Retirement Celebration for Mike

Retirement Celebration for Mike

Mike Jennings Retirement Celebration

By Judy Blase Woodruff

It was a bittersweet day. Saturday, April 13th dawned bright and sunny with temperatures in the 80s. Friends from both near and far descended on Camp Ondessonk with one goal in mind; to wish Camp Ranger Mike Jennings a great retirement. While everyone was in a jovial mood, the underlying sentiment was that everyone would miss Mike tremendously.

Thanks to Mike and Becky’s daughter, Lacy, who arranged the retirement party along with her husband, Mitchel, and their children, Emma and Logan, the Dining Hall was decked out with retirement wishes and great table decorations. Nearly 200 of Mike’s closest friends, co-workers, volunteers, and family gathered to remember his legacy at Camp Ondessonk throughout the past three decades.

There were many memories shared, both heartfelt and some tongue-in-cheek, but all relayed sincere appreciation for Mike’s long stint as Ranger and Director of Maintenance for Camp. Several speakers took the microphone to relay their remembrances and best wishes for Mike. Among them included Executive Director Dan King; long-time volunteer Jim Shively who enumerated the many positive adjectives describing Mike; Brian Reaka; former Equestrian Director Meagan Walters, Frank Pace – representing the Holy Trinity Volunteer group; and myself, Judy Blase Woodruff.

Everyone enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and sandwiches. Mike’s favorite candy was scattered around the tables (mini-Snickers bars), along with two cakes displaying Mike’s picture on them, cupcakes, and cookies.

Guests viewed a wonderful scrapbook compiled by Nikki Enderle that included pictures and sentiments from many of our Camp Family. A limited edition, special “Mike” newsletter entitled “Mike Jennings: a 30-Year Legacy,” included stories and well-wishes from many who volunteered and worked under Mike’s leadership, was distributed to all attendees. Thanks to Amber Garvey, Sara (Bell) Clifford, and Tony Vrooman for their work on this project.

Free raffle tickets were distributed to each attendee, and a drawing for a keepsake, signed Mike Jennings tee-shirt was won by Keith Brennan. In addition, each guest received a packet of seeds with Mike’s contact information on the outside, so everyone can keep in touch with the retiree!

After Mike himself took the microphone to extend his appreciation for everyone in attendance, and to relay his feelings about retirement (it was the longest I’ve ever heard Mike speak!), a group of musicians including Jason Valentine, Isaac Biver, Tyler Kivland, Tip Belz, and Bill Tatum tuned their guitars and gathered for a jam session that was a treat for everyone.

When the end of the party neared, there were still many who wanted the memories to continue. Camp was full that weekend with families staying in units, St. Noel, and Fournie Lodge, so many continued the celebration on the patio of St. Noel. What a great tribute to our friend who has served our beloved Camp Ondessonk for so long and so well.

Congratulations, Mike, on a well-deserved retirement!

Click here to learn more about Camp Ondessonk’s leadership and staff.


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