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Northern Light Special Edition '23

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A Note from the Executive Director

Over the past 32 years of serving at HoneyRock, 23 as the Executive Director, I have had the honor of watching this place experience profound growth.When I began my career at HoneyRock, we were primarily a summer program. Now, we are a robust, year-round campus of Wheaton College, offering a growing gap year program for high school graduates (Vanguard), a fellowship program for college graduates (Fellows), a globally recognized graduate program, five leadership schools serving over 250 undergraduate students each summer, the 4-year Chase Leadership Program for undergraduates at Wheaton, and an exemplary summer camp program that serves as a model for the global Christian camping movement. This past year, Passage, Wheaton College’s orientation program, became the orientation program for all incoming students. More importantly than this numerical growth is the growth that happens in hundreds of lives each year. I have had a front seat to it all and have been totally blessed!  God is truly using HoneyRock to develop disciple-making leaders of all ages, from all around the world. 

Over the past two years my wife Jackie and I have been prayerfully discerning how to invest our empty-nest years and determined, by God’s grace and leading, to transition from the role of Executive Director to the roles of HoneyRock’s Academic Program Director and full-time faculty member for our Graduate and Undergraduate Leadership Programs. In this role, I will provide leadership to the academic programs at HoneyRock, teach, and facilitate our academic partnerships from around the world.  I am grateful that I get to continue training future leaders for Christ’s kingdom through this sacred place called HoneyRock.  

This means that I will end my tenure as the Executive Director on September 1, 2023. We have begun the national search for the next Executive Director who will provide organizational leadership for HoneyRock going forward. It is our hope that the new director will be in place by June so that we can onboard him or her to HoneyRock and introduce them to our camper families and other ministry partners throughout the summer. Please pray for the Lord’s leading for the best person for this role. 

This new position excites me, but it is also the end of a chapter. Serving as the Executive Director of HoneyRock these past 23 years, and on staff since 1990, has been a distinct honor; it is hard to put into words. I am humbled by the thousands of people who have passed by The Rock and HoneyRock sign over the years. The children of former campers are now in summer leadership roles representing multiple generations of impact. Our graduate program alumni are scattered across the globe and throughout the United States leading camps and other organizations. We estimate that over 250,000 youth are impacted each year at camps led by HoneyRock trained leaders. Additionally, a recent Vanguard reunion at HoneyRock brought back alumni from all 8 classes of Vanguards.  The stories of how the Vanguard program impacted them were amazing.  

At this important inflexion point in my life, I am deeply grateful for the HoneyRock team of amazing people who make HoneyRock what it is today. I am grateful to my family who has partnered with me in this work for so many years. I am grateful to Wheaton College and its leadership for allowing me to work in this wonderful place and for its powerful mission. And, I am grateful to the many students and their families who have entrusted us with their precious lives. God has used HoneyRock in extraordinary ways, and I know that He will continue to use this place for His glory.  


Rob Ribbe, '87, Ph.D. 

Join Us in Prayer

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Mark 11:24 NIV 

Please pray for… 

1. The search and hiring of our new Executive Director this spring 

  • For wisdom, clarity, and peace for the hiring team 
  • For those applying and interviewing 
  • For whomever God will bring to fill the role, that God would be preparing them, even now. Pray for their transition to HoneyRock this spring. 

2. Our professional staff team during this transition 

3. The Ribbe family 

4. HoneyRock’s ongoing programs 

  • Please pray for the Vanguards, Fellows, and the Graduate Students: that they would finish well 
  • Pray for our incoming summer staff, and that God would continue to provide the staff we need for this summer. Pray also for our international staff who will join us this summer. 
  • Pray for our incoming summer campers and their families  

Do you have comments for Rob, HoneyRock Leadership, or Wheaton College Leadership?

By the Numbers

Check out these quick facts about Rob's tenure as Executive Director:

36 Years at HoneyRock (and counting) 

23 Years as Executive Director 

4 kids raised at HoneyRock 

15+ articles published 

1 book published 

5 Hodag Challenges completed, 3 times won 

1,000+ miles Cross Country Skiing 

125+ Family Day parent talks given 

25,000+ campers attending HoneyRock summer camp 

280+ graduate students trained (and counting!)

110+ classes taught (and counting!)

