Editor's note: Every single Monday, Go Ask Mom features local parents, usually local moms. In June, in honor of Father's Day, we will be featuring local dads.
Seven years ago, after a career as a high school basketball coach and teacher in the United States and overseas, Greg Burton took over as executive director at New Life Camp in north Raleigh.
For many, Burton was taking the reins of a spot that's played a central role in generations of families. The Christian camp opened in 1950 on 70 acres near the intersection of Falls of Neuse and Durant roads. At the time, it was "near" Raleigh. Now, the city is all around it.
Over the years, the camp has added new programs to serve the growing population. Today, New Life isn't just home to summer camps. Families also come for sports and academic programs, along with special events. During the past 67 years, it's served 100,000 campers.
Now, camp leaders are ready to serve more. New Life has launched a $7.8 million capital campaign.
Plans call for 16 new cabins, a new dining hall, a new worship center and two new program buildings. The first phase will focus on raising $3 million by this August to pay for 10 new cabins and a worship center. The goal is to nearly double its year-round capacity and foster more community outreach and engagement. So far, more than $1.1 million toward that first phase has been raised.
I checked in with Burton, who has five kids ages 2 to 11 with wife Brittany, to learn more about the project and the goals at New Life. He also shared some tips for other dads. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: How did you get to become leader of New Life?
Greg Burton: We thought we would be planting our family overseas to use basketball and fitness as a platform to share our faith, but the journey landed us on 72 acres in the woods of north Raleigh running a year-round camp ministry!
GAM: What about the camp's history drew you to the place?
GB: The city had blown up around the ministry such that it went from serving a couple hundred kids in the early 1950s to 5,000 today. Transition needed to happen to equip the team and ministry to serve the massive growing needs of the community.
GAM: You're in the midst of a big capital campaign. What are the plans?
GB: The first goal is to replace our summer camp facilities so that thousands of kids will continue to have New Life Camp for decades to come to experience the love of Christ in a fun and safe environment, away from the noise! AND immediate plans are to pray and work to meet an AMAZING $400,000 match challenge that, if met, will allow us to fund 10 new cabins to facilitate our current capacity for the next many decades! Our first phase plans are to raise $3 million for 10 cabins and a tabernacle (worship center).
GAM: As you look to the future, how will the improvements help New Life grow and evolve?
GB: It is first and foremost meeting the needs of the growing community that want to use our facilities year round. We do not currently have that capacity. So, when we rebuild with cabins that are heated and air conditioned, that allows us to serve hundreds and hundreds more kids per year. We feel like that is imperative to wise stewardship.
GAM: You have five kids. As a dad, what do you wish you knew back in the early days when your oldest was just a newborn?
GB: I wish I would have begun immediately to give my wife the time and space she needed to get away from the noise of the world and hear God's voice. I wish that I would have known to take control of my schedule instead of my schedule controlling me. Finally, although I heard it, I wish I would have known how important it is for girls to hear “daddy loves you, you are beautiful, you are strong, you are smart” and for boys to hear, “I am proud of you."
Go Ask Mom features local parents every Monday - and only dads in June.