The year was 1955. A surprise
celebration was being planned in honor of one of Kanakuk’s finest
leaders and servant hearted couples. Kampers and staff from years gone by were
asked to send in notes of encouragement and favorite memories and in they
“thanks for what you have done for our boy and
“In appreciation of two grand summers and what they
meant. Best Wishes.”
“You and what you stand for have meant more to me than
anything in the world. Your favorite quote, ‘Be careful how you live, because
you may be the only bible others live by’, seems to be best applied to you.
This observation has been made time after time during our friendship.”
“I will always be grateful to you for the wonderful
assistance and guidance you gave to me in athletics. You took a stubborn kid (who
for some reason thought he could put a ball through a hoop as well as the next
fellow) into the ancient sport of track and caused some degree of success to
come his way. I’ll never forget the day in your office when the problem of
basketball versus track was ironed out…as a matter of fact I’ll never forget
your exact words.”
The celebration “was” being
planned because those are thoughts and memories are not about Kris Cooper but
of Coach Bill Lantz. Bill and his wife Nell ran “Kanakuk Kamp” for boys back in
its earliest days.
But those words could have
just as easily been said about K-1 Directors, Kris and Diane Cooper. From the
beginning until now the Coopers have been dedicated to showing the Gospel of
Jesus Christ to Kampers and staff alike who attended K-1.
After 37 years of faithful
service Kris and Diane are retiring from Kanakuk.
While the details are still
being worked out, schedules set, and final work yet to be done. We are
realizing that people we love dearly are leaving. It’s bitter sweet because we
know that the Lord’s plans for them are greater than anything we could imagine.
At the same time it’s hard to imagine not being warmed by their smiles on a
daily basis and encouraged by their words. Be encouraged from Coops and Mo in their letter to you,
The Coopers would want to
take this opportunity to make sure everyone understood that they are not worthy
of any praise, that any attention they might receive should be directed at
Jesus Christ. For all things begin and end with Him and any love that they may
have shared with you came from Him and continues to live in Him and through you.
Their greatest encouragement comes from seeing you living for Christ in a way
that honors Him and lifts others up.
At the same time they cherish
their relationships with you and the memories, no matter how old, are still
fresh and full of life. Talks in the Ponytail Parthenon, shooting baskets in
the K-Dome, chants in the dining hall, talks in the outdoor church, wrestling
in the arena, a quiet game of checkers, preparing for Tribal ceremonies, long
bike rides, weddings, funerals. The Coopers have been there, living life humbly
with us while at the same time leading us by their example.
To this day the influence of
Bill and Nell Lantz on Kanakuk lives deep in the culture, people, and programs.
It’s a spiritual heritage that we cannot forget. The impact of Kris and Diane
Cooper, even more so, will ring through the hills, fields, and halls of Kanakuk
because of you and the thousands of others who have walked through K-1’s gates.
Whenever, summer camp
leadership changes it leaves some questions. Who would fill this role? Who
could fill this role?! What will the Coopers be doing now?
The Coopers are resting in
the knowledge that they are being obedient to what God is calling them to do
and excited about what is next. They leave big shoes to fill.
At Kanakuk the goal is to
raise up leaders who have grown in their relationship with the Lord, have
proven themselves in the small things, accomplished big things through faith,
who humbly serve for the good of others. In that spirit, Shay and Ashley
Robbins, co-directors at Kanakuk K-2, have been asked and have accepted the
challenge of joining, Matt and Melissa Houston, and Michael and Erin Atmar in directing
at K-1. They, like you, have the deepest respect and admiration for Kris and
Diane and for years intentionally watched them and sought their wisdom even in
raising their family.
Shay and Ashley have served
well at K-2 and will bring an incredible joy and energy that in their own way
will continue a legacy that is 88 years in the making.
Countless Kampers and staff
across the country and the world call the Coopers friends and mentors. Will you
join us in celebrating their ministry?
We invite you to share with
us how the Coopers have impacted your life by writing them a note, sharing a
photo or telling us a story.
The Coopers, Our K-1 Heroes
1353 Lake Shore Drive