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
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
SURPRISE!!! We decided today was a great day to give you a sneak peek of all our returning staff! We are so excited to have each of these lovely ladies back with us this summer! We will be updating the Staff Bio page soon so you can get to know your Summer 2018 staff!
Missing camp and skills? Here’s one of the recipes our cooking skill made during the summer! Grab some friends and parent supervision to make these apple pie bites to brighten your day!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Makes: 8 bites
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 8 slices (1/2 inch)
8oz can Pillsbury Original crescent rolls
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and apple pie spice. Set aside.
3. Melt butter and toss apple slices in butter. Set aside.
4. Separate and arrange crescent roll triangles on baking sheet. Evenly distribute brown sugar mixture onto each triangle.
5. Sprinkle each triangle evenly with chopped pecans.
6. Place an apple slice on the wide end of each triangle. Wrap crescent roll dough around each apple.
7. Brush each crescent roll with remaining butter. Sprinkle lightly with additional apple spice.
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra sweet treat!
Well hello everybody!!!! It is the moment we have all been waiting for… Yes, it is time for Coffee and Convo with the one and only, Ron Springs!!! Ron is our fearless leader. He is full of grace and wisdom. You may have seen him around camp eating in the dining hall, leading us in all of our favorite campfire songs or playing foursquare. Now it’s time to hear a little bit more about our wonderful executive director!
Me: Ron, If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be?
Ron: A spider monkey. I love spider monkeys. I always look for them at the zoo.
Me: Tell me, Ron, is a hotdog a sandwich?
Ron: Absolutely not!
Me: What is your favorite campfire song?
Ron: Pharoah, Pharoah is my favorite campfire song!
Me: Would you rather zip line into the lake or do the leap of faith?
Ron: I’d rather zip line into the lake.
Me: What is your favorite thing to get at store?
Ron: Kit Kat! I used to get sodas…. like 5 a day, but if I had to pick a drink now it would be Minute Maid Fruit Punch.
Me: What is your favorite part about camp?
Ron: The campers. I love seeing them have a great time.
Me: What is your guilty pleasure?
Ron: Anything sweet with lots of sugar! Key lime pie is my favorite.
Me: Who is the one person you would want to do the giant swing with?
Ron: Harper Pineda (Sam Pineda, Camp Ridgecrest Assistant Directors daughter)
Me: What is your Indian name?
Ron: Singing Sequoia
Me: Would you rather eat your favorite meal for every meal for the rest of your life or never be able to eat your favorite meal again?
Ron: I would rather never eat my favorite meal again.
Me: If you had an Instagram, what would your username be?
Ron: UNCron of course!
Me: What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Ron: Chill! I like to walk a lot. I go hiking and walking.
Me: What does your ideal s’more look like?
Ron: Classic… just marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers. Marshmallow should be a golden brown, not burnt.
Me: What was your favorite skill to teach when you were a counselor?
Ron: The only skill I ever taught was archery.
Well, thats all the questions we have for today!! Thank you for joining Coffee and Convo with Ron! Catch Ron next summer singing some jams on Campfire night! See ya next time!
Hey camp family! It’s a quiet afternoon around the office today. The rest of the team is all out and about doing a variety of things to make camp awesome. So it’s just me and my cup of coffee hanging out together. I know I sure enjoyed coffee and convo with Becky and Elise so I figured why not let you in on the convo I’m having with myself while I drink my coffee!
Me to self: What has been the best part about coming back to camp after being gone for 5 years?
Self: Oh gosh! Literally everything! Being back in the mountains (especially now that the leaves are changing!), introducing my husband to the camp family, meeting so many awesome new campers and staff that have joined the family since I’ve been gone, seeing past campers all grown up and joining staff, spending tons of time with Sharon (and Scout!), I could go on and on but should probably move on…
Me to self: What is your favorite song we sing in the dining hall?
Self: I don’t do favorites!! But I guess any that we get to stand in our chair for! I really like Farther Along because of the stomp clap clap and the slower Ky Yi at the end.
Me to self: What is your favorite Bible story?
Self: There we go again with “favorites”. It really depends on the season and what’s going on in my life. I really liked studying the story of Esther a couple of months ago. It is full of so many intricate details that shows God at work. Esther is also an example of boldness, courage and humility.