HoneyRock's Leadership Team

I couldn’t be more grateful for the staff and faculty team here at HoneyRock; God has blessed us richly by calling each of our 23 professional staff members for this very moment at HoneyRock. I also am particularly grateful for the Leadership Team of Directors, who have led each of the HoneyRock programs with expertise, humility, and diligence. Learn more about each of our Leadership Team members: 

I have been on staff at HoneyRock since 2014 and currently serve as the Business Operations Director. 
After growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, I attended Wheaton College for my undergraduate degree. I then studied at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where I met my wife, Lauren. We have five children, four boys and a girl. Lauren and I each took part in HoneyRock’s graduate assistant program from 2007-08. Both prior and after that HoneyRock experience, I worked as a coastal geologist across the eastern seaboard for eight years. I came back to HoneyRock full-time in 2011. 
The Lord blessed me with parents and a home environment where Jesus was known. I accepted Jesus at an early age. Learning to understand my identity in Christ and how that directs my life has been a transformative experience. HoneyRock has helped be a place of transformation for myself, my spouse, and now our kids as they experience camper programming and the community of HoneyRock. 
I enjoy working here because of the blessing of being involved in and experiencing countless examples of individuals being challenged and growing in leadership. God has and continues to develop His story on a daily basis that involves the people, place, and process that is unique to HoneyRock. I can’t help but be excited to play a role in that story.

Learn more about John

I grew up in beautiful Southern California, where I studied Business at the University of Southern California. Following graduation, I worked as a real estate broker for a few years in Newport Beach, CA. In the fall of 2011, my life's adventure with Christ really kicked off when the Lord called me to follow him to the Northwoods of Wisconsin to serve in what is now called the Fellows program at HoneyRock. Since then, I have been based out of the “Southwoods” office on the Wheaton College campus in Wheaton, IL; first as the Advance Camp Coordinator while completing my Masters studies, and now as the Camp Programs Director. 
For as far back as I can remember, God has been part of my life. While I have always had an awareness of His presence, it was not until after I reached the end of myself in college that I came to see my need for a Savior and surrender my life to Him. While I have not always been faithful, He has always pursued me and drew me into a deeper understanding of his love and grace. Having been radically transformed through the Gospel, I have a passion for supporting students as they come to more deeply know the joy of a relationship with our Father. 
As the Camp Programs Director, I have the privilege of working with Graduate Students, Summer Staff, and campers. My favorite parts of my job are getting to work with our team to design programs that facilitate spaces for transformation in emerging adults and allow opportunities for campers eyes to be opened to the awesomeness of our God. Over the years, it has been a joy to watch students fall more deeply in love with our Savior as they discover more of who He has called them to be. 

Learn more about Ashley

charlie goeke, director of vanguardI grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, before attending Wheaton College for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. As I pursued my Masters in Intercultural Studies at Wheaton I learned that working in an outdoor educational environment was the ideal fit for me. 

It was at Wheaton that I learned about HoneyRock. I decided to begin my HoneyRock experience by becoming a Wrangler at the Barn. Seven summers later, I had worked in a variety of roles (Barn, Operations, Activity Staff), met and married my wife Laura in the Chrouser Dining Hall at HoneyRock. We have 4 wonderful children—Lucie, Greta, Ezra, and Judah. 

As School Year Program Director, I have the opportunity to work with and serve Vanguard Gap Year students, HoneyRock Fellows, Graduate Assistants and Guests/Retreats. Being a part of the development of our students has been one great joys of my life and our school year programming context has become a powerful learning environment.   

What excites me about working at HoneyRock as the School Year Programs Director is the opportunity to develop students in a context where they have a year to experience the wonders of Creation, the authenticity of community, and the plethora of service and experiential opportunities. I have had similar experiences here at HoneyRock and cannot wait to walk alongside others in their spiritual and developmental journeys. 

Learn more about Charlie

After growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, I graduated from Columbia International University with a Bachelor's Degree in Bible and Intercultural Studies and a minor degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. While studying at Columbia International University, I met Emily: my wife of eight years. I continued with my education at Columbia International University's Columbia Biblical Seminary. Through graduate teaching opportunities, I found that I had a passion for developing leaders in outdoor education contexts. The Lord used this discovery to nudge me to earn my Doctor of Philosophy degree in Outdoor Education from Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, England. While studying in England, Emily and I had our son Owen. 

My greatest passion in life is facilitating the growth that comes through connecting individuals together as they interface with God's creation. I have researched around the world to investigate how groups work together using team-building initiatives native to the adventure education disciple. The more I study community in creation, the deeper I grow in my fascination with God's power as His people fellowship in His Creation.  

Long have I known of the reputation and history of Wheaton College and Honeyrock, and I am excited to play a role in connecting our dear students into the Wheaton College community through God's creation available at the HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development. The Wheaton College Passage Program is the perfect platform to facilitate those Christ-centered connections. 

 Learn more about Nate

Contact Us

HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development

8660 Honey Rock Rd.
Three Lakes, WI 54562