Friday, December 18, 2009

Reasons to Give: Your support makes a difference

Have you ever heard the story about the boy and his grandfather who were strolling on the beach when the tide was out? They discovered a multitude of starfish drying out in the sun. The Grandfather started throwing starfish back into the sea. The boy protested, "Grandpa! What are you doing? Do you see how many starfish are on the beach? You can't make a dent in the number even if you stood here all day. What your doing doesn't make a difference."

The Grandpa looked at the starfish in his hand and said to the boy, "It makes a difference to this one."

It really can feel that our efforts don't make a difference when we consider the broad list of needs and causes in our world today. So when we give to something we really want to know that it makes a difference for the people the organization serves. We want to know, at least, if the ones we are supporting are getting back into the water, so to speak.

So we want to let you know that DinoMights does make a difference. We can't measure every intangible that makes "Hockey in the Hood" really great, but there are a few important things we can point to as indicators of success.

The mission of DinoMights is to equip our urban youth to develop Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual Excellence. So let's take a look at each area to see how DinoMights is making a difference.


Playing ice hockey teaches kids many things, and it also helps them to be physically healthy. 32% of US children and teens are overweight or obese. That is a staggering statistic. Meanwhile, there are currently no parks with recreational ice hockey rinks in Phillips, Powderhorn, and Central neighborhoods. Moreover, we hear quite often from parents that they don't feel completely safe about their kids going to the park to play. So DinoMights is providing the opportunity to stay active during the winter for kids in South Minneapolis.

We can point to the success of this effort in several ways. First we do a hockey skills test at the beginning and end of each season. Roughly 90-92% of DinoMights improve their skills on a yearly basis. This shows that participants are getting stronger and improving as athletes. They are bucking the trend of obesity by staying active throughout the winter.

Also, quite a few of our students have been able to play at higher levels. Over 30 DinoMights have participated in High School hockey, which is very competitive in the State of Minnesota. Many more have participated in other high school sports such as Track and Field, Football, and Cross Country.


The high school graduation rate for DinoMights is 85%. That is significantly higher than the Minnesota Department of Education report in 2005 that stated the rate for Minneapolis Public Schools is 55%. Again, that is staggering. A 30% difference is a significant statement in favor of DinoMights' academic success.

We provide tutoring mainly to our youngest students with the intention of getting them to read on grade level by the end of 3rd Grade. Reading on Grade level by the end of 3rd grade is a major predictor of future academic success. We perform yearly reading assessments on the tutoring students both to provide them with level appropriate materials and to see their improvement. Each year in the last decade, 100% of tutoring students have improved one reading grade level or more. In other words, 0% of DinoMights tutoring students have fallen further behind in reading for over 10 years.

Phillips, Central and Powderhorn are on the news far too often for violent acts of crime. In order to stay out of the news urban youth need positive places for peer interaction. One of the most common things students say on their yearly evaluations is that DinoMights helped them make friends.

Recently, one of the original DinoMights got married and he had another original DinoMight as his best man. Our intern Kelsey grew up in DinoMights and it is amazing to hear her perspective on how DinoMights influenced her childhood peer group. She is a junior in college and still spends time with her DinoMights teammates.

In addition, the youth growing up in the program learn the value of service. Each year DinoMights engages in the Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate Program. Our coaches and students teach the first graders at Green Central Elementary and Andersen Elementary how to ice skate. It is a major self-esteem booster for the first graders. Our kids see that and it makes them want to serve more.

15% of our volunteers are former students. Many grown DinoMights have served on the Park Ave. Church Summer Staff. Many more are involved in service careers and service with their churches.

It can be hard to measure spiritual impact. However, the students that have gotten the most out of DinoMights over the years are the ones that have learned that the Gospel, or Good News, to urban kids is a team sport that helps them stay physically healthy, academic support in the face of low performing schools, a great place to make friends, and the knowledge that Jesus loves them.

We don't force any of our students to become Christian. We also don't tell them what church to go to, how to be baptized, or how to take communion. We do however follow the command of God to love thy neighbor as thyself. We also take heed to Jesus' words that the Kingdom belongs to the children.

Many of the students value this part of DinoMights very much. One student put it this way on his yearly evaluation in response to what he values most about DinoMights, "That we beat the stereotype that all hockey players are white and that we do it through Jesus Christ."

