people think we’re this cool camp that does this amazing thing where we’re taking care of folks who are disabled. I mean, my goodness, the parents, the care providers, they’re knocking it out of the park the other 48, 50, 51 weeks of the year. And they’re doing that sometimes without help, without support, and they’re doing it without fail. So to us, they’re the heroes. Those are the ones that are showing up. But we get to provide that respite, that place where they can trust that their son or daughter, the folks that they’re taking care of are going to be well cared for just like they are doing. The ministry is huge. The need is huge. The demand is out the window.

We constantly have a waiting list for campers trying to get in and all we need is staff. We’ve got everything else covered. We’re ready to go. We just need more staff, more young adults to serve with us during the summer or to serve with us year-round. Now that we’re running our program 36 weeks a year, which is part of the way that we’re meeting that demand, we just need more. We need even more staff to serve with us on a year-round basis. So that’s what we’re looking for.

And then we’re trying to figure out, man, what do they need? Because if they’re going to come here, they’re going to be living in community where they’re living, working, serving, learning together… What makes it worthwhile? What life change is going to happen that’s going to be significant? Because if we’re this great place where everybody should come and serve, but we’re not doing anything to help them move forward, it’s just this place they were at that one time. So we’re looking to add value to their experience, to provide community that really does formulate change and heart transformation, and then giving them the skills and the resume to head out and to knock it out of the park.

Advice for Emerging Leaders

Ben W – That’s awesome. And that process, that really has been the case and probably is the hardest part of the message to throw on a website or in a brochure. The stories are what actually connect. Because every ministry or school highlights features… things they think will attract people. And so differentiating between what you’re doing and producing and other alternatives that are out there is a challenge. But I love the opportunity to even just highlight, showcase, hear your voice, and affirm what I’ve seen over the probably 18 or 20 years that we’ve known each other… which has gone from running the camp by yourself to a pretty substantial operational cycle and a dynamic group of people that fired through Arrowhead over the years.

What advice you would give somebody, a young person that wants to say, I want Ben’s job someday, or I want to do what Ben’s doing maybe in a different platform? That’s going to be the first question. But before we wrap, I’m going to ask you to share, too, how a young person would connect with Arrowhead if they said, you know what, that’s where I want to go grow.

Then second, how would somebody who says, man, I really, I’m beyond that point in life, but I want to invest in this. How would they do that? So we’ll get there in a minute, but first, what advice would you give a young person that is says, I want to be that guy when I grow up.

Ben M – The first thing is get real life experience. Get into a place where you can get your hands dirty and work in it day after day, alongside people who will train, disciple, mentor, correct and celebrate with you as you go through that. Right. Another one is start thinking like a leader, right? If God’s calling you to lead, if God’s calling you to manage, if God’s calling you to be a part of a specific ministry, start acting like you’re in it now. Do the things that those leaders do, that those managers do, that those folks in that ministry do. Start doing it now. You can do it in small ways each day. You can do it in different circles that you’re serving or even just the information that you are ingesting or content that you’re bringing in.

So start. Start doing it now. We say that all the time with our students. You don’t have to wait till the end of the program to start doing ministry. Or if you’re going to create a plan, the plan isn’t to go do this someday. Your plan that we’re creating right now in class, that’s going to start tomorrow. Why? Because now’s the time, right? We have got to get away from planning to go do stuff for God and wake up tomorrow and do it.

Another one would be get organized and get real good at the details. Life is full of administrative miscellaneous stuff you got to do. So the more organized you can get, having documents and spreadsheets and charts and to-do lists, that will serve you well in life. Another one, this actually comes from a guy that I used to serve under. And he would say, small consistent steps in the same direction. After he served for a number of decades, probably 40 plus years in ministry, I said, what’s one of the keys? He said, small consistent steps in the same direction. And that really does add up. It keeps you motivated, keeps things moving forward, allows you to be trustworthy, and it doesn’t burn you out.

