The Northern Light is written four times a year to share updates from program managers, photos, and peeks into life at HoneyRock. We hope you enjoy it!
From the Director: 2019 Annual Evaluation Recap
Rob Ribbe, Director of HoneyRock
Each year our professional staff and graduate students meet to review all of the pages of feedback from our camper families, summer staff, and students. We review online evaluations, share department reports, and spend about 12 hours in guided group brainstorming and discussion sessions to identify current strengths and areas of improvement to focus the year ahead.
Parents were quick to ask for changes to our Family Day format and the website-registration process, neither of which are quick or easy fixes and have a domino effect on other areas of camp. However, parents will see small changes for the '20 camp season and more an extensive revamp of Family Day and web services for '21. Internally we've set our focus on increasing the applicant pool for summer staff positions and improving internal logistics and systems during our complex summer season, among other things.
Parents say the #1 reason they send their campers to HoneyRock is the spiritual growth they see - that's our #1 highlight from the evaluations. When asked in what areas their campers grew, parents report:
- 90% grew in the ability to connect God's word with their lives
- 95% grew in engagement with daily activities and events
- 98% grew in personal character
- 90% grew in their desire to serve others
- 96% grew in their willingness and ability to face challenges
We’re eager about what we can improve, thankful for how God worked, and excited about what’s to come. Thanks for reading this short update!
- Wise discernment as we search for a New Food Service Manager/Head Chef
- Leading the right college students to HoneyRock for a full summer of ministry
- Peace and energy for graduate students (and professors!) as November is a very heavy “academic” month filled with grad classes
- Travel as our staff speak at conferences and churches, recruit from colleges, and make regular HoneyRock/Wheaton trips
Completed: Outdoor Area for Wellspring
George Polcaster, Facilities Manager
With considerable teamwork and dedication, we completed the outdoor area of Wellspring which signals the completion of this incredible flip project. The site and facilities team carefully developed the outdoor space around the building in a way that welcomes people inside and also points them out toward Long Lake, which Wellspring overlooks. Highlights include the completion of a screened-in porch, concrete entrances into the building, and a timber staircase that naturally leads toward the water where a new and welcoming fire pit now exists. What was the old Health Center is now one of our premier private cabins. We’re very pleased with how this building turned out—inside and out!
Introducing Our Biggest Graduate Student Cohort
Muhia Karianjahi, Graduate Program Manager
This year we welcomed our largest graduate student cohort of fifteen students. Ten of our grad students are residential and employed at HoneyRock. This allows them to apply classroom theory into actual scenarios in real-time - it's a rich learning experience!
The other five graduate students are flexible learning students. They serve at different outdoor and adventure focused organizations around the country, ranging from the City of Raleigh’s outdoor program in North Carolina to a family-run camp in Texas to a Girls Scouts camp in Illinois to the Salvation Army camps in Colorado and California. The rich diversity of experiences and perspectives they bring into the classroom, especially in intensive sessions when they join their residential counterparts for two weeks each semester, is setting this year up to be one of the most dynamic that the OAL program has ever experienced.
The Bulldog is Back!
Scott Eppler, Site Manager
Coach Chrouser was famous for his army surplus acquisitions and one of his best finds returned to HoneyRock this summer. The "Bulldog" a 1952 Dodge Power Wagon truck (military grade). It served HoneyRock for several decades until about 10 years ago when it developed some engine issues. An old friend of HoneyRock offered to take on the cause of repairing the Bulldog and restoring it to better condition than when it first came to HoneyRock. In exchange for his efforts and investment of resources he enjoyed the use of the Bulldog for a number of years and had a chance to relive the days of when he used the Bulldog at camp pulling a hay bailer in 1973. He contacted us this past summer and said the Bulldog was ready to come home. We arranged for the truck to be shipped back to HoneyRock and it arrived on August 21. Every camp needs an old iconic truck and now we have ours back! Look for the Bulldog at Family Days and other special events.
The Latest Research: Implications of the Digital World for Christian Education
Rachael Botting, Passage & Research Manager
Recently I have been studying the implications of the digital world for Christian education. While reading by Sherry Tuckle entitled "Reclaiming Conversation", I was struck when the author used summer camps as an example of a space where conversations are prioritized over the “mere connection” of the digital world. Having face to face conversations with other children is essential to healthy development – it teaches kids empathy, social skills, forgiveness and much more. As technology continues to overtake more and more aspects of our lives, camps like HoneyRock are becoming both rare and important. But conversation doesn’t just happen in the absence of technology. At HoneyRock we build it into the program through meals, walking from activity to activity, small group discussions, one and ones and cabin refection times. Over time, the goal is that kids realize that the value of face to face conversation far outweighs the convenience of digital connection.
By the Numbers: Wheaton Passage
We asked students to evaluate their Wheaton Passage experience. This year we had 87% response rate – here’s what they said:
- 100% share that it helped supportive friendships at Wheaton Passage
- 98% agreed that they received the tools needed to effectively navigate the transition to Wheaton College
- 99% shared that they formed a vision for living in Christian Community
- 99% noted that it helped them connect with faculty
- 96% said it helped them form a plan for their personal spiritual formation at Wheaton
Introducing New Wilderness Trips
Mike Odberg – High School Adventure Programming Manager
We’ve begun to reintroduce wilderness trips to programming. Voyageur is our high school camper program focused primarily on wilderness ministry and the growth one experiences in that unique environment: deep relationships with others, the “awe” of Creation, immersion in a relationship with Christ, purposeful challenge, and removal from distractions, amongst others.
Over the past three years, we offered a three-week and two-week Boundary Waters canoe trip. Last year was fantastic, with great leaders who facilitated highly memorable experiences. The growing enrollment has led us to expand our offerings in 2020 to include a fishing, backpacking, and rock-climbing trip options.