Scenic view of trees at camp

Staff Profile: Ben “Digs” Gasaway

by Karissa Pitaniello


Ever met someone who can juggle and unicycle?! Just not at the same time… yet. Get to know Ben “Digs” Gasaway as he lets you in on some hilarious stories (tarantulas and food-themed skit characters included!) from his years at Pine Cove and gives you the inside scoop on life in Georgia!

If you were to give someone an elevator pitch on who you are, what would you say?
I’m Ben Gasaway! I’m a director at Pine Cove for the Pine Cove Springs and I’m from Texas. I grew up in Dallas, went to Texas A&M, and graduated in 2017. I studied business there and minored in English and Psychology. And I actually recently graduated with my MBA from UT Tyler! I grew up as a camper at Pine Cove. I was a Woods family camper since I was a fifth grader. 

I remember a conversation I had with my dad when I was a kid—Craig was the director of the Woods at the time. I asked my dad if he thought that I could do what Craig did one day, which is a cool memory. I’ve got two sisters, awesome parents, and a big network of Kingdom friends and family that I value big time. My older sister Hannah is married and pregnant with her first kiddo. And then I’ve got a little sister Zoe, who graduated from Baylor, did the Forge, and worked at the Woods with me!

Tell us some of your hobbies!
I love trying new things! I love pickleball, basketball, hiking, skiing—anything outdoors. I’ve been really getting into golf the last couple of years. I’m not good, but I think it’s so fun! I love unicycling around camp and I just learned how to juggle. Right now I’m trying to get to where I can juggle and unicycle at the same time. I think that’d be epic to do at camp. I also love running a lot. So overall I love being active, love being with friends, and love trying new stuff!

What different roles have you held at Pine Cove?
So I ended up working at the Woods as a summer staffer all my college years, did the Forge program, and then after that was a program director for Pine Cove City. I was a site director for a couple of years and then was the associate director of the Woods for two years. After that, I moved out to the southeast and was the senior director of Pine Cove City there for a year. Then recently, I moved into my current role as the director of the Springs. So Pine Cove has been a big part of my life and a big part of my story. I feel a unique call in my life right now to partner with this ministry and be a part of it—that’s what led me to Atlanta!

Any fun stories from your time with Pine Cove City?
Every single morning we do a gauntlet and usually a leadership staffer will lead it. One of my guys senior counselors from that summer, Ben O’Segan, was leading the gauntlet pump up. We were at Cleburne Bible Church. We endearingly dubbed it “Camp in the Country” because it’s like 20 minutes outside of Fort Worth and it is rural out there. It was one of the first days of camp of the week, so a bunch of families were circling around and Ben was running around the gauntlet with a little backpack on. He’s going crazy, getting everyone pumped up.

Then he gets to the climax and he produces from his backpack a big glass mason jar and inside of the mason jar is a tarantula the size of your hand. He unleashes the tarantula and he jumps on top of the tarantula and he smashes it! All the guys went crazy and started beating their chests and saying all sorts of strange things and it was really fun and dynamic and crazy. We love it.

Who has affected your leadership the most?
Caleb Carter was the director of the Ranch for three summers, so we started on full-time staff the same summer.  Because of Covid, my city site got canceled, so my leadership team and I were at the Ranch to help out. And I would say he’s the human who has impacted my leadership, the way that I shepherd, the way that I lead people, the way that I learned to 1 Thessalonians 2:8— “We care for you so much that we were delighted to share not only the gospel of God but our very life as well because you’ve become so dear to us.” That is so deeply informed by the way that I watched Caleb lead his family, lead his staff, lead people, shepherd people. He just has a shepherding and a pastoral heart. That summer he just became a brother. He chose to invest deeply in my life and I’m better for it. Whenever I received the opportunity to come to Southeast City and be the director, Caleb had already gone there with his family, and that felt like the Lord going before me and establishing that relationship. And that really helped me be confident in the decision to go. The Lord clearly was at work in a unique way. It was scary to move across the country, but it felt like the faithful and faith-requiring thing to do, and Caleb and his family were a big part of that.

Favorite skit characters you’ve been?
I am super loud and have a very specific stage persona in general, but I don’t really have much variance in what my skit characters are. They all kind of boil down to one thing. Sometimes it’s eggnog, sometimes it’s a T-bone steak, sometimes it’s horseradish (literally just the condiment). And all that I can do is scream my name—loudly and violently, and typically with that item or that condiment kind of foaming from my mouth. That’s all I can do. And then about halfway through the week there’s sort of a main villain and I’m sort of his sidekick. At some point I fail the main villain deeply and then I get banished and then the protagonist of the skit sees me and it becomes a sort of redemptive situation where he invites me to join the good side. Then I go off to college and I come back as T-bone Feather Bottom The Third (or Horseradish Feather Bottom III), and I suddenly have a British accent and help the good guys save the day!