In conclusion, your support makes a difference. It allows DinoMights to equip urban youth to develop Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual Excellence. When you look into the sea of needs and feel that your efforts don't matter, think of the DinoMights youth and know that it matters for these ones.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reasons to Give: There is a lot of need

Jose and Cornelius enjoy a fun moment at Picture Day 2009

One good reason to give to DinoMights is that DinoMights is filling gaps in places where there is a lot of need.

Phillips, Central and Powderhorn are some of the poorest neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. The median household income for Phillips Neighborhood is right about $20,000 There are about 37,000 people combined in the three South Minneapolis, MN neighborhoods served by DinoMights. Almost half of those are children and youth. 70% of the households in our neighborhoods have kids.

Unfortunately, that means that for the kids there is a deficit in resources compared to their greater metro area neighbors. Just think in terms of the opportunity to play a team sport like hockey. For a family to get started they first need to purchase equipment. For just one kid a family could spend anywhere from $500 to $1000 on equipment. By the way if you've learned the secret of a new full set of hockey for only $500 please share with the public.

Donated skates lined up for Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate. Learn 2 Skate will serve 220 inner city youth in 2010.

Imagine you were spending 5% of your income on equipment for just one child. That has not even accounted for the ice time yet, which may be anywhere from $400 to $1200 per child.

So the cost of hockey for much of the Twin Cities metro area could represent 10% of the income for the typical Phillips Neighborhood family!

So we are helping to provide that opportunity at an affordable cost to local families. Hockey is great. Kids can learn a lot from playing on a hockey team. However, as great as hockey is, hockey is just one way that kids can get what need.

There is a lot of need that comes along with poverty, and not all of it is financial. The Search Institute defines developmental assets that kids need in order to succeed. DinoMights is helping to provide many of the assets that low income families in an urban setting have difficulty providing. A few examples include Other Caring Adults, Service to others, Safety, Positive Peer Influence, High Expectations. There are many other assets that DinoMights helps to give youth. Take a look at the whole list for 8-12 year olds here.

Without these needs met kids are likely to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. They are likely to drop out (about 45% of MPS students drop out). They are likely to come to believe that this world doesn't care about them. And the world is likely to miss out on the joy and beauty they can actually contribute.

So please consider supporting DinoMights financially this year end, because there is a lot of need. DinoMights is helping to meet those needs so that kids can succeed as adults and share their gifts with the world.

If you would like to give to DinoMights please use the widget on the right side of the screen or visit our online donation page.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reasons to Give

I once heard in a fundraising seminar that the number one reason people give to a non-profit organization is because they are asked. I guess that makes sense. In order to give to something you at least need to know that something or someone needs your help. So for the next few days I'll be writing about Reasons to give to DinoMights this Holiday Season.

Up front, if the number one reason people give is because they are asked, then I would like to humbly ask for your support of Hockey in the Hood. Now, I know that money is a sensitive topic, and things are tight for many Americans right now. However, DinoMights is a reputable 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization and we do rely on the kindness of financial givers in order to continue the work we do on the South side of Minneapolis.

We do need your help. Our budget for 2009 is $158,000. What a bargain! We served about 250 kids in 2009 from low income neighborhoods with Ice Hockey, Summer Camps, Tutoring, Community Service, Technology classes, Learn 2 Skate Programs, and Faith Based Love at a budgeted cost of about $158,000.

The funds to support DinoMights come from a variety of sources, which can be put into three main categories: Individual Givers, Grants, and Corporate Giving. Individual givers are everyday people that believe in what DinoMights stands for and believes that DinoMights is doing a good job. Grants come from foundations and major corporations that have set aside funds to give to causes they believe in. Typically grants require an application process and sometimes a site visit, because the Foundations want to make sure that they are giving to worthy causes. We're pleased to be supported by some wonderful foundations that truly hold us accountable for the work we're doing. The list includes The National Hockey League, The McKnight Foundation and The General Mills Foundation among others. Visit our partners page to see more. Finally, corporate giving includes free will gifts from business as well as sponsorship of our annual fundraising event.

Right now we are about $20,000 from our year end financial goal. It may sound like a lot, but most of our individual giving happens in December. Of course, $20,000 is nothing to sneeze at. However, if people who see the need decide to give their support this is a very achievable goal.
If you would like to give to DinoMights this holiday season you can do so by clicking on the widget on the right of the screen. You may also visit our online giving page by clicking the link. All gifts are tax-deductible.

