There are some people who you can sit with and reminisce about the good old days; Rick Shaner, director of Echo Ranch Bible Camp, is one of those people.
Shaner has an appreciation for the finer things like a good baseball game, a tall glass of sweet tea, a hot cup of coffee and a fresh Breeze Inn donut. And during his spare time, he likes to fish for whatever is biting. I think it's important that you get to know a little bit about him.
Shaner carries with him the essence of rural America. He was born and raised in a small town in northwestern Ohio, and I think a part of him still resides there. He and his wife, Pat (who is the head cook), spend their fall and winter in Ketchikan. They have three grown children who live in Illinois, Indiana, and Utah.
Shaner worked 13 years in public education as an elementary teacher and 17 years as a high school guidance counselor. He officially retired from teaching in 2003 but continues to substitute teach in Ketchikan.
A favorite pastime of Shaner's is sports. He has a vast knowledge of sports trivia, especially when it comes to baseball and Ohio football. Along with teaching, he also coached track for 30 years and coached high school boys basketball for 10 years. Echo Ranch hosts a week of fundamentals basketball each summer that Rick organizes and coaches. Much of his leadership abilities have been sharpened through his coaching experience. Our staff is a team and part of Rick's job is to evaluate and best utilize the skills of each player.
Shaner first visited Echo Ranch in 1989 with people from his church to help construct the gymnasium. In 1999, while Pat was planning to lead a youth group back to Echo Ranch, she needed more adult leaders.
Although Shaner had a Canada fishing trip planned, he prayed and felt like God wanted him to go back to Alaska. This was a sign of things to come. As 2000 rolled around, Shaner started to plan his retirement. His dream was to buy a bass boat and spend long relaxing days out on the lake. God had other plans.
Pat was part of a Bible study geared toward experiencing God. It was during this study that she felt God was showing her that Echo Ranch is where the couple should be. Then Shaner started the same Bible study. It didn't take long for him to realize that Echo Ranch and full time ministry is where God wanted the Shaners. This would mean some major changes. In 2003, they sold their house in Ohio and said goodbye to friends, family, and the church they loved so much.
Was it worth it leaving everything to serve at Echo Ranch?
"Most definitely, yes," Shaner said with a confident nod. He believes God has given him a love for Echo Ranch Bible Camp, the ministry that takes place there, and the people of Southeast. Shaner would say that he has contracted "the Echo Ranch disease" it gets under your skin and into your soul. He would want to remind us that although obedience to God is not always easy, the rewards far outweigh the costs.
I know that if I ever have a problem, question, or just want to reminisce about the good old days, I can go talk to Rick. It doesn't take long to see that he has a passion for God and a desire to see lives changed. All Rick asks is that the Echo Ranch team gives their best and relies upon God for strength. From my own personal experience I have seen Rick not only lead by word but also by example. He pours his life into the people around him and that is the real signature of leadership. And if you're fortunate you might be able to catch Rick around town or on a stop at the Breeze Inn.
Jon-Michael Gwinnell is a staff member at Echo Ranch Bible Camp. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.