Formative Moments at Summer Camp

At Pine Lake Fellowship Camp, campers experience an authentic program filled with games, activities, moments, and conversations that point towards JESUS.  

  • The JOY in shared worship as the entire camp sings Jesus Loves Me (Camp style) around the campfire.
  • The sound of a cabin group’s LAUGHTER as they walk across a sunny ball-field
  • The FLAVOR of fresh mint leaves handpicked picked from the herb garden.
  • The initial shriek of fear turned to ENTHUSIASM as a camper scoots off the zip line platform for the first time and realizes that he/she can do things that seem scary.
  • The WONDER in a camper’s face as she peers into jars of preserved snakes and lizards native to her own backyard.  
  • The overwhelming sensation of the HOLY SPIRIT calling a camper draw nearer to Jesus
  • The moment when a camper recognizes that he/she truly BELONGS to a community and are part of God’s plan

This article was part of the August 2018 PLFC newsletter. Want to see what else was in that issue?  CLICK HERE!

Be Bold

Sarah is a camper who came to camp this summer with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  For over a year, she wanted to take the step of baptism, she felt to embarrassed too bring it up with the adults in her life.   Embarrassment and fear are two emotions that can hinder growth.

At camp, the counselors create a safe place and welcome campers to share about their faith or things they struggle with.  Campers also can encourage and challenge cabin mates to take the next step in their walk with Christ.

Sarah felt comfortable enough to approach her counselor and share her hesitation and embarrassment to be baptized.  Sarah received the encouragement needed to take the next step of baptism into her congregation.  In the weeks after camp, her parents informed Pine Lake that she has asked about being baptized.

The song that we sing quite often at campfire is, Be Bold, Be Strong.  It seems to fit quite well with Sarah’s week.


“Be bold, be strong 
For the Lord thy God is with us
Be bold, be strong
For the Lord thy God is with us
I am not be afraid; I am not be dismayed
‘Cause I’m walkin’ in faith and victory
‘Cause I’m walkin’ in faith and victory
For the Lord thy God is with us”

Praise the Lord for giving Sarah boldness to declare her call to be baptized and draw closer to Jesus!

This article was part of the August 2018 PLFC newsletter. Want to see what else was in that issue?  CLICK HERE!

What do the fruits of the spirit, chess, and a little red wagon have in common?

For 8 weeks this summer, Pine Lake buzzed with the activity of children and youth laughing, racing around the lake, shouting bible verses across the swimming area, and learning more about God’s love for them. Each summer, I am encouraged by new stories of how God uses the experience of camp to impact His children in different ways.​

My favorite example from this summer is from a grandparent who wrote to us about the impact of camp on her grandchildren. Her granddaughter told her all about the fruits of the Spirit, and her grandson now loves to play chess, and plans to be a Leader-in-Training. Much to her chagrin, they still insist on singing “Little Red Wagon” every car trip.
Thank you to all who volunteered, prayed, donated, or supported camp this summer in another way. For that family, and for many others, God continues to use Pine Lake to touch lives!

by Suzanne Opel

Family Camp: “Celebrating 50 Years”

Family Camp 2016 marked a milestone in the history of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp’s ministry.  The weekend was centered around the sessions & activities, but there were many opportunities for people to share with one another about how God is currently working in their lives.   The communal feeling is a huge part of the weekend.  Over 200 people spent time at PLFC to help celebrate!  Whether it was your first or 30th time at Family Camp, your presence at PLFC was welcomed.Praying over Pine Lake

The Legacy Panel was one highlight.  Titus Bender, founding visionary of PLFC, & others took part in a panel where they shared from their hearts about the early years, development, & other struggles of camp.  Audience members took part in asking questions & sharing about their experiences.   Panelists included: Titus Bender, Glenn Myers, Gerald Beadle, Shawn Beadle, & Jeff Landis.  The discussion was moderated by Duane Maust.

“The mission of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp is to draw people of all ages and of diverse backgrounds into renewal of Spirit, body, & soul and into reconciliation with God, creation, & each other.”

Our theme for the weekend was “Celebrating 50 Years of Renewal & Reconciliation.”  Glenn Myers shared a message on the subject of renewal at our Saturday morning session.  Butch Clay shared a message on reconciliation on Sunday.  What a weekend it was to celebrate the faithfulness of God’s people!  People who heard His calling and chose to follow Him in what would become Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.  It also demanded many others to join the vision in each of the following 50 years.  Countless times, it was mentioned how PLFC has developed into something beyond what was comprehended in the late 1960’s.  Perhaps the highlight for the early generations was to see so many young people at Family Camp, knowing that the future ministry of Pine Lake is in good hands for the coming generations.

And so it is that we pray for each person who comes to camp. We pray that he/she will  meet God & grow in his/her faith for years to come. May God continue to bless Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.

“Father, be with us. Draw us to thee. Kindle each spirit and make it a lamp to glow in thy glory, radiant for thee at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.” –Gladys Rutt, 1982

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped make the weekend a huge success.  From providing meals to helping with the zip line, you played an integral part! Thank you!

Enjoy some of the sound-bytes from the weekend:

Pine Lake Memories

By Guest blogger, Lee Martin

A recent week at Pine Lake with a work group from our church in Virginia brought back some wonderful memories of the time I lived in Mississippi as a young adult.  I believe it was the summer of 1980, while serving as a counselor at Pine Lake for a week of teen camp, that one of my most memorable camp experiences took place with the seven guys in my cabin.

