EJ “Pops” Hibbler graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He also has a masters in meteorology. Pops currently serves as a Pine Cove City Site Director for team E. He really loves sweet tea and is a hilarious storyteller.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I really had no clue. I think, honestly, that I just wanted to be what was the hot topic at the moment. I think I really topped it off when I said I wanted to be like Bill Gates.
How did you end up at Pine Cove?
So, I’m walking into the Union at Mississippi State. I saw this booth and I thought, “Aw, not another summer camp.” They’re here recruiting, and I’m just trying to get my sweet tea from Chick-fil-A. The quickest way to get to Chick-fil-A was to walk by this booth, so I cut across and I see this guy. And he’s like, “Hey, do you want to apply for this summer camp?” And I’m like, “Nah. Summer camps are not my thing.” So, I finish my sweet tea and I’m going back for a refill, and the booth was still there. He wore me down and I was like, “Okay, let’s just do an interview.” I ended up doing a full summer and it just blew me away. I had to be there.
How did you get your camp name?
They found out that I love candy. To the point that I suffered from a lot of cavities. And I had a firecracker explode in my hand, so my name became Baby Bottle Pop Pop Pop Pop.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
My favorite Bible verse has to be Isaiah 53:5, and it’s, “He was wounded for our transgression and wounded for our iniquity.”
What are some of your favorites?
Well, speaking of my favorite, I am sitting here eating the Walmart brand frosted sugar cookies. Love me some Zaxby’s; love me some Ross Dress for Less, for sure. And I love my mom.
What is your most embarrassing camp moment?
Oh, ah. This isn’t embarrassing so much as it hurt really bad, but I was with the oldest guys’ cabin and we were at the wake park at Crier Creek. I had never been wakeboarding or tubing. And I was like, “If high schoolers can do this, then it can’t be that hard.” And I grabbed onto the cable, I sit down like I’m in a chair, do it, and they ram the engine up all the way. I ate it. Not only did I eat it, but I smacked my head on the cable line and fell in the water. I get back up, and I did it again. I eat it again. By the second time, they reeled me in and all my campers were just laughing at me.
Favorite part about your job?
My favorite thing about being a site director is being able to travel. It amazes me that God would choose me for a mission like this. To carry His gospel to areas I would not otherwise travel to, and having people back me up, aka my staff. They are my backbone and I would give my very life for those guys who are doing the work of the Father like me.
If you were stranded on an island, and you could only pick three Pine Cove staff members to organize your rescue, who would it be and why?
So, first, I would have to call Bailey Burrus. I think this dude could talk his way out of a civil war if he wanted to. Bailey one of the most comical, loving guys I’ve ever met. I know he would talk someone into giving him their yacht. So, Bailey Birds, hands down. After that, I feel like there’s nobody else you would need. Probably Michelangelo. Just in the fact that he would be able to navigate because he uses his phone all the time. I feel like AT&T gives him special privileges, so if we were out in the middle of the ocean, they would give him service there so he could still use his phone. And, I would say, third person would be Garret Ward because I think Garret is just a young man who knows the ropes about everything. He would be the one who would steer the yacht that Bailey got and he would tell shortcuts on nautical routes that Pat’s iPhone got.
What are some of the weirdest things a camper has said or done to you?
This is really uncommon, but it’s common amongst minorities. I have had numerous campers confuse me with my other African American staffers. I find it hilarious and so do they. When you have a small camper come up to you and say, “Hey, Mr. Slick? You still wanna–” And they stop. And they say, “You’re not Slick.” Then there was one kid who tried to share his used gobstopper with me and I was like, “Bro. You love me so much, but I can’t have that. I just can’t.”
What are some awesome life transformation stories that you’ve witnessed or been part of at camp?
Summer 2014, I had a camper who was super defiant and couldn’t read very well. My heart went out to him immediately. There was another camper who didn’t identify with anyone else in the cabin except this one guy. I remember the guy I was mentioning first, he couldn’t read very well. This dude, he couldn’t read very well either, but he said, “I’m gonna make you my friend and we’re going to read the Bible together.” Watching these two guys come together, relinquish pride and walk in faith together was amazing. And then, I remember Friday night we did camper share, and this camper professed Jesus. I just remember crying tears of joy. I had been ready to give up, but God still did a work in this kid’s life.
How have you changed since being at Pine Cove?
It has opened my eyes to different cultures, to knowing that my way is not necessarily the right way. As the Scriptures say, “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end they are the ways of death.” To constantly have my eyes corrected, whether that’s through exhortation or admonishing, I am constantly being put on the right path by those who are my peers or those who are in authority over me. Also, having a deeper hunger for the Word. It has never been like this before and I think it’s been taught by radical teachers who teach the gospel.
How would you explain Pine Cove to people who had never heard of it?
That’s a good question. I would say, Pine Cove is an incubator. It prepares to launch those out into a dark and perverted generation and prepares them to make disciples. Yeah, that’s the easiest way to describe Pine Cove for me.
What Pine Cove staffer has had the biggest impact on you?
Michiel Combs. He is actually the maintenance guy in Columbus. Watching him love and mentor in such a way that shows God’s unstoppable love for us spurs me to do my job. Also, he’s one of the most ripped guys I know. He’s such a wise guy and I love him so much.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know more about one of the integral staff members who make up the ministry of Pine Cove! There are many more awesome people we can’t wait for you to meet. In the meantime, go enjoy some Zaxby’s or some candy in Pops’s honor.
Posted Jan 15, 2018