The season is getting ready to change! You can almost feel the potential in the ground. I am meeting this spring with a mix of excitement and urgency. I feel the excitement of all the potential that the summer season holds and also know that we need some of His human mission partners to join in and be part of the blessings and challenges. As of the writing of this note, we have 1 of a desired 5 Guides committed for the summer. To be clear, God does the lasting work so a big part of me is at peace with letting Him do these things in His own time. But there is also the part of me that knows the reality of what an understaffed summer looks like. In the end my hope is to have the right staff here to make the most of the potential God has prepared. To have hands enough to water, till and plant in the ground we are given.
With all that said, as I have thought about the summer, I have been drawn to Galatians 6:2-5.
“2. Carry each other’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ. 4-5. Each on should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves, without comparing themselves with anyone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
Each paddle group has so many opportunities to help and lean in to each other, to carry each other’s burdens as verse 2 encourages. They get to not just talk about it but show it with the physical emphasizing the relational. Each participant also gets to do physical activities with their own hands in a new environment where what they do is noticed. Since it is so immediate they get a chance to experience verses 4-5. They can see and test how they respond and end up with pride in how they have grown through it.
Camper Experience Goals:
Here is what we hope for our participants.
- To be seen (noticed for who they are now and who they could become).
- To be shown glimpses of Jesus in the different parts of the adventure including Nature (Creation and their physical selves), the Group (giving and receiving encouragement and problem solving), Self (self awareness and thoughts about Jesus’ character).
How we accomplish these goals
The Guides plan and manage the group’s interactions with different wilderness skills, with the environment, and words of encouragement so they have very full experiences to contemplate and discuss. The process of working through these events and feelings lead to growth for both the group (Galatians 6:2) and the individuals (Galatians 6:4-5).
Our Guide staff will be equipped and trusted with skills, training, support, certifications, and a lot of hands-on time facilitating/teaching as a leader in the wilderness. Our hope is that they are just as served as the groups they care for. We find that staff who are serving well, are supported well, and consciously adding value to themselves through the process have the best experiences for themselves and create the best experiences for their groups. There is sacrifice involved with any leadership endeavor but it is also rewarding in a way that other jobs are not. The leadership skills are also very transferable to many other spaces.
If you know anyone who has a passion for Jesus, wilderness, leadership, service, and learning – encourage them to contact us. They can email me directly, or learn more about working at Adventurous Christians, here.
Last month we shared stories about changed lives at Covenant Pines Bible Camp from our Senior High MEA Retreat. Our vision at Covenant Pines Ministries is to change a life. Of course, we envision campers when we think about this – but they are not the only ones having their lives changed. Summer staff members for years and years have shared about how working at camp has transformed their lives.
About a month ago, I received an email from a friend, Alex. It had been a few years since I’d heard from him and was happy to see the email pop in my inbox. Alex and I worked on summer staff for a few summers together and he spent a year at camp on Ministry Staff while I was the Program Director. Alex did not grow up at camp and didn’t have a Covenant history or background; he had first heard about camp from a friend from college, Tate, who encouraged him to apply to be a counselor. Alex was studying at the University Wisconsin LaCrosse pursuing a degree in Exercise Science and was on track to be a Physical Therapist…until he spent a couple of summers at Covenant Pines.
The email Alex sent was sent to a few of us on staff here at CPM, and he was writing to share with us that he had completed seminary and that was going to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He thanked us for the support in ministry we had given him at camp, and wrote in his email,
“The summers I spent at CPBC (2012 & 2013) completely transformed my hopes, dreams, and desires for life. And the year I spent on ministry staff (2013-14) taught me so many valuable lessons regarding ministry, especially that the work is not always fun… it can get messy! Oh how important it was for me to learn that lesson at a young age…”
This story is just one of many. I’m sure many of you reading this relate to Alex and can share your own ways how spending a summer at camp changed your life. Not everyone who works at Covenant Pines or Adventurous Christians will change their life to be in ministry – but some will. And some will meet their best friends or their mentor, some will heat from God in a way they never have before.
We are hiring for summer staff at both Covenant Pines and Adventurous Christians now. Can you think of a young adult or two that could benefit from a summer with us? Now, I mean it…can you make it a point to reach out to these individuals and send them our way? You never know…it could even change their life.
To learn more about working at Covenant Pines Bible Camp or Adventurous Christians, click here.
Our mission at Covenant Pines Ministries is to encourage campers to take their next step in Christian faith – whether that be introducing Jesus to them for the first time, a camper feeling compelled to return to church, saying yes to a mission trip…we aim to meet campers of all ages where they are at in their faith journey and encourage them to take that next step. Our vision statement is to change a life. We want your experience at Covenant Pines to be one that is unique and leaves an imprint on your heart – changes your life.
At our Senior High MEA Retreat at Covenant Pines Bible Camp this past October, the Saturday morning chapel looked a little different than the typical service. Our speaker, Sam Randall, invited students to share brief “faith stories” or “God moments” from their lives. This practice allowed campers to become familiar with sharing parts of their faith journeys, but also created a space where campers could relate to one another and realize they weren’t alone. It was a moving morning of sharing, and many students talked about how they’ve seen God through their mental health struggles, addictions in their families, social pressures at school and more.
