Scenic view of trees at camp

Five Summers on Staff

by Valerie Morby


It’s not uncommon for some of our staffers to serve for two, three, or even four summers. Slightly less common? Coming back to serve for a fifth summer! We got in touch with six staffers who came back to serve for a “victory lap,” and asked them to share what they learned during their many summers at Pine Cove. Their stories blew us away, and we know you’ll love reading about the many amazing things God taught them.

Daniel “I Don’t Wanna Taco Bout It” Cooper

Daniel became a Christian during his freshman year of college, and soon found himself applying to work at Pine Cove. The major theme of his first summer on staff? Dependence on the Lord. Subsequent summers have brought their own lessons: what it means to fear God. What it means to be reverent. What is looks like to spend time with the Lord and learn to enjoy and experience intimacy with Him.

Perhaps Daniel’s biggest takeaway? The importance of family, a lesson modeled by the nearly 50 host homes who’ve welcomed him into their families a week at a time. “They show summer staff what it looks like to be hospitable, to be in loving and Christ-centered marriages, and they show us what it looks like to disciple children.”

Daniel may have begun his first summer a relatively new Christian, but his summers serving with Camp in the City have matured his faith and deepened his understanding of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. “Pine Cove has showed me what it looks like to preach the Gospel to myself daily, and to let the Gospel permeate every aspect of my life.”

Hannah “The Parent Wrap” Thacher

When Hannah needed an internship to complete her Recreation, Park, and Tourism major, she applied at the place her friends had all told her about: Pine Cove. That initial internship turned into a job that so far has lasted for five straight summers working for Camp in the City! She says summers on staff have shown her what deep, Gospel-centered community looks like.

Hannah has learned a lot in the five summers she’s spent serving at Pine Cove, particularly the infinite nature of the Lord. “When I don’t understand why I am in a certain situation or another, I can rest in knowing that God, who is infinitely wise and infinitely powerful and loves me more than I know, has set me in that place for me to be sanctified and Him to be glorified.”

Lance “Jabbasockee” Gilliland

Would you be interested in reading a small novel of things the Lord has taught a guy who worked five summers on staff at Pine Cove? Because Lance Gilliland could write one! 

After four summers at the Woods, Lance spent his fifth on staff with Camp in the City. He found it tough to suddenly be in a situation where he didn’t know the people or the program—and the location changed every week. “And I was supposed to be leading these people as their program director! I had to understand going into the summer that I would need to humble myself tremendously if I was going to succeed in leading people who were more experienced than I was.” But his City team members were gracious, and showed him how their energy and enthusiasm was the program!

Lance found himself discovering something new about his relationship with the Lord every single week. “I’ve learned how to utterly rely on a strength that does not come from myself in moments of exhaustion where my body wanted to give up but my spirit kept jumping for the Kingdom.”

Brianni “Turtley Cool” Zuberbier

After watching her best friend undergo a life transforming summer at Pine Cove, Brianni knew she wanted to be a part of it too. She applied to work on staff, and has been faithfully serving every summer since! And the lessons she’s learned? They’re not small. “I have learned that Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith, and for that reason, it is a sweet gift when my faith undergoes sanctification, when I am disciplined, and when my sin is revealed. It brings me closer to Him, and allows me to know and love Him more deeply. My faith has gone from a devotional-once-a-day based faith, to a deep, curious, believing, pursuing faith.”

This summer, a health battle forced Brianni to leave her position at the Bluffs for a few weeks. But God used that battle to show her that, “Through Christ, I am capable of loving families, unstacking hundreds of chairs, and serving when I am completely empty of myself—only to be filled with Him.”

Andrew “G.O.A.T.” Rogers

“Pine Cove has altered the trajectory of my life.” This powerful statement was spoken by Andrew as he now sits on the other side of serving five straight summers at camp—summers that God used to show Andrew how He can use broken people to most glorify Himself.

Indeed, it hasn’t always been easy. Near the end of his second summer, he found out his grandfather had been diagnosed with stage four leukemia. This presented Andrew with a difficult decision: leave to be with his grandpa, or remain at the Timbers with his campers. Andrew realized that the Lord was impressing upon him the urgency of the Gospel, and he decided to stay at camp. Andrew explains, “My grandpa was on his deathbed, but he knew where he was going. My campers were young and thriving, but dead in their sins. We are not promised today, so let us tell of the glory of God while it is still called today!”

Those five summers working at the Timbers have taught Andrew how to be Christ-centered, others-focused, and seriously fun. “It’s worth it to give up your summer for the Kingdom’s sake, and I can’t imagine having done anything else.”

Emily “Defallying Gravity” Lawson

Having been a camper before she joined the Pine Cove staff, Emily has been able to draw lessons from both sides! “God used my time as a camper to really get through to me the good news of His gift of grace and His truth. He used my time as a staffer to teach me why my life has purpose and why I am called to love and serve His people no matter what age that is.”

Emily has been an essential part of the Camp in the City team for five summers, and has influenced countless lives for the sake of the Kingdom during that time! And the evidence of God working in her life is abundant. Halfway through her fifth summer, an old back injury flared up, sending her home from camp for almost the entire remainder of the summer. It was difficult and painful to go through, but the Lord was faithful to continue to teach her big lessons throughout her circumstances. “The most important thing that He showed me and reminded me of was that He is my ultimate healer and that He is ultimately in control of my life, and even though this summer did not by any means go as planned, He is still a good Father and He is faithful.”

The Lord’s faithfulness is clearly evident all throughout the stories of these six staffers! We hope you are encouraged by all that God is continuing to do in the lives of the Pine Cove staff, whether in their first or fifth summer.

Posted Oct 14, 2019

Valerie Morby

Social Media and Copy Manager

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