CATEGORY ARCHIVES: News
Ridgecrest Summer Camps Executive Director
Camp Ridgecrest and Camp Crestridge families,
My first summer at Camp Ridgecrest was when I was 9 years old, and I was terrified as I rolled up to the front gate. I didn’t know anyone except for my older brother. From my first interaction at Camp, I felt welcomed and taken care of. Through the greatest adventures, and most challenging times, God used Camp and the people here to mold my faith, my character, my sense of humor, and my drive for excellence in ministry.
I remember Ron my first summer at Camp in the 80s, man he seemed old in my 9-year-old eyes. He wasn’t that old, but he was wise, faithful, and committed to all of us. This is how Ron has led the Camps team for decades – with wisdom, faithfulness, and commitment.
When my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded, “I want to be Ron.” I don’t remember the exact words I used, but essentially that’s what I told her. I wanted to serve others in this life changing place. For the past 30 years, with a short break, I’ve had the privilege to learn how to serve and to lead here at the greatest place on earth.
As a husband to Amy and a fellow camp parent – I have two Crestridge teenagers myself – I want to thank you in advance for trusting me, and the rest of the Camp team, with your children. Their social, emotional, and spiritual growth and safety are what drive our schedules. We spend 9 months preparing for three months filled with your sons and daughters – along with all of their questions, opinions, fears, and excitement. We love them and we love getting to point them to Jesus, the most important person in their life.
We are about impacting lives for God’s glory through Discipleship and Adventure. It’s what we love and it’s what the Lord has asked us to do. Thanks for doing it with us! And thanks for trusting me in this new role as Executive Director of Ridgecrest Summer Camps.
Ridgecrest Summer Camps
Once upon a time in a magnificent yet hidden corner of the world, scores of wide-eyed girls from across the South were taught in utmost serious and dramatic fashion by word and deed that the most lady-like action in a specific situation is to fire the .22 and blow the rattlesnake up at the head. I can’t imagine anyone who killed more venomous snakes with a gun than Miss Johnnie Armstrong. It seemed to be at least two per summer, possibly more if Western North Carolina was experiencing “drought conditions.” So many have a Johnnie snake story or at least we all well remember “Johnnie’s snake talk.” Thanks to her emphatic coaching, we knew like we knew our own names what to do if we had a run-in with this frightening predator. We were okay because all we had to do was stop or freeze- a deliberate action in complete contradiction to our natural tendency in that situation but necessary since snakes react to movement. Then, we were to yell our lungs out and somehow word always miraculously traveled to wherever she happened to be. In no time flat, no matter what she was doing, Johnnie would be there with her rifle and the copperhead or rattlesnake would inevitably suffer a terrible defeat. After this brief but impassioned interruption, we would resume our normal activities of singing, laughing, and playing in what to many of us was the closest place to paradise, Camp Crestridge for Girls. But more importantly, our leader and Director taught us with all the same intensity if we were to ever have a fighting chance in this world against the real snake, the accuser, deceiver, and enemy of our souls, the weapon we would need is God’s Word hidden in our hearts. While fearless in life, Johnnie taught us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” from Proverbs 31 which she encouraged us to read everyday no matter our age.
Johnnie challenged us to spend twenty minutes alone with God at the beginning of each day in silence: praying and reading His Word. It was called Quiet Time. It was revolutionary to our young minds then and it is even more revolutionary now. We had the rest of the day to talk to everyone else which as girls we most certainly did do this and like our first mother this was our usual means for getting ourselves into trouble. But in Johnnie we had a different example. She exhorted us to be proactive, to go ahead and set aside that time first thing for Him. Twenty minutes of quiet sure felt like an eternity but she wanted us to know that one day we would come to treasure this time and long for more. While we were laughing with our cabins during Cook-Out, she was alone fasting and praying for each of us. We were challenged to hear God’s Word, memorize and recite God’s Word, sing His praises, and remain silent in Chapel or Campfire and meditate on what had been said and what changes we needed to make to live in accordance with Scripture. Or we
simply learned to listen for the bullfrog in the lake, the crackling fire, the tall tulip poplars rustling in the wind, the soft melody of the creek making its way over rocks and under a cathedral of rhododendron, the symphony of katydids. It is an ache we haven’t ever gotten over. No one was more fun than Johnnie but no one could hush a group of giggling girls with simply a mere look quite like Johnnie either. “Will you make Jesus Christ the center of your life?” she would say as she lit the white candle during Council of Progress. With the same piercing eyes that could take aim for an elusive snake dead-on, she took aim at our squirming hearts. It’s a question to last a lifetime.