Me to self: If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Self: Wow I love sleep and thank God He made it part of our day. But if He hadn’t then I would have a solid 7-8 more hours to read, work out, clean, spend more quality time with friends and family, paint my nails, the list goes on and on!
Me to self: What are some small things that make your day better?
Self: A text from a friend I haven’t talked to in a while, bright blue skies, Scout falling asleep in my lap.
Me to self: What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?
Self: Definitely Israel. Man that plane ride and jet lag were no joke but totally worth it!
Me to self: If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
Self: Maybe I can by taking the woodworking skill at camp! Definitely some fun furniture- a coffee table and a big kitchen table so we can have people over. I’m so inexperienced at woodworking I don’t even know what professional woodworkers can make!
Me to self: Would you rather be able to teleport anywhere or be able to read minds?
Self: Hmm…it’s tempting to say read minds but that takes all the fun out of getting to talk to people. Teleporting would allow me to visit people and places all over without having to fly…not a fan of flying.
Me to self: What is the silliest thing you get nostalgic for?
Self: All the movies on VHS at my parents’ house…especially my complete collection of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movies and Dunkaroos…
Me to self: If you could pick a slogan for your life, what would it be?
Self: “Love you, mean it” has become my go-to phrase, especially while I was in full-time youth ministry. I just want people to know how truly loved they are by me and Jesus!
Me to self: Alright Ashley, that’s enough. You are out of coffee and have work to do!
Thanks for hanging out with me and my cup of coffee! Can’t wait until we can hang out for real this summer! And in case you are wondering, Scout still hasn’t returned Becky’s call so keep checking back to see if we ever get to interview him! Love you, mean it!!
As camp is approaching, we are getting so excited to see our team of staff come together, and we know you all are excited to meet them. We have put together Staff Bios so that you can learn a little bit about each of the summer staffers, and we would love for you all to check them out! Go to http://girls.ridgecrestcamps.com/staff/2016-staff-bios to “meet” the latest staff!
We are in Nashville for the 4th WillPower 5K which takes place tomorrow! This has been such a fun time to reunite with our camp family and support Will NeSmith and his family! Will suffered from a spontaneous brain hemorrhage while he was at camp in 2012. It is a miracle he is with us today! The race began to “raise awareness for stroke recovery and HHT.” There have been close to 1,000 or over 1,000 runners each year. The race was even featured in the Forbes Travel Guide as one of the top 3 best races for beginner runners!
Read more here… www.willpower5k.com
We had a really fun time making these Mad Gabs for you, and we hope that you all had a fun time trying to figure them out! Here are the answers!
sick tea sec tent some her-(62nd Summer)
kin go fudge uncle-(King of The Jungle)
Knit bowl nook Eye scream par lore-(Nibble Nook Ice Cream Parlor)
bar sand star sand on her bands-(Bars and Stars and Honor Bands)
The leigh pave eight hand jive ants wing– (The Leap of Faith and Giant Swing)
purse safer rinse-(Perseverance)
Rat tails neck mound hand of her knight-(Rattlesnake Mountain Overnight)
Chair rock he sand chipper was-(Cherokees and Chippewas)
Check out this video of Ron trying to figure out the answers to one of the Mad Gabs.
Let us know if you all came up with any fun Mad Gabs of your own!
This week has been full of reminders of how much God has done through this crazy, wonderful, beautiful place called Crestridge. This is a stretch for me to sort of be personal in the wide open for every one to see kind of a way so bear with me and I hope you see that the best part of this is that it is all about who GOD is and what HE has done through a place we all have grown to love and appreciate. I’m sure you could all write a blog of your own with similar or different things (hey, if you want to share as well please do, we love love love hearing what God has done at Crestridge through Jesus love and provision for you!!!). And if I loose your interest, I hope ya get at least a little bit of Jesus 🙂
For all of you bullet point readers here is the nutshell version of:
“Real Life Lessons with Crestridge: To Him be the Glory”…
Since I’ve been here full time, I’ve seen more of Him. Through the growing of camp, I’ve seen Him literally take down some PAST things (pretty hard to watch), and build up CURRENT things so that He can continue to do the SAME thing for the campers that He wants to know about Him! He’s taught me about how He is the God of “above and beyond” for His own Glory! He pushed us beyond what we could have imagined in the past two years, seeing camp grow physically and deeper in sharing Jesus. What was impossible for us was not impossible for God. I’ve learned that trusting and obeying Him is always better than being afraid or trusting my self. I’ve learned that when He takes away some things, He gives better things to show us more of Himself. I’ve learned how life is not a one man show, He has created the WHOLE body of Christ to work together beautifully with its different personalities and gifts and experiences. I’ve learned that His grace is greater than my sin and weakness. And I’ve also learned that Sharon is, in real life, just as cool and as good a friend as I was thinking and hoping she would be (Scouts pretty cool too)!