Three students in particular shared about how Covenant Pines had shaped their spiritual formation. One camper from Bloomington Covenant shared that he didn’t necessarily have a major “moment” in his life where he felt a shift in his faith, but that the previous summer at camp had shaped him. On Next Steps night, his cabin mates were sharing their struggles, sharing their faith stories, and he felt compelled to listen and encourage his friends. He knew God had gifted him to be a good listener and a good friend; and that was revealed to him at Covenant Pines.
Another camper shared that he had never been particularly religious or spiritual, but has been invited to Covenant Pines by a friend. The chapel sessions admittedly were a little overwhelming, but at one point throughout the week a staff member had led a breakout session on worship through music. The time was more reflective and allowed campers to worship God through music in whatever form felt comfortable. This camper said for the first time, he felt freedom to worship in a way that made sense to him. He took these practices home and still worships through playing instruments.
Finally, a camper got up and shared that Covenant Pines was the first place where a true Christian community was revealed to her. She had attended camp before and had fun so continued to come, but one week at Senior High Camp, it was made clear to her that the people at camp were different. They supported her, encouraged her and allowed her to be herself. The community made her take her faith more seriously and want to continue to pursue Christian friendships more deeply outside of camp.
These are just a few snippets of stories shared by these students. We are fortunate to have heard these stories shared and feel encouraged that God is working through the ministry of Covenant Pines! We look forward to hearing more stories this summer – we’d love for your camper to join us. Click here to register and learn more about summer at Covenant Pines Bible Camp!
Our Executive Director share his thoughts on this past year at Covenant Pines Ministries.
December is a time of reflection. I’m sitting by the window watching the snow fall as I write this article and thinking back over all that has taken place over the past year. You have read stories in the past months of individual Sacred Places at CPM, of the exceeding generosity of donors and of Next Step faith steps taken by both campers and staff. Collectively, we celebrate these stories and God’s fingerprints on them. This morning I reflect on stories that are hidden a little further below the surface, but still have God’s fingerprints on them.
Pickleball. Yes, that pickleball. Did you know that each week since mid-October 20-60 players have descended on CPBC to play pickleball? What started out as a casual conversation has grown into a daily morning event. These players from the McGregor community sign-up online for a 3 hour window to play in the gym. For the majority of them, this is their first introduction to the ministry of CPBC. And while there is no chapel service, God is using pickleball to create community relationships, grow our volunteer network and even generate a few donors. (Our staff would love to teach you how to play on your next trip to camp!)
It was an unexpected phone call that brought John and Maria to Adventurous Christians. You’ll get to meet them if you visit AC over the winter. John and Maria love Jesus, are retired and have an adventurous side to them. After spending the past few years traveling the US on their motorcycle and volunteering with various ministries and park systems, they were looking for a part of the country they had not visited before. With a newly converted Greyhound bus as a tiny home, Northern Minnesota seemed like just the place to spend a winter volunteering. A google search and series of phone calls later, John and Maria arrived at AC in October and will be volunteering through the Spring. They brought with them a passion for serving God, skills that fit specific needs at AC and humbleness to be used by God wherever and whenever.
The CPM Board approved a new employee handbook in 2020. For the most part the approval was to update language and make minor revisions. There was one significant change – the inclusion of sabbatical. While widely accepted in higher education and for lead pastors, sabbaticals are not as common in camping ministry. Knowing that our year-round staff give sacrificially and with our desire is to create a healthy rhythm of work and rest, a sabbatical policy was developed for staff who have worked at least five years. In September, I was the fourth employee to experience a four week sabbatical. During my time away, I spent 9 days solo backpacking 140 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail. A few friends thought it was crazy to have this be my first backpacking trip. God used this time away from emails, meetings and phone calls to bring rest. It was so rejuvenating to spend this solitude time hiking, reflecting and praying.
The mission of Covenant Pines Ministries is to Encourage Campers to Take a Next Step in Christian Faith. I am thankful for obvious ways this occurs through Chapel and conversations around the campfire. I’m also grateful for the times God shows up during pickleball, unexpected phone calls and the solitude of hiking.
Thank you for your support of Covenant Pines Ministries.
On Saturday October 15, Covenant Pines Ministries held its first annual Board Alumni Breakfast. About 25 former board members gathered to reconnect, hear updates about CPM and ask questions about our ministry. Familiar faces gathered together around coffee and pastries – it felt like a mini reunion.
This gathering had people who attended the first ever summer camp at Covenant Pines, former full time staff members, representatives of the transition Committee from Adventurous Christians, the first woman to ever serve on the Covenant Pines Board and more. It was a great morning together.
The purpose of this event is to gather people who have a vested interest in our ministry. We recognize that when you are on the board, you are used to being up to date on details and happenings at CPM. Once you transition off the board, it can feel like you are “cut off” from all the information! Plus, you create friendships around the board table and it is always fun to reconnect. This was our first time doing this event, and we plan to hold it annually.
If you have served on the CPM Board and would like to be included in future board alumni events, please reach out to Director of Marketing and Off Site Ministry, Holly Abramson.