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7 Reasons Campers Need Summer Camp Right Now

Campers working as a team.

Campers working as a team.

Our world has been upside down for almost a year now. Hard to believe, right?! Weirdly enough, upside down has almost started to feel normal.  (Quick reminder: It won’t be like this forever. Also, God made humans to be incredibly resilient, especially when we turn to Him.)  Still, we feel the effects of everything that has changed, and it’s not all new puppies and quality family time. Each family’s experience is a little different, of course. Across our nation, though, kids are more isolated, more anxious, and on their screens more.  It’s reality for many, but it’s not how any of us want it to be.

I’m a little (or a lot) biased, but the needs of kids today (community, social interaction, security, reassurance, fresh air, hands-on experience, and guidance) shout SUMMER CAMP to me!  These are the exact things summer camp specializes in. Let me explain:

Camper making a silly face

Camper making a silly face

Interaction with peers!

At camp, kids are moving through their entire day surrounded by friends their own age! Bonding through new adventures, shared experiences, and unstructured play times, campers strengthen new and old friendships.  With their counselor’s help, they navigate conflict in healthy ways and learn to get along with people who are different from them. Camp is a supportive environment where social skills grow!

Campers playing a game on the rec field

Campers playing a game on the rec field

Outdoor time!

Whether hammocking on the Cove or competing in a high stakes canoe race, campers experience the benefits of nature all day. What benefits, you say? (Has it been that long?) Fresh air, sunshine, and movement improve health and mood, and even lower stress! The Bible also tells us God’s character is revealed in His creation (Rom 1:20): His majesty in the heavens, his beauty in the details… Have you seen a mature Big Leaf Magnolia tree or eaten a mayberry off the bush? God’s creation is amazing and sometimes delicious!

Campfire

Campfire on the island.

Learning more about Jesus Christ!

It’s true for adults and kids: Through prayer, praise, bible study, and Christian community, we come to a better understanding of even His most simple truths. Take for example, God’s promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20), His power (Luke 1:37), and His attention to detail (Matthew 6:26), and His love for each of us (Romans 5:8). This season seems to hold a lot more problems for everyone, so we practice taking our problems to the one who has the power to do something about ‘em!

A camper and her counselor

A camper and her counselor

Amazing Christian role models!

Mom, Dad, you are definitely still cool, and your kids certainly take all your advice and apply it immediately. Hear me out, though. What if a whole team of very cool teens and young adults were also investing in the growth and success of your children, and also speaking truth and encouragement to them? They could teach them fun games and keep them safe all at the same time, too. Sound to good to be true? Well, it’s not. It’s every single day of camp!

A counselor’s words and actions carry a lot of weight, and at camp your child is surrounded by an array of great role models, ready to share about their walk with Christ and encourage your child in their own relationship.

A camper learns archery for the first time.

A camper learns archery for the first time.

Doing new things!

Unless you have a 250 foot zip line, a five-sided treehouse, and a selection of canoes, funyaks, paddleboats, and paddleboards for your 7 acre lake, and more (umm, can we come over?), we guarantee there’s a fresh new adventure for your camper. This year, we’re adding a few new experiences for even more fun! Kids draw confidence from trying new things and experiencing real success. No one is amazing at everything (volleyball will never be my sport, and that’s okay). However, with so many different activities and coaching from a watchful counselor, each camper finds something they love (even if it’s not on the schedule.).

Campers with the shelter they built

Campers with the shelter they built

Kid-centered fun!

Campers are our priority! Everything is designed for the camper: fun games and activities for their age group, songs only an elementary schooler would love, appropriate bedtimes, and kid friendly delicious food. Counselors focus on the camper’s experience the entire time they are here, even praying for campers on their way to camp.

Campers at a supper cookout

Campers at a supper cookout

Unplugged!

Camp is a screen-free environment, and campers are too busy having fun to miss their devices! We all know the blue glow of the screen is a little rough on the eyes. The constant attention-grabbing is exhausting. At camp, campers live their own story instead of watching others’ stories through a 5-inch rectangle. Real life is so much bigger.

Whew! Thinking about all of this makes me ready for camp right now!  You too? ;) Even as the world changes, kids continue to need the unique qualities of summer camp, and this summer, it feels especially urgent.

Now, we know this list is incomplete (can the whole of camp ever really be captured in words?) so help us out. What does your camper need right now? What can camp offer your family?

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!

 

Summer Camp 2020 Suspended

Summer Camp 2020 Suspended

It’s with great sadness and a heavy heart that I inform you that the Pine Lake Fellowship Camp Board of Directors along with our year-round staff have made the decision to suspend Pine Lake Fellowship Camp summer camp programs in 2020.   Our strong commitment to the health and safety of campers, families, staff, and volunteers will prevent us from being together due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is clear summer camp cannot be the nurturing and encouraging environment we know and love with physical distancing and other difficulties.   This decision is our best effort to care for and prevent an outbreak in each of our camper and staff communities.  This decision includes overnight and day camp programs.

