HoneyRock is the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College
A Unique Place
Located in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, HoneyRock is what we like to call “a place apart,” where people have a chance to get away from the distractions, noise and busyness of everyday life to a quiet place encompassed by God’s creation. Here we can begin building the character to be leaders, serve others, and face the challenges of life.
HoneyRock is unique because it serves as both a camp and a college campus. These programs work together, providing campers with the highest caliber of Christian leaders and giving students an invaluable chance to exercise newly-acquired skills and knowledge as camp leaders.
A Unique Approach
Our goal is to move campers and students alike through a process of leadership development that flows from leading self to leading others to leading leaders to leading organizations. Along the way we'll intentionally develop each participant's faith-based identity, relational maturity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking skills and cultural competence with an eye toward equipping students of all ages for greater influence in the world for Christ.
A Unique Camp
HoneyRock is unparalleled in the world of Christian camping because it is owned by Wheaton College and transformational discipleship is at the heart of our mission. As an extension of the College, we offer an exceptional Christian camping and learning environment with singular benefits:
- Passionate college students serve as high-quality counselors and group leaders.
- Wheaton College professors assess programs and guide staff in areas of psychology, Christian education, physical education, and Bible and theology.
- Professional staff of Wheaton College coordinate health services, risk management, legal, financial, and human resource departments.
Beyond simply "summer camp," the HoneyRock experience is undergirded by the solid educational foundation of Wheaton College, and develops the whole person in a way that is permanent and life changing.
Find out more about HoneyRock camp for your student.
For Families and Retreat Groups
HoneyRock serves the church through opportunities for families to get away for some quality "unplugged" time together. Cabins are available to rent year round. We host a special Family Weekend retreat dedicated to families on Columbus Day weekend, October 7-10.
We also offer a variety of retreat options for churches and other groups. Our staff will even help you tailor a program schedule and activities for your group any time of the year.
A Unique College
As the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, HoneyRock provides a incomparable setting for undergraduate and graduate students to test their learning in the crucible of hands-on ministry and community life. The informal, distraction-free, natural environment gives opportunities for deep interaction with professors, peers, course content and creation.
- “class” never ends
- professors are more guides than lecturers
- learning is immediately applied in ministry and service
- fellow students are collaborators in learning, not competitors
Learn more about our undergraduate programs
Learn more about our graduate programs
HoneyRock is anchored in the biblically-based liberal arts approach of Wheaton College. The theories of relevant disciplines are put to the test by students and faculty in this laboratory of human learning and leadership development.
Experiential education is a pedagogy in which educators purposefully engage with learners through direct experiences and focused reflection in order to develop skills, clarify values, and develop personal capacity for effectiveness. At HoneyRock, our classroom is everything we do…we call it the 24/7 curriculum.
Leadership is best learned when theory meets practice. We put students in the position to solve problems and make decisions that have real consequences for themselves and those they lead. Students take ownership of planning and running programs. They step into leadership positions where they are expected to develop, challenge, and encourage followers. Our mantra: “Responsibility is the great developer of people.”
Known as a place apart, HoneyRock provides time and space away from the busyness and distraction of today’s constructed, technologically addicted, fast-paced world. This separation opens up youth and adults alike to hear from God, connect with others in powerful ways, and be present in a formational environment. Immersion experiences foster a depth of authentic community that enhances growth and life-long relationship development.
Throughout human history God has used experiences in creation to communicate with, restore, and equip His people for their calling. Creation is God’s first word—general revelation—and plays an important part of shaping our understanding of God and forming our relationship with Him. By engaging creation as an integral part of the educational experience, students often hear God speak in powerful ways. Deepened Christian community and expanded personal capacity often result from engaging the challenge and simplicity inherent in extended time in the outdoor setting.
A Compelling Educational Approach
The life-shaping impact of HoneyRock is the result of the intentional integration of the following five components in our educationally-based developmental programs.
Guiding the Transition to College
HoneyRock led the explosion of outdoor orientation programs in higher education by introducing one of the first programs of its kind in 1969. Now called Wheaton Passage (formerly known as Vanguard and High Road), this program has served 6,500 Wheaton students since its inception. Over 210 higher education institutions have followed suit as this type of program has been proven to increase retention, deepen student engagement, and build unparalleled social support. These are all predictors of student satisfaction and long term affiliation with the institution. Wheaton Passage is one of the longest running, largest, and most researched programs of its kind in all of higher education.
