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3 Steps to Create A Place Apart at Home

March 30, 2020

HoneyRock is the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College. Located in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, HoneyRock provides transformational outdoor experiences for youth and young adults through summer camp, a gap year, retreats, and more.

Christ-Centered, Growth-Oriented, and Peace-Filled

Changes to our normal routine can be tough—but they can also introduce incredible opportunities for new growth and learning.

I’m writing this in the midst of Illinois being under a “shelter at home” order for COVID-19. I'm someone who loves grabbing meals with friends, working out at the gym, and filling my days with as many people as possible. As I'm sure it has for you, my normal routines look pretty different than they did just a couple of weeks ago. 

One of the most difficult parts for me is figuring out new rhythms to guide my time and provide some structure.

There are three core components of the HoneyRock summer camp schedule that I’m incorporating into my life: Morning Watch, Solid Rock, and Cabin Reflection. Keep reading to find out why and how…

First, a "Morning Watch" Centers Your Mindset

At HoneyRock, we start every day with Morning Watch. Throughout staff training, all our staff gather together at 6:30 every morning to pray and then get some to spend some time in the Word.  Once campers arrive, our high school campers carry on this tradition, as they meet with their programs to pray as a community before spreading out around camp to begin the morning in the Word.

Our Residential Camp campers take time after breakfast for an active bible study, called “Cabin Impact”. Immediately following, they have an age-appropriate amount of alone time to read their bible, pray, and journal. We call this part “Morning Watch.” Yes—it takes some time for kids to adjust to this alone time but by the end of their camp session, we often see them using the time to commune with Jesus.

To have hundreds of people spread out around camp is a beautiful sight and one I’m looking forward to seeing this summer. Today, at home with my roommates, we’ve agreed on having “quiet hours” in our house in the mornings before we begin working from home. Later in the day, whether it’s a lunch break or hanging out after dinner we come back together and talk about what we’ve been reading and learning.

How can you do this in your home? Get creative! If you live alone, find a few people who will agree to meet over a phone call, Facetime, Skype, or Zoom.  If you have others like roommates or your family, have a “family meeting” and talk about creative ways and times to carve out space to practice Morning Watch.

Second, Solid Rock Invites Goal-Setting and Healthy Habits

Every morning at 6:00 am when camp is in session, you’ll start to hear campers making their way to the Rock at the end of HoneyRock road. This is an optional challenge for campers and staff—a morning run/walk and swim; scripture memorization and engagement; prayer; and others-oriented service.  I love the comradery that comes with joining other people in the disciplines of memorizing the word of God, praying, serving, and remaining physically active at camp. 

This is a game-changer for me as I’m sheltering at home. I’m getting outside, looking for ways to go above and beyond to serve my friends and family, engaging with Scripture, and staying active.

How to do this at home? We’ve created Solid Rock: Home Edition! Anyone can join—HoneyRock staff are already in and can’t wait for you to pick up the challenge! Learn more about Solid Rock: Home Edition here.

Finally, Cabin Reflection Prompts Reflective Conversations

 This is one of my favorite rhythms at HoneyRock.

Every evening after campers get ready for sleep, they gather as a cabin to look back on the day. It’s a pause to look back and remember the good, the bad, and how they saw God. It’s an evening examen, as Ignatius refers to it—to go to the Lord in reflection and prayer to end the evening.

Your camper might remember or refer to this as “How, Pow, Wow”. This is short for how they saw God that day, what challenge/struggle, or least favorite part of their day, and to end, a highlight. Occasionally a cabin will add “chow” where they name their favorite food of the day. Other prompts include “Joy, Junk, Jesus” or “Rose, Thorn, Stem” but the heart of it is the same: pause at the end of the day, together, and remember. a high, a low, and how you saw God.

You don’t have to do this right before bed. In my house during this time, it works best for us to do this at the end of dinner. We use it to jump-start conversation and spend some time being grateful while also learning how we can be in prayer for one another and the world.

A Place Apart In Your Home

As I’ve incorporated Morning Watch, Solid Rock, and Cabin Reflection into my “everyday” life outside of HoneyRock, I’ve seen my perspective start to shift. My day has more structure and purpose, I’m becoming more focused on others, and I’m just plain feeling better.

If these three things feel like a lot, just start with one and build the habit. Once you feel like you have a rhythm, add another.

As we are all adjusting to a new normal, I hope these elements from the schedule at HoneyRock can be helpful for you and your family to stay connected to the Lord and to each other.—Ashley Kiley

father and son walking and talking at honeyrock
How to Facilitate Reflective Conversations

There are so many opportunities for us to learn more about ourselves, other people, and God every day if we take the time to see it.

Even more opportunities arise when we’re facing a big challenge. During summer camp programs, challenges look like meeting your new cabinmates, being away from home for the first time, remembering to put on sunscreen, navigating the Challenge Course, and more…

At the time I’m writing this, we’re all facing a big challenge: COVID-19. We’re having new conversations with our kids, adjusting to new rhythms, and facing new problems. It’s posing significant new challenges to all of us.