Friday, June 25, 2010


June 25, 2010

Hello Warrior Nation!

Hope you’re all having a great summer! For those of you who mysteriously continue to doubt my ability to compose marathon length Warrior Camp Updates, this one may come to hold the belt! (If you’re in a rush, feel free to glance over the “Table of Contents” below, and then fast-forward to the sections that interest you most).

Without further delay, let’s dive in…

Hang on. Let me check. Yeah. Pretty sure this will be my least favorite update, to put it nicely. I think I’d rather run a few miles…in wet jeans. It’s not because I don’t enjoy the interaction with you out there in Warrior Nation. I really do! Hearing back from you is a huge encouragement to us, and helps keep our motivational gas tank from running on fumes. No. Instead, it’s this unfortunate topic that keeps buzzing around like a pesky mosquito, or maybe like that yellow jacket that manages to light your fuse. I’ve definitely come a long way in being able to hit the tough issues head on like a sledge hammer. But somehow this one still makes me feel like curling up in the fetal position, or about as agile as a porpoise on a balance beam. It’s awkward and unsettling, kind of like eating bad Mexican from the local Burrito Trailer your mom warned you about. (Hey, you were starving, and it was cheap). Or maybe it’s a bit like telling Aunt Bertha she has a huge rip in her nylons. Or Uncle Fred that his toupee is off-center. How do you start that conversation?

I’m not sure how exactly to embark into these uncharted waters. But are we going there anyway? Absolutely! In the last video update, I invited Warrior Nation to participate and interact for the first time. Since then, one thing has been popping up like a clan of spring gophers. It’s a topic that is often forbidden, and as flammable as July 4th. It’s also about as easy to discuss as opening Pandora’s Box. It reeks with uncertainty, surprise, risk, and the excitement of the unknown. It’s a five letter word and is often taboo. Any guesses? Ready for it? We’re going to talk about…(drumroll please)… money.

There it is. I said it. (Now that we’ve courageously crossed that bridge, I’ll either refer to it as the dreaded “M” word, or maybe use the hopefully less infamous “$” symbol on my keyboard). Anyway, since the last update to Warrior Nation, the whole $ thing has managed to become a prevalent theme, and the examples are so abundant, that it didn’t take rocket surgery to see the wisdom and practical benefits of tackling this behemoth in the very near future. I owe this revelation to one of my closest friends, whose business savvy and street smarts could probably make him the next Stephen Covey. Another friend recently expressed how surprised and impressed he was at the philosophy of $ embraced by a church he was checking out for the first time. Right there on the bulletin were written the salaries of everyone on the church staff, visible for all to see. That got the wheels turning. Before that, a ministry partner whom I highly respect had a polite and candid talk about how $, faith, God, and ministry all intersect. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all that, but the interaction definitely put some insightful new stuff on my horizon. Even earlier, Warrior Camp received its first donation ever, and since then, interest in financially supporting Warrior Camp has been growing, all completely unsolicited. A few weeks ago it dawned on me. By the next update, it would be time to break out of the comfort zone and embark deep into uncharted territory. We would actually try to muster the audacity to talk about $.

So here we are. And without further adieu, we’ll jump in with both feet and let you look “under the hood” of Warrior Camp. Here’s our “Top 10 Forbidden Questions” we thought you might like to ask about Warrior Camp:


     1. How much $ do you make to lead Warrior Camp? (This one will be short :)
     2. Where does the $ come from to fund Warrior Camp?
     3. How much work and $ does it take to put on a Warrior Camp?
     4. Why is Warrior Camp so expensive to put on? Where does the $ go?
     5. What are the biggest expenses for Warrior Camp?
     6. How much does it cost for kids or teens to attend Warrior Camp?
     7. Does Warrior Camp generate any profit? If so, where does it go?
     8. What is the Warrior Camp philosophy on $?
     9. Will Warrior Camp ever ask for donations? Why or why not? How can I help?
    10. What has Warrior Camp purchased recently? What is Warrior Camp going to buy in the near future?


1. How much $ does Derek make to lead Warrior Camp?

Great question. Though it may likely change in the future as Warrior Camp grows and matures, I, like our original Warrior Camp Team, am 100% a volunteer when it comes to financial compensation. To put it bluntly, we don’t do this with any high hopes of striking gold or even knocking down ½ of minimum wage. Ever have a passion and a vision that God has branded so deep that it’s in your DNA? That’s bigger than you? That you just know needs to exist? Like the commercial says, for everything else, there’s Mastercard.

