We currently have an urgent need for Summer Staff this summer. Read a note from our Program Director, Natalie Swanson below about what staff can expect this summer, as well as why a young adult should consider joining us!
It’s starting to feel like summer around here in McGregor—the ice is off of both Davis and Round lakes, buds are appearing on trees, and there is lots of buzz about the summer registrations coming in. You can feel the excitement of our year-round staff as we pray for our summer season each week; campers are ready to come back to camp this summer and we’re creatively dreaming about all the fun and safe experience we get to make for them. But alongside that excitement in our year round staff is growing anxiety—we have lots of campers who are pumped to be back at camp and not nearly enough summer staff to be with them. Camp is such a fun experience in large part because of our young adults who carry out our mission all summer long. And we need more of those young adults!
I know that camp will feel different in ways this summer—we’ll still be greeting each other indoors smiling under masks. Cabin sizes will be smaller. We’ll be spending a lot more time outside. Summer will feel different for our summer staff team as well—we know that. And while I also feel a sense of loss for the things that will look different this summer, I feel far more excitement and hope. Camp is happening and camp will feel like camp. We’ll still have chapel, we’ll still play our favorite big games, and we’ll still make lifelong friends and grow closer to Christ all summer long. Let’s focus on the hope we feel as summer nears—hope for the good work God will absolutely do in the lives in campers and staff this summer. And you’re a young adult reading this—or you’ve got a young adult in your life that you love—we need you. We need staff that love Jesus and love campers. We need staff that gets excited about playing outside all day and hanging out with people. We’re eager for all that God is going to do this summer, and we need young adults to join us in carrying that out. Will you consider joining our team? Check out our website for more info and applications: https://covenantpines.org/
While there will be new and different things this fall at camp, there will be much that is familiar too. Our desire at Covenant Pines is to create a program that invites you all into deeper community with the circles you’re already a part of. We desire to give you space to play together, to laugh together, to slow down together, to retreat and experience God together. And I think that’s the best of what camp is, right? So while there won’t be corporate worship in the sense we’re all used to at camp this fall, there will be space for you to experientially engage in worship. While there won’t be a big game of Capture the Duck, there will be other big games for you to play with your people and compete against the other campers. Senior High Fall Retreat is designed with youth groups in mind. Quilt and Craft Retreat will continue to invite crafters into community together around their shared experiences. Man Camp might be a smaller group but will hold the same playfulness and authentic conversations we’ve come to expect when we’re together. Fall Retreats are a new model of retreat that provide families a breath of fresh air and quality time together.
As I reflect on a new normal as we continue to live with COVID-19 after nearly 7 months of disruption, I feel the deep need for connection. I feel the deep need for community and for the ways I know God shows up when we’re together. Being together looks different then what any of us expected at the beginning of 2020. As we plan and creatively prepare for a different looking fall around here at Covenant Pines, I find God’s Spirit in the truth that we need community. Join us this fall—with your family, your youth group, your friends, whoever—knowing that when we’re together, God’s heart is reflected more fully. I can say confidently that this fall will be filled with much joy and laughter and God’s presence will be felt deeply, all while experiencing community in safe ways this season. God reminded us of his faithfulness this summer, and I know he has new things in store for the seasons ahead.
To learn more about the retreats we are offering this fall, visit our Retreats Page.
I’m no stranger to summer at camp. I love summer at camp. I love the laughter of kids playing outside the office window. I love the joy on a camper’s face when they pull the sock of a staff member in a big game. I love the contrast of high-energy worship and the stillness of an acoustic vespers service. I love the picture of a counselor praying for one of their campers—remnants of paint still visible from the game that day. I love summer at camp.
As I looked towards my first summer as the program director here at CPBC, I knew all these things that I love about summer at camp, but I also knew I hadn’t experienced summer here at Pines yet. There was a level of unknown for me—would I love this role as much as I’ve loved all my other roles at camp? Would there still be those sweet moments of what camp is for me in this new place? I didn’t fully know what to expect as I anticipated a new place in a familiar, yet new season. And as the summer winds down and I step back to look at the work God has done over the course of the summer, I’m reminded of the powerful ways that God shows up at camp. It doesn’t matter what camp we’re talking about—Covenant Pines, Covenant Point, Portage Lake, Camp Squanto—there is something special about the community of camp that God uses in the lives of His people. In the midst of this new season in a new role, I’ve had many moments in which unexpected waves of God’s presence and goodness came over me.