If you are in a position to make a major donation in the amount of $10,000, $5,000, or $2,500, and you think this is a worthy cause we would love your support! If you would like to contact me with any questions at all, please feel free.

If you want to make sure that you have Good Reasons to Give, stay tuned this week. I'll be writing about a variety of Good Reasons to support DinoMights in 2009!

Monday, December 14, 2009


A student and tutor prepare for graduation: 2018

“Why are you doing this? I’m gonna be in so much trouble.”

Those are the words of a DinoMights high school student when confronted with the reality of a meeting between his school counselor, his parents and DinoMights staff/tutors. I thought, but didn’t say out loud (mainly because I wasn’t the one on the phone at the time), “You’re already in trouble. In fact, you need to get in trouble right now. What’s going to happen if you don’t get in trouble right now?”

He’s not doing well in school, but he is rather intelligent. Thus, it is easy for him to rationalize away the work and gain the trust of adults so that they believe it is really a minor problem. But, it’s not a minor problem.

Over the fifteen-year history of DinoMights, 85% of our participants have graduated from high school. That’s a big number compared to the 55% of Minneapolis Public School students that graduate according to the Minnesota Department of Education (2005). Now consider the lifetime economic realities for non-high school graduates. According to a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune Article, “Mixed reviews for state’s graduation rates”, by James Walsh (June 12, 2007) less than 10% of non-high school graduates earn more than $35,672 annually and most of those are concentrated in the lowest earning bracket with a median income of just $12,638. That is not a living wage for the 58% of African American and 36% of Asian students that do not graduate high school in Minnesota. Talk about trouble.

Here’s a quote regarding another teen from history with whom many of us are familiar, “Mary was greatly troubled by his words . . .” The quote comes from the Bible in the book of Luke. This is how the Christmas story starts . . . with trouble. Mary, the future mother of Jesus, is faced with the prospect of being an unwed teen mother in a culture where she could be disowned by her family or thrown down a well for being pregnant. Talk about trouble.

Let’s face it, many of us are in trouble right now. Someone reading this letter is out of a job, losing money on their home, or dipping into retirement funds to get by. We have a supporter who is having housing problems, a board member with health problems, and a volunteer who has had several adoptions fall through. Is it going to be like this forever? Is Christmas really for those of us in trouble?

The boy didn’t want to be in that meeting, but he had to be there. He had to hear that this trouble was for his benefit. He had to hear that this trouble was for the benefit of his family and friends as well. For if he is able to overcome this moment then he will be able to share his talents and gifts with the world. His dad said to him, “you may be upset now, but one day you will look back on this moment and thank God.”

The girl, Mary, too had to face this trouble, and she embraced it as the Lord’s servant. For the trouble of Christmas resulted in a Savior to the world. We all needed for her to have that trouble at just that time, because Christmas really is for those in trouble.

This Christmas season please help DinoMights to continue sharing both the lives of those in trouble as well as celebrating with so many who have overcome trouble. Please consider making a year-end gift to help DinoMights achieve its year-end goals. Although times are tough we still have hope that we can raise $20,000 this December. Gifts of all shapes and sizes are welcome to help this effort from the smallest to the largest. We are certain we can make this goal if in addition to the many generous gifts we receive, there are 4 givers able to make a gift of $2,500, 2 at $5,000, or 1 at $10,000 or more. You may give by using the widget on the right side of this blog or by visiting our online giving page on Finally, we are certain that troubled times won’t last forever, for the one who is Savior forever has overcome much trouble.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

15th Annual Fundraiser

Dear Friends of DinoMights,

During the last 15 years an unlikely group of urban kids has been saying things that we aren't used to hearing. They have been saying things like,

"Hockey is for Everyone."
"We are graduating from high school!"
"I'll be serving my community this summer."
"The Lord has changed my life."

DinoMights has been making a statement for 15 years. In 1995, John Foley founded DinoMights with just 12 participants. Since that time the group has grown. We expect to serve 325 kids in 2010. The group has traveled the world from Minneapolis to Chicago to Detroit to South Africa! For a decade and a half, long-term relationships between inner-city youth and positive caring adults has resulted in an overall graduation rate 30% higher than the rate for Minneapolis Public Schools. Those same students are serving their communities and involved in their churches. Today all signs point to a bright future carrying on the legacy that began 15 years ago. On the brink of our 15th Anniversary DinoMights Makes a Statement!