What are some of your favorite memories from living in “the log cabin” staff house in East Texas?
In my time at the log cabin, I had 12 total roommates in four years, which was a blast. And it was a house that was owned by a family who lived next door, who was a really wise, really faithful man. He had a couple of kids that were grown that both worked at Pine Cove as summer staffers. 

Probably the golden age of the log cabin was when I lived there with my best friends, Tyler Wilhelm, Peter Sheeley, and Michael Penny. And that was the year of Covid. It was just a really, really special year of getting to richly share life with my best friends and have people over all the time. During Covid we didn’t have internet there so we would walk all the time, play pickleball, cook insanely good meals, and watch episodes of “Seinfeld” on DVD. That’s what we had and it was really fun. I’ve shared that space with a lot of really awesome friends over the years and I’m really thankful for it.

How did you get your camp name?
I go by Digs but my full name is “Digging the Beat.” When I was in college at A&M, a few of my friends and I went to a haunted house. As we were waiting in line a funny situation happened that included a woman flirting with me. I also used to practice and be pretty good at freestyle rapping! So during the name game I rapped, and Hannah Zandstra named me Digging the Beat

Have you sold any camp names that you’re extra proud of?
At the Woods we have a lot of family campers that come back when they’re older and work on summer staff, so I had really fun, rich relationships with a lot of the summer staffer’s families and with them while I was there, which was really fun. One of those families, the Henderson family, have a daughter named Holly and a son named Ryan. Holly and Ryan worked together at the Woods this past summer. Holly told stories about how she was a runner, she loved flowers, and she had a rock climbing story. And so I named her, “Hey Now, You’re A Track Star, Get Your Climb On, Bouquet.” And then the next summer their little brother told a story about football and griddy-ing so I named him, “Hey Now, He Can Backflip, Get Your Mask On, Griddy.” It was so good, I was so proud of that. 

What encourages you to continue serving at Pine Cove?
What gives me the most encouragement is thinking about all the awesome folks I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve been their biggest cheerleader, supporting them as they step into new roles. I just celebrated my five-year anniversary at Pine Cove, and I’ve worked at five different camps during that time. I’ve seen God’s unique and powerful work at every camp, and it’s been amazing to witness it. 

Through the friendships and relationships I’ve built, I’ve seen Pine Cove serve God’s purposes, bring glory, and benefit us all. That’s what keeps me coming back.

Do you have any embarrassing memories from camp?
During my first summer at the Woods, we had a theme night for Impact, the high school program, and part of the theme night included staffers doing embarrassing things on stage. The leadership team and I had to perform an interpretive dance to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan. I love the movie and the song, and I enjoy dancing (especially at weddings). I’m not a great dancer, but I love it! It became a recurring act during my four summers at the Woods, and it was a hit! Both parents and kids loved it. 

So then, during my time at the Forge, we were working at a Kids Conference and Conor Barry asked me to be in a skit. Naturally, I used the Mulan interpretive dance to transform from a bad guy to a good guy.

The problem was, the audience didn’t find it funny at all. There were 200-300 elementary kids in the room, and none of them were interested in my dancing. To make matters worse, I was wearing a morph suit with a cheetah print sash, almost like a skirt. I ended up losing a piece of my outfit mid-dance, leaving me in just the morph suit. I automatically broke the fourth wall and announced that it was the end of the skit and ran off. It was easily the most embarrassing moment of my camp experience. And to top it off, it wasn’t even during the summer!

What has the Lord been teaching you recently?
In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul expresses that knowing Christ surpasses everything else. He has plenty to boast about, but he considered all of it insignificant compared to knowing Jesus. This scripture has really resonated with me as I study Colossians with my church in Atlanta. Following Jesus is filled with joy and rich opportunities, but it also involves challenges. Crucifying our flesh isn’t easy. When I moved to the southeast, it was difficult being far from friends and family after five years at home. But Jesus is worth it all. He is the ultimate King who deserves our praise and admiration. I’ve learned that it’s okay, even good, to face challenges that require us to fully trust and follow God. Sacrifice is a part of following Jesus, but it’s worth it because true life is found only in Him! 

Posted Nov 14, 2023

Karissa Pitaniello

Content Coordinator

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