by Katelyn Sullins Posted Oct 7, 2020
The storyline of the Bible shows that people have always had the tendency to forget what God has done, though He calls His people to find ways to remember His awesome deeds. Visual media, when done well, can be a powerful tool in helping people remember the story of what God did in their lives at a specific time. Pine Cove’s media team takes this job seriously (and has some serious fun while they do), because they are above all else a storytelling team. They tell the big picture story of how Jesus changes everything.
Times have changed the way Pine Cove utilizes media, but the goal remains the same: Tell the story. In the early days of Pine Cove media, stacks of VHS tapes lined the walls, ready to carry 25 minutes of memories home with every single camper that attended camp. Each camp had one photographer (and one videographer if they were lucky), so the task fell to just one individual to capture every activity class, free time challenge, Bible study, and theme night. Making the highlight video back then was a tough job, and not for the faint of heart.
Stephen “Snoop Clog” Myers served his first summer on the media team in 2004. “My first week, I missed the closing day ceremony because I had been up all night finishing and duplicating the videos for campers,” he explained. “Craig ‘Dutch’ Langemeier, the Ranch director at the time, even gave me the ‘At-a-Boy! Award’ at closing ceremonies that week for jumping on opening day with the other counselors with my camera in hand and diving in 100% that week. I totally missed the award because I was finally asleep back at staff cabins.”
Stories were told in this way for the majority of summers at Pine Cove: highlight videos and printed camp cabin photos. Fast forward to today, and camper families have the same ways to remember camp stories—now in digital form! The CampLife app is updated daily by the media staff with photos, highlight videos, blogs, and digital CQs. With the introduction of the app in summer 2015 and its newfound advances in technology, connection capabilities outside of camp skyrocketed. The name of the game became access and ease to those using the app, and a new era in the summer staff media world was born.
With new capabilities came new challenges, so more staff positions were created to handle the heavier load. Media staff grew from 22 to 55 college students in a matter of two summers. Photographers picked up quite a few more tasks, like capturing photos on Samsung phones and tagging them with RFID bands, posting photos and video clips to the camps’ social media accounts, and writing blog content to share more of what’s happening at camp.
It takes a lot to find a staffer with the technical prowess, creative energy, and attention to detail necessary to create the content needed in telling the story of camp, but every summer, God provides.
Lexi “Denny’s” Walter, 2020 Head Media at the Ranch, said, “Getting to work on the media team at Pine Cove has been valuable and truly life changing. The past three years have not only impacted me spiritually, but tangibly gave me resources of people who were Christ-following creatives who wanted to watch me not only grow spiritually, but also become a better videographer and photographer! When applying to jobs, I realized that all of my experience came from my summers on media staff. I have learned how to be a better leader, storyteller, creative, and team player through working on summer media at Pine Cove.”
Now an adjunct university professor and productions manager, Stephen Myers is no stranger to the benefits of time spent at Pine Cove. After ten summers both serving and leading Pine Cove media, he relays this: “The media team at Pine Cove really is owed a large chunk of my personal and professional growth. During training week, I always told the team, ‘You will learn more in one summer on Pine Cove media than you will in your whole four years of college.’ My own experience proved that, and time and time again that was proven by staff that came through that team.”
Current media coach Noah “Banks” Rodgers added, “After eleven weeks of doing the job every day, Pine Cove turned a fun hobby into a love that eventually translated into a career. The personal mentorship on a spiritual level directed my steps toward where God has called me at the moment, and the technical skills developed while executing the job paved the way.”
Now a full-time creative storyteller at a non-profit in Fort Worth, Noah gives back a significant amount of his time to be one of six “coaches” to the media staff. A position created within the last three years, a coach serves as an invaluable technical and craft-related resource for the summer staff media team. Staffers are given unlimited access to utilize these professionals in the industry as they learn to navigate their jobs with creative excellence, allowing them the opportunity to excel in storytelling throughout the summer and beyond. For Noah, one of the most valuable qualities of Pine Cove media is the fact that upon ending your time at camp, you are equipped with a team of people that are for you—ambassadors in the field shouting, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
So today when campers leave the property, there’s no physical highlight video packed away in their luggage, but the story of how God moved in their hearts is still laced through each memory and ready to share, conveniently tagged and organized in an easy-to-use app. Camp is about reaching thousands of campers with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and our staff get to be the hands and feet of that message. We’ve seen first hand that the bringing of that message, whether it’s as a counselor on the ropes course, or a media staffer uploading tagged photos to the CampLife app, changes people. The storytelling process is a privilege that shapes those involved into the likeness of Jesus.
We are all called to tell the story, to remember the good things that God has done for His people.
So how will you remember?
A lot has changed for the media team over the years—but not everything! Read on to learn about some fun media traditions.
Late Friday Nights
In the days of 30 minute-long highlight videos, videographers frequently worked late into the night on Fridays, which led to a lot of serious fun, including some serious 3am dance parties! If they needed a nap, videographers often curled up beneath their desks, or sometimes in front of the DVD duplicators! When the duplicators were done, the trays would open—straight into the staffer’s face! This ensured they got woken up in time to duplicate the next round.
The Mr. T Building
During the summers of 2004-2015, there was one place where you could find all of the ETX media staffers working late into the night: the Mr. T building. Behind the doors of several temporary buildings that had been Frankensteined together, dozens of photographers and videographers labored, prayed, laughed, and danced together. If the walls of “the T” could talk, they’d surely have endless stories of the life, chaos, and hard work that happened there!
Put a few dozen Pine Cove staffers in one building for weeks on end and there are bound to be plenty of hilarious (and baffling) (and creative) things said! And when they were, they’d instantly be written on a large whiteboard in the Mr. T building. There was just one rule: you couldn’t quote yourself! So just remember: “If there’s zebras on me, then there’s a problem.”
Photo of the Day
Summer 2010 saw the introduction of a new media tradition: Photo of the Day. Each day photographers battle it out to see which photo, across all camps, will be crowned Pine Cove’s best photo. Competition can get fierce, but it’s all in good fun, and in many cases has led to photographers honing their skills to try for that perfect shot that will finally win them #POTD.
Not all camp photos—or videos—can be winners! Our media staffers frequently capture images of campers getting hit in the face with a dodgeball or diving awkwardly into the pool. These photos and videos don’t make the final cut, but sharing them on a “Fail Post” Slack channel has provided some good-natured laughs to the team during long weeks at camp!
Have a media tradition you want to share? Email us at at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us all about it!