Scenic view of trees at camp

Staff Profile: Jan “Sugar Pop” Robertson

by Jenny Sowers Rutland

Jan Robertson

We got the chance to talk with Jan Robertson and hear what it’s been like to join Pine Cove later than most, how it has changed her life, and all the fun and challenges that come with pioneering a new camp. Oh, and she kept us laughing with the story of her engagement to her husband! Sit back and enjoy getting to know one of Pine Cove’s living legends.

How long have you been working at Pine Cove? How did you end up here?
I’ve been at Pine Cove for 20 years. Randy, my husband, and I had always hoped to work at a Christian camp one day. Then, in 1999, Mark and Kelly Elkins asked if we would help start a Christian camp. We moved to that camp and jumped right in. The camp we had been hired on at was actually Crier Creek and then when Pine Cove acquired it in 2001, Pine Cove kept all the original employees.  

What is your position?
Currently, I am the Retreats Business Manager in the Central Texas region. But I have also worn a thousand hats because of being in a startup ministry. Back then, I helped cook, clean cabins, put together the programming, and so many other things. As the years progressed, we saw our jobs become more and more focused. 

A few years ago when