Posted by & filed under Creation, Spiritual Growth.

Conversing With God In Creation


A few years ago, I started school at George Fox University. Coming from Hawaii and never experiencing Oregon before was a huge change. It took a while to get used to. With the stress and busyness of college, I needed too find places to unwind, relax, and get away, but I didn’t really know where to go. The next year, I finally discovered Camp Tilikum. The first time I came to Tilikum, I was blown away to discover that there was such a place close by. I was able to come and escape from all of my worries, and just be outside. I could feel God’s presence through the beauty of his handiwork, and feel close to Him through the embrace of peaceful solitude. I decided to come out here to work on Summer Staff. Now, four years later, I still find myself coming here to connect with God and center myself on Him.

I have found that our culture is pushing us towards a more fast-paced stressful and non-stop lifestyle, making it harder to have space for rest, reflection, and peaceful quiet times. Part of Tilikum’s core values are that Tilikum exists to create space for people to experience creation and encounter God. Having open fields, a magnificent lake, and trails in the wood full of natural beauty makes this an ideal place to get away and experience God. It is Tilikum’s goal to help counteract that cultural trend and give people the space to break free, and have a more peaceful, joyful, and full life.

I do believe that God can speak to us in any place, and through anything, however I have found that there is something special about an experience in nature. First off, seeing God’s beauty reflected in the things he has made can bring a sense of closeness and connection with Him. Nature also provides a quiet and serene experience to get away from our typical routines and stress. And lastly, I think there is a biblical precedent for it. Throughout the gospels, Jesus goes out into the wilderness to pray and connect with the Father. He takes his disciples into the garden of Gethsemane and there he teaches them how to pray. Some of the most amazing and profound moments happen when Jesus goes out into nature and gets away from the crowds. I figure that if it worked for him, it’s probably a good idea to try it myself!









Jacob “Lil’ Bear” Peck

2016 – 2017 Program Intern

Posted by & filed under Challenge Course, Spiritual Growth, Summer Camp.

Blazing A Trail Towards Unity


Tilikum Trailblazer Low Element

Tilikum Trailblazer Low Element

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

(Psalm 133:1)


With life moving faster and faster, with the advent of new and exciting ways to communicate nearly every day, the world becomes more fierce, cut-throat and competitive. Kids growing up today are taught from a young age that everything is a competition. Whether it’s at recess on the playground, sports on the playing field or college acceptance in the rush of their senior year. I can look back at my years of primary school and remember the competitiveness, and pressure, that comes along with living in a peer vs peer world.

Tilikum’s Quest and High Adventure camp program gives Middle and High School campers an opportunity to get out of their comfort zone, break from the regular routine and make some new friends. As a two-year Tilikum Adventure Program counselor to this age group, I get to see campers have that “Ah-Ha” moment with the idea that we are stronger when we work together as a team.

One of the campers’ favorite low-elements is called the Trailblazer. The Trailblazer is a series of wooden platforms separated in a clearing in the forest, roughly a foot off the ground. The object of this low-element is for campers to get their whole group from one platform to another using only boards to walk across without touching the ground. When I set up the challenge I make it very clear that even though the campers are split into two groups, they are to act as one team to finish or else they can’t complete the challenge. Despite reiterating this several times the most common problem for campers is that they become grossly competitive with each other. Even after hinting again that everyone needs to get to the final platform the natural reaction is to make a competition out of nothing and sacrifice working together as a team.

In talking with the campers afterwards is always interesting to see when the group recognizes how difficult it was to work separately. Our challenge course at Tilikum is designed to be difficult to complete the puzzles as an individual. Figuring this out is one of the biggest lessons I see campers learning at Tilikum. Throughout the week, I love seeing their progress. The lessons “clicking” in is one of my favorite things about working in the challenge course. Seeing groups of middle schoolers come closer together to work as a team is a good indicator of their learning.

Maybe the world is getting faster paced, and more competitive, but the lessons God teaches us remain the same.









Hunter “Sperry” Anderson

Adventure Program Facilitator / Program Intern






Posted by & filed under Church Coordinator, Creation, Parenting, Spiritual Growth, Summer Camp.

Stone Tablets or Text: hearing God’s voice

I love summers at camp. Kids are hanging out with friends, roving around camp in staff led groups of 10-12, singing crazy songs, and talking. Really talking…like, face-to-face talking. Not texting, not IM, not posting. Really talking. Usually around the third day of camp, I start hearing stories from the staff about their prayer times as a group during Trail Talk. “And then….the kid who had been pestering his all week, prayed for his sick grandma!” Yes! Relationships being built!


For those of us that live and breathe camp, our advanced form of communication during the summer becomes walkie-talkies. So much so, that each of my kids got their own radio before they got their own phone. There’s a protocol to using a radio. When I ask where someone is located I get a description in camp-ese: I’m at the SCO (Summer Camp Office), In the MO (Main Office), heading up to the FC (the Fawver Center) when I ask about what’s going on, I may get a verbal description of what is going on & their reaction to it. No photos texted or emoji sent.


