By Rob Sayre
A camping weekend in summer 1994 with other Blessed Families has grown and evolved for almost a quarter of a century.
Known first as the Pennsylvania Family Camp, Shehaqua Ministries is now known as “Shehaqua,” denoting specific activities, an organization, with a brand and specific worldview about education and community.
This article is about the early years, the evolution from a small startup to a more mature organization that has passed on leadership to a new generation, and how we found solutions to financial and organizational challenges while keeping our core values intact.
Certain comments are my personal reflections, others are the story of the development of the organization, and still others are lessons we applied from a book I repeatedly read for the first ten years, Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practices (1990) by Peter F. Drucker. I hope others can learn from our success, failures and endurance.
How We Began
The first two years, 1995-97, were three-day camping outings, with each family in their own tent, cooking for themselves, but we organized Divine Principle (DP) education, sports and crafts by age groups. We stayed at two different campgrounds in 1995-96. In 1997, we rented a large, old farmhouse for a separate program for the older kids and families stayed in their tents.
Our goals from the beginning have been to provide age appropriate DP education for the entire family; to facilitate a personal or “skin touch” experience with God for every participant; and to demonstrate what a community of faith looked and felt like.
This quote from Rev. Sun Myung Moon reflects some of the guiding theology that rooted our thinking and programs:
“How should you raise your children? You should raise them like God, to have beauty and excellence, as God did when He created Adam and Eve. This is the standard of education…. Then, what is God’s love? If you analyze it, it is manifested through parental love, conjugal love, and filial love. There is nothing more. There are only those three kinds of love. This is why children love their parents, husbands and wives become one, and parents love their children. The three generations must be one.”