If you want the whole story, you’ll need a few minutes and somewhere comfy to sit 😉 God is faithful let me tell you. Enjoy…
Here’s my “Real Life Lessons with Crestridge: To Him be the Glory” story…
How I came to Crestridge? Miss Laurie Cox (the cutest, most coordinated, fun loving PE coach and Music Director there ever was). We worked together in Tallahassee, Fl, and we both tried for several years to get each other to work at each other’s camps. For that season God figured it would be best for us to be at our two different camps, and I wouldn’t have changed those years. But then several years later God was rocking the boat a bit in my heart and life and Laurie won! I applied to Crestridge and was offered the OAP Climbing Instructor Position!! Woah! Nervous? Yes! But after getting in late, missing our first staff get together, walking into a dining hall of super cool staffers that I didn’t know, and then standing in line with Debbye Skaggs (and getting one of those big ole bear hugs), I knew I was home. God poured out so much love on me that summer. And I needed it. The past few years had been pretty tough on my heart. I had felt pretty alone, hurt, confused, worn out, directionless, and not worthy of God or His love. But every morning in Chapel, Allie (the Discipleship Director) wouldn’t stop talking about how much our Father loves us. It was like a strong but persistent waterfall that wouldn’t stop.. He loves me, HE loves me, He LOVES me, He loves ME! I am HIS! It’s a done deal. Jesus died on the cross to FORGIVE my sins (which I was so aware of). He came to adopt me. He is not mad at me or disappointed in me. JESUS was and is everything to me. The theme that summer was “I Am With You”. And God used the people (the list would be too long to list but Marva, Debbye, Choctaws, Ryann Andrews, Katie Correll-just know that God used you and a bunch of others in big ways), His word, His spirit, and my time at this beautiful place to be 100% convinced of His love for me! I would have loved to have been convinced of it sooner in life but in His wisdom and because of His plan, THIS was the perfect time. I can’t tell you how many times, every day, the next year, that I thought about “I am with You”. It was a tough year but He was with me and I knew it!
The morning after I got home from that summer, I woke up and it all hit me like I don’t even know what like. I could probably count on my hands the times I’ve cried that hard. I was so overwhelmed with how sweet God had just been and how much I was gonna miss all the staff and campers and just being at camp (anyone feel me on this one??). It was a good thing my sister Kimberly had just left the room or else I’m sure she’d have thought I’d lost it! I’ve never made a decision to come back to a place so fast in my life (after praying just to make sure God was ok with it;-).
So, the next summer, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than the last year, it did! That summer the theme was “The Well”. So God added lessons onto the “I Am With You”. Not only was He with me, He has everything He has created me to need! That year He put more and more of a love for what God was doing in and through Crestridge and for YOU in my heart. He showed me more and more how much He loves you as I got to spend time in skills, all around camp, and in cabins at night just hanging out. I even still have a car mirror craft Sara Milgrom made me, its pretty much the best. I think one of the sweetest things that year was getting to watch and appreciate Marva and her love for you all too! She reminds me a lot of my dad and Jesus in that. There was never a moment that there was not a dog and a Chippewa by her side. I’m pretty sure that if people had dogs as pets back then and in the Middle East that Jesus would have had one too. I was blessed, encouraged, and challenged by her in that. Also, it was my secret mission in life to get to know, and be besties with Super Sharon someday. She’s a busy girl ya know, so ya gotta look for those perfect moments, or just make them happen :-). So that year I left with an incredible excitement to see how Jesus was going to be my “Well” the next year at home, at work, and at church. I can’t tell you how many times during the year hard things came up and how many times God used illustrations, or verses, or other things God taught me that summer at Crestridge to keep me encouraged and hopeful that year. I even had (and still have) “post it” notes on my desk at work with the theme logo to remind me!
