Scenic view of trees at camp

Multiplying the Impact: Laying a Foundation in the Southeast

by Valerie Morby


“If this isn’t some sort of nudge from the Lord to do this, or at least give this a lot more thought and prayer about it, I don’t know what is,” Carter ‘Nashthrill’ Myers recalls of applying to work at Pine Cove. “I still don’t really know why I did that.”

We’re praying for a lot more nudges like the one Carter received. 

One of the primary goals the Lord impressed upon us is to “Double the Impact.” That is, double the numbers of campers and staff that we reach and have an impact on by 2030. That’s 40,000 more campers—and 2,000 more staffers. The need is more immediate than a deadline nine years in the future, though; the Springs is coming, and the first summer for this new Georgia youth camp is just a few short months away.

The opportunity to grow our staff by several hundred college students isn’t insurmountable, though. Not with prayer, and not with a relatively new tool in our staffing strategy: relational recruiting. Put simply, relational recruiting frees Pine Cove’s full-time staff from hours spent standing at booths in student unions, and instead allows them to pour their time and energy back into our program—aka our staff—and meeting the people that they care about. It means they can invest in the college staff they spend an entire summer shepherding and mentoring and continue that relationship all year.


That’s exactly how Carter Myers found himself at Pine Cove. (Well, that and the “nudge” from the Lord, of course.) After debating applying to another camp and ultimately deciding against it, Carter’s high school small group leader, Josh ‘Leatherman’ Sperle, then the Chimney Point men’s director, called Carter and asked him to apply to be a Counselor in Training, or CIT.

“And so I interviewed to be a CIT in January of that year and two days after, a day after I graduated high school, I came out here to Chimney Point all by myself,” Carter explains.

After a summer spent at Pine Cove, Carter was hooked, and he immediately began working on convincing his friends at UT Knoxville to apply at camp as well. One of them was his close friend and roommate, Joe ‘Snake’ Bayless.

“I initially was just going to do second half of my first year,” Joe says. “Then I got there for orientation and, I mean, I fell in love with the place. And so I asked if I could stay all summer.”

Josh invested in Carter, which paved the way for Carter to serve at Chimney Point. Carter returned to school passionate about Pine Cove, which in turn paved the way for Joe to serve as well. These tight bonds of friendship are a beautiful example of—and reason for—relational recruiting. The Pine Cove leadership pours into staffers, who then take those lessons back to school and pour into the people around them. 

Indeed, ask Joe, Carter, or any number of Pine Cove staffers what keeps them coming back, and one of the most common refrains—alongside the life-transforming power of the Gospel at work at camp—is the friendships. The relationships formed at camp carry any number of spent, tired staffers through their time serving together “in the trenches” at camp. It’s where they all learned the true depths of a phrase familiar to anyone who’s ever worked at Pine Cove: it’s not about me.


“I’ve seen how some jobs at camp feel more important than others, like me wiping down tables versus having an intentional conversation with a camper,” says Chimney Point staffer Emily ‘Rocky’ Ley.” It doesn’t feel like they carry the same amount of weight, but I’ve learned that me wiping tables frees up a counselor to have that intentional conversation. That’s still Kingdom work being done.”

Doing that Kingdom work alongside your fellow staff members not only builds character—it builds friendship and trust.

“Being at camp, you kind of see each other at your worst and also your best,” Emily explains. “I just feel I have a fuller picture of what the body of Christ is meant to look like. I learned that the body of Christ needs all of us.”

Summer staffers work together through the “fires” of camp—and they leave on fire for Christ. And it’s all intentionally built into the everyday motions of camp. The Lord is using the Pine Cove full-time and leadership teams to teach the summer staffers what it looks like to build deep, Christ-like relationships.


Carter points specifically to former Chimney Point Director Ben Ambuehl and Women’s Director Joanna Benjamin as people who modeled that friendship for him, and taught him how to bring it back to college with him. 

“Their counsel has really taught me how to be a good friend,” Carter explains. “And I think that bleeds over a lot into my personal life in Knoxville.”

“Pine Cove has changed how I even look at friendships in the first place,” Joe adds. “Because at camp, the Lord is at the center. And I think in those relationships, it’s not just to have fun, but it’s to point others to the Lord. There’s a new level to the friendship because Pine Cove has provided me with a different lens to see it through.”

By laying a deep foundation with current staffers and modeling the particulars of biblical friendship, Pine Cove’s full-time staff members are laying the groundwork for a relationally tight yet geographically sprawling network of existing summer staffers. Pine Cove’s mission is to inspire more campers to walk intimately with Christ and equip college summer staff to change the world. So who are we equipping—and how do we reach more of them?


This question is especially important in the Southeast, home to several Pine Cove City teams, a soon-to-open youth camp, and our Chimney Point family camp. Chimney Point, founded in 2017, has become a beautiful example of how Pine Cove’s culture and mission can flourish and thrive no matter the location—even when it’s a thousand miles from “home base.” It’s especially amazing when you consider that many Chimney Point staffers have never even set foot on another Pine Cove camp.

“I really have no context for what other camps are like, I’ve never actually been to Texas in my life,” Carter says. 

This network of staffers and believers bonded together stretches far beyond the parameters of summer. It extends across different Pine Cove camps, different schools, and even different states. 

“After camp, I really have a huge network of not just people I know, but really close friends all over the Southeast,” Carter explains, “Which is just super cool and an awesome blessing for me. There’s not strangers in any town now in the Southeast.”


Step back from the details of specific staffers or even specific schools and you can see the beautiful tapestry of growth the Lord is weaving in the Southeast, setting up Pine Cove to be poised for expansion. The Chimney Point staffers have a front row seat to all that God is doing, and how He is setting the stage for an influx of new counselors.

“I just kind of felt a slow burn the past couple of summers,” Emily explains. “But now I feel like with the Springs to come, I just hear more and more about my friends at Clemson talking about Pine Cove. And a couple of girls from my small group that I led have applied to work at Pine Cove. And just now it’s multiplying—they told two people, now they’re telling these people.”

Seth “Bam” Hartke agrees.

“I think business is about to be booming,” he says. “And I feel the Lord’s going to be using me, Rocky, and the rest of the Clemson alumni to supply the Springs and the Chimney Point with more staff, so that there can be more life change and He can be more glorified in the Southeast.”


That growth can’t come soon enough. The Springs will open its gates in May, and Pine Cove will need about 150 new college staffers on board. Thankfully, we’re building on an existing network of godly friendships formed in the fires of camp that extends all across the Southeast. These friendships are being mobilized. The staffers aren’t just doubling the impact—they’re multiplying it. One day soon, we’ll harvest what the Lord is growing in this region. 

In the meantime, we’ll pray. We’ll pray for God to work in the lives of our college staff. We’ll pray for Him to equip them to change the world.

We’ll pray for Him to nudge.

Posted Feb 17, 2022

Valerie Morby

Social Media and Copy Manager

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