A Daring Adventure
Tiffany Staman, Executive Director
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” - Helen Keller
One of the most common questions I am asked by new folks I meet is how I ended up at Calvin Crest Conferences in Oakhurst, CA. Most people assume I am a Californian native, or at the very least, I have come from another camp somewhere. But that is not my story.
I lived my entire life - studied, worked, played, served, got married, and raised my kids in and around Rockford, IL. Cam and I were both raised in Christian families, attending church and of course, loving summer camp. We both served on staff at camps in high school and college, When we married nearly 27 years ago, we thought we would start serving in a camp setting, ideally in the mountains. But God led us to other areas of ministry and career - Cam with a long successful career in a telecommunications company with a fine woodworking business on the side, and me in various pastoral and non-profit leadership roles with three kids thrown in there as well. We took youth groups to camp, led retreats at camp, and continued to believe in the power of camp.
It is not that we didn’t pursue different camping positions. But every time we did, we were told that we “had no experience in camping.” Despite the fact we had literally camped all over the country’s national parks with our family, we had not run a camp. Even though we had experience leading staff teams, growing organizations, fundraising, overseeing building projects, and managing finances, we had not done those things within the unique context of a camp. We understood, and we surrendered to the fact that it just might not be in the cards for us.
And then… last January, my dear friend who lives in Irvine, CA, saw a facebook post sharing a position at a camp called Calvin Crest. This in and of itself was a small miracle because this friend hates facebook and rarely occupies her time on it. But that day, she saw the post. She texted me and told me that I needed to check out this camp because the job description sounded like it had been written just for me.
I did check it out, and with absolutely no expectation whatsoever, I emailed off my resume to the search team. I loved my job as Executive Director of a Pregnancy Care Center, where I had been serving for five years. The center was thriving, and I had no reason to leave. But there was always this aching desire to help people connect with God and others in the midst of his sacred creation.
You can imagine my surprise when the search team was interested in interviewing me and then entering into a discernment process. I appreciated their slow, intentional, prayerful approach that created space for both Cam and I and their team to discern how God was leading. It was a phenomenally peaceful process of holding loosely any expectations, surrendering to God’s will, and abandoning the outcome to God.
After ten months, I was offered the position of Executive Director at Calvin Crest. Cam and I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God was calling us here. It was exciting and terrifying all at once. I gave three months’ notice at my workplace, and Cam began wrapping up his various projects. We listed our home For Sale By Owner on Zillow, and within one week, we showed it more than 25 times and received three offers without contingencies. We flew to California and looked at 16 houses in two days, put in an offer, and bought a (much smaller!) house. We celebrated one last Christmas with our kids in the only home they had ever known, our home that we had lovingly renovated every last inch. We sold nearly all of our possessions, (including my lifelong companion baby grand piano), said goodbye to everything and everyone we knew, and drove across the country to our new life in California, where the only people we knew were our realtor and the camp’s search team.
This is by far the craziest adventure of mine and Cam’s life. It was certainly not easy to say goodbye to our safe and comfortable life in northern Illinois, but we have not looked back or doubted God’s leading for one moment. And every day as I drive up Calvin Crest Road, I have to pinch myself that I get to work in a place of such beauty, goodness, and love. There is no place else I would rather be.