After 14 years of dedicated service, the von Pohle family has announced their plans to depart Big Lake Youth Camp for a new adventure in Idaho. Ross von Pohle, Big Lake’s facility manager, and Erin von Pohle, Big Lake's business & guest services manager, shared how much they will miss their Oregon Conference family as they look toward the future.
They first started their Big Lake journey on November 1, 2009. “It’s been an adventure living at Big Lake,” said Ross. “My son Zeb turned two just a few weeks after we moved here, so he really doesn’t have any memory of our life before Big Lake, and my daughter has only ever lived here, so they’ve had a really unique childhood growing up here. Big Lake has provided experiences for my children that they probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. They’ve learned how to be independent and how to drive all sorts of snowmobiles and vehicles. I think living here has brought us closer together as a family because we had to rely on each other whenever something would come up.”
Ross continued, “I’ve strived, during our time here, to make this a welcome place for everyone. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time at Big Lake knows it’s a special place. It’s been a kind of church for people––a place to connect with God and find community, and because of that it’s been important that each person feels welcome. Big Lake isn’t any individual human’s place, it belongs to everyone who has a connection here whether that’s been as a camper, a staff member, or a volunteer. And I know that even though we’re leaving, people will still find Jesus at Big Lake no matter who is managing the facilities here.”
For Erin, there was never a time before Big Lake. “Big Lake has always been part of my life,” she said. “We have a baby picture of me and my cousin taking a bath in the sink in the lodge! I remember coming up and helping cut firewood with Three Sisters School and church, and I have so many good memories. It’s always been a super special place. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would be working for the church I would have laughed, but God opens doors and He closes them, and when we happened upon the job here it became a kind of oasis for our family.”
“When we told our kids that we were leaving they asked us, ‘Well who is going to take care of Big Lake?’” said Erin. “Ross and I told them, ‘God will.’ And that’s true. God will take care of it because this is His camp, and He will bring the right people to fill the spaces we leave behind. Our love for Big Lake and the people who have come through is deep.”
“We’ve always tried to welcome people to the best of our ability, and I hope that we’ve been able to show and point to Jesus and His love for people,” Erin shared. “Wherever we are, our doors will always be open.”
The von Pohle family will be relocating to their new life in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, area before the end of the year. A special farewell celebration will be held on Sunday, November 19 from 3:00-5:00 PM at the Oregon Conference office’s Livesay Boardroom. Snacks will be provided and there will be a special video tribute presentation at 3:30 PM. If you would like to attend, please RSVP at: https://t.ly/TjnKN