As it does each year, H. E. Butt Foundation Camp hosted multiple organizations in nearly every week of 2018—a total of 204 groups across five campsites. One of those groups was Iron Men of God, which held their annual retreat at Linnet’s Wings, just down the river from Headwaters. The Iron Men of God are an assortment of men’s church groups from across Texas—from Dallas to Dilley to Corpus Christi. Joe Quintanilla of Corpus’ Parkdale Baptist Church coordinates the retreat to give men a chance to form transformative relationships.
Typically, Joe says, “men struggle with communication, but if they can start by communicating eye-to-eye with each other, they can learn to be better fathers, husbands, and sons.” So he brings them to the Canyon, which can be an incubator for relationships. “There’s no place like this,” Joe says, “in beauty and isolation.”
Joe is following in the footsteps of Iron Men’s founder, John Wranosky. John’s history with the Canyon goes back to 1954, when his father, the superintendent of Flour Bluff ISD and one of the earliest Foundation Camp groups, would bring him to retreats.
John says the Canyon is the only place he knows that can create true separation from the pull of everyday life. “I have a phone that gets signal in the jungles of Ecuador,” John says. “but not here. Your mind goes somewhere when you’re checking scores, or looking for where the next party is. You can’t see if you need to run home to fix something.”
Last year, nearly 24,000 individuals came through Foundation Camp, and they came from all over Texas and all walks of life. Director John Kerr says his team’s role for all these people is to help them settle into the quiet. “We cultivate wholeness by welcoming them here, and making room for God to do what only he can do,” says John. “People often show up worn out by life, but they go back recharged, rebuilt, and restored.”