Iowa native, lifelong camp leader selected as Fontanelle director

David Burke

3/17/2021

Ryan Siver left his future to chance and hasn’t regretted a single moment.
 

Ryan Siver
“My senior year of high school, I almost coin-flipped it,” the Iowa native recalled. “I was either going to be a missionary in Alaska for the summer or go work for a camp.”

He ended up working for Camp Aldersgate in southwest Iowa, and knew he made the right decision by his first summer.

“One of the kids had a hard time adjusting and getting along with the group,” Siver recalled. “Late one night, toward the middle or end of the week, he ended up spilling his guts as far as things he was struggling with and, ‘How does God love me even when I’ve been bad?’

“Just walking him through that and seeing the change in his behavior, almost immediately accepting Christ and how his week played out – that experience solidified my need to be in camping,” he added.

A veteran of camping and camp ministry for his whole career, Siver has been named as the new site director for Camp Fontanelle, near Nickerson, Nebraska. He will begin April 1.

“I think his experience in what seems to be a lifetime of camping will serve us well,” said the Rev. Lyle Schoen, Camp Fontanelle site council chair. “His vision of the future of camping in eastern Nebraska will both match what we want and will help lead us where we want to go.”

Siver followed his camp-management mentor to New York State, also serving a camp named Aldersgate, and where he met his wife, Amanda. He has worked for small Christian camps and 4-H camps, and for the past five years has led Skye Farm, a 400-acre Christian retreat and summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

The location of Fontanelle – about an hour from a nearby sister in Iowa – was one of the draws for Siver, he said.
 
Ryan Siver and his wife Amanda have four children, Grace, Noah, Toby and Micah. Contributed photo
His wife is a certified junior and senior high math educator and will return to teaching when their youngest two children – Toby, 5, and Micah, 3 – reach school. Their older children are Grace, 13, and Noah, 10.

Siver, who turns 40 in June, said he was impressed by what he saw at the camp during his job interview.

“I think that Fontanelle has a really good foundation, a really good base. I see some big growth potential in Fontanelle with some very minor tweaks,” he said. Among them is “increasing diversity among campers, something I’ve done here (in New York). One of my desires is to really see a growth in that diversity.”

The diversity among campers “was one of the things that tipped the scale in his favor,” Schoen said.

Siver enters Fontanelle as the camp is in the midst of a capital campaign that has thus far raised $2.7 million for a new conference center, bunkhouse and bathhouse.

“Our fundraising is in good shape,” despite setbacks from COVID, Schoen said.

“For a little camp in eastern Nebraska that can only appeal to four districts, we think we’ve done very well,” Schoen said.

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at dburke@greatplainsumc.org.
 
 


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