2. Where does the $ come from to fund Warrior Camp?

Wow. (Way to cut to the chase!) There are 3 sources. Let me explain. I have a separate job for which I’m forever grateful to God. It gives me the freedom to travel from East to West and to do Warrior Camp Ministry in a way that blows my mind when I think about God’s provision. It also gives me the capability to procure some or all of the game and discipleship equipment we need, out-of-pocket. This is the 1st source of $ for Warrior Camp, and is the one that helps tackle the upfront costs associated with procuring all the stuff we need in order to put on a Warrior Camp, before it officially begins.

Next is Warrior Camp Registration and Admission. This is the 2nd source of $ for Warrior Camp. Here, kids or students pay to come to Warrior Camp, kind of like we all did as teens when we went to Summer Camp, only less. The Camper Admission gets lumped into one “pot” and goes toward reimbursing the upfront costs mentioned earlier. This 2nd source of $ helps cover the costs directly associated with the given Warrior Camp, and may even provide a little extra for Warrior Camps the following year.

The 3rd and final source of $ is from those in Warrior Nation who are excited about the vision and who want to help sponsor Warrior Camp financially, as well as in prayer. Our first gift of this kind came just this last Spring 2010, and as promised, we’re using every penny to the max as we fully gear up for the Summer Camping Season. Thanks again to everyone in Warrior Nation for your support, encouragement and prayer! You’ll never know how much you’re appreciated.

3. How much work and $ does it take to put on a Warrior Camp?

Great question. No joke, fully preparing for Warrior Camp is like a marathon more than a sprint, and eats up a decent amount of “blood, sweat, and tears,” as the saying goes. There’s a long list of stuff to tackle, and we really love it if we can bat close to a thousand. What Man-Crafts are the Warriors going to build in the Weapon Workshop? What games are Warriors going to play? What’s the best way to build or procure all that corresponding game equipment? What’s on the schedule? What exactly will the discipleship rallies look like? How can we best train these kids or youth in being a man after God’s own heart? These are big questions, and this stuff doesn’t just happen. Also, though we strive to make Warrior Camp as easy as possible for the kids’ pastor or youth pastor at the host church, this person nevertheless deserves a high-five for their efforts as well. While certain preparations begin months in advance, the actual “marathon” of fully gearing up for Warrior Camp can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks, and consume well over 100 combined hours from our team.

Financially, the cost of materials, gear, and equipment alone hovers around 50% of the total amount of Warrior Camp Admission. I’ve included the complete list below:

GAME EQUIPMENT: approximately $550-$650 (or more) goes toward buying or building game equipment for Warrior Camp. Some of this goes toward construction materials for the signature Weapon Workshop, where each Warrior gets to customize or build his own take-home weapon. (No worries Moms: your Warrior won’t end up in the hospital, we promise!). Approximately 80% or more of this game equipment cost is associated with gear which can be used at multiple Warrior Camps.

WARRIOR CAMP T-SHIRTS: approximately $300 goes to designing/ordering Warrior Camp T-shirts, which Warrior Campers can buy at or after Warrior Camp. Any remaining shirts can be sold at a subsequent Warrior Camp. Warrior Camp Dog-Tags ($100) and Warrior Camp Group Photos are other souvenirs which may be made available.

FUEL AND TRAVEL: approximately $100-$150+ goes to keeping the team’s gas tanks full, especially if we travel very far to meet the hosting church on their turf. Approximately $75 goes to renting a truck. Churches which are significantly closer are far less expensive in this category.

GRATITUDE AND THANKS: We’re genuinely grateful for the volunteering spirit and excitement from each member of our team to be a part of the Warrior Camp Leadership. They give 100% all day long, love the kids, echo the vision, and enjoy bringing up the $ thing as much as I do.  While our first Warrior Camp involved a Team of complete volunteers, since then we're becoming more able to gift our team in small ways.  From our very first Warrior Camp until now, either most or all of our team have fully intended on volunteering 100% of their time at Warrior Camp.  When $ does come up, it usually involves reimbursing everyone for their gas bill getting to Warrior Camp.  Aside from rare, justified exceptions, there is little or no expectation for $.  Nevertheless, Warrior Camp purposefully aims to take care of its leadership team.  It’s definitely not a salary, but I’m thrilled to express our gratitude for each member in a tangible way.

MISCELLANEOUS: In addition to these major categories, there may be small but highly important expenses associated with each of the Warrior Camp Discipleship Rallies. We might give each Warrior his own brick, encouraging him to mark it with the creed that God is calling him to live by. This year, we’ll be handing each kid his own Warrior Camp Discipleship Booklet, which he can use to “immortalize” his God time at Warrior Camp, and also for follow-up with his Sunday school teacher, who got to experience Warrior Camp with him. Fireworks kick off the Opening Ceremonies with some loud and proud shock and awe. Fun, high-energy songs (purchased through itunes) help create a fun, outdoor atmosphere during the field games. Then there’s the candy launch, where we send pounds and pounds of candy (the good stuff, not crusty tootsie-rolls from last year’s Halloween party!) into the lower atmosphere with long range spud guns, letting it rain down upon grinning, scrambling, kids. Also, a special Grand Prize is awarded by each Team Leader to one distinguished Warrior who demonstrates leadership, Godly character, Biblical manhood, and other honorable virtues. After the final game at Warrior Camp, the 1st and 2nd place teams are then announced, and each Warrior is given a corresponding prize. Much of this stuff helps put an extra “cherry on top” of the kid’s experience at Warrior Camp, and together may total between $50-$150.

