Scenic view of trees at camp

A Return to Family Camp 40 Years Later

by Michaela Drewry


Pine Cove loves seeing families come back every year and have their kids grow up at camp. But for the Lamar family, their kids’ first experience of camp was in kindergarten—and their second experience was four decades later!

Charles Jr. and Mary Ellen Lamar brought their two sons, Charles III and Michael, to the Pine Cove Woods family camp in the summer of 1980. They had never been to camp—or even to Texas—and decided to make the trip from their home in Kentucky. Little did they know that forty years later they would come back to camp, this time with their five grandchildren.  

In 2021, Charles Jr. was researching places for his family to travel over the summer, and Pine Cove popped up in his search. He was looking for somewhere in a central location for all his children, and Chimney Point was within a few hours drive for all of them.

“When I was selling it to my kids, I told them that if Pine Cove is doing the same things they did forty years ago, we have to go,” Charles Jr. shared. “The level of dedicated service of the staff—they are obviously working for the Lord because they wouldn’t be working that hard for anyone else.”


“I was thrilled that my parents had the idea,” Michael said, “And I’m so happy that we got the chance to share the experience together as a family. My brother has two kids that are almost the exact age of my two oldest, and they love spending time together. Everyone in our family gets along very well, so it sounded like a wonderful opportunity for family fun.”

During their first experience at family camp, Charles Jr. and Mary Ellen water skied for the first time while their sons (both under the age of five) watched from the dock. Coming back to family camp as grandparents, they no longer water ski, but their daughter-in-law Tosha also got to experience some “firsts” alongside her daughter.  

“I got on a jet ski for the very first time of my life, which was fun but a little scary,” Tosha shared, laughing at the memory. “My daughter did all these things I didn’t know she could do between the banana boats and the rope swing and the rock wall. I was so impressed.”

Throughout their week at Chimney Point, Charles Jr. and Mary Ellen had the privilege of attending family devotionals each morning, switching off between their children’s families.

“It was so nice to have a short time each day reserved for us to spend time together with God as a family,” Michael said. “I loved hearing my children share their thoughts and seeing how they grew from their camp experience.”


For Charles III and Tosha, they saw a radical change in their eldest child, Ivy, who spoke about her week during camper share.

“Ivy just talked about how she had grown in her relationship with Jesus, and that during the pandemic she felt like she was further from God because she was so isolated,” Tosha explained. “But at camp she had reconnected with Jesus, and it was just beautiful to hear.”

From participating in the breakfast trail ride (which hadn’t changed from 1980 to 2021) to Hawaiian theme nights (at which Ivy wore her grandfather’s shirt from Hawaii when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor), the Lamar family became more unified after their week at Chimney Point.

“It showed my kids that we’re in this together,” Charles III reflected. “Obviously as parents we know that, but it was really important that our kids know Mom and Dad are a resource through our spiritual growth process.”


Since leaving camp, Charles III and Tosha have instituted family devo nights as a new rhythm in their week. As a way to say thank you to Charles Jr. and Mary Ellen, Tosha gifted Mary Ellen a photo book of their week at camp. It is now one of her most prized possessions.

“I am so glad we came back after all these years,” Charles Jr. shared. “Getting to observe the family worshiping together and be one unit was such a heart-warming experience, so we would love to do it again. We’re proud and thankful for our little family.”

One thing the Lamar family is sure of: Pine Cove is still Christ-centered, others-focused, and seriously fun.

“It’s important to position ourselves in a way that leaves us available for Him to impact us in a significant way,” Michael said. “I think camp provided exactly that opportunity, and God, of course, did His transformational work in each one of us during that week and beyond.”


Posted May 24, 2022

Michaela Drewry

Forge Student

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