DinoMights circa 1999

DinoMights is a youth development organization in Minneapolis, MN that serves children from early childhood to high school graduation with the mission, “to equip our urban youth to develop Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual excellence” (P.A.S.S). We use hockey as an incentive to foster whole life development in a diverse group of children residing in the Phillips, Powderhorn, and Central neighborhoods. We provide academic tutoring and enrichment; community service and mentorship; and various faith based activities that help fulfill the mission.

We will be celebrating our Anniversary and Making Statements for our future at The DinoMights' 15th Annual Fundraiser on Monday November 16, 7:00 PM at International Market Square (275 Market Street, Minneapolis, MN). The event will feature a student led program, desserts by D'Amico Catering, a Silent Auction, and a chance to Make your own Statement with your support of DinoMights. Our special guest this year will be The Stanley Cup. Bring your cameras if you want to get a picture with the Cup! The Stanley Cup is the oldest sports trophy in the world. We will learn more about its history and legend from the Cup handlers during our program. The Silent Auction will feature many of the same items that guests have enjoyed in the past: Sports Memorabilia, Event Tickets (Gopher Hockey, Guthrie Theater, Children's Theater), and items that make great Christmas gifts. In addition we will have Two Night Stays at both Grand Superior Lodge and Caribou Highlands located on Lake Superior's North Shore!

One of the main reasons that DinoMights has been able to be effective for so long is that generous people such as yourselves have stood behind this unique effort with your financial support. Giving to DinoMights makes a statement that you believe in the good work is being done and that it ought to continue into the future. So we would love it if you could come and support us in 2009. Please RSVP by November 11 if you are planning to attend. If you are unable to attend, but would like to support DinoMights you can give online using the security of PayPal by clicking on the giving widget at right or by visiting . Our goal is to raise $1000 online before the event. If you are a blogger yourself, you can even post that widget on your own blog to help with our efforts. DinoMights is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization and all gifts are tax deductible.

If you want to learn more about the event please visit . You can also get updates about the event including Silent Auction Featured items right here on our blog. If you are interested in making a major contribution or contributing through your business please take a look at our sponsorship packet at . Finally, please feel free to pass this message on to anyone you know that may be interested in attending the DinoMights Fundraiser or supporting DinoMights.

With Sincere Thanks,

Scott Harman
Executive Director

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Silent Auction Feature: Autographed Items

The DinoMights Silent Auction traditionally features autographed sports memorabilia. We have had some very fun items in the past. Especially if you are a Minnesota Sports fan. Here are a few things you can expect to find in this year's auction:

Phil Housley is considered one of the best American born Defensemen ever to play in the National Hockey League. He attended South St. Paul High School and then went on to play 21 years in the NHL. At the time of his retirement he was the highest scoring American born player in the history of the league. Today he is a coach at Stillwater High School, and he also is active in the community promoting youth hockey through the Phil Housley Foundation.

"Rod Carew lined, chopped and bunted his way to 3,053 career hits. His seven batting titles are surpassed only by Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn and Honus Wagner, and equaled only by Rogers Hornsby and Stan Musial. He used a variety of relaxed, crouched batting stances to hit over .300 in 15 consecutive seasons with the Twins and Angels, achieving a .328 lifetime average. He was honored as American League Rookie of the Year in 1967, won the league MVP 10 years later and was named to 18 straight All-Star teams. He remains a national hero in Panama." --Baseball Hall of Fame Web site

There will be many more autographs in the auction as well as many more exciting items. Bidders stay tuned for more auction features!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Silent Auction Feature: Grand Superior Lodge

This year's Silent Auction is going to have some incredible items up for bid. The event takes place during DinoMights' 15th Annual Fundraiser at International Market Square, November 16, 2009 7:00 PM. In this post I'd like to tell you about one of the most exciting items of 2009:


"Let the sound of the waves washing ashore refresh you. Let the sun and moon traversing the lake's horizon relax you. Let the comforts of a fire place and whirlpool tub restore you." --Grand Superior Website

The winner of this auction item will enjoy a relaxing two night stay at a beautiful North Shore resort. Grand Superior Lodge is located on the North Shore of Lake Superior near Two Harbors, MN. The resort is just 2 miles away from Gooseberry Falls State Park and 10 miles from Split Rock Lighthouse. The room features King size bed, whirlpool, and fireplace.

