On the road again is a phrase we’ve heard a lot over the past week. We have been traveling the southeast since Sunday visiting and recruiting for next summer.
The trip started Sunday morning with the first stop being in Greenville, SC where Scout started his vacation at his grandparents’ house. The rest of the crew then made our way to Birmingham, AL to meet up with former staff at Samford University. We had an incredible time catching up with former staff and meeting their friends who might be interested in working at camp next summer. We also had the chance to meet some potential new camp families at a home show while in Birmingham.
Next stop was a quick hug at the University of Alabama before continuing on to Starkville, MS. In Starkville we got to see former Assistant Director Katie Greenwell and a host of other former staff. We got to meet middle and high school students who are both interested in coming to camp as campers and also keeping us in mind once they graduate. We had the privilege of attending chapel at Starkville Christian School where Katie, Rachel Witbeck (former discipleship director), and Hayley Martin (former videographer) all teach. Elise had the opportunity to share with the students a powerful word on failure and how the Lord can use it in our lives.
After Starkville we made our way to Oxford, MS and the University of Mississippi. Ole Miss was another great experience of catching up with former staff and meeting potential new ones. It is exciting to think that some of the girls we have had the pleasure of meeting over the last week could spend the entire summer with us.
And that brings us to our current location, Linden, TN, where we will spend a couple of nights with our friends on the Camp Crestridge Alumnae and Friends board.
So what about you? Where are you at this week and who are you sharing your love for Camp Crestridge with? Camper registration and staff applications are in full swing! Join us as we continue to share the place we love with so many we come in contact with. We can’t wait to see who the Lord brings to camp this summer!
One of the great things about our job is that we get to dream about summer all year long. We get to think of new activities, new skills, how to improve our current activities, look for incredible staff, keep in touch with our camp family and much more! One of the most exciting things we get to do is travel around and visit our camp family and tell their friends about camp. Our most recent excursion has been in Florida. We are on our last day of a two week trip. Our travels have taken us to Orlando, Jupiter, Miami, Bradenton, Tampa, Gainesville, Tallahassee and Jacksonville. We have seen lots and lots of campers and staff! We even got to see two of our camp staff get married! Seeing our camp family is encouraging and just good for the soul! We love hearing from our campers and staff about what God has been teaching them over the year and how they are applying that in their lives. It’s a good motivator to get back to camp and continue getting ready for the summer. We have lots to do but we are excited to see campers running around camp again and growing deeper in their relationship with Christ! Summer 2017, here we come!
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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 email@example.com! Also, if there is every anything we can be praying for you we’d love to know and pray with you!
We love our campers! You are what makes camp, well, camp. Here are some of our favorite moments of staff hanging out with campers during the summer!
Camp is a pretty awesome place. So awesome, we sometimes wish that things that we only do at camp, we could actually do in “the real world”. For example, cabin clean up. I know every single one of you misses those chores you have to do every day and working with 9 other girls and your counselors to help keep that cabin sparkling clean! It can be some quality bonding time. Okay, so maybe you don’t miss that so much (or maybe you do!)….Check out the video some of our 2011 staff made for some other things that we don’t normally get outside of camp, and probably miss a little more than cabin clean up!