Scenic view of trees at camp

How To Run Camp Like a Pine Cove Program Director

by Caroline Reyes

name game

I’m sure you are thinking to yourself, “Self, what is a program director?”

At Pine Cove, each camp has a program director who leads our entire summer staff in every aspect of camp. All the fun aspects of a camp schedule (skits, theme nights, activity classes, and more) usually start with a program director’s ideas and leadership! They also have a huge role in shepherding our college staff spiritually. They do it all!

So, who can be the program director of camp in your house?

Anyone! Anyone can lead camp and be a program director—parents or kids! The attitude of anyone who leads at camp is simple to explain. Read below and see the kind of attitude we want in leaders who work at Pine Cove.

Key Idea 1: It’s not about me!

This idea influences how we do ministry. It is central to the way that we train our staff, and it is the standard for how we serve.


This starts with how we lead. We lead with the attitude of a servant.

This is our model for leadership:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a Cross!” -Philippians 2:3-8

What does this look like in a camp setting?

The program director always has the mindset of a servant rather than of “being the one in charge.” A program director doesn’t stand back and watch! They get their “hands dirty” with small things like:

    • Picking up trash and helping clean
    • Jumping into activities
    • Helping lead Bible studies
    • Serving others at meal times
    • Asking intentional questions
    • Being kind and generous with their words, emotions, and time

In return, there is an attitude of respect and empowerment toward the program director from everyone else at camp. Everyone follows rules that are in place and submits to leadership even when it’s hard. Trusting rules that seem bothersome (no cell phones, TAPS, etc.) are in their best interest, and leadership has those rules for a reason.

The way to lead is by being servant-hearted! Remember this as you lead your day of camp. 

Key Idea 2: Our Staff is Our Program

Camp at our house? But we don’t have a zipline! 

I’m sure you’re wondering how camp can be fun without all the stuff Pine Cove has!

Our activities are not our program.

Even when things don’t go as planned, we still make the best of it. It’s not about the activity. It’s about flexibility and trying to create the most fun out of any situation. It just takes one person’s attitude to change the whole atmosphere.

Our facilities are not our program.

Sometimes the power goes out or the A.C. breaks, but counselors always go with the flow! It’s important to keep a positive attitude and stay focused on safety and fun.

Our schedule is not our program. 

We can all attest to this! A schedule is helpful, but even when things don’t go according to plan, we can still have fun—even if it’s ten minutes later than we thought.


So what is it that makes our program so fun and amazing?


We recognize that at Pine Cove, we have a lot of stuff, but it is not essential to how we do camp ministry. There are great camps around the world that God is using in incredible ways that don’t have access to all the “stuff.” It is a blessing to have all of the “stuff,” but it can hinder effective camp ministry if it becomes paramount in what we do.

It just takes a little creativity and an engaging attitude to make anything fun! And that’s how our staff keep every situation a blast, even without a ton of supplies!

Key Idea 3: Be Intentional!


It’s only a day… can it really make a difference?

It can!

At Pine Cove, we have a limited amount of time with every child and family that comes on our property. We want to make the best use of that time that we possibly can. You can do the same with your family! Even though you may be living closely with one another, you could still not fully know the heart of someone you’re in close quarters with. Be intentional and find out how everyone’s really doing!

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” –Colossians 4:5

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12

Our top three ways to be intentional:

1. Be with your campers!

Be both physically and emotionally present.

2. Have fun!

Even the fun part of camp is intentional. It is the reason that we schedule our program in the way that we do. It is important to have fun with the campers that are under our care. Shared emotion builds trust. This allows us to build relationships quickly.

3. Share the love of Christ!

Intentionality with the Gospel is the most important and intentional thing we do. We want to share the love of Christ with everyone that comes to our camp. Do not miss an opportunity to share the truth of Scripture with your campers and speak identity into their lives. Try your best to be engaged in every moment.

Key Idea 4: Take Ownership

I think I’m ready? That’s right – this is your house!

It’s my house!

At Pine Cove, we say that our camp is our house and that it is our home. And in this case, that’s actually true!


You are not just putting on a super fun day of camp, you are owners in the ministry that God has given us to do. You are a steward of the camp that God has entrusted to you.

“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care…” -1 Timothy 6:20

What does this look like practically? Remind everyone to pick up trash, take care of tools and equipment, turn off lights when not using them, and make sure things that might be unsafe are locked.


Have an attitude of hospitality as you care for your family today. We want them to feel welcome!

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” -1 Peter 4:10

What does this look like practically? Make sure everyone knows how excited you are to do this day with them and how glad you are that they are part of your family.

We want to be great stewards of everything that God has entrusted to us. We realize that, just like Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, we will have to give an account for how faithful we have been with all that God has entrusted to us. We’ve been entrusted with not just resources, but relationships, and time. Stewardship affects everything we do.

You’ve trained, read, and studied!

What are you waiting for?


Posted Apr 20, 2020

Caroline Reyes

Alumni and Marketing Coordinator

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