“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).
50 years ago I was a “swab” (plebe) at the Coast Guard Academy. As a new follower of Jesus, I was drawn to OCF because of their emphasis on prayer. I was amazed at the thought of being able to communicate with the creator of the universe. Here I was a “swab” and I could speak to God himself about problems of the day and direction for my life. How cool is that? During OCF staff visits to CGA in those days, I learned more and more about faith in Christ and began to hear about a place called Spring Canyon, a place in the mountains of Colorado where military people could learn about things such as what it meant to be a Christian officer.
Three years after graduation the Lord brought me back to CGA where I served on the Academy staff and volunteered as the OCF representative on campus. During that first year back at the Academy, my wife and I became more and more excited about serving the Lord in the Coast Guard. Throughout that year we heard more and more about Spring Canyon, but wondered how we would ever get there. In the spring of 1973 a call went out to the OCF membership looking for 300 people to give $1,000 over a 3-year period to build Hartley Holmes Lodge. I had just received a $90/month raise for being an 0-3 over 4 years, so we did not hesitate to sign up for “Operation Hartley Holmes, 1,000!” By God’s grace, the $300,000 was quickly raised, Hartley Holmes was built, and the building was dedicated on May 27, 1974.
When my assignment at CGA was complete in 1976, I did a follow-on tour as a graduate student at the University of Connecticut. Not having to move that summer, we had our chance to experience Spring Canyon for the first time in real life. So a few days after graduation, our family of 4 piled into new Ensign Wayne Buchannan’s father’s Oldsmobile, and the five of us headed out on a planned three-day drive to Spring Canyon.
However, we were so excited to get there that we drove all night the second day and arrived in time for breakfast the next morning. I still recall the exhilaration we all felt as we entered the new Hartley Holmes Lodge, realizing we had played a role in the construction of this marvelous facility. That exhilaration stayed with me throughout our weeklong visit, so much so that I was unable to sleep the first 3 nights of our stay.
We spent the week in Yale Chalet on the property and drank in the beauty of God’s creation at that special place. Mr. “Tok” Tokatlogou amazed us with his thorough teaching of the Bible, and our 2 young children were looked after by a caring staff. That week we also saw the value to OCF families of their high school age children’s spiritual growth by working on the Junior Staff. We resolved that our own (eventually 4) children would have the opportunity to serve on staff there. As it turned out, each of them served on the Junior Staff at White Sulphur Springs. It wasn’t until this past summer that our granddaughter, Kate Buckingham, took her turn on the Junior Staff at Spring Canyon 39 years after our first visit!
I am praying that OCF members will get so excited about completing Spring Canyon that they will not be able to sleep for 3 nights like me in 1976!