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Special Edition: Northern Light Summer '20

The Northern Light is written four times a year to share updates from program managers, photos, and peeks into life at HoneyRock. This special edition was issued to update you on our summer plans and share ways you can partner with us.

From the Director of HoneyRock, Rob Ribbe

I wanted to share a quick update with you as we head into the summer. In short, we're pumped!

Over the last two months or so, our program team was focused on planning and preparing a covid-safe summer. Our site and facilities team have moved forward with several key projects: lower Chalet demo, completing several private cabin upgrades and turning camp over from winter to summer. The leadership team has been focused on strategic initiatives to use this unique time to strengthen our commitment to HoneyRock's mission.

We welcomed summer staff to HoneyRock on June 21st. About three weeks from that date we will, Lord willing, welcome campers. Here's how you can partner with us over the summer.

Pray with Us

  • For a healthy and safe summer, not only protection from COVID-19 but all other illnesses 
  • For energy, patience, and grace; there are many new things about running camp in this time
  • For a strong response to Onward: COVID-19 Response Matching Fund; as we have lost about $750,000 in revenue due to COVID-19
  • For safe travel to and from Wheaton as we facilitate transportation for campers and staff
  • For our new cohort of Vanguards who are preparing to start their gap year at HoneyRock this September
  • For the profound and great joy of the Lord to be ever-present 
  • For wisdom and God's continued guidance as we continue to make strategic decisions related to the impact of COVID-19
  • For our 10 new graduate students, 6 Fellows, and 16 Vanguards as they're preparing to start their year at HoneyRock

Consider a Gift to the Onward Fund

Despite running a modified summer camp schedule, we have lost about $750,000 in revenue this summer alone. With the help of several generous donors, we are able to match all gifts given to this unique fund. We invite you to learn more about Onward and prayerfully consider making a gift to help offset the losses.

Thank you for your support during this time. We are incredibly thankful for you!

Rob Ribbe, Ph.D.
Executive Director, HoneyRock

Updates from Around HoneyRock

vanguard '20 cohort at closing ceremony

Vanguard Gap Year

The Vanguard team is preparing to welcome our new cohort to HoneyRock this September! We have 16 Vanguards confirmed and are still welcoming applications.

Living Waters cabin at HoneyRock

Private Cabin Rentals

We're still renting cabins! Consider a Northwoods getaway this fall or winter for your family or create a mini-retreat with 2-3 other families. Complete a short form to share your interest and we'll follow up!

high school campers talking around a fire

Summer Camp

Camp is full + waitlists! We're moving forward with heavily adapted summer programming for 450+ campers. You can our summer updates to learn more.

Wheaton Passage: Cancelled Fall 2020

By Rachael Botting, Program Manager

After much prayer and consideration, the Passage leadership team has decided to cancel Wheaton Passage—the pre-orientation program of Wheaton College—this Fall 2020.

We have carefully reviewed guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and the American Camp Association for running a COVID-safe Passage experience at HoneyRock. After comparing the guidelines with Passage programming, it was clear that the adaptations we would have to make to the program would not support the program’s goals.

How are summer camp and Passage different? It's in the goals. HoneyRock can make the required adaptations (and have done so for summer camp) but as was evident to the Passage leadership team, the adaptations for Passage would have severely worked against the program's goals. 

Personally speaking, this was a heartbreaking decision. HoneyRock is committed to supporting the new student transition to college. Currently, we're working with the Orientation team at Wheaton College to help facilitate several specific components of the experience. It will not be a substitute, but we hope to support the students (and our colleagues) at Wheaton.

For more information about this decision, you can visit our COVID-19 Passage FAQ page.

Wheaton in the Northwoods...Online?

By Rachael Botting

This year Wheaton in the Northwoods stepped into uncharted territory: online education! Thanks to the commitment and flexibility of our excellent Wheaton professors, we were able to offer most of the Wheaton in the Northwoods courses in an online format with a record enrollment of 170 students. Evaluations are still rolling in but students have reported that despite the online context, the learning experience remained rich and engaging. Although we'd prefer to not have to offer WIN like this again (in our surveys, students were clear that they wanted in-person WIN in 2021!), we are grateful that our students and professors were able to pivot and continue to learn and grow at through these unique courses.

Site and Facilities Projects, Lately

By George Polcaster, Facilities Manager

We've been keeping busy with site and facilities projects! Here you can see a quick list of big projects:

  • Hand washing station design, planning, and fabrication for two locations at Chrouser
  • Complete Chapel repairs and restoration from winter ice dam damage
  • Lower Chalet demolition (photos below!)
  • Annual Spring/Summer start-up of winterized spaces and necessary repairs
  • Donor-funded cabin upgrades completed with new furniture in several cabins

Below, you'll see a few photos of our Lower Chalet demolition. While most recently used as office space and a conference table area, it's increasingly felt like, frankly, a forgotten basement. There have been some drainage issues in the back of the office that has led to some water damage; old paneling and flooring has been deteriorating, and the floorplan hasn't been as flexible as needed. 

All of these issues will be addressed, but first, we needed to empty the space of everything and dry it out. 

This is one of our next big projects! If you remember how we transformed the old health center into one of our best cabins, Wellspring, that's what kind of transformation this space will see. We're excited to make it happen. 

If you're interested in supporting this project, connect with Rob Ribbe or Andy Tooley.

voyageur campers standing with paddles
Onward: COVID-19 Response Matching Fund

Though HoneyRock is moving forward with a modified summer program, COVID-19 has caused significant revenue loss.

A number of families have generously offered to match, dollar for dollar, any gifts up to $100,000. Additionally, the donations of first-time donors will be matched 3 to 1. Every gift helps lessen the financial impact!

Gifts made to the Onward campaign will be matched through August 31.