I would also say one of the last things would be to go ahead and dream big and pray big. We like to call it “bet the farm faith” that God’s going to do great things.

Ben W – Love it. Love it. And I think that a lot of young people are moving into next step decisions and saying they have this idea. They want to nail it for God… to follow through on their purpose and path. To figure out what that is. To go for it. But it feels so big and distant. And the, the messages that are coming at them are, well, take this traditional pathway, do it this way, do it that way.

But a lot of that involves punting for a while to tool up and then get a couple of experiences here and there, and they have this intuition that says… Number one, do I know what it’s going to look like and what I’m preparing for? Number two, will I change my mind later? Number three, can I stay the course? You know, all of that. And so all of those pieces, regardless of what path they pick and choose, or what God puts them into, I think are dynamic and helpful to get moving right away. Get moving. Dream. Tie the now and the next together meaningfully in a mission and go for it. So super helpful.

How to Connect and/or Serve

So if I were a young person getting ready to graduate high school, or maybe I’ve got a couple of years of college in me, or maybe I just graduated college and I’m thinking, man, I know I wanna do something next and this sounds like an amazing place to do it. How would they step into that conversation with Arrowhead?

Ben M – The easiest thing to do is go to our website at arrowheadbiblecamp.org. That’s where you’ll find contact information. So if you’re, if you’re old, like me, you’ll call me on the phone and I’ll answer. And we’ll have a conversation. Although a text or an email or filling out a staff application from our website, that is the easiest way to get connected.

Ben W – And if somebody isn’t sure about diving into a year-long program, but would love to immerse and see what Arrowhead is about, is serving during Summer the best place to start that?

Ben M – It can be, yeah, it can be. The great thing about our team that’s working here is, I mean, I’m super biased. I love camp. I’ve been here so long that I eat, sleep, and breathe it. I can’t help it. So I’m always gonna think that this is the best place for you to be. This is exactly where God wants you to be. But I’ve got a team around me that when I say, hey, we really are more concerned with what God’s doing in a person’s life, not whether they coming here to serve.

So I’ve got some folks around me here at camp that when we enter into that conversation, I’ll have them with me or I’ll send them ahead. And it really does become a conversation of, man, what is God doing in and through you? What are the next steps? Is there a place that’s better than Arrowhead for you? Or can we even just help you figure out a next step? And then being able to talk about whether serving here at camp is a good mission fit.

Ben W – And if I were an old guy like me, and I said, well, I already am in a trajectory, God’s doing his thing. But man, I’d love to help out. How would I do that?

Ben M – We have we have multiple ways to have people invest in camp. That’s the word we love. The Red Cross is the only organization that has donors and they don’t want their stuff back. So we like to use the word investments and investors because for myself and the other staff here, we are investing ourselves in the ministry.

There are a lot of people that invest across the span of a year, whether they’re investing a weekend or a week. Whether they invest the fact that they’re good at climbing up trees and dropping the tree without it landing on things, or they can do carpentry, or they can cook, or they can teach a subject or a class. So people are investing all the time.

And some will invest by sending money, right? Sending money to support camper scholarships, or making our next big purchase for accessibility equipment happen, or jumping in on a special thing that we do for our staff.

And that can be done through our website as well. So we love loving people in vast number of ways.

Ben W – Ben Myers, Arrowhead, on mission, on purpose… So I think it’s a great place to wrap up. I really appreciate the time. Thanks for not just this time, but all the years. I’ve learned a ton from you. I’ve been challenged a ton. And every time we have a conversation, I’m like, I got to get better. I got to get better. So I really appreciate it.

Ben M – Well, I appreciate it as well. I always feel like when we talk, it’s just immediate sharpening, as well as the fact that we’ve been in this together long enough that when I look around camp, it’s as much the impact that I’ve had over the years here, that you’ve had over the years here, because we’ve, a lot of the components of what we’re doing, we’ve built that together. So thank you.

Ben W – I appreciate it. We’ll talk again soon. All right, thanks for your time, Ben.