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How Deep the Father’s Love

Dads & Kids Weekend brought families closer together at Pine Lake.

As an exhausted group of dads and their somewhat tired children huddled in the cozy glow of the Shelter to escape the rain after a day of activity & time together, Derek Yoder shared from 1 Corinthians 13 and a message from his heart. He tried to explain the overwhelming new, protective love he felt the first moment he saw his daughter, the pain he experienced when seeing her injured, and the joy in spending time with her and watching her grow. This is nothing, he reminded the group, compared to God’s love for each of us.  Then, the Shelter filled with 28 voices singing a beautifully improvised rendition of “How Deep the Father’s Love,” led by Ruskin, with children worshipping alongside their fathers, in the midst of their Father.

Nine families gathered for Dads & Kids Weekend in October and made the weekend a fun, memorable bonding experience! The adventurous group braved a night hike, canoed in the fall morning mist, and dueled at the ping pong table. During a break in the rain, a clatter of hammers, wire nails, pine boards, and little voices echoed from the Shelter Campsites as the group assembled birdhouses to take home, a memento from a  weekend spent building something much bigger.​

Volunteer Corner

Keith "Pap" Graybill and grandson Ian spreading gravel

Spread gravel, sanitize silverware, and trim the peninsula: in their two weeks at Pine Lake, Keith and Janet Graybill checked these and many other humble items off the perpetual to-do list. Driven by their appreciation for the reconciliatory ministry of Pine Lake, as well as the joy they experience from volunteerism, the Graybill’s happily pitched in at camp during their most recent visit with their son (Executive Director, Matt Graybill) and his family.

Primarily, they prepared Pine Lake to host upcoming guest groups: a homeschool group, a wedding, and a quilters guild.  Tasks like washing the out of reach windows in the Lodge and raking and trimming brush in the Shelter Campsites spruced up the space quite a bit. For Janet, helping with hospitality is a way of joining in the mission of camp, which resonates deeply with them. “We enjoy making it look like a welcoming place for people.”

As Keith pressure washed nearly every picnic table & bench at Main Camp, he had time to reflect on God’s work in his own life.  “In life one does not always see tangible progress or the making of a difference in our efforts  … it is very rewarding to receive visible confirmation the beauty of reconditioned wood on a bench or picnic table revealed when a pressure washer beats off the accumulation of scaling from weather exposure. The beauty of camp is apparent, but more is waiting to be explored. Might volunteering also open us up for God’s exploration and reveal?”

Over the last year, more than a few guests have been able to experience peace and renewal in the natural beauty of Pine Lake because of supporters’ generosity of time!  If you want to join in the fun, call the office and talk to Matt.  We still have more pressure washing (among other things) to do!


A Virtual Thank You

Top Auction Items at Camp Sale
Top Auction Items at Camp Sale

In the 2020 Virtual Auction, Choctaw beaded Christmas ornaments, a Thanksgiving wreath, and a handmade table attracted the most bids while the Camp Quilt and the Southern Sampler Quilt brought in the biggest bids.

by: Matthew Graybill

“You have been outbid!” Eighty-five registered bidders received this text message or email a total of 408 times at the first virtual Camp Sale event, October 3-7.  Each bid represented a statement of affirmation for the ministry of camp as well as appreciation for the many handmade items for sale.  Like you, we were disappointed we could not gather to share in a bowl of gumbo or warm donut.  The loss of working together, fellowshipping, and seeing old friends was echoed by many within the Pine Lake community.  

Not to be defeated, PLFC supporters responded to the virtual auction with high levels of engagement and enthusiasm.  Because the virtual auction could be accessed from anywhere, several folks across the United States & Canada were able to bid and win items as well.  Many bidders dove deep into the competition for coveted handmade and unique items.  Perhaps you watched with your mouth open as the Choctaw beaded Christmas ornaments (from Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church) racked up 23 total bids and sold for $500 or as the wooden step stool (by Duane Maust) shot up to $240!  The Camp Quilt ($1,150) and the Southern Sampler Quilt ($875) received the two highest bids.

A deep sense of gratitude sits with me as I think about the event as a whole.  It was both humbling and thrilling to witness your level of involvement in the new format as well as in the communities that sold baked goods (Meridian), BBQ plates (Jackson), and gumbo & jambalaya (Gulfport), or held a craft & bake sale (Des Allemands) to benefit Camp Sale.  Resilient and faithful, Pine Lake supporters still found ways to come together to care for camp.  Pine Lake is blessed with a committed community that engages with and promotes this ministry.  So we say, “THANK YOU” to each person who contributed items, bid, won, or donated to this year’s sale.  You make camp a special place for each person to grow closer to God, nature, and each other.

Camp Sale 2020 – FAQ

Camp Sale 2020

Hey Pine Lake Family! 

It’s Camp Sale time!  While it won’t be the same to gather in person with great food and better community, we still push forward in support for God’s work at Pine Lake in 2020.   So, here are a few details about this year’s event. 

When is the virtual Camp Sale?

