Jeff “Rawhide” Olchesky currently serves as the Vice President of Operations in East Texas, where he lives with his wife and five children. He has held many positions at Pine Cove and seen a lot of change and growth in his near 20 summers at camp, but still recalls the deep heart work that took place in his college summers as a boat driver. We hope you feel as encouraged as we did in hearing about his love for Jesus, his passion for his work, and how Pine Cove has shaped who he is today.
How long have you been working at Pine Cove and what positions have you held?
I have worked full time for nearly 15 years, but I served three summers before that while I was in college. I am going on close to 20 summers. I started as a boat driver at the Shores. I was then the Associate Director of Operations in East Texas, and then the Senior Director of Operations in Central Texas. And then we moved back to Tyler to take this current role in August of 2020.
What is your camp name and how did you get it?
Rawhide is my name. I got it because during training week, I wore a cowboy hat most of the time and I drove boats. So I was asked, ‘Are you really a cowboy?’ and I explained how my mom’s side of the family is from West Texas, but my dad is from Milwaukee, and so they said that I am ‘only part cowboy and then part city slicker.’ And lastly, since I was a boat driver and you end up sitting in a wet bathing suit, they said that I can get a ‘raw hide.’
Tell us about your family.
Keller Grace is a newborn, who was born in March of 2021. Then there is Nix, who turned three years old in May. Susu is five. Trip is eight. Amerson just turned 10 in July. And I have been married nearly 14 years to my wife, Charis.
What are some ways you’ve seen your children impacted through growing up in the camp environment?
Oh my gosh, wow, so many ways. We had the pleasure of being involved with the family camp of Crier Creek when we were in Central Texas. The kids were there for meals, for skits, for everything.
My kids have grown in their desire to serve because they watched college kids do it—it was very real and tangible to them. One time someone asked Trip what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said, ‘I want to work at camp like my dad and drive around and pick up trash!’
Practically speaking, they are more outgoing, and they still bring up names of college staffers from years ago.
What is your favorite camp meal?
Gosh, I’ve eaten a lot of those. The three-finger porkchop at Crier Creek was just incredible!
What is one of your most fun camp memories?
I would say I am very honored and proud that I grew up on the water at camp. There is just a camaraderie and deep level of loyalty that exists when you are in the deep heat, serving with the same people from 6:30a.m. until 9 at night. I am so grateful to have learned and grown in that community. Some of our kids are even named after boat drivers. Amerson was named after Ryan “Misfire” Amerson. Nix Cole is named after Mark “True Grit” and Jana Cole.
Another fun memory is the work and teamwork of the Ridge camp. Just seeing that come together—the vision, the supporters, the people on the ground who worked tirelessly—as I look back on my career, I am so proud to be a part of that as we built it from the ground up.
What are your favorite things to do on a day off?
Being with my family, for sure! I just thoroughly enjoy being with them. We like to wrestle and jump on the trampoline together. I enjoy working on projects or building things in the yard. And I really enjoy meals around the table with family and friends.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage?
Psalm 63. David is in the caves on the run from Saul. I just love King David and I love reading about him and I am inspired by his intimacy with the Lord. In the first three verses, you can see the comparison of how everything in this world is a dry and dreary land compared to being with the Father.
Posted Sep 29, 2021