I know that this comes as a disappointment to each of you.  It is to each of us as well.   Since last Fall, countless hours of time and energy have been invested in preparing for another amazing summer of ministry!

  • Most summer staff were hired.
  • Facilities received facelifts with the help of many volunteers.
  • New and exciting features and activities were prepared.
  • We have all been praying for campers and staff

It pains us to think of Pine Lake’s rolling campus to sit empty this summer.  To know that each evening, no campfire will burn on the Island, that instead of campers and staff singing worship songs to God under the stars, they’ll be at home.  The challenge course, where campers in cabin unity, friendship, and self-confidence will instead serve as lonely platforms and old telephone poles in the woods. There will be no staff meeting where a summer staffer joyously shares that they prayed with his/her camper who decided to follow Christ at campfire the previous evening.  To think about these not happening breaks each of our hearts.

While we can’t gather with one another in person, we can come together in prayer. Please join us in praying for the following:

Campers and their families:  We realize this is yet another loss in a series of losses this spring.   While there is no summer camp to look forward to, we know that God is present everywhere, not just at Pine Lake.   Pray for God to be at work in the activities, lessons, and relationships they experience this summer.  May they lead to a deeper faith in Christ.

Summer Staff: These servant-hearted young people have been anticipating and preparing to serve and nurture campers this summer. Pray for God to use their energy to nurture young believers and grow in their faith this summer.

Year-Round Staff:  After months of preparation for summer camp 2020, we now pivot to re-imagine how the mission of Pine Lake can be carried out in the new circumstances we all face. May God continue to use Pine Lake to increase His kingdom.

We trust in God’s promises.  We trust that He is working all things out for his good and that even though it feels like we’re walking in the valley, he is still God. 

We are planning on alternative ways to connect with campers and families this summer.  They cannot replace summer camp, but we hope that they will bring that same camp feel and nostalgia to each of you. 

Thank you for your past and continued support.  We'll see you next summer.

God Bless,

Matt Graybill

Executive Director


ALREADY REGISTERED FOR CAMP?

Parents who have already paid a deposit or any amount over are asked to choose between the following options:

  1. Receive a Full Refund
  2. Donate to Pine Lake Fellowship Camp

Please reply to an email that was sent to you or contact our office with your choice of the above options (info@pinelakecamp.com).

 

Hands and Feet of the Church

Mr Willie presented with a wall hanging for his kitchen
Mr Willie presented with a wall hanging for his kitchen

Mr. Willie presented with a wall hanging for his kitchen by members of World Renew.

 “In His service, World Renew volunteers,” were the final words at a home dedication Meridian resident Mr. Willie on March 20.   Mr. Willie had a tree fall on and destroy part of his home during an EF-2 tornado in April 2018.  As a result, he was left with no kitchen or bathroom for two years and had to use homes of other nearby family members.  “Now, l live in a mansion,” said Mr. Willie thanked World Renew facilitators Gary & Bev Van Noort and Jack & Pat Buist after the dedication.  

For nearly two months, dozens of volunteers helped rebuild the back side of his house in just 5 weeks.  World Renew: Disaster Reponse Services “set up camp” at Pine Lake from February 6-March 20 to provide relief to homeowners affected by the tornado.  In that time, PLFC was the host site for 95 volunteers who served at Mr. Willie’s and several other storm damaged homes.  After working in the rain and mud each day, volunteers kicked back each evening to renew their strength and energy with conversation around the table or a walk around the lake.    One group of volunteer students from Grand Valley State University even spent a few days at PLFC cleaning cabins and painting bathhouses.   Then students prayed over the cabins for campers to take their next step with Christ this summer.  Praise God!

Ms. Mavis Scott’s home was built from the ground up in only 5 weeks by another group of volunteers from Orland Park Christian Reformed Church (Illinois).  At her home dedication on March 12, dozens of volunteers, community leaders, and partner agencies gathered to give her the keys to a new home.  She is thankful for a home “that isn’t falling down” (Watch Ms. Mavis in her own words).  This church even secured a $20,000 grant to help Ms. Mavis.  As hands and feet of the Church, each volunteer gave their time, skills, and finances to demonstrate Christ's hope to not only people in need, but an entire community.  Pine Lake is humbled to have played a supporting role in this example of love.  The Meridian community as well as our Pine Lake staff are inspired by World Renew’s mission and call to service. Thank you to each volunteer and partner agency for your role in this mission.

WTOK Ms Mavis

A heartwarming news report of the impact World Renew volunteers made in the Meridian community.


This post was written by Matt Graybill, Executive Director and was part of PLFC's April 2020 newsletter update  Check it out!

April 2020 Newsletter