When summer camp ends, and my kids go back to school, outside of the 2 mile range of their radios, I mourn the fact that we, like other modern families, start relying on the phones: texting for our daily communication. Communication has to go back to 2017-warp speed.


One of my kids recently told me, “I can’t hear God…He NEVER answers!” (Insert exasperated foot stomp!) Helping our kids to develop a healthy spiritual life can be so difficult these days. It seems that our technological dependence has shortened our attention spans’ ability to “wait patiently on the Lord,” and to “hear the still small voice.”


Very few of us would be able or willing to climb a mountain like Moses and sit to wait for God to carve some advice in stone tablets. I think we’d rather see the conversation go like this:

Us: OMG could you just fix this?

God: LOL, Absolutely!

God: zaps the offending issue.

God: ur good!

Us:  Thx.


I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that quite often time spent away from my phone, out in God’s creation, re-sets my desire for warp speed communication. I think that is what happens when kids spend an extended amount of time outside, like at camp. They get reset to God’s pace. They can hear God’s voice.


Newberg area friends:  a dedicated group of parents and community members are sponsoring a Technology Health Workshop, tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 30, 9am at the Chehalem Valley Middle School Library.  For more information on taming the technological tiger: Technology Health Workshop


Mandy Schmidt

aka Wildflower

Camp Program Director





Posted by & filed under Summer Camp, Uncategorized.


Did you know?

– Playing outside makes kids happier and healthier and more caring and generous? 

– Yet the average American youth spends 7.5 hours a day on electronics but only 4 minutes playing outside? [citation]

In our busy lives we rush from school to soccer practice to church events and social engagements – it’s hard to create space... for quiet …to connect with nature… to dream… to encounter God.
Camp is that intentional pause away from the constant pull of technology and the expectations your kids face every day.


Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Tilikum Part-Time Guest Hosts and Kitchen Assistants Position OpeningsDSC07143

We are accepting applications for both Guest Hosts and Kitchen Assistants. These are part-time year-round positions, but the hours will vary with the season.

Guest Host is responsible for meeting the needs of and being available to assist the guests of Tilikum’s Retreat Center and other facilities including preparing and opening the facility, orienting guests to Tilikum and responding to their needs. The host is involved with Dining Room preparation and serving meals to our guests.

Food Service Assistant will assist the Lead Cook in meal preparation, serving and clean up. Assist Lead Cook with last minute food preparation and all aspects of clean up including dishwashing.

General Requirements – Communicate effectively and courteously with others, including employees, students and the public, in a spirit of teamwork, respect and customer service. You will need the ability to lift 40 lbs., bend and lift, sweep, mop, vacuum, operate dishwasher and be on your feet for 4-8 hours (with breaks). Have a valid Oregon Food Handler’s card or willingness to obtain within 30 days of employment. Show cleanliness and be well-groomed. A willingness and ability to work varied hours including evenings and weekends is necessary. Previous restaurant experience is helpful.

By actions, words and lifestyle, be a Christian role model to guests and staff. Have a strong commitment to Tilikum and its ministry along with an evangelical Christian commitment and lifestyle consistent with the institution’s goals, including signed agreement with Statement of Faith and Statement of Community Responsibilities.

Both of these positions report to the Food Services Director. The hourly wage begins at $9.25 per hour and goes up depending on experience. These positions are year-round, but the hours will vary with the season. The busiest time of the year is from March to October.

Interested candidates please complete the online application.

After completing your online application, email your letter of interest to Chuck Stobie, Food Services Director.

If you have questions, contact Chuck at 503-538-2763 ext. 108.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

June 24, 2015 Dan Busby, President


Tilikum Center for Retreats and Outdoor Ministries Accredited by National Financial Accountability Organization

NEWBERG, OR – The ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) announced today the accreditation of Tilikum Center for Retreats and Outdoor Ministries of Newberg, OR.

ECFA accreditation is based on the ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, including financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance and ethical fundraising.

Tilikum Center for Retreats and Outdoor Ministries joins a growing number of Christ-centered churches and ministries across America, supported by over 27 million donors that have earned the right to display the ECFA seal. When an organization is accredited by ECFA, it demonstrates its willingness to follow the model of biblical accountability.

“We are pleased to accredit a ministry like Tilikum,” said Dan Busby, president of ECFA.

Founded in 1971, Tilikum ( is an ideal location for group retreats, day-use planning sessions, and school or church outings. Each summer more than 2,500 children, youth and adults attend a Tilikum sponsored camp or family retreat and over the year more than 5,000 people attend other conferences and events. The pastoral setting includes 93 acres of woods, pristine lake, miles of hiking trails, extensive team-building course and a restored 1909 one-room school house. Their Retreat Center is a hotel/lodge for up to 58 people where home-style meals are prepared with a personal touch.