The world will have to forgive us if as girls during that time we could not comprehend the tragedy of mass shootings that would later dominate news cycles. We only knew the loud bang of a rifle echoing through the mountains and across the lake was a comforting noise. It was the sound of a beautiful, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind lady with a competitive spirit like no one else, a towering joyful presence, and an excellent shot protecting girls from a very real and ancient enemy. When we heard that sound, we never doubted: Johnnie won, somewhere a snake is dead. If a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, then a woman who trains other women to fear the Lord and not the world is due double honor. Dear Johnnie, although we are scattered, your many children arise to call you blessed. Thank you for your remarkable faithfulness to Christ. You’ve spent your one shining season always running the race to win. You valued each of us enough to want us to win as well. We hope to empower those who follow behind us with the priceless, eternal weapon of God’s Word and God’s Love you have so magnificently shared with us. And when we hear a rifle, see a snake, or are somehow unpleasantly reminded that no matter how wonderful life is at times, we are still in the cross-fires of a fallen world, we can remember that because Jesus fixed His eyes to Jerusalem, shed His blood on the cross for our sins, and rose again our ultimate enemy has been conquered. When we, who were once little girls and who are now big girls, find ourselves hysterical and tangled up with this foe, we only need to stop or freeze, cry out to Jesus, and like Johnnie, He is right there to take care of us. Jesus has won: death, darkness, and evil are defeated.
Written by Parish Hardy
The first Opening Day is only 37 days away!! Are you ready? How do you prepare for camp? The first Crestridge staffer arrives on Monday morning to start working! It’s getting real!
We would love to share some tips with you as you start thinking about Opening Day:
-Campers, ask your parents to fill out all the forms before camp! And, sign up for skills! You can sign up on Opening Day but you may find that some of the skills are already full.
-Missing home is a very normal feeling and thing to experience. Get a journal (or pre-order one from our store) and make a plan to write down all the awesome memories so you can be sure to share them with your family when you get home.
-The clothing store is almost ready for pre-orders! Pick out some Crestridge gear to rep!
-Get ready for the changes to Opening Day! You’ll get shuttled up to Crestridge as soon as you park to check in at the Tennis Courts. If you come before, you’ll have to hang out at the Tennis Courts/Lower Green until we announce your village. You’ll walk up to your cabin with your village and your counselors! It’s not the Crestridge Stampede! Check-In closes at 12:30PM. Then we’ll get the session started with lunch in the Dining Hall at 1PM!
-Don’t have any expectations! Get ready to have the best summer ever!
If you have any questions about coming to camp this summer, let us know. We would love to make it as easy as possible for you! See you soon!
WOW! What a year this has been. Being an intern has been full of so much fun, laughter, hard work, challenges and lots of good times with Scout. There are SO many things I could tell you all about being an intern!!!! But here are a few of my favorite things:
1. Traveling! Traveling to different cities to see campers and staff has been such a treat. We were able to go to various universities to recruit new staffers and see previous staffers. We also got to see campers and meet families. Just imagine hours and hours of jamming to music in the car with Becky Haltiwanger!!! Oh yes, we had a blast for sure.
2. Hiring staff!!!! As an intern, I have had the chance to walk our applicants through the hiring process. Interviewing our applicants has been SO much fun. There were many incredible girls with huge heart’s for Jesus that applied to camp this year. Being able to hear about their desire to spread the Gospel to our campers has been such an encouragement to me throughout this year.
3. THE COMMUNITY! Wow, this community is amazing. Living and working with the other intern, Becky, has been THE BEST!!!!! With her, there has been tons and tons of laughter, video making, traveling, quality conversation, friendship and unity through the Gospel. I am absolutely confident that Sharon and Ashley are the BEST bosses that anyone could ever have. They are endlessly gracious. They are confidently humble. They are selfless, hard working and inspire you to be your best. Working with the Ridgecrest staff has also been such an incredible and important part of this community. Being able to work with and learn from our brothers in Christ has been awesome. And last but not least, I got to hang out with SCOUT every day!!!!!
4. Cleaning the pool!!! I’m not going to lie, scrubbing the pool can be fun! It is so nice to be able to go outside and enjoy the beauty of camp while working on something that is so important to our campers!