And that is the beautiful thing about Jesus. When you are His child, He doesn’t just go to camp with you. He comes home with you. It doesn’t always feel the same, and it certainly doesn’t look the same. No nibblenook, no singspiration, no camp buddies in the bunk next to you, no mountains (if you live in FL), lots of hard real life things you want to run away from, no crazy games and endless laugher, no going up to the store and just getting what you want (you gotta pay for it :-(), no late night talks with the people that know you the best. It’s just kind of different. But what IS NOT DIFFERENT is that JESUS is THERE and HE PROVIDES. And I learned that it’s in those HARD times that you get to know JESUS in a way you couldn’t if life was all nibblenook icecream and village activities.
That being said, the next summer I didn’t know quite as fast if I was going to be able to come back, but God knew all along and just took a little longer in filling me in on it;-). Going into the summer I was feeling super unworthy of being able to know Him and share Him with others. I knew He loved me but I was doubting some of the things He was telling me. But right before the summer He worked in my heart through my Pastors wife back in Tally, and said, “Hey Katie, if I say it, its true! You may not get it, but just trust that its true, I’ll fill you in on understanding if and when you need it! I love you and will do the work through you.” So, that’s just what He did! I got to be the Discipleship Director that summer, and I’ve never seen God work and answer so many needs in our camp life. Right before my VERY EYES! He taught me so much through time in His word and getting to share that with you girls. He worked on so many of your hearts even just in a few short minutes that we got to talk and in all of the rest of you that we didn’t get to talk! The theme was “Not My Own”, and boy did we learn a lot. The only thing that is all mine is my sin! To know God we need a righteousness that is “Not Our Own”and JESUS has it!! And then when we know Him as our Savior, Father, Friend we are called to live a life that is “Not Our Own”, we are HIS because HE bought us!! That summer God used camp to teach me those things and to give me several friendships that have been used to change my life and add a whole lotta love. I don’t know if you guys know this 😉 but I love getting to work with and know kids! A long long time ago I remember telling some friends that I was going to have 12 kids. Well, that hasn’t happened, but that summer I was at the overlook and God made me realize that in a way I have more kids than I can even count. I became more and more thankful for you all. I don’t ever get to spend as much one on one time with each of you as I’d like but let me tell you, if Jesus loves you more than I do, then you are VERY VERY VERY loved! And HE CAN spend one on one time with you! And one on one time with Jesus is way better than one on one time with me any day! So know that I’ve prayed for you, but also know that Jesus has prayed for you, and I’d say that He trumps me:-) You are loved.
Also, my mission of getting to know Super Sharon was on the move! She asked me to be the intern! ALL YEAR with my friend SHARON ELIZABETH AYLESTOCK, what a blast! I learned and keep learning so much from her and with her. I also fell more and more in love with what God was doing in and through Crestridge for HIS glory and y’alls good! On the camp side of things we were hard at work praying about the future of camp and what He was wanting to do in making room for more and more of YOU!!! That was exciting to watch. So many details had to be planned and sorted out and God did them all. Because it would show off His greatness and show His love specifically for each of you! During that year, personally, I had some much needed rest that God sweetly gave. He also taught me a whole lot about loving when its hard and when you love so much that it hurts. Some very close and sweet friends of mine had a pretty hard year. It was really hard to not be right with them. It was hard to not know what to say or when to say it or how to show it. But God reminded me that even though I loved these friends so much, they were “Not My Own”. They are His and His love for them and wisdom in their lives is completely enough. He was walking WITH them in the hard places. He was giving them what they needed, even if it didn’t always feel like it or look like it to us. And He promises that He would use these hard times in their lives for their good. So that year I learned that God loves the ones I love even more than I do. For you moms reading this, God gave me the heart of a mother during this year (to clarify I don’t have any children by birth but God has given me several “heart Daughters”). I’ve never felt so much for someone in my life some of those friends became daughters and sisters. I’ve never cared so much. “I” didn’t matter any more. My family was my heart and they mattered more than me in everything. I’ve never sensed the urge to step in and take over for God the role of loving and protecting them so much. But I learned that the Lord is their perfect Father. He loves perfectly, His wisdom and power in their lives is real and His ways and timing is perfect. The peace that came from realizing that and seeing Him be a better father to my sisters and girls were far greater than a superficial temporary peace I would have received if I had taken over for God. It was a painful ride but it has been beautiful to see the fruit of His faithfulness to His girls. So, Moms, you are being prayed for. Cast your hearts (aka, your girls and family on Him), He cares for you.