Retail Value: $538

Opening Bid: $250

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big DinoMight Weekend

This weekend was a big weekend for DinoMight participants! On Friday evening the girl's team kicked off their season with a bonfire and fireworks at a former teammate's house. They roasted lots of marshmallows and enjoyed just hanging out with each other!

Saturday was everyone's first hockey practice of the year. It was interesting to see how much the program has grown since I was a player--there were SO many kids! It was especially fun to see all of the new faces and experience all of the excitement with some of the littlest kids. There was a really great turnout of parents as well. We wanted as many parents as possible to come to the first practice in order to register their kids and also to attend an informational meeting about the program. Since many of our kids parents are Spanish speakers, Scott asked me to help translate key points of the meeting. I was super nervous but the parents were very gracious about the fact that I am still learning and were very encouraging :)

It is going to be a GREAT year!!

Keyana (little sister of DinoMight alumni Greg and Ben) sporting a vintage DinoMight sweatshirt at Saturday's practice

Friday, October 9, 2009

Drum Roll Please . . . DinoMights would like to make a very special announcement . . . Our special guest for the 2009 Fundraiser will be . . . The Stanley Cup!

The event is just around the corner. The invites are on their way to the post office. This year's event will make a statement!

Picture in your head the captain of the Stanley Cup Champions lifting the legendary trophy over his head. He pumps the 35 pound prize to signify the completion of his team's accomplishment. All the hard work, all the injuries, all the time . . . All to boisterously make this silent statement by carrying the cup over head.

Maybe one day a DinoMight will grow up to be a pro hockey player and have the experience of that exact moment.

Maybe not.

Probably not.

But we have the same joy at graduation. We have the same joy to see our young people grow up to be adults concerned for their community. We have the same joy to see our young people embrace their faith.

So, yeah, this is a good guest for this year's event. I hope you will help us celebrate!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DinoMights at the Wild Game

Every year the DinoMights get to sell programs at a preseason MN Wild game as a fundraiser. I was in a group with 4th grade girls this year and was very impressed with their sales skills! One little girl came up to me after making a sale and triumphantly announced "I used my puppy eyes!" After working hard for the first half of the game the kids were able to take a seat and watch the rest. Some even got to hang out with the MN Wild mascot, Nordy :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

It Takes a Village

Though it seems like a distant memory because of the sudden cold front that hit Minnesota this morning, I was able to soak up every minute of Saturday's gloriously perfect weather! Nine year old Dinomight participant Edward and his five year old brother Moises joined my cousin and I for a fun day at the Minnesota Zoo. The kids loved seeing the flamingos, tigers, monkeys, bears, and sea otters, but their unanimous favorites were the prairie dogs. It was so much fun to hang out and enjoy what felt like an extension of summer. At one point as we were walking around the zoo Edward was talking about how much fun he was having and he turned to me and asked:

"Why do all the coaches love us?"

He seemed genuinely curious. I think I responded with something along the lines of how all the kids were so awesome that we can't help but love them, but his comment really struck me. Sometimes working with youth can be discouraging. You are often faced with a student who is living through really rough circumstances and when solutions to their problems don't come quickly, it's easy to wonder if you are doing enough. I think Edward's question really hit the core of DinoMights' greatest success: Something we are doing is making the kids feel loved.

I would really like to emphasize the word "We" in that statement. I have been tutoring Edward for the last couple of years, but he didn't ask why "I" loved him so much. He didn't ask why Rich, Leah, Scott, Eric, or the other Leah loved him so much. He referred to us as a community of people who care about him and his teammates. The community of caring adults that DinoMights provides for its students is so incredibly valuable. A popular ratio among youth workers used to be 1-7. If you--as one mentor--had seven students in your life that you were investing time into, you were a successful youth worker. However, the Search Institute did some studies recently and decided that the ratio needs to be flipped. To make the greatest impact, the real ratio should be 7 caring adults for every 1 student. I have gotten very close to Edward over the last few years and am excited that I get to continue being a part of his life, but I also recognize that he may face things that I am unequipped to respond to. For example, there will inevitably be times when he will need a male to turn to rather than a female. Being a part of a community means that I don't have to feel like I am investing into any particular kid by myself. I am a part of a team of people with different skills, talents, backgrounds, cultures, professions and personalities, who share the same goal of loving these kids and helping them to succeed. I felt that sense of community growing up in the program and those relationships with caring adults are still very important to me today. DinoMights provides that 7-1 ratio for kids. The kids can feel the love and are learning at an early age that they are valued. That says a lot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Introducing Kelsey

