by Jesse Garner
Austin “Homestar Runner” Langemeier is no stranger to camp life! As the son of Chief Ministry Officer Craig “Dutch” Langemeier, Austin spent his formative years growing up at Pine Cove. Now the director of Silverado, our Central Texas elementary camp, Austin and his family spend their days investing in the campers and staff that come through the gates each summer. We recently spent some time talking with Austin, so read on to learn all about “Homestar Runner,” how he got his camp name, and his hope for Silverado campers.
How did you get your camp name?
So Homestar Runner is my full camp name. Most name games are only seven minutes, but mine was like twenty-five minutes. Basically, I grew up in Tyler and went to camp as a camper. It’s like home. There was a dodgeball tournament between the staff at the start of the summer, and at one of the games, it was me versus three other people. I ended up getting them all out. So they’re like, “He’s a star.” I ran track and cross country in high school. And so I was a runner. This just one of those “add it together and smush it up” names: Homestar Runner.
What about Pine Cove’s camping ministry really gets you passionate?
I had a high school Bible teacher, Stan Ward, in Tyler. (Shout out to you, Stan!) He would say a lot of people have been given a “vaccine Christianity.” Just enough of it to not catch the real thing. They kind of know the right answers and dabble in going to church here and there, but they’ve never really caught the full disease. One of the things I love about this ministry is getting to help people catch the full “disease of Christianity.” It’s got a death sentence on it and it’s awesome. We get to die to ourselves so that Christ can live in us. So many of the people who come through Pine Cove have dabbled in Christianity at one point or another, and know some of the answers and know a little bit about Jesus. At camp they begin to realize, “Whoa, Christ did this for me! And He loves me.”
Outside of the Bible and your family, who or what have been some of your biggest spiritual influences?
One of my biggest spiritual influences outside of the Bible was the book “Brokenness” by Nancy Lee DeMoss. I was a prideful son of a gun in high school and in my zeal for the Lord really thought I had it all together. So in this book there’s a section where she contrasts 70 different ways of thinking between a prideful person and a broken person. As I’m reading through I’m thinking to myself of how much I’m on the broken person side – boom, boom, boom. At the end of the list it said that a prideful person, after reading this list, has a list of names of people who need to read this book. I had literally written four names in my journal. I was like, “Wow. You got me.”
And then I would say a guy named Mike Whiter, my football coach in college. His integrity and passion for the Lord were so influential. This guy was like 70 years old, and he had 110 college guys, but he would personally get into your life and he would hold you accountable. He’d call you to what it looks like to be a man.
Tell us how you met your wife.
That’s good. The podcast covers it, you know, finding love at Pine Cove. But we met at summer staff orientation when we were both full-time staff. She had just been hired to be the women’s director at the Outback. I’d just been hired to be the men’s director at Silverado. So we met and dated and did summer, that fall got engaged and then got married just before the next summer.
Now you’re a new dad.
I am a dad, I’m a father of two: wild Knox was born in 2018, and then Loxley was born in 2020. Man, they are incredible.
How has being a dad influenced the way that you approach ministry at camp?
It’s made me more tired.
Ha ha! Yeah. I get that.
It’s made me rely on Jesus more in my ministry and not on my own gifts, which is a wonderful thing. Praise God for that!
What would you say is your hope for your campers for their time at Silverado?
At camp, campers get away from the stress of their life—whether that’s family, whether that’s school, or whether that’s just the everyday. Our staff accepts these kids right where they are. There’s big stuff that could be happening in their life, like bullying at school. Or with so many of our campers—even second graders with iPhones—the things their eyes are seeing and the media they’re experiencing, there’s a lot to process through. Camp is a place to get away from all of that other stuff. You can express yourself and just be.
Second, I want them to walk away knowing that God made them and He didn’t make a mistake. He loves the way He made them, but we are broken because of sin. God didn’t choose to then throw us in the trash like a broken toy, but He sacrificed His Son so He can have us. We aren’t alone and don’t need to be afraid. God is a God who makes and keeps promises.
We talk a lot around here about our staff being great role models for our campers. What do you remember looking up to in your counselors as a camper?
On a personal note, I always looked up to their athleticism. I’m a very competitive person, so I loved trying to beat them in dodgeball or putt putt or whatever the game was. But there are three things that I loved the most.
How fun they were. It was so much fun to have someone who was older but not caught up in “older person things.” They just wanted to play with me. No other agendas.
They also care about you. You can go to them anytime and ask, “Can we talk?” And they would say, “Hey man, what’s going on? Yeah. Let’s talk.” They would ask me intentional questions that showed they really cared about who I was, where I’d been, and what I was going through.
And then the final thing—which is funny now that I’m hiring staff myself—is back then I would think, “Oh, they’ve got it together.” Like they are perfect spiritually, perfect men and women of God. And as you grow up you realize we’re all learning. We all make mistakes. But to see their passion for the Lord and passion to be more like Christ was so inspiring as a camper. It really inspired me to follow their example.
One last question to close out. What gets you pumped about this next summer?
I recently went on a trip to the mountains, and when we’d gotten to the peak they said, “Hey, you’re not meant for the mountain top.” And I thought that’s interesting. I had never thought about it that way. You don’t see any houses on the peak of a mountain.
It’s wonderful to be on the mountain top where you can see into the valleys and see what the Lord has been doing behind you and can do in front of you. I look forward to this summer where we can be a wonderful mountain top for campers who have been in a pretty dark valley. They can see the light and see what God has done and is doing in the valley behind them. And just like there aren’t houses on the mountain top, camp is just for a short time and then they’re going back down into the valley. And before going back they will be reminded of how good God is and how much He does love us.
Posted Sep 22, 2020