The following summer I got to live day and and day out with my first family of Village Directors. It was incredible to walk alongside a group of ladies that God had put the same love for their campers as I had in their hearts. I saw the intentionality of God through them. They wanted to lead their staff, plan activities, point the hearts of the staff and campers to Jesus, take care of their safety, and give them the time of their lives! It was also fun to go deeper and deeper with camper and staff friendship that had already been formed as well as ones that were being formed. There is just something about living life on life with people, talking about Jesus, running around and having more fun in one summer than many get in a lifetime, and did I mention talking about Jesus. God gives us TIME at camp to step away from the business (which I’ve learned can sometimes be avoided by a simple “no” to just one more thing to do, oh so hard) of life to just be, and sit, and think, and talk, and let things soak in. “Be still and know that I am God”, it’s a real thing:-) Also, that summer, Ron and Sharon gave me a card, and in that card were two boxes “yes” or “no”. The question was, “Would you please join us year round to be a part of the Ridgecrest Camps Team?” Typical Katie, took a day to pray about it, and then said, “YES, YES, YES!”
With that “Yes” came a lot of official goodbyes back in Tally. I was so excited but at the same time sad and a bit worried about leaving behind a lot of folks I had grown to love. From “my” students, to “my” players, to my friends and family and church. Sometimes I forget that things that are “mine” are really “Not My Own”. I was going to miss out on big things. Those relationships would change. Who was going to take care of and love them if I wasn’t there? Am I quitting something God had called me to? Part of those fears and questions came from love and others just from fear. The answer He gave was “I love them more, trust and follow me Katie. I will lead you and guide you, and I will continue to care for and work in the place and in the people you love. It was ME working in and through you anyways, so I can work in and through others as well.” The lesson there for me was that it is the same with Crestridge. He works in and through Crestridge but He will and does also work in and through so many other places, people, and organizations. God was not just with me when I was in Tally and He is not just here with me now that I live and work at Camp, He is with His children where ever they are. Boy am I thankful for that. I pray you know that too.
Since I’ve been here full time, I’ve seen more of Him. Through the growing of camp, I’ve seen Him literally take down some PAST things (not bad things), and build up CURRENT things so that He can continue to do the SAME thing for the campers that He wants to know about Him! He’s taught me about how He is the God of “above and beyond” for His own Glory! He pushed us beyond what we could have imagined in the past two years, seeing camp grow physically and deeper in sharing Jesus. What was impossible for us was not impossible for God. I’ve learned that trusting and obeying Him is always better than being afraid or trusting my self. I’ve learned that when He takes away some things, He gives better things to show us more of Himself. I’ve learned how life is not a one man show, He has created the WHOLE body of Christ to work together beautifully with its different personalities and gifts and experiences. I’ve walked alongside and learned from some of the most incredible college aged and young women in all the land (” “)! I’ve learned that His grace is greater than my sin and weakness. And I’ve also learned that Sharon is, in real life, just as cool and as good a friend as I was thinking and hoping she would be (Scouts pretty cool too)!
All that being said, if you are still reading this I hope you’ve seen Jesus and how He works in real life. Because my friends, although camp is just the summer for most of you all, it has been WHERE my life with Jesus has taken place for the past 6 years. Life with Jesus keeps on keeping on and some are highs here at camp and as you’ve seen there are real life with Jesus lows that come with it, no matter where you are. BUT one thing never changes…He is with me. He is the Well flowing with everything I need. I am not my own but I AM HIS! And He will continue to be all of those things no matter where I am, no matter who is or isn’t in my life, and what ever the circumstances around me look like. His Spirit, working through His word, and His people here at Crestridge and other places have shown me more and more of who HE is. And I’m growing to know more and more that “Jesus + Nothing” is indeed more real than the “real” I feel.
This is just one story, from one person at one place. Think about all the stories of all the people at all the places around the world. The stories Jesus is writing to show more and more people who HE is and what HE has done!
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! …
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:33, 36
Feel free to share your God stories from home or while you’ve been at camp!!! We really do love to hear them. You can post them here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Also, if there is every anything we can be praying for you we’d love to know and pray with you!