5. Individual growth! At camp, we challenge our campers and staffers to grow in four areas: spiritually, mentally, socially, and physically. This year has been full of challenges and growth for me personally! I have grown socially as I have met new staffers and campers and embraced the community in Black Mountain. I have grown mentally as I have learn many new skills, organizational techniques and collaboration. I have grown physically as I have been working out with the Ridgecrest interns (lol). And I have grown spiritually in my walk with the Lord as I have come to understand more of his unconditional love and pursuit of me through my brokenness!
6. Lastly, my very favorite thing about working at camp is being able to facilitate an environment where the Gospel is shared!!!! Sharing the Good News of what Jesus has done for us is the MOST important part of life and camp! I am so grateful that the Lord has given me an opportunity to participate in his Kingdom Work through being an intern. We have hired an incredible staff and we are prayerfully approaching the summer. We pray that each of our campers will get to hear the Good News of Jesus and believe that his sacrifice is sufficient for us!
Being an intern has been such a blessing. I have been so thankful for this opportunity and all of the things that the Lord has allowed me to learn along with way. But, we aren’t finished yet!!!!!!! We are SO excited for this summer!!!!!! WILL YA’LL JUST GET HERE ALREADY!!!!!????
If you’ve been to camp before you probably know that we sing A LOT of songs and if you have never been to camp well GET READY because we sing A LOT of songs!
So there are many times at camp where we all like to break out in song, kind of like our very own musical! Some songs are more traditional to camp, like the songs we sing at Campfire night or at Council of Progress, but others are classics to everyone and you probably might have heard them at home!
Here’s a list of some of our FAVORITE songs we sing and why we sing them!
“A-la-la-la-le- luia”: This is the song we start off every Campfire night with. In this song we get to shake each others hands, scratch each others backs and mess with each others hair! Who wouldn’t want to join in on that!
“I Just Want to be a Sheep”: This is one of our Executive Director, Ron Springs’, favorite songs to sing with campers. It is so much fun getting to ‘ba ba ba ba ba’ with all of your cabin pals and do silly hand motions that go along with it.
“Pharaoh, Pharaoh”: Another classic song with more fun hand motions for campers to dance a long too. You have to remember with this song to sing from your soul and get super into it!
“Lord I Lift Your Name on High”: You might have sung this song growing up in church and it was one of our favorites as well! We sing this song at campfire night to transition into a more reflected part of the evening.
“Sanctuary”: Campers love to echo this song when we sing it to end campfire night. It allows us to settle in for a night of good conversation and discussion around the fire with all of our close camp friends.
“The Mountains Rise”: This is a very traditional part of our Council of Progress night. We sing this song at every CP to help us reflect and remind us of why we come to camp and that is to grow in our relationship with Christ.
“KiYi”: This is the very first song we sing to get the Dinner cheers started. It is a tradition and is the best way to get everyone pumped up for the evening!
“Do Re Mi” from the Sound of Music: This is always a crowd favorite because almost everyone knows this song. Campers love to dance around the dining hall and yell all the words at the top of their lungs.
“Happiness is”: DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE! This song is dedicated to all of the hard work the staff and campers put into every summer. Each person has a different job to do but we all come together united finding happiness together with our camp family.
“I Love the Mountains, I Love the Rolling Hills”: A dinner time favorite where we all stand up on our chairs and stomp to the boom-di-ada rhythm that echoes throughout the dining hall. You know it is a great night when we all end on the same stomp!
“Hey Look Me Over”: Make sure your water cup isn’t filled at dinner because it will surely be knocked over during this camp favorite. Get ready for lots of banging on tables and yells in this classic camp tune. The words can get a bit confusing so be sure to look at the words in our song book below!
“Farther Along”: This last song we sing at dinner to close out the evening. It is a combination of KiYi and Farther Along to give it a little Crestridge touch.
“I Want to Linger”: We sing this on the very last night of camp. You can bet tears will be shed, but we also get to be reminded about all the wonderful friendships we made here and all the lessons we have learned that we now get to take home with us. “It’s just goodnight and not good bye.”
“Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music: We sing this song at the end of each session as a farewell to all of our campers. It is a bittersweet time because we come together one last time with our friends and family and reflect on all the awesome memories we made at camp before we have to head back home until the next summer.
Other ones to look at to get yourself ready are: Crestridge Reputation Blues, Crestridge Cutie Cutie Pie, Kitty Kitty Wash Wash, Change My Heart O God, Hiya Hiya, Oh You Can’t Get to Heaven, Joy Joy Joy, Boom Boom Gee Whiz
If you would like to learn the words to any of these songs, click on the song sheet below!
We can’t wait to sing and shout with you ALL summer! It is going to be grrrrrreat! Get here already!