To learn more about Tilikum and their stewardship opportunities, visit ServantMatch®, ECFA’s program that matches God’s servants with the stewardship options of ECFA members based on ministry sectors and categories. It is ECFA’s newest online feature that allows you to quickly and easily find giving opportunities.

ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA Standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. For more information about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit or call 1-800-323-9473.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Just a tree or is it a Christmas Tree?Many households have their Christmas decorations up–some since Thanksgiving.  Camp Tilikum is blessed to have Christmas decorations up all year–maybe not the lights and ornaments we generally see, but we do have 93 acres of very large Christmas trees (some 150+ feet tall!).  You might also spy a holly tree sprinkled in among the Douglas-firs.  A plant that often goes unnoticed is the myriad of mistletoe that can be found growing in our older oak trees.???????????????????????????????


Mistletoe is spread by birds who eat the berries and deposit the leftovers in branches of trees.  The undigested seeds adhere to the branch and begin to grow.  Mistletoe is considered a parasite and will use the host tree as a source of nourishment.  Despite being a parasite, mistletoe is an important source of food for birds, a place to lay eggs for butterflies, and bees use the pollen.

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas time comes from a blending of Norse and English tradition dating back to IMG_3866the middle ages.  In Norse mythology the mistletoe plant is a symbol of love and friendship.  And in old English tradition mistletoe was the finishing touch on the Kissing Bunch–which predates the traditional Christmas tree.

It seems so appropriate that this little plant found on our grounds is a symbol of love and friendship.  “Tilikum” comes from the Chinook word for “friend” and “welcome” and very accurately describes what goes on within these 93 acres.  A few thousand people visit our grounds each year and encounter these ideals of community and leave with new and deepened friendships.  Where have you noticed love and friendship out here at Tilikum?

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The Quiet PlaceQuiet Waters Photo Frame 16 x 20 Web

Life’s worries seem so hectic, so rushed, so hard.
Like a tangle of cobwebs ensnaring mind and soul.
My heart cries out for rest, for peace.
So I seek God’s solace in a quiet place.

There I can slow myself, breathe deeply, rest and pause.
I drink in freshness, stillness, peace.
Like morning dew on sun-tipped grass.
Sweet aroma of evergreens warms and fills my lungs.

The wind and water soothe my heartache, calm my soul.
Gentle birds bring joy and laughter with their songs.
Cheerful squirrels leap in celebration of life itself.
Quiet deer pause silently in reverent stillness.

Thank you Lord for this quiet place.
A place to renew and restore myself.
A place to draw close to you again.
To see You clearly, away from man’s worldly debris.

Dear God, Thank you for Tilikum, this beautiful land.
Its very essence is a quiet place to me.
A place to calm and restore my soul.
In Your forests and fields I rejoice in Your creation.

So I praise You God for Tilikum,
For the gift of its friendship
For the gift of life it brings to me.
Thank you for this quiet place.

Joan Littlefield
April 26, 1988

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Dear Friends of Tilikum,


So far we have raised about $17,000 for the Big Canoes Project. Since we are getting very close to spending the funds, Carl Anderson and I have been talking a lot about the plans for the big canoes and we have decided that we should purchase the canoes rather than build them. Even though we had plans and forms to build the wooden canoes, the risk of boat building errors and the ensuing maintenance issues could be problematic. It’s important to make the best decision with the information available at the time, even if you need to change directions.

A year ago I did some research and found this company as a back-up plan to building the canoes. Clipper Canoes is a business in Abbotsford, BC that makes big canoes.

On September 19th we purchased two Langley canoes and a special two-canoe trailer. The project total has gone from $15,000 to $20,000 and the key reasons for this change are:

  • The maintenance would be minimal on these fiberglass/Kevlar canoes.
  • It releases staff and volunteer labor hours for other projects around Tilikum.
  • The manufacturer confirmed the canoes would navigate well on a lake the size of Tilikum.
  • The two-canoe trailer makes moving, launching and winter storage quite simple.
  • We might take select groups down the Willamette river. I likely wouldn’t have considered this with wooden canoes.

We have $3,000 left to raise for the new canoe dock and accessories. If you have any questions about this please feel free to contact me at the office (503) 538-2763 ext. 103 or my cell (503) 538-8081.

Dennis Littlefield
Executive Director

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

How You Can Save Up To $2,100 on Summer Day Camp and Quest Camp

Whether you are a parent already working or you are planning to enter the job market again, you may be surprised to find that you can save up to $2,100 on your taxes when you file just because you sent your kids to summer day camp.

Under the Child and Dependent Care Credit, you may receive a credit up to $1,050 of your expenses for one child under 13 and up to $2,100 for two or more children under 13 and there is no age limit if they are disabled. There is one catch though. Overnight camps do not count.

Read more about this on Turbotax. We recommend you talk to your tax adviser, because every family’s financial situation is different. If you file for this credit, you’ll need Tilikum’s Tax ID Number: 45-4183288.