Hey Everybody!
My name is Kelsey and I am very excited to let you all know that I will be doing an internship with DinoMights this semester. I grew up in South Minneapolis and DinoMights has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Both of my older brothers were on the very first DinoMight team back in 1995, and I joined the team shortly thereafter. Since then 4 more of my siblings have been involved, bringing the grand total to SIX Sundberg's who have proudly worn the Dinomight jersey. I have loved being a DinoMight tutor for the last three years and I can't wait to be involved in the other aspects of the program and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at a non-profit. I am currently a full-time student at Augsburg College, majoring in Social Work and minoring in Spanish so this internship will give me the opportunity to expand my knowledge in both of those areas. I am so excited to see what these next few months will bring! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Introducing Pa Kou

While we will miss having Leah Engelhart on staff, we are very pleased to introduce Pa Kou Yang as the new Program Assistant at DinoMights. One of the greatest assets that Pa Kou provides to youth in the Phillips, Powderhorn, and Central Neighborhoods is that she is one of them! That's right, she grew up here and still lives here. Enjoy reading what Pa Kou herself has to say about her new position at DinoMights.


I am Pa Kou Yang, the new Program Assistant at DinoMights. It’s really hard to find a work place that values the same things as you, and so I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization where I can do two things that I love: educate students and serve God.

A little about myself: I was raised all my life in south Minneapolis right in the Powderhorn Neighborhood. I went to Minneapolis schools throughout my Elementary and High school years, and graduated from Augsburg College in 2005 with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. My career as an educator really started when I landed a job with Park Avenue Methodist Church as a summer counselor. I needed a job and they needed counselors. Little did I know that God would use me in such an amazing way that summer. It changed my life forever. The church was a second home where I felt safe. At the end of that summer, I realized that my calling in life is to serve kids in the city.

Living in the neighborhood and being part of organizations like DinoMights has given me opportunities to minister to kids like myself. It’s been such a blessing to see how much these kids have grown over the years. Many of them are now starting their first year or second years in college, and many of them return to DinoMights or to Park Avenue Church to serve the community. I really believe that just like myself, many of them continues to participate because they want to show these children the love that was given to them when they were younger. Therefore, I would like to thank DinoMights for giving me the opportunity to touch the lives of kids and I look forward to meeting new people as well as learning more about Hockey.


Pa Kou Yang

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thanks Leah

Last week our Program Assistant, Leah Engelhart, transitioned from being a staff member back to being a volunteer. She spent the last two years as an employee of DinoMights, and now she is beginning the next phase of her career as a Student Teacher. We are so very thankful for her great work and her friendship to the kids, volunteers, and staff. We are also thankful that, while she won’t be working for DinoMights, she will still be close by. Leah has volunteered to continue loving DinoMights kids by serving as this year’s Girls Team Coach!

To honor Leah as she moves on, I decided to include in this month’s letter an excerpt from her personal blog This entry really shows Leah’s heart for our kids and that she has truly embraced DinoMights’ philosophy of long term relationships.

Last week the DinoMights had their annual Academic Power Camp.

We had 18 new students attend the camp. Often when we recruit kids who are going into 2nd grade, if their siblings are in elementary school we invite them to join as well. One of the new kids had an older 4th grade sister who decided to join DinoMights. At Power Camp, the other 4th grade girls were not being very inclusive during game time. They all attend the same school, and this new girl does not.

I have hope for these 4th grade girls . . .

I began tutoring/mentoring Lacy when she was in 4th grade. She is now going into 7th grade. This past week at camp she asked this new 4th grade girl to play a game with her. I observed this interaction and welled up with emotion. Throughout the week she continually included this girl. Lacy has 3 younger siblings looking up to her, but also many other eyes watching and admiring her actions. She is such a beautiful girl and I am continually grateful to have her in my life.

I love that Leah points out how thankful she is to observe growth in Lacy, and at the same time she expects growth in today’s 4th graders. Leah gets it. She made a choice to love Lacy, and now she is watching Lacy love others. Not that Leah is the sole reason that Lacy made friends with a new student, it’s that love is something that you give away. And when you see someone that you love giving it away you can’t help but feel that your mission is being accomplished!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dance Off: Part 2

Last week we had such a great time on the ice with our special guest coach EJ. Eric Johnson, lead instructor for Impact Hockey, came out and gave our kids one of the best hockey clinic experiences we've ever had! Eric helped us out this week as a part of the Kelly Phillips Foundation effort to serve people and causes that Kelly Phillips would care for. Please visit the Kelly Phillips Foundation website and learn more about this special young lady.