One story of God’s presence that comes to mind is the story of one of our Junior High campers, named Sam. This camper is no stranger to CPBC and he was one of the few that I already knew because I met him at our MEA retreat. Camp is a place of safety for him, and place that he deeply loves. Sam came to camp with some recent struggles with mental health, and some other baggage from home. We knew of his recent struggles and had some intentional conversations to make sure that we could care for him well while he was here. My prayer was that he would be able to experience the love of Christ in this place just like the 199 other campers that week, and that God might lift his burdens. At the beginning of the week, we found out that Sam loves to read, and he really wanted a Bible. I had the privilege of helping him pick one out, and when I saw him throughout the rest of the week, I often saw him with his nose in that beloved book. And when he wasn’t sitting reading his new Bible, he was walking with his counselor, having conversations. Or he was inviting a new friend to go swimming with him at free time. I was reminded almost daily through Sam of how big and good and unexpected our God really is. This junior high kid, who has not had an easy childhood, is not only Experiencing the Love of Christ at camp, but he was helping others experience Christ around him. I expected our staff to come alongside Sam and help him Experience the Love of Christ in this place, but in reality my staff and myself alike were seeing God in and through him. He welcomed new friends into his community, he spoke simply of the joy he was finding in being in God’s word, he was honest about the hard things going on in his life with those around him. I saw God in such an unexpected way through Sam and I know others on our staff did too.
God shows up at camp. He shows up through our staff in the lives of our campers. He shows up through the beauty of his creation here in the space between Davis and Round Lake. And, like Sam’s story, He shows up through our campers to touch lives of other campers and our staff. No matter what role we’re in at camp—camper, summer staffer, guest, or full time staffer—God is so clearly seen here. This summer more than ever, I’m grateful for the unexpected ways that God is present. In the midst of a new season for myself, I celebrate stories like Sam’s. And I’m reminded of the good, constant, faithful presence of the God we serve—may we all have eyes to see His presence around us.
In September, we hosted our women’s retreat where just over 100 ladies from all over the Twin Cities area came up to CPBC to enjoy fellowship in God’s creation. This year our speaker was Kyliah Villa from Crosstown Covenant church. Kyliah took games and stories from her children as analogies for our walks with Jesus. She was engaging, creative, and invited good conversations for small group discussions following each worship session. The warm September weekend lent for some quiet paddle-boarding on Round Lake as well as a guided canoe trip on Davis Lake with some of our staff. For me, this weekend fully encompassed some of the best things we do at camp—there were times of quiet reflection outside to be with God, times of fun and laughter, doing childlike things like our Giant Swing and Climbing tower, and many times of good conversation over a cup of coffee or around a fire. And God was so present in all of those places. So thanks to all who chose to take a weekend away from the craziness of fall to slow down at camp with us. Check out some pictures below. We hope to see many of you again next fall!
As a newcomer to Covenant Pines Bible Camp, I’ve heard a lot of talk about our MEA retreat. A lot of people—campers and former summer staff alike—look forward to it as a weekend to enjoy camp once more before winter hits. Many who love CPBC described MEA to me as one of the best retreats we do here at camp. So naturally, there was a lot of anticipation built up for this new program director in her first MEA retreat. And man, it didn’t disappoint.
As just over 100 junior high campers made their way off the busses here in McGregor, my heart was full of a lot of things.
Full of excitement as I so love fall retreats and youth retreats together. These retreats provide an awesome opportunity for youth groups to build community and deepen relationships as they begin their journey through a new year together.
Full of nerves as this was my first experience as the program director at a CPBC youth retreat.
But mostly, full of anticipation for all that I knew God had in store for these two retreats over the extended MEA weekend. Both Junior and Senior High MEA were filled with much laughter, warm hot chocolate and coffee beverages, good conversations, and many games. A highlight of our programming revolved around pumpkins—we launched some full sized pumpkins with a giant trebuchet that some of the staff built and we also played a classic Covenant Pines favorite “whip n’ strip” with pumpkins. The unseasonably warm October weather lent itself to lots of hanging out in the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful creation that God provided. Our speaker for the long weekend was Rebekah Strobel, a youth pastor at Selah Covenant Church in Washington state. She told many stories and spoke about following God “Into the Wild” of our lives. She called campers to live into their identity as images of God, and to have enough faith to “get out of the boat” as Peter did with Jesus.
The MEA retreat is really all things summer camp rolled into a couple of days for each age group. And as I was standing on the steps leading up to Oak Ridge while the Senior High campers played pumpkin whip n’ strip, my heart was so full. I was reminded in that moment that God shows up in every aspect of camp. He shows up in games, worship, conversations, everything. I was reminded of what a privilege it is to get to watch campers love camp and experience God in this place month after month and, hopefully, year after year.
I’m grateful for our youth pastors who chose to take their MEA weekend and partner with us as counselors with their students. I’m grateful for our former summer staffers who jumped in to help out camp and the new program director they hadn’t even met yet. I’m grateful for the people who pray for us often. We can feel those prayers. And I’m grateful for camp; a place where kids and adults alike can experience God in so many different ways. I look forward to many more MEA retreats to come—join us next year!