Growing as a Leader

Being a Part of the “Chicago 7”

Myself, Stan White, Mario Zandstra, Doug Goodwin & Jack McQueeney with one of our favorite leaders

One of the highlights of my work is the opportunity to be a part of an informal group of peer leaders. The first “official” time we met together was six and half years ago in Chicago. It was in that meeting that we adopted the now infamous name Chicago 7 (why it’s infamous is another story which I won’t bother blogging about).

Currently the group includes Mario Zandstra from Pine Cove Ministries in Texas, Stan White from Forest Home in Southern California, Doug Goodwin from Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri, Jack McQueeney with the Navigators’ Glen Eyrie/Eagle Lake in Colorado and John McAuley from Muskoka Woods in Ontario, Canada.

This past week we met in Washington, DC. Our time together included a full agenda of items to discuss, people to meet and things to see.

One of our discussion topics was a review of our purpose and objectives as a group. It provided a reminder of why these men have become so important to me personally and professionally and why I encourage others to be a part of such a peer group.

Our purpose is to encourage each other in our leadership of our respected organizations. We accomplish this by doing the following:


        Provide a safe place to talk about our lives both professionally and personally.

Openly share ideas, new programs, and organizational insights with each other.

Benchmark other organizations and meet with other leaders.

Provide accountability on issues we each face.

Pray together for each other’s work, family and personal life.

As a result of our intentional relationships each of these men has become a dear friend and partner in ministry. But even more important to us is the fact that over the years God has used our relationships to strengthen and expand His Kingdom here on earth – the most worthy purpose.



  • April

    I love that you guys are doing this, Michael. Not only to further Christ’s reach through camping ministry, but also for your personal lives. A great partnership- started and growing!

    My only challenging thought for the group- you all look the same. It speaks volumes to me of the homogeneous nature of camping ministry in America. Where are the people of color? Where are the women? How will we reflect the Kingdom as we serve all God’s kids?

    • mdperry1

      Thanks April for your comment. Please don’t “judge a book by it’s cover”. Looking the same doesn’t equate to being the same. One of the reasons I love this group is that we are very different in our approach to ministry, theology, our personal backgrounds and the cultures in which our camps operate in. We are not very homogeneous once you dig below the surface.

      Also, I don’t think it would be accurate to judge Christian camping across the country based on the photo of 6 executive directors. Though I’m sure there is improvement to be made in the diversity within Christian camping I can attest that it has improved both in the diversity of campers and camp leadership since I began working for SpringHill in 1998.

      With your help and the help of camp leaders around the country we can keep this trend moving forward.

      Thanks April for your comment and more importantly to your commitment to reaching kids.

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