Voluntary Service members from Mashulaville at Pine Lake Nov. 18, 1979. Left to right: Jean Pletcher, Doug Jantzi holding Annie Mininger, Lee Martin, Karen Jantzi, Rich Schrock

Voluntary Service members from Mashulaville at Pine Lake Nov. 18, 1979. Left to right: Jean Pletcher, Doug Jantzi holding Annie Mininger, Lee Martin, Karen Jantzi, Rich Schrock

A couple of African-Americans and one Choctaw boy came along with me from Mashulaville, where I was in Voluntary Service.  Also in our cabin that week were several white campers from the Meridian area and a Cajun boy from Louisiana.  As we sat together at one of the round picnic tables in the pavilion for our first meal, it was painfully apparent that these guys were not sure what in the world they had gotten themselves into.  My attempts at getting conversation going were met with silence, and it was obvious that they didn’t trust each other and really weren’t sure they wanted to.  I joined them in wondering what I had gotten myself into, and began preparing for the likelihood of a difficult week ahead.

“…a week of life together at Pine Lake had broken down that dividing wall.”

But, as always, God was present and at work among us in ways far beyond our ability to imagine or control.  A group of teenage guys can’t be quiet forever, and the daily routines and special activities of camp life required some interaction.  Conversation began happening tentatively, and then more naturally.  Bit by bit these guys were beginning to see and know each other as unique individuals with gifts and experiences that made our cabin group a one of a kind “body” with different but complimentary parts (I Corinthians 12).  The last night the guys decided we should sleep out on the island around the fire, and I listened in awe as they spontaneously began talking about how they had viewed each other with fear and mistrust that first day together, and how a week of life together at Pine Lake had broken down that “dividing wall” (Ephesians 2).  They shared challenges they faced in their homes and schools, and how the sort of friendships they developed with each other that week were hard to find elsewhere.  It was a powerful God moment following a week-long God movement in our midst that I will never forget.  Pine Lake was clearly fulfilling its founding mission of reconciliation through Christ in a world of mistrust, division and walls.

Feb. 2016 Work Team: Lee Martin returned to Pine Lake with a service team from his church in Harrisonburg, VA.

Feb. 2016: Lee Martin returned to Pine Lake with a service team from his church in Harrisonburg, VA.

This is one of my favorite memories among many others of how Christian camping has profoundly shaped my life.  I made my first public profession of faith in Christ at camp in Pennsylvania as a boy.  Serving as a counselor at Highland Retreat in Virginia while in high school was the first time I recall actually engaging in ministry, and I was drawn back there on summer staff a number of years.  Various involvements at Pine Lake during my three years in Mississippi are still a highlight. And, it was at Highland Retreat as summer staff members that my wife Peg and I connected in a way that moved us from friendship to marriage.  Our wedding was at Highland and we served there on year round staff for 12 years.

It was a joy to return to Pine Lake Fellowship Camp the week of Feb. 20-27, 2016 and see that it continues to thrive and grow as a place of reconciliation and transformation through the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit.  To God be the glory!

See photos of Lee’s work team in our 2016 Spring into Service gallery.


Lee MartinLee is happily married to Peg, and they have two young adult children, Maria and Curtis.  Lee has been pastor of Mt. Clinton Mennonite Church near Harrisonburg, VA since 2000.

10 Reasons to Send Your Child To Summer Camp

10 reasons to send your child to summer camp


Camp has many traditions. From silly songs to funny skits & more are part of the Pine Lake experience.  This is a place for kids to fully delve into the culture of camp and belong to a cabin of peers.


This generation needs young men and women to serve as role models as they develop.  We hire mature, capable staff equipped with a Christ-centered worldview who care about and build relationships with each camper.


The electronic type.  A week WITHOUT phones, tablets, or TV is possible.  We’ve done it many, many times.  Your child will not have much time to think about their phone during a programmed week of activities, games, crafts, nature, archery, etc.



Our world, especially young people, interact with one another through social media  At camp, we interact and build intentional, face to face relationships with campers.  It is imperative for children to learn how to communicate and express themselves in a positive manner, without the help of an emoji.

summer camp


Campers participate in many activities where they function as a team.  Whether on the ball field or low ropes course, cabin mates are growing closer together and learning qualities like communication, encouragement, & responsibility. All qualities that help a team function effectively.


Camp is where you learn to throw a Frisbee on our disc golf course, shoot bow and arrow, build a campfire, or paddle a canoe all while having fun.  These new skills can become lifelong passions.



Some things are better learned OUTSIDE the classroom.  One of those is nature.  Whether learning how to identify trees or ways to care for our environment, campers can touch, feel, smell, see, hear, or even taste nature (Trees should taste gross by the way).



Camp is the perfect place where children learn to manage his or her daily choices without parents and teachers but while in a safe environment of supportive summer staff and peers. Independence is the ultimate goal of childhood: we want to raise children to be able to live well on his or her own.  Camp helps to aid in this process.



I remember the name of each of my counselors from my 5 summers at camp. I learned how to kayak and made a ton of friends. Each year, I counted down the months & days until the next summer.  Camp is where I made memories to last that will last my entire lifetime.



Camp transforms people from the inside out.  Each camper hears about the need to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and is given an opportunity to respond.  Even if a camper does not make a decision to follow Christ, the benefits of camp are great.  Countless parents share with us about how their son or daughter came from camp different.  They were more polite, willing to help out around the house, and spent the rest of the year singing songs while saying they can’t wait for next summer!!


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by Matt Graybill