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From the Director

To New Camper Parents

Rob Ribbe, Ph.D.

I’m sitting down to write this right after sending my youngest to a gap year. My wife, Jackie, and I are now a part of the “empty-nester” club which has provoked a lot of reflection on our parenting to this point. During our conversations, we can’t help but name their camp experiences as one of the biggest impact decisions we made.

Decision making. Self-esteem. Confidence. Finding strengths. Developing self-awareness. Caring for others. Confronting weaknesses. Rock climbing. Building personal faith. Bouncing back from tough situations. Setting long-term goals and meeting them. Doing tough things. Building grit. Building a wet-wood fire. Leading themselves and leading others.

The list could go on and on – but these are some of the skills, both hard and soft, that my kids have developed over their years at camp.

By letting our kids go to HoneyRock for a couple of weeks every summer we’ve multiplied our parenting efforts tenfold. What has camp done for our kids? It’s helped us launch them into whole and effective young adults who know how to navigate the world confidently and for Christ.

Let me tell you about HoneyRock and how we run our camper programs.

Who We Hire.

We hire college students who are dedicated to their faith and committed to personal growth.

When you look at our entire summer staff, about 50% come from Wheaton College. The remaining 50% is largely made up of former HoneyRock campers who attend other Christian, liberal arts schools or state schools. Programs that require more technical outdoors skills tend to draw students from schools with outdoor-oriented majors – Taccoa Falls and John Brown University, to name a couple. 

Our staff all pass background checks. They are hired based on their maturity, teachability, and passion for discipleship.

How We Train.

While it varies by program, we train our staff 2-4 times the industry norm. Our training stretches from 3-5 weeks depending on the program. The industry average is 10 days.

Furthermore - instruction doesn’t stop when training ends. Our staff is consistently given constructive feedback on their work. They are in regular meetings with their “running partner” and supervisor to reflect on the work God is doing in their lives. Each weekend between sessions, staff go through group and individual reflection. They plan a new curriculum based on the campers that are arriving.

Working at HoneyRock is not just a summer job. We’re focused on the whole development of not only our campers, but also our staff. Many may think we focus on the staff too much. We disagree. When our staff are well trained, supported, and cared for – that’s when your campers are getting the best possible experience. This level of ongoing investment and care for staff is not the norm in Christian camping.

What & How We Teach.

At first glance, HoneyRock looks like your average summer camp. There are the classic summer activities, small group bible studies, living in a cabin, and eating in a dining hall. The difference, however, is rooted in how we teach.

In the camping world, we use the term “decentralized”. That means there is no central speaker delivering a Gospel message. Counselors take the lesson of the day and adapt it to the needs of their campers. Campers are invited into stories, activities, and illustrations to make the Bible come alive. When “Cabin Impact” (our version of a bible study) ends, the learning continues. Truth is infused in every inch of programming – from our activity areas to service opportunities to their wilderness trips.

Additionally, we teach the campers how to have their own quiet time with the Lord, called Morning Watch, knowing that God’s speaks to individuals, even youth, when they make themselves available to him.

Our Hope and Desire

Every year, the HoneyRock team evaluates our programming. It’s a time-consuming process! Every staff person reads every line of feedback from our parents and staff. Then, we gather for 2 days to pray and reflect on the takeaways – what we want to celebrate and what we need to improve.

I want to share one small part of the survey and a big point of celebration for us: what kind of growth parents report seeing in their campers after their time at HoneyRock.

  • 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 

Every year I talk with more and more parents who not only want their kids to experience a Christ-centered, outdoor-oriented, FUN environment but also – they want a place for their kids to grow in grit.

Now, that might not be the word most use – but I think it captures our hope as parents. We want our kids to thrive – to navigate the world with confidence and a passion for Jesus Christ. We hope they’ll keep working towards their goals, not for rewards or recognition but a deep-seated passion to transform the world with Christ. We hope that when the going gets tough, they’ll press through with perseverance and grace.

All in All,

We’re in it with you. Parenting is tough – HoneyRock is here to support you and provide a safe and challenging space for your camper to learn how to navigate the world without you at their side. It’s a privilege to partner with you to raise the next generation of disciple-makers.

If you have questions, I invite you to complete the form below. Our team will reach out to get your camper on the road to HoneyRock!