While reflecting of the times spent around the lake, I can hardly think of just one moment where I am reminded of the ministry of Pilgrim Pines. Instead, I am flooded with flashbacks of cannonballs off the dock, listening to Jesus' miracles under the Jr. High tent, songs around the campfire on Fridays, and walks around the lake under tall pine trees. It is simply impossible to pinpoint a specific memory that has left me in awe of our Creator because there are SO many! Story after story, I am brought back to the same conclusion: Christ is indeed a part of this place.
I remember the first summer I stepped foot on the dock. It was a couple weeks before the first campers arrived and the lake was calm, motionless. I had no idea what the next eight weeks would hold. But God did. I was led to the Pines through the word of close friends but I stayed because of the lasting work that God was doing in and through me at this place.
Connecting to campers is what the Pines does best. Walking across the beach you see the older crew lounging on the benches catching up with dear friends. As you continue, kids of all ages compete in sand castle competitions and frog jumping contests. It engages campers at every age.
Over the three summers I spent on staff, there have been many meaningful friendships I've made with campers I've met. One night, a few other staff members and I thought it would be fun to host a "girls night" with lower el, upper el, and junior high girls. We shared a lot of laughs while dancing, painting nails, and of course, being interrupted by the boys who had found out about the event. Amidst the lightheartedness of the night, it was a time to remind these kids that they were special and incredible just the way they were made.
In the end, it's all about relationships. It always has been, hasn't it? You don't have to look too close into Jesus' life to see that is exactly how he lived. He met people where they were at not the place he wanted them to be. He led by loving, by listening, by serving others.
I believe this is what the Pines does SO well. This is why people keep coming back.
Pilgrim Pines has blessed me as well as countless others in incredible ways, and because of this I will continue to support its mission and ministry.