The SALT program is a unique Service And Leadership Training experience for girls completing their junior year in high school. The SALTs serve in a variety of ways around camp including dishes, preparing for campwides, spending time with campers and so much more. We are so excited to have these girls join us this summer!
Session 1 & 2
Session 3 & 4
Did you know the height of the rock wall? Did you know how many gallons of water are in the Crestridge pool? Did you know how many hours you will spend at camp this summer? Well now you do!!!!!! Here are 14 fun facts that you should know about Camp Crestridge:
1. There will be 46 camper cabins at camp this summer!
2. There are up to 67 different snack options at store
3. During one session, you are at camp for a total of 288 hours
4. Your cabin will be cleaned at least 56 times this summer
5. There are 142,000 gallons of water in the Crestridge pool
6. The blob tower is 23 feet tall from the top of the tower to the bottom of the lake
7. There are 125 steps on the Ridge stairs
8. This summer will be our 64th summer as a camp
9. The laundry staff will do at least 2,400 loads of laundry this summer
10. The rock wall is 30 feet tall
11. The kitchen staff will serve 86,400 meals during camp this summer
12. There are currently 76 fire pits at camp
13. The Choctaw village has won the Crestridge Cup 2 times more than any other village at camp
14. The zipline is 325 feet long
I came to camp the day after I graduated from High School as a JET (Jr. Counselor). I remember earlier in my Senior year of High School I was trying to figure out what I wanted to study in college and where I wanted to go. I had two strong desires. One was to be a Marine Mammal Biologist. I seriously wanted to go to school on the beach somewhere and study marine mammals, like manatees, dolphins, whales, etc. As I was looking at schools, I realized that’s not the direction the Lord wanted me to go. My other desire was to work in camping ministry. I loved volunteering with my youth group and I loved the mountains and the outdoors. I had one problem though. I had never worked at a summer camp. So I started googling my options. I knew I wanted to be close to Greenville, SC, my home. Asheville seemed like the best location. I applied to The Cove Camp because of a connection there but they had already filled their positions. Then I found Camp Crestridge. I eventually was hired and made the trek up to camp after graduation.
What some of you don’t know is that this was COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone. I had never left home and gone to a place where I knew almost no one. I had never spent that much time away from home in a place I had never been to. I was very nervous. I was shy, I had a hard time putting myself out there and meeting new people. But thankfully the camp staff saw beyond that and gave me a chance. Something else you probably don’t know about me is that as I was growing up, if I left my parents for more than a couple days, I would literally make myself sick because I missed them. I wanted to be in the safety of my own home. So going to camp my first summer was a HUGE step for me. It was the best thing to prepare me for college and the rest of my life. The Lord knew what He was doing!
That was a life-changing summer. I worked with the Choctaw campers. We had some fun times in Choctaw 4, lots of laughter, times to talk about Jesus, dance parties, etc. I also worked with an amazing group of staff. We supported and loved each other and wanted to lead our campers well. Thankfully, the Lord allowed me to be fully present and not focus on missing home!
I’ve always thought, “What would I have been like as a camper? Would I have been able to handle it? Would I have enjoyed it?” I do think I would have struggled with missing home. I think I would have been visiting the Infirmary quite a bit saying I didn’t feel well and needed to go home. I would have tried to say I came down with a stomach bug. But I would have loved all the activities. I would have loved making new friends from places I had never been before. I would have loved having counselors who wanted to spend time with me and loved me.
Campers are brave! It takes a lot of courage to come to camp. But those who make that decision probably don’t realize the incredible impact it will have on their future. They may not see how it’s instilling confidence and independence. They may not see how it’s allowing them to try new things, to see if they like a hobby that could turn into a future career. They may not see how much growth comes from pushing themselves to complete a challenge. It would have been very hard for me to stay at camp, away from my family, but I wonder how it would have shaped me. Thankfully the Lord used other experiences to grow me into the woman I am today. He used and is using my time on staff to continue to draw me closer to Him and impact lives for His glory. I’m thankful that God has placed me at such a special place called Camp Crestridge!
We finally got in touch with one of the biggest personalities at Camp Crestridge! He’s been hard to get a hold of due to his busy schedule, which includes, but is not limited to, chasing Indie, playing in the lake, and sleeping by Sharon’s desk. He’s one of the funnest guys to be around and is so excited to see all his camp friends again this summer! Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for, it’s time for a coffee and convo with SCOUT AYLESTOCK!! *AIR HORN NOISES*
Me: So tell me Scout, what is your favorite part about being a dog?
