Recap of Escape To The Lake 2015
I called last year's Escape To The Lake the highlight of my professional career. I didn't think it could be topped this year. I was wrong. ETTL 2015 is a new high-water mark for UTR and my 21-year career in Christian radio. We were witness to God doing incredible work in our midst, and many lives have been impacted in truly deep ways - mine included. This year was extra special because it almost never happened. When my prior employer pulled the plug on UTR last October, everything associated with UTR - the podcast, the websites, the concerts, and even ETTL - could have dissolved completely. But thanks to the prayers and financial contributions of our supporters, all of these things are alive and well, and we believe UTR's brightest days are ahead!
Tis our tradition to gather music lovers from across the country and convene at Conference Point Center in Williams Bay, WI. This year's event took place July 2-5, with the addition of our first ever ETTL Songwriters Bootcamp on July 1-2. This pre-event gathering went beyond our expectations, and a great deal of comraderie and edification took place for the two dozen participants and eight artist-mentors. Some of the attendees called it "amazing," "very helpful," "affirming," and "invaluable." It's something we will surely repeat for 2016!
A huge part of the quality of the event is the amazingly high-caliber roster of performers and speakers, this year including Ginny Owens, The Vespers, SHEL, Burlap To Cashmere, Justin McRoberts, Jenny & Tyler, Christopher Williams, Joy Ike, John J. Thompson, Giants & Pilgrims, Christa Wells, Nick Flora, Randall Goodgame, and around a dozen more. We are grateful for their genuine hearts and generous artistry. A huge "thanks" goes to my partner-in-crime Christiaan Snedeker and the team at Lake Geneva Camps & Conferences. And also I'm extremely grateful for Zak Tibstra who really dug his heals in as our volunteer coordinator and allowed me to be more community focused than the prior two years (with a major assist by the entire UTR volunteer team).
Here are some personal highlights for me: I got to experience the ETTL campfire for the *first time* in three ETTLs; discovering the music of Jess Ray (who wasn't even on our roster list); hearing brand new songs written by Livi Goodgame (age 14) and Skye Peterson (age 12); watching an unprecedented amount of spontaneous artist collaboration on stage; the vulnerability of Erika Chambers; hosting the 3rd annual music game show; the uncanny perfect weather for the entire event; the mint chocolate chip milk shake; the PPC (powered parachute) - now a thing of legend; and the amazing testimonials that poored through the chapel in the closing session.
Here are some of the reflections by others on ETTL 2015:
* "Being part of Escape to the Lake was one of the highlights of my year!! What an honor to be included in such a special and unique festival with so many incredible musicians! It did my heart good. I seriously can’t thank you enough!" - Ginny Owens (artist)
* "This is a sad admission, but we had stopped listening to Christian music. ETTL 2015 and what UTR is working to accomplish opened my eyes to a new world of Christian music and it intrigued me a lot. It was what we needed and I thank ALL involved for allowing us to be a part of this." - Kim Greening (attendee)
* "ETTL was a beautiful campground bristling with beautiful people and kissed by perfect weather. Soulful, handmade songs lilted through the tree branches and reflected off the waves of an impossibly expansive shore. Everywhere I turned there were smiles and laughs and songs." - John J. Thompson (speaker)
* "That was a truly special weekend. Betony, the girls, and I felt so loved, the music was so good and I feel like I have more friends now than I did last week." - Tim Coons (artist)
* "It was such an honor to be in a place where truth and grace intersected. For the past few years, that has been a rare thing for me to find. I think the Holy Spirit has begun to chip away at some of my cynicism and hard-heartedness thanks to ETTL and UTR's ministry, and the people I met and sang with this last weekend. Again, so grateful." - Olivia Butz (attendee)
* "I tried to describe ETTL 2015 to some friends tonight. I may have sounded ridiculous. I couldn't get across how wonderful it was!" - Matthew Clark (artist)
And since a picture is worth a thousand words - here is a fun photo montage video set to The Vespers performing on the ETTL main stage!