  • Camp Sale will start on October 3 at 1:00pm with a Kick Off Video on Facebook & YouTube.  Following the video, Items will be available to bidding. We will start the event with a video before the auction goes live for bidding.  Bidding will last until October 7 at 8:00pm.

Where is Camp Sale?

  • From the comfort of your living room, fishing boat, or tractor. The virtual auction is completely online in 2020.   Visit it from your mobile phone, tablet, or computer wherever you have internet access!

2020 Camp Sale

What can I expect from the auction?

  • The bidding is set up in an online silent auction format (similar to ebay). All bidders will register to bid and be eligible to place bids.  The end time for the auction is October 7 at 8:00pm CST.

What if I win an Item? How do I pay?

  • If you win an item, you will be sent an invoice which you can pay with a credit card or mail a check to Pine Lake Fellowship Camp, 10371 Pine Lake Road, Meridian, MS 39307

How do I get my item?

  • If you win an item it will be set to be picked up at camp.  If you would request shipping, we can give you a quote and send an invoice if approved. If the item is large and unable to be shipped, arrangements can be made to pick that item up or have it delivered through an alternative method.

Can I Preregister?

  • Yes, please preregister at this link: CAMP SALE. Click register to bid and complete your registration After registration is complete, you will be sent a confirmation text with a link to the auction. *You can also register after the auction begins

How can I support Camp Sale?

  • Before the auction starts – Contribute/Donate an item to the Auction and send it to Pine Lake ASAP to be sure it’s listed. Pray for this event!
  • Attend & participate in the virtual auction on October 3. Hold a watch party and bid!
  • Go LOCAL – Create a local fundraiser in your church or community to benefit Pine Lake. Several churches and groups do this already! Hold a lunch/dinner take out meal, host a silent auction, hold a bake sale (in person or pre-order), etc.  Utilize your strengths and gifting you wish to help support camp.
  • If there is not anything you wish to bid on at the auction, consider a cash donation to Pine Lake Fellowship Camp as part of the fundraiser.

Why Camp Sale?

  • Camp Sale supports ministry to children and adults at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp. 2020 will only the second year since 1984 that we are unable to have an “in person” Camp Sale (other was 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina).  God is abundant and has provided for PLFC’s needs.  We knowingly and actively place our trust in God in the times of plenty and in the times of need.    We invite you to be part and engage in this event to support Pine Lake Fellowship Camp and the lives that will be transformed as a result.

A Summer of Service

David painting the Tall Pines playground.

Tucked among the many stories of disappointments, this summer, one camp counselor made the most of the remnants of his summer plans.  David Betancourt (an LIT in 2018) gladly received a grant in April of 2020. The grant, through the Summer Service Program (SSP) of Mennonite Central Committee would supplement his camp counselor earnings for college.  With no campers or summer camp, however, the assignment changed completely. Still, David took it all in stride and accepted without hesitation.

Along with leadership workshops via Zoom, David did groundskeeping at camp and helped with Jubilee’s food outreach.  His hours at camp included pressure washing the swamp trail, painting the playground, and taming the Tall Pines flower beds. Most sunny afternoons, the distant hum of the weed eater or lawn mower buzzed across the lake, as David subdued the quick growing grass, in preparation for guests.

David admits some of the hours mowing got a little long. David, however, enjoyed using his time on the riding mower to process his leadership workshops. He could consider the strengths and perspective he brings as a leader. Over the course of the summer, David saw himself grow in self-awareness through this program. Next for David, he hopes to continue to grow in his leadership as he considers the camp counselor role for summer 2021.



Stitches of Love

Pictures of participants around the Camp Quilt in Tall Pines Fellowship Center.

Many people gathered around the Camp Quilt for fellowship and quilting.

Though postponed twice due to COVID-19, quilters finally gathered in July for the Camp Quilt Retreat & Workshop. Laughter, conversation, and technical quilting questions rang throughout the gym of Tall Pines as folks from Gulfport, Des Allemands, Jackson, and Meridian added their stitches to the Camp Quilt, a queen size Mariner’s Compass pattern in black and gold.  Throughout the weekend over 30 people came to quilt or fellowship around this treasure, which will be sold in October to benefit Pine Lake’s ministry.

First time quilter Sherry Sheffield said, “I attended Camp Sale for years and wanted to see the process behind the scenes.” Workshop participant Rhoda Yoder said she loved working with and learning from veteran quilters who were patient and encouraging. “It was good to spend the hours with other women who love and support Camp.”

New this year, quilting took place in the spacious and well-lit Tall Pines, completed in March. Also new, kids could quilt or do classic camp activities like boating, carpetball and treehouse hiking. Pine Lake’s excellent summer staff led these activities. Sherry said, “My kids had so much fun. I got to enjoy sewing and fellowship and I didn’t have to worry about them.”

Many thanks to the planners: Andreah Davis, Carrie Geil, Jody Miller, and Karen Fedrick who pooled their ideas and resources to make this event possible!​

Kids at Quilting Retreat

Kids (big and small) had lots of fun at the Camp Quilt Retreat & Workshop.