HARPSTER Timing is everything. Just ask Mike Hoecherl.
Mike and his wife, Timmie, are the new executive and operations director, respectively, at ALACCA Bible Camp in Harpster.
The couple was living their lives to the fullest in Racine, Wisc. He was a youth pastor, she had a thriving photography business, and they both worked/volunteered in side ministries with Youth for Christ. Mike coached year-round as well.
“One day at our house during a cookout, one of our graduated youth group members was asking what my ideal ministry job would look like,” Mike recalled.
HARPSTER — ALACCA (A Lighthouse and Christ Centered Always) is a non-denominational Bible Camp located along the banks of the South Fork of the Clearwater River at 101 China Garden Road, Harpster. The camp was built in 1966; however, some of the buildings on-site currently were moved from the CCC Camp O-Hara and are from the 1920s.
The purpose of ALACCA is “to provide a rustic camp environment that will help churches and like-minded organizations further the gospel and develop disciples.”
The camp is available for church or other camps, reunions, meeting rental space and more (minimum 20-person charge). A motel-style lodge with 20 beds as well as a number of cabins with 100-plus beds total are available as well as RV sites, a staffed commercial kitchen, coffee house and two chapels. Activities include air hockey, archery, arts and crafts, basketball, Bible study, billiards, board games, campfires, carpet ball, disc golf, fishing, foosball, hiking, horseshoes, ping-pong, soccer, softball, swimming, tubing, volleyball, worship and a waterslide.
To reach ALACCA Bible Camp Conference: PO Box 232, Grangeville, ID 83530; 208-983-1188; email@example.com; www.alacca.org.
Upcoming work days are Saturday, May 5, and Saturday, June 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Lunch provided for workers.
A variety of chores need accomplished including envelope stuffing, burning about 700 piles of brush following fire mitigation control last year, cutting trees for firewood for the camp, building, painting and cleaning projects, Volunteers are also sought to make dough and cookies and prepare them for the freezer to bake for future use as well as vegetable chopping.
Little did he know his young friend was plugging the parameters into Google. When they were in place, what popped up? ALACCA Bible Camp in Harpster, Idaho.
“Mike was like, “Oh, yeah, right.’ But I looked at the description and was like, ‘No, really, Mike. You need to look at this,’” Timmie said.
The couple had been taking area inner-city youth camping to Upper Michigan for about eight years, so from all their other youth ministry experience, they also knew about camps and what kind of facilities they would like to see as consumers.
The Hoecherls (pronounced Heck-Earl) applied, but in the end another couple with camp management experience was hired.
“Looking back, this was a good time for us to spend an extra year in prayer,” Timmie said. “No matter what happened, we always wanted to be in God’s will.”
The Hoecherls had a sense of peace, they said, and continued with their lives and ministries in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile at ALACCA, the new directors, who hailed from Georgia, decided Idaho was not the place for them and, after 10 months, left their posts.
Doors opened, prayers continued and Mike and Timmie flew out to Idaho in February of 2017 and were hired by the ALACCA board of directors in March. Mike came out in June and Timmie and their children joined him in August.
“I was able to sit back and see what was in place last summer,” Mike said. “It was just a good time for me to be able to see how camps were run.”
The ALACCA five-member volunteer board of directors stepped out in faith when they hired the Hoecherls, the couple explained.
“For the first time, our positions are as paid employees,” Mike explained. (Hired as a couple with one salary). Previously, directors were responsible for their own missionary support to fund their positions.
This change in structure allows for supporters of ALACCA to become partners in prayer, first and foremost, then volunteers and financial supporters of ALACCA as a whole, not simply people who work there.
The Hoecherls attend Grangeville Christian Church, and their children, son Kennedy, a junior, attends Grangeville High School while daughter, Payton, 11, is a student at Grangeville Elementary Middle School. Bonus son, Chris, is also a junior.
“We believe in being engrained in the community,” they explained, “This philosophy allows them to be representatives for ALACCA and its ministries wherever they go.
“We are more than happy to do presentations about ALACCA for churches or organizations,” they said.
“There are people who don’t yet know ALACCA exists or who have never been here. We want to change that and show them what a treasure this camp is,” Mike added.
Aside from its own four summer camps for youth 8-18, the facility also hosts a men’s weekend, pastors’ retreat, family camp and ladies retreat, as well as rental camps such as Cristo Vive Camp for persons with disabilities.
“We also hosted a kids’ retreat this winter called Snoball with about 80 sixth through 12th grade kids attending,” Mike said. “We would love to have people here utilizing the grounds year-round.” This will include the Nampa Christian football team staying this fall when they play GHS.
Another couple, Dakota and Kaitlyn Davis, former youth group members of the Hoecherls, are on their way to work in programming and the kitchen. They will live in housing on the grounds, as does the Hoecherl family. A kitchen staff person with commercial experience is also currently sought.
This summer, 10 college students will participate in an internship program, as well as a number of high school students, serving as cabin counselors and junior counselors.
“Of course, we always need volunteers,” Timmie said. “We have jobs for everyone of any ability.” All volunteers and staff are background checked.