Scout: Well, I love to run around and chase my friends! Camp is so big and there are so many places to explore and find good sticks! I’M A VERY LUCKY DOG!
Me: Where is your favorite place to play at Crestridge?
Scout: THE LAKE! I have so much fun jumping in and cooling off and hanging out with all the campers! I also love sleeping in my mommy’s office chair…it’s a good spot.
Me: What is your favorite campfire song?
Scout: I’m not usually at campfire because I get really tired after dinner and all the rocks distract me, but the times I have been there I really like that sheep song! “I just want to be a sheep BARK BARK BARK BARK!”
Me: How do you feel that people can buy a sticker of your face?
Scout: YOU CAN BUY A STICKER OF ME?! WHAT AN HONOR!
Me: What is your favorite thing to get at store?
Scout: My mom won’t let me eat store but I love creating new friendships with campers! OR PLAY TETHERBALL.
Me: What is your favorite part about camp?
Scout: That my mommy is there!! She’s the coolest person you’ll ever meet!
Me: What is your guilty pleasure?
Scout: I like fighting with rocks…but my mommy doesn’t like it…
Me: If you could only choose to play one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Scout: “Who Let the Dogs Out!” by Baha Men, it’s my jam!
Me: What is your Indian name?
Scout: TERRIFIC TERRIER. JUST KIDDING. I just like being called SCOUT, sometimes people call me Scoot, I answer to either.
Me: If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Scout: Run a marathon! Become a famous Instagramer! Star in movies! Become the next dog superhero! Go to Disney World! Meet Snoopy or Pluto, they seem like cool guys! Rule the World! Mwahahahaha! Just kidding, I haven’t thought of that plan yet…
Me: What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Scout: Watch TV on my mommy’s comfy coach! My favorite TV shows are Scooby Doo Where Are You, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Wishbone. I also like movies, some of my favorite are Secret Life of Pets, Air Bud, Beethoven, Bolt, Homeward Bound, Milo & Otis, 101 Dalmatians, Benji, All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Fox and the Hound, and Lady & the Tramp (for the times I’m feeling romantic).
Me: If you had to have a job what would it be?
Scout: I HAVE THE BEST JOB OUT THERE, BEING A CAMP DOG! I GET TO HANGOUT WITH ALL MY FRIENDS ALL THE TIME! I GET TO EXPLORE AND SPEND TIME WITH MY MOMMY! But I guess if I have to do something I’d want to be a Petrologists…they study rocks…
Me: What is your favorite skill to do at camp!
Scout: RUNNING SKILL! I LOVE CHASING ALL THE CAMPERS AROUND! I apologize to anyone I accidentally trip…
Me: Do you have an Instagram account?
Scout: Yes! It’s wheres_scout, FOLLOW ME AND SEE ALL THE FUN PLACES I CAN BE FOUND.
Me: What is your…wait, oh no! Scout don’t go chase that squirrel!! Well I guess that’s all we have time for today folks! Thank you for tuning into another Coffee and Convo! Catch Scout this summer hanging out by the BearTrap with his mommy Sharon! He’s pumped to play around with you!!
Scout: “BARK BARK! SEE YOU THEN!”
Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” Just as Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually and socially; at Crestridge we believe it is important for campers to grow in these areas as well! Throughout the summer, each camper has the opportunity to participate in a challenge. This challenge gives campers practical ways to grow in these four areas. We know that growth is possible even without a checklist and it is by grace alone that we are saved! But we do find value in giving each camper encouragement, accountability and guidance as we strive to grow in the ways that Jesus grew! While we want campers to grow throughout the summer, we also want to encourage them to grow during the year. Here are some ways that you and your family can grow spiritually, physically, mentally and socially this year:
___Memorize a new Bible verse every week
___Share your favorite Bible verse with your family and why you like it
___Have a daily quiet time
___Keep a prayer journal
___Do a devotion with your family weekly
___Go walk your dog outside for 15 mins 3 times a week
___Go play a game of soccer with some friends once a week
___Try a new form of exercise once a week (biking, tennis, running, walking, yoga, dancing, weightlifting, etc.)
___Replace some unhealthy foods with your favorite fruits and veggies
___Write down a goal for each of your classes
___Limit time watching TV to 30 mins a day (or less)
___Read a book this month
___Learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to learn (knitting, baking, guitar, etc.)
___Go sit with someone at lunch who you have never talked to
___Memorize the names of everyone in your class
___Organize a fun family outing
___Write a note of encouragement/ appreciation to someone
___Plan a fun activity with all of your friends