Pine Cove is such a blessing to families.
When we arrived at camp last Sunday, we were greeted by the most exuberant, intentional, servant-minded college students on planet Earth. They cheered and jumped and handed me a rose and Tyler a root beer. We remembered some of their faces from last year, while many of them were new. But though they were strangers on Sunday, they would feel nearly like family by the week's end...
The thing about going back to camp this year, Week 6 at the Bluffs (that's Pine Cove lingo for our date and location), was that we returned to a family. There are so many of the same families that go back year after year, and coming back for a second time made it feel like we were a part of the family too. This year we talked and grew closer to many of those from last year, and I genuinely feel like we are invested in each other's lives. Many of them promised to pray for specific things in our family this year, and I know that they will.
But one of the other "best parts" of our week was meeting the NEW families this year. One of them, in particular, became our dear friends, and we are already planning how we can all meet up again soon!
Just like last year, both my girls were in Cove Kids, the children's class for ages 0-4. And just like last year, I was blown away by the staff girls who cared for them all week. They let absolutely nothing break their strides or their smiles. I remember one point when I was apologizing to one of Selah's teachers about having to deal with her tantrums, and she genuinely told me, "It is my JOY!" LOL. These girls never cease to amaze me.
My girls had a ball, and I knew I never had to worry about them when Tyler and I were off having adult time. Pine Cove designates Tuesday as parent date night, Wednesday as parent free day, and Thursday as adult banquet night. Whew. That's a lot of meals in a row that don't include sippy cups!
Tyler and I weren't alone all week though. There is much quality family time too. We always have a blast with the theme nights and go all out dressing up. This year's themes were "Word to the Nerd" and "Flip Flop Day" (kids dress like parents, parents dress like kids).
But I have to say, my highlight of the whole week was Wednesday night's Pine Cove talent show. Ever since watching it last year, my girls had talked about entering. But I thought for sure, when it came right down to it, they would chicken out. No sir. Even Selah, who is going through an incredibly unsocial stage, walked up on that stage like she owned it. And I think I'm completely unbiased when I say it was the best performance of Annie's "Dumb Dog" that has ever, ever been performed.
The theme for this year's camp was "Broken" based off Hosea 10:12: "Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord..." I loved the theme. I am not naturally a very "broken" person in terms of how I see myself. I struggle to see the blackness of my sin because I compare myself to others who I deem "worse" (instead of Jesus) and think I'm doing ok. My natural bent, to be perfectly honest, is pretty self-righteous.
But this week, and during one talk in particular, I started to scratch the surface of seeing my sin for what it is. The camp director's wife, Katie, spoke to the women on the topic of "Taming the Strong Woman." She weeped as she lovingly told us that we are not needed, we are needy. We are not the answer. We are often the problem. And we are not the Lord of our husbands. We are their helpmates. The passion in her words slowly eroded my heart, and by the end of the talk, my fallow ground was much more soft and fertile. (See Mark 4 for more.)
I am so thankful for Pine Cove and its heart for families. In just two years, it has left a mark on my family that I think will help identify us for years to come. The Pine Cove mission statement says it all:
"Pine Cove exists to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory."
And it does just that.
For more information about Pine Cove family camps, youth camps or weekend retreats, visit PineCove.com.