4. Why is Warrior Camp so expensive to put on? Where does the $ go?

Great question. If we bring Warrior Camp to several different kids’ ministries or youth groups each year, our cost per camp takes a big and encouraging dive. The result is that each consecutive Warrior Camp actually gets less expensive, on average, to put on. On the other extreme, if we do 1 or 2 camps per year, our average cost per camp climbs. In the last case, one main reason for big recurring annual expenses is this: because camper boredom-through-redundancy is enemy #1. We’ve tried really hard to identify the biggest challenges which camp ministries face, and one of them is this: maintaining the elements of excitement and surprise for the campers from year to year. If the camp program gets too familiar, then campers tend to get bored and may not want to come back. Also, we have a bit of an inside joke that we refuse to play “Duck-Duck-Goose” at Warrior Camp. (Does anyone genuinely pine for this game?) Instead, we prefer designing, customizing, and/or offering games that reach epic, unforgettable proportions, and which unapologetically play upon the chord of boyhood fantasy. Sure, our signature “Kingdom Under Fire” game may require 3 garden hoses, 1 two-way splitter, 2 four-way splitters, 8 water balloon nozzles, 60+ big boxes, eight 200-300 yard water-balloon launchers, and over 1000 water balloons, but what other game makes you feel like you’re in a battle scene from Lord of the Rings? Hop-skotch? Four-square? Ring around the Rosie? Yeah, I think we’ll pass. So, here are our game goals: (1 ) no camper will ever be able to predict what he’s gonna do Warrior Camp, and (2) every camper will have so much epic fun that his future grandkids will hear about it. So, to answer your question…

     1. Go Big or Go Home Philosophy
          a. No Duck-Duck-Goose = Awesome games and game equipment instead
          b. Equipment for epic games = More $, but totally worth it!

     2. Unpredictability: Keeping the Warrior Campers guessing
          a. Element of surprise every year = New camp program every year
          b. New camp program every year = New games, discipleship rallies, and activities
          c. New games, discipleship rallies, and activities = New equipment
          d. New equipment … well, you get the picture

5. What are the biggest expenses for Warrior Camp?

Great question. Here they are in order of largest to smallest:

     1. Game Equipment (for new and/or epic-level games)
     2. Warrior Camp Warehouse Inventory: T-shirts and other souvenirs
     3. Mobility, Transportation, and Fuel
     4. Gratitude and Thanks to Warrior Camp Team
     5. Miscellaneous: discipleship materials, props, fireworks, candy, prizes, etc…

6. How much does it cost for kids or teens to attend Warrior Camp?

Ever find something cool you want at the store, but can't find the price-tag? Yeah, we hate that as much as you do. So, here goes. Warrior Camp costs somewhere between $30-$60 per Warrior. Why the big range? Because some Warrior Camps might be really close to our city, and so we can drive there faster and use less gas. Also, if we have more Warriors who want to come (up to about 40) that helps out a lot too. Other Warrior Camps might be farther away, and the youth pastor or kids’ pastor might want us to bring the very best of the best games. (Somebody has to buy or build all that game equipment!). But here's the kicker: we know kids or students probably don't have the best jobs yet, so we've made it our goal to keep Warrior Camp as affordable as possible so everyone can go. For youth pastors and kids pastors, we have some cool ideas on how to help keep Warrior Camp as affordable as possible, and encourage them to feel free to send us an email. Oh, and don't forget, many summer camps cost $200 or more for about four and a half full days of camp. I'm not a math whiz, but that's about $44.50 per day, which is comparable to what the $ could be for kids or students to attend Warrior Camp. (And we're not bragging, but we honestly think campers will have tons of fun and a spiritually monumental experience at Warrior Camp).

7. Does Warrior Camp generate any profit? If so, where does it go?

Using last year’s model, Warrior Camp covered all of its expenses with approximately 70-80% of the total amount of incoming $ from Warrior Camper Admission. This resulted in 20-30% being left over. This extra $ was then re-invested in the following way, from greatest to smallest:

     1. New or additional game equipment for Warrior Camp(s) the following year
     2. Promo, materials, and mailings
     3. Miscellaneous

8. What is the Warrior Camp Philosophy on $?

Uh oh. Here we go! For starters, we can at least agree that: (1) this is controversial territory, and (2) you can definitely disagree with me and still be a strong Christian with a lot to offer. In fact, I owe a lot of credit here to a friend whom I admire, and who has helped me sharpen my own take on $. So, let’s jump in!