Passage is an optional pre-orientation program offered to all incoming students. Students sign up for one of four tracks (Wilderness, Northwoods, Urban, or Equestrian) which range in length from 10-17 days. Each group of 8-10 students is led by an upper-classman and faculty member through their first Wheaton class: Introduction to Spiritual Formation. The experiences and group conversations at HoneyRock provide the context for this course. The course extends into the first half of fall semester as the groups meet with faculty on campus, typically in their homes, to discuss how the transition is going. In their final paper, students develop a vision for their college experience.
- Research on this program shows that social support, the amount of faculty interaction over 4 years, and attachment to the institution are significantly greater for Passage participants over non-participants. (Ribbe, 2011)
- Second only to residence halls, Wheaton Passage facilitates the deepest friendship formation of the college experience. (Langan, McRay, Setran, 2008)
- Minority students have scored higher in every outcome category of this program for the past four years. (Passage Evaluations, 2015-18)
This is a highly sought after experience for faculty. HoneyRock provides faculty training in experiential education as part of their participation. Faculty often speak to the depth of relationships formed with their students and colleagues during the Passage experience.
- 38+ faculty participate every year in leading groups of Wheaton Passage students
- Over 50% of Wheaton's 200 full-time faculty have participated in leading Wheaton Passage since 2005
- 23 departments represented by faculty leaders, from Philosophy to Chemistry to Urban Studies to the Arts
One of the Few
Wheaton College is one of the few Christian liberal arts institutions that owns and operates a gap program. We believe a well-crafted gap year can benefit anyone who is curious, ready for a healthy challenge and has a desire to grow. Vanguard was built with this kind of student in mind. Whether your student is academically-apt or trade-minded, questioning or firm in their faith, outdoorsy or not, Vanguard helps young adults envision where they want to go and plan the route to get there.
Vanguards build a vision for their future by bridging the gap between high school and college with a year unlike any other. They explore diverse cultures, navigate life's big questions, and live in a Christ-centered community. This year of hands-on education and leadership development will prepare you for the challenges of college and beyond.
Developing Leaders for a Worldwide Movement
The Christian camping and outdoor adventure movement is experiencing exponential growth around the world. It is one of the most effective means for reaching the most receptive hearts. Through HoneyRock, the Wheaton College Graduate School has offered graduate training in this field since 1968. This degree is the only program of its kind in Christian higher education.
As a part of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership we are developing partnerships with organizations that have extensive networks to provide customized cohort-based masters degrees for their staff.
- Christian Camping International – 22 global camp associations on every continent
- Salvation Army – 50 camps nationwide
- Christian Camp and Conference Association – 800 member camps
Where are OAL Graduates now?
- Gap year programs
- Outdoor orientation program leadership
- College faculty in outdoor ministry
- Church youth and children’s ministries
- Camps and adventure ministry leadership
- Church-based outdoor ministries
By the Numbers
- 200K estimated youth served at camps and related ministries led by OAL graduates every year
- 50+ dissertations and theses produced by OAL graduates in the past 20 years
- 20+ countries in which OAL graduates are serving, including Japan, China, South Korea, Mexico, Honduras, Romania, Columbia, Jamaica, Kenya, and Australia
Learning the Art of Leadership
The Leadership Certificate of Wheaton College is an experiential program that integrates academic study with practical, on-the-ground leadership opportunities.
Through academic study, leadership experience, and Christian service, students learn about both the art and science of leadership. As an interdisciplinary program, the Leadership Certificate brings faculty from a wide variety of fields to teach students from all majors.
Three Distinct Internships
Three distinct internships provide a breadth of leadership experience in which students explore vocational calling and apply classroom learning to real leadership situations. Students are coached through these roles and receive timely training, encouragement, and feedback. They also write reflection papers and complete integration presentations at critical points throughout the 3-4 year process.
- First Internship: Summer Leadership School at HoneyRock
- Second Internship: Leadership Role at Wheaton College or HoneyRock
- Third Internship: Internship in the students field of study
Camp Focused on Leadership Development
True to Coach's founding vision, HoneyRock doesn’t fit the traditional mold. While often called a “camp,” our transformational camp programs for youth, led by graduate and undergraduate students, are significantly longer and more life-shaping than shorter, speaker centered camp experiences. The leadership development focus of HoneyRock extends into the camper experience. We offer the following programs for youth and young adults:
- Day Camp
- Intro Camp
- Residential Camp
- Advance Camp
- Service Team
- Assistant Counselors
The following programs are our key experiences for youth and young adults.