By Lindsay Diener
From the very beginning of its ministry, Pine Lake Fellowship Camp has been focused on the mission of reconciliation. Some would say that bringing people together is what camp does best! There are many stories of God working in the lives of his people at Pine Lake. And since it is Valentine’s Day, we thought it’d be fitting and fun to share the story of a couple whose relationship was impacted by the way God has used camp in each of their lives and led to marriage.
Ruskin and Judy Clay have both served as members on Pine Lake’s Board of Directors for several years. But before that, they both attended summer camp from the time they were young and later served on summer staff. Though neither of them can recall a specific “first time we met” story, they would have been campers together from the time they were preteens!
Both Ruskin and Judy tell of their memories of making friends, singing songs around the campfire, and being challenged spiritually during their years of attending summer camp. They each went on to serve as summer camp staff, and years later began serving on camp’s board. And slowly, their story evolved. As Judy tells it, “PLFC has had a big role in our love story. It’s where we first met. It’s been a ministry we’ve both been involved in for years. It’s where I first realized Ruskin was a person I really liked and wanted to know better. And it’s where we got married!”
“It is hard to explain, but there is something about serving together that brings a couple together.”
Ruskin agrees that Pine Lake has had a big impact as their lives as individuals and as a couple. “Since Judy and I lived in the same area before we were married, we would often ride together to board meetings. We would meet the other board members at camp and carpool to Hattiesburg. After we starting getting to know one another better, Judy and I decided to drive to Hattiesburg by ourselves (skipping the car-pool)!” Ruskin says. Did you know board service can lead to marriage?
The Clays’ story is one of many examples of how camp has been the tool God uses to bring people together, as well as how He uses camp to strengthen relationships. As Ruskin says, “Camp continues to be a place that is special to us, and we enjoy volunteering at Camp – as a couple! I believe that our marriage has been strengthened by the fact that we serve together at Camp. It is hard to explain, but there is something about serving together that brings a couple together.”
Camp continues to strive to be a place that brings people closer to each other and closer to God. “I think it is so important for camp to continue being a place where anyone can come and draw closer to God. As a couple, I think we both just want to see the mission of camp continue for years to come,” says Judy.
Thank you, Ruskin and Judy, for sharing your story with us and for your service to camp. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, let’s celebrate all that God has done to draw us into a closer relationship with him and one another.