SPENCER TOWNSHIP — A longtime camp director and his family are saying goodbye as they set off on a new adventure in Iowa.
Paul Golke became the director of Camp Concordia in Gowen seven years ago. In that time he has helped enhance programs designed to give children a fun Christian camping experience.
One week from today, the Golke family will be moving to take a new position at Camp Okoboji in Milford, Iowa, where Paul’s wife Kristi grew up.
“It’s very bittersweet,” said Golke of his new position. “It’s tough to leave, but I’m excited for a new camping career.”
When Golke first started at Camp Concordia, he said it was kind of a struggle as the camp was struggling. Although the camp still needs some attention, he said it has come a long way to be where it is today.
“I give God credit in all of that,” Golke said. “We are really blessed here.”
Some of the enhancements Golke helped bring to the camp include updating the ropes course, inviting more people to be a part of the camp and adding the Mega Day Camp program. The camp has also developed a strong relationship with Greenville churches and the Greenville community.
Golke said the attitude at Camp Concordia was what changed the most.
“The camp is much more optimistic and positive,” he said.
Golke said he is going to miss the families and the relationship has with them.
“It was hard saying goodbye to them on Memorial Day,” Golke said. “I’m going to miss the families and the kids.”
The board has not yet found a replacement for Golke’s position, but he isn’t worried. He said some of the summer staff has been working with him for five and six years and he is confident they can do the job until someone is hired.
“They will be running the show and the board will be stepping up,” he said.
As for when the new director does step into the position, Golke has some words of encouragement for them.
“Take time to enjoy the place,” Golke said. “Get to know the people. I didn’t think I would get to know them like I have.”
Eric Garchow, 24, of Rockford, was not only a camper for seven years at Camp Concordia, but he has also been on staff for seven years. He said Golke has brought a lot of creative ideas to the camp and he is going to miss the “small things” like going out for ice cream with Golke.
“He made it special for the kids,” Garchow said. “I learned a lot from him and I am going to miss him.”