One of the best things EJ brought to the camp was pure fun. He hooked up his ipod and we had several impromptu dance parties throughout the week. Here's some more viewable footage of the great fun!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The next viral video hit

Props to Coach E.J. for making our practice so fun today. Today was the first ever DinoMights on ice dance party! Take a look and have a laugh.

I took the video on my phone, that's why it is small.

By the way, no one has guessed the special guest for our Nov. 16 fundraiser yet. If you look over the posts you will get all the clues. It's going to get easier and easier.

Next Clue
I am not human. Who am I.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Silver Birch Day 4

Well we will be returning home tomorrow. Today is our last day of activities.

One thing that I am really looking forward to this year is sharing camp with my daughter Selah. Here's a few pictures of her from last year and a recent picture so you can see how much she has grown. I can't wait to post pictures of her from camp 2009! Stay tuned for those, they may appear on theHarman Family Blog next week.

A bedtime story in the cabin

Sitting in the bumbo in the cafeteria

Selah a year later excited to go to camp!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Silver Birch Day 3

By now some of our boys will have caught creatures of all sorts and made them pets. The boys were not originally going to have sinks in their cabin again in '09, but it turns out that they do. So just to prove that the animals are real and are really living in the sink of the cabin, here's some photographic evidence.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Silver Birch Day 2

Kathy smiles from the swing set at Silver Birch Ranch

Monday, August 10, 2009

Silver Birch Day 1

I won't have access to the internet from camp, but I can schedule some posts ahead of time. So each day expect to see some pictures from Silver Birch '08. Enjoy the pictures, pray for us, and don't forget to try and guess our special guest for the fundraiser on Monday Nov. 16! The first person to guest gets a brand new DinoMights t-shirt. I promise the t-shirts are going to be very cool this year.

Francisco, Danny, Brian and Noe at Chapel with their counselor John

Ivan and Franco explore camp and discover horseshoes

Friday, August 7, 2009

Follow up Prayer Requests

Thanks for praying for DinoMights.

Here's what I can tell you about our prayer requests:

1) We have a boy with a broken elbow. He will need surgery next week. He was supposed to go to Silver Birch Camp this week, and that is probably the biggest hurt he is feeling. Please pray for his surgery and for his feelings about missing camp.

2) A DinoMights dad has had surgery to relieve pressure in his skull. Right now he is being medically sedated. It sounds like all the brain scans have been positive, and the medical team will probably decide to wake him up in the next 24 hours. It is hard on the kids to see their dad this way. Pray for recovery and mercy on this family.

3) Pray for 25 DinoMights who will be at Silver Birch Ranch beginning on Sunday. They will be having a really great time. All the while, there are still concerns looming at home. Pray for us on staff as well that we can share the good news with our kids as we spend a week showing off God's love.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Prayer Requests

If you are a person who prays, please pray for DinoMights. We always have something going on in some family's life that needs God's attention. Right now we have several important things to lift up.

• A boy who should be going to camp in a few days hurt his elbow pretty badly today. It will be a big disappointment if he can't go.

• The father of two of our kids is in the hospital right now. It sounds like he has had some sort of injury to the head. We don't know much, but please pray for him and the family.

• We have a teenage girl who is really struggling with a family situation right now. She is having some self-destructive thoughts and feelings.

That's just the stuff we're thinking about right now. There is plenty more that needs the merciful hand of God. God does love us, and he wants to be a participant in our lives. Praying is a way of participating with God in the lives of His global community. Please take this opportunity to lift up the lives of these DinoMights.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I want to know Wednesday

1) I want to know what has come over the DinoMights that they are actually filling out their camp permission forms on time!

Leah and Mari with their cabin of Dinos at Silver Birch Ranch '08

On Sunday, we will leave for Silver Birch Ranch. We expect to take about 25 DinoMight to Northern Wisconsin for a week filled with fun and fellowship. For many years, we've partnered with the Park Ave Youth and Family Services to do camp for kids who have finished 3rd through 5th grades (If you are an alumni reading this, Silver Birch has replaced Honey Rock. Nothing against Honey Rock, the schedule just didn't work out to go there anymore).

