Scenic view of trees at camp

How Camp Prepared Me for Life After College

by Shawn Welch

Luke Friesen

I asked my friend Luke to make a guest post one week, and since Luke and I worked at Pine Cove Shores together I asked him to share how working at summer camp prepared him for life today. Another summer is fast approaching and whether you have just come off of your last summer or are gearing up for this upcoming one, I think Luke’s words are very applicable!

Bio: Luke “Wok N Wo” Friesen first became a Pine Cover as a camper at the Ranch in 1995 and 1998. He worked at the Shores during the summers of 2001–2004 as a counselor, boat driver, Assistant Waterfront Director, bass player, and senior counselor. After his last summer at the Shores, Luke got an MBA from Texas A&M University and has worked for seven years as a management consultant with Alvarez & Marsal. Luke recently accepted a full-time staff position with Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX.

How Camp Prepared Me for Life After College

“So, what makes you think that being a summer camp counselor prepared you for this job? Didn’t you just relax and play all day?” I never got that question in an interview, but they may have been thinking it! When Shawn asked me to write a guest post for his blog about camp as preparation for life after college, I immediately agreed. All Pine Covers know that it’s anything but a slacker job! Working at camp is an incredibly worthy spiritual investment, but it’s also excellent preparation for the “real world”.

Here are just a few ways that Pine Cove prepared me for success after college. My context is business, having spent the past seven years in management consulting, but I think these takeaways apply just as well to ministry (my next adventure!), education, medicine, parenting, or whatever path you’re on. Those four summers at Pine Cove were some of the most impactful months of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!

Leading and Following Well
“Set clear expectations.” Beginning with The Way, Pine Cove did a great job of communicating what was expected of me. The standards were set, and I always knew what they were. In my job, I proactively seek to understand the expectations my leaders and clients have for me, and I try to set clear expectations for people working for me. Knowing the standard allows me to define goals and understand what I need to do to be successful. (Micah 6:8)

“Lead by example, and follow in humility.” My leaders at camp didn’t just talk the talk – they walked the walk! From executives and directors to program directors and senior counselors, I was consistently exposed to strong leaders who were committed to showing me what to do, instead of just telling me what to do. And it wasn’t about them being the leader and exalting in their position–it was about them humbly following Jesus. In my job, I try to show rather than just tell, and to keep Christ as my standard. This gives me confidence to lead, and helps keep me humble as I try to follow Christ’s example in what I do. (I Corinthians 11:1)

“Mentor and be mentored.” Life change happens in the context of Christ-centered relationships. I loved and respected my leaders at Pine Cove because they cared about me personally, and wanted to see me develop. They invested a lot of time in doing that! As a leadership staffer my final two summers, I also got the opportunity to pour into staff. And of course, camp is all about the mentoring relationship between staff and campers! Now in the “real world”, I have mentors who consistently pour into my life, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to pass that on to others. (II Timothy 2:2)

Delivering the Goods
“Bump the lamp.” Kevin “Opee” East shared a story with us about film animators who spent countless hours making sure that light and shadows moved realistically when one of the characters bumped a lamp in a scene. Excellence was our standard! Practicing excellence, even in the little things, helped me to meet and exceed the high expectations of my employer and clients. (Colossians 3:23)

“One load too many.” Working at camp was hard! I often thought “I can’t do this”. It was hard on purpose, though, since Pine Cove’s leaders knew that real development doesn’t come through ease, but through healthy challenges. And God was faithful to sustain me through them–His Word was so sweet as I dug into it each morning, many times exhausted from the previous day. Viewing challenges as opportunities for growth helps me manage stress and thrive even when circumstances are difficult, and grows my faith in God to help me when I can’t do it on my own. (James 1:3)

“The Joy of the Lord is my strength!” We shouted this before running to open the gate and spend the next few hours jumping, sweating, and welcoming campers with joyful hearts. God was faithful to provide us with the ability and energy to pour ourselves out for campers, week after week. Trusting God to give me strength and joy sustains me on a daily basis, no matter the task before me. (Nehemiah 8:10b)

In Conclusion
There are a lot of great things that you can do with your college summers. One of the best things you could do, in my opinion, is to invest in the eternal ways that God will impact you and use you through Pine Cove (Matthew 6:20). The leadership, spiritual development, and sheer fun that come from working at camp are invaluable. I’m a different person because of what God did in me during my time at Pine Cove. And I can’t get enough of it–I’ve still been involved with Pine Cove for each of the past eight years since I graduated college, and I continue to invest in and treasure the relationships that I have with current and former staff.

Camp. Do it. It just might change your life!

Posted Mar 7, 2013

Shawn Welch

Former Camp Director

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