Four summers ago, I was driving through the gates of Pine Cove Outback for the first time, my stomach full of nervous butterflies and my heart full of excitement. After one life- changing week, I vowed to return every year I could.  

My cabin and I hang out during the first night of camp

For the next two years, I registered early and went for two weeks instead of one, basking in that feeling I’d gotten the first summer. I’ve loved every summer spent at Pine Cove, but after coming back home with numerous mosquito bites and quite a few awkward tan lines, I can easily declare that this summer was the best yet.

 

Pine Cove is not your typical summer camp. For one, it’s Christian based, so our day begins and ends with learning about God and how to lead a Christian life, which is the most impactful part for most. Every year, the staff comes up with a theme for the summer. This year we studied the book of Colossians in a theme called “No Other”. Different staff members lead talks about subjects within the theme, so by the end of the week campers have an arsenal of knowledge to take home with them. Along with these sessions, the camp holds a daily Bible study for each cabin, where everyone gets an opportunity to dig deeper into the Bible with their counselor and cabin and have Christ-centered conversations about struggles they faced during their lives. At the end of the week, there is a time called “Camper Share” where campers get a chance to share with the whole camp what God revealed to them and any major spiritual decisions they made. This time is typically

My team huddles together before winning a dodgeball tournament.

 filled with lots of teary eyes, laughter, and tons and tons of applause. By the end, the entire camp is celebrating those who decided to officially became a Christian by dancing and singing with the worship team.

 

Pine Cove prides itself  with having the absolute best staff possible, and any camper can agree that this is true. Each counselor is a leader in their faith, and overflows with joy and love for their campers. By the end of the first day, new campers are already in awe of how peppy, joyful, and excited the staffers are. Every year I have gone, the wisdom and excitement all the staffers demonstrate shocks me. My counselor this year was named Jaqueline. If I’m being honest, she’s probably the best counselor I’ve ever had. She was funny, wise, and cared so deeply for my entire cabin. She made my cabin feel loved, and was constantly pouring truth into us from God’s word, which helped us grow in new ways. She also helped us set new goals in our faith for the next school year, and was always there to make sure we were having a good time.

This year, I convinced (okay- maybe manipulated) my best friend, sophomore Ashtin Holt, into coming wi

Sophomore Ashtin Holt and I share a hug before going on the giant swing.

th me to camp. Needless to say, she had a blast.

“I loved it.” Holt said. “Everyone was super welcoming and high spirited about camp. The counselors are all really weird and silly, but in a good way. Going to Pine Cove showed me that I wasn’t alone and that everything I’m going through shouldn’t have to make me feel lonely because there’s a God that’s willing and hoping you’ll share with him.”

 

During closing ceremony, Holt and I sobbed uncontrollably as we said goodbye to our new life-long friends and reflected on the memories we had made. Through attending camp, I realized how blessed I am to be a part of my faith and am able to go to places like Pine Cove to learn and grow in my religion. To put it simply, Pine Cove has changed not only my view of Christianity, but my entire life, and it continues to touch me in new ways every year I go.

 

My closest friends and I celebrate the last night of camp after a formal dinner.