So once again we set out on the road. We've asked the families to fill out the forms for camp and return them to the DinoMights office. Now normally when we do something like this, it requires multiple visits to multiple kid's houses. But, for some reason this year the kids have really taken the responsibility and turned in their forms. I guess the word is out: Camp is something that kids really want to go to.

Brian in a canoe

2) I want to know what interesting critters the boys will catch this year.

Last year it was raining during our night to make s'mores. So the boys made S'mores indoors in a room with a fireplace. The kids were all playing board games while enjoying their treats. The Dino boys said, "Hey look Scott, the turtle is playing CLUE."

"Oh, that's nice," was my first reaction. I thought they had found a turtle game piece from another game and were using it in place of Col. Mustard. Then I looked and saw this game piece moving on its own. It was in fact a real turtle. The boys named him Snappy, and kept him in the cabin sink along with about a dozen frogs. Some of the frogs were missing their legs. The boys explained that Snappy was eating them.

Snappy the turtle (Don't worry he was released back into the lake before we went home. . . I think).

The year before these same boys stole the show when they performed their sketch on the final evening of camp by throwing Crawfish into the crowd.

3) I want to know if camp baby can make a successful transition to camp toddler.

Selah discovering her hand as a three month old at Silver Birch Camp '08

Honey Rock and now Silver Birch have always had a strong family feel. Our main camp speaker, Chris McNair, has always brought his whole family to camp. John and Erin Foley used to bring their kids. Now, Kari and I get to bring our little girl, Selah, to camp. Although, she can only say a few words (relatively speaking, she's pretty verbal for her age), and although she can barely walk, she still has a ministry to the kids at camp. Kids see this sweet little baby, and just sense the gentle nature of a young life. They see her laughing the first laughs of a life and they can't help but be transported to an innocent place of peace.

This year ought to be a lot of fun for Selah. She was not quite four months last year. Now she can go swimming, visit horses, and play on the playground. Doing this trip together as a family is without doubt what I am most looking forward to.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Clue #5

Pictured above is the "Hockey in the Hood Cup." It is the academic award given to the DinoMights students who show teamwork, positive attitude, and academic excellence at Power Camp and during the school year. It is also, the next clue to our special fundraiser guest on Monday November 16. If you've been reading the posts lately it should start coming together!

The first person to guess correctly by leaving a comment on the blog, will be the first to reserve a DinoMights 15th Anniversary Limited Edition T-Shirt!

Friday, July 31, 2009

More clues

So far there haven't even been any guesses at to the DinoMights special fundraiser guest!

Give it your best shot. Leave a comment with your best guess. You could be the winner of a brand new, not even off the presses, DinoMights T-Shirt. You may even have the chance to stand in the presence of our guest.

Read through the last few posts to get the first three clues. Here is the next clue:

4) I'm kind of shiny


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't give up

"Have Fun," Jose said to me in his gruff voice smiling ear to ear.
"You had fun this week," I said almost as a question to confirm that I understood.
"You liked Power Camp and going to ValleyFair," I said, again in a question like way to make sure I understood.

We were at the end of a long week, as far as youth work goes. Power Camp is a lot of work. It is a lot of work to coordinate academic lessons for kids ranging all the way from 1st grade to 8th grades, and make it fun. It is a lot of work to manage the transportation logistics of around 60 kids getting to and from camp everyday. Not to mention the actual youth work; when we are actually working with youth. It's about a 60 hour work week for us on staff.

So there we stood at the end of a long week, after a super fun day at Valleyfair (The premier amusement park in the state) ready to board a bus back to DinoMights' Headquarters. I'm not sure "Have fun" were the words rattling in my ears. It was something more like "sleep," or "Don't work tomorrow," or "I wonder if my family will remember me."

Jose is going into 4th grade. He doesn't say much, and when he does it can be tough to understand. He couldn't hear for the first few years of his life. What he did hear was mostly Spanish. He has had several operations since we've known him, and can hear much better now. He's learning a lot of English, and is less afraid of communicating. However, he's still pretty quiet most of the time. His facial expressions usually tell most of the story.

"Have fun," with an ear to ear smile says it all. Jose had it all last week. It didn't matter that he couldn't go in the pool because of his ears, and he had no idea how much work went into providing that fun time. But, in his own way he still said, "Thank you very much. You have no idea, Scott, what this means to me."