I believe that $ is just one tool in the tool shed. If you have nails to pound, you grab a hammer. If you have bolts to tighten, you reach for a wrench. If you have stuff to buy, you use $. There's no need to worship the tool, worry about the tool, or hesitate to use the tool wisely, effectively, and responsibly. And there's a ton of stuff that is beyond the Christian's God-given reach. Sometimes $ is one of those things, and God does take us to the "school of trust" cause we really need it! Other times, God provides through ways that are so simple and practical that they almost seem "less magical" and less Godly (I'm still curious why that is!), even though God isn't limited to either the mysterious or to the practical. I've seen God provide in huge ways for Warrior Camp. They ways are numerous. His original calling and inspiration. Prayer. Hard work. Seemingly random yet epic game or discipleship ideas which God periodically injects into my head. The spiritual fruit in kid’s lives which we’ve been blessed to hear about afterwards. Having a good job with geographical mobility, and even our first donation ever...God has provided and used all of this stuff for His glory in Warrior Camp in ways that blow me away. Some are mysterious and just seem to happen by His miraculous hand. His call. His anointing. His provision. An unsolicited donation. Others are what we humble mortals might call "practical" and happen through the job, creativity, diligence, advice from family and friends, and the work ethic which He's provided us with and for which we're grateful and seek to labor faithfully. In my humble opinion, I really think both (the mysterious and the practical) are probably equally Godly, and neither one fails to bring Him glory. It all directs the attention upward to Him. It's all for Him, by Him, and to Him.

9. Will Warrior Camp ever ask for $? Why or why not? How can I help Warrior Camp?

Wow. Time to show the cards! Here goes. As I stated earlier, I'm not a big fan of talking about $. I’m even less of a fan when it comes to asking for it. Maybe it’s because asking for $ seems so popular. (If everybody ordered a Coke at Sonic, I’d probably order Pepsi just to do something different!).  Don’t get me wrong. I would never disparage a church for passing the plate. That’s a great way to help fund vital ministries and I’m glad to wholeheartedly participate.

Regarding Warrior Camp, I would never suggest our approach to $ is morally superior. It’s not. But it may be unique.  And it is my own conviction.  My perspective is this: most of you in Warrior Nation have developed a pretty firm grasp of what Warrior Camp is all about. You know enough about us, our goals, our methods, and ministry-DNA to decide if Warrior Camp is a ministry you’d like to link arms with in prayer or sponsorship. If Warrior Camp gets you fired up about imparting God’s vision for manhood to a young generation in a high-octane way, and God moves you, maybe you’ll choose to help sponsor Warrior Camp. If so, let me say personally how grateful we are to have you among those who pray and provide for Warrior Camp. Your prayer and support are a huge encouragement to us which you’ll probably never fully know. But it’s also possible that maybe you won’t choose to support Warrior Camp in this way. Guess what? That’s ok. The sky is not going to fall. Maybe you won’t make a donation at all, but you will pray for us, and for the kids or students whom we have a privilege to minister to. Or maybe you’ll be a “Fire-Starter” and, if there’s a need, you’ll enthusiastically introduce the possibility of Warrior Camp to your youth pastor or kids’ pastor at your church. Your encouragement and support here are also super encouraging to us and not taken for granted. Are we grateful for your support, in whatever form you may choose? Absolutely. Do we ever intend to solicit your $? Not unless God does an extreme makeover on us. Until then, it’s just not how we play!

10. What new, big stuff has Warrior Camp bought recently? What is Warrior Camp planning on purchasing in the near future?

Glad you asked! Here’s the latest.

      Recent Purchases:
          Miscellaneous Game Equipment
          Long Range Megaphone
          High Performance Water balloon Launchers (200-300 yard range)
          Obstacle Course Equipment (for the newly created game “The Crucible”)
          1500 Gallon Swimming Pool (Above-ground and portable)

     Future Purchases/Prospective Purchases/Upcoming Purchases:
          New Warrior Camp T-shirts
          Equipment Trailer
          Snow Cone Machine
          Outdoor sound equipment/speakers
          Additional/New Game Equipment


Phew!  We successfully crossed that bridge.  Good for us!  (If you read that whole thing, you deserve a medal!).

Thanks again so much for all your prayer, affirmation, and support. You’re a huge encouragement.

Grow strong and God bless,


PS: Huge praise = we’re taking Warrior Camp on the road to Grandview, Washington in about 3 weeks! We’ll keep you posted!

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