by Madi Telshow
When Storye Molinar first entered the gates of Silverado as a second grader, she had no idea how much of a spiritual backbone Pine Cove would be in her life.
Her sister, ten years older, had grown up going to Outback when it was the only youth camp in Columbus, and Storye was chomping at the bit to follow in her footsteps. When Silverado was established in 2013, Storye was a year too young, but she was quick to attend the next year. After attending the elementary camp every summer, Storye moved on to Outback, which currently serves sixth through eighth graders. This year, as an incoming high school freshman at the Ridge, she has now attended every youth camp in Central Texas.
Growing up in a Christian family, Storye had heard about Jesus before camp, but it was at Pine Cove that she first came to understand the Bible. “I accepted Jesus at camp,” she says. “I remember my counselor, Rookie Mistakes, explaining it and me finally understanding what was going on. That was so long ago, but I remember it so clearly.”
Although she has always attended a private Christian school, Storye says her consistent summers at Pine Cove have allowed her to hold tight to her faith.“A lot of people can be hypocrites,” she says. “But people are really accepting at Pine Cove, and they showed me that not all Christians are like that. I can be open at Pine Cove; I can talk to my counselors about anything.”
Pine Cove counselors are quick to give God the glory, daily celebrating and thankful that by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, they have been granted full, complete and unending acceptance themselves.
“A lot of teenagers are going through the same thing, especially in high school,” she continues. “They’re just very real about it, and they don’t close off topics.” Her mom, Shanna Molinar, says this is something she appreciates about Pine Cove as well. “When you don’t talk about something, it doesn’t get any better,” Shanna explains. “If you’re going through something, like anxiety, you need to talk about it with someone. Otherwise, you bottle it all up.”
Struggling with anxiety is something all too familiar to Storye. With the recent pandemic, her mental health began to impact her spiritual health in very real ways. “January through March this year, I struggled with depression a lot, and I think I closed off from God completely,” Storye says. “But once at Pine Cove, I started to pray to God and talk to Him again. The piece of me that had been missing is there now.”
While her summers at Pine Cove have helped inspire vulnerability, Storye says she has been stretched out of her comfort zone in other ways too, helping her to become more open to new experiences. Shanna reiterates this idea, attributing Pine Cove staffers as the primary source of this encouragement. “The counselors are so positive, and everyone’s so upbeat and motivating,” she says.
Even though camp is only a week long, Storye says the spiritual refreshment of Pine Cove helps to ground her year round. “It’s so much easier to love yourself when you have God in your life.”
Shanna says the way Pine Cove allows campers of all ages to refocus on the Lord creates a visible difference in Storye, year after year. “When she gets back from Pine Cove, she’s always more optimistic,” she says. “You can see it; it’s physical. You can see it in her face.”
“I told my husband, ‘We need to send her one week at the beginning of the summer to decompress from the stress of school and then one week at the end of the summer, right before she starts school again,’” she jokes. “It just makes such a difference.”
Ultimately though, at the end of the day, it is not about Pine Cove or its staffers, but the way they allow God to work through them. “You can feel the pure joy at Pine Cove — just the energy, it’s like God’s presence there,” Storye says.
“You can feel it when you drive through the gates,” Shanna adds. “Even if you’re not a Christian and you take your kids to camp, you can feel the comfort and the peace and the joy. You feel good about leaving your kids there.”
Posted Oct 25, 2021