If you’d been at the Pine Cove Woods camp on Monday or Tuesday of last week, you wouldn’t have found it full of cheering families and campers. You also, despite its proximity to Labor Day weekend and the unofficial start to the fall season, wouldn’t have found it empty and quiet. You instead would have stumbled upon approximately 150 full-time Pine Cove employees who’d gathered at the camp from every region (East Texas, Central Texas, the Southeast) and its headquarters for a restful and unifying staff retreat!
New staffers and multi-decade “veterans” alike got a chance to get out in the piney woods of East Texas and breathe deep, play hard, and fellowship with one another. Most importantly, there was plenty of time spent glorifying the Lord through worship, stories, and prayer.
For Julia “Dovey” Sayles, it was not only her first-ever Pine Cove staff retreat, but her very first day on staff! As the brand-new women’s director of the Springs, Julie found staff retreat to be both a fun and slightly intimidating way to start her Pine Cove career.
“Honestly I was nervous, and just walking into anything new is a bit overwhelming. Even when you have a personality that’s comfortable with that, you’re still like, ‘How am I gonna do?’ But it was the most comforting! People were so warm and welcoming and gentle. There’s a reason all these people work for Pine Cove. And they actually do hire really great people who don’t just love summer stuff, or just love campers. They love everyone really well. And it’s just evident.”
Upon arriving at camp on Monday afternoon, the staff set out to have some serious fun with a whole lot of free time! Despite a few passing rain showers, camp was full of people playing mini-golf, swimming in the pool, enjoying table-top games, and, of course, competing in a fierce pickleball tournament (won, in the end, by a Bluffs/Crier Creek team-up: Coleman “Busta Rhyme” Ross and Marshall “Swole City” Wallace). This time also saw many staffers catching up with old friends as well as meeting many of the newest Pine Cove team members!
The highlight for most came on Monday night after dinner when everyone gathered in the Rap Room for worship (lead by Erik, or “A-Love,” and Callie Nieder), encouragement, and tons of incredible stories about the summer. During our most intense season of ministry, the focus is—rightly so—on the camp, responsibilities, and staffers right in front of you. This chance to hear tales from other camps and corners of our ministry is rewarding, enriching, and incredibly encouraging. God clearly used everything from cows to sound guys to the most unlikely campers to teach lessons about faithfulness, conflict, grace, and more.
Coleman Ross was just one of the staffers who was greatly impacted by this time of reflection and sharing.
“I think it’s so easy for me to get into a bubble during the summer of just: ‘I have a domain that I’m in charge of stewarding and I’m not thinking about what’s happening other places, aside from when it pops into my head.’ And it’s just really neat to be able to hear how so many people are experiencing the same type of life change that I’m experiencing at the Bluffs, and getting a chance to see people continue to be on fire for what the Lord is doing. And it’s also just a great reminder that the Lord is doing really great things all over Pine Cove, and that none of it is because of anything that I am doing or that we as people are doing. We’re just being faithful to steward what the Lord has given us. And He shows up in big ways.”
At the end of our time hearing all of these incredible stories, Woods Director Chris “Broflex” Boddy encouraged the room as a whole to take heart and remember that the Lord is at work.
“This is a story of God’s goodness that He used the Pine Cove family—every single one of us—to pull off. We have all these stories and we could have gone on for hours and hours and hours. And they’re all stories of God’s goodness using this family, every single one of us. Praise God.”
On Tuesday morning after breakfast, the staff gathered once more to continue to worship and encourage one another. President and CEO Reed “S.I.” Livesay spent time sharing important updates about the organization and cast vision about the year to come as we once again begin preparing for another summer of ministry. The prayer of the leadership team for Pine Cove as a whole is that we would have Christ-centered relationships marked by kind-hearted humility and mutual dependence.
Pine Cove’s full-time staff retreat was marked by tons of incredible fellowship, laughter, time spent praising the Lord, and even some fun surprises. But as we wrapped up our time together, Reed left us with one final reminder.
“Pine Cove doesn’t exist for us to have cool jobs. We exist to proclaim Christ and to make His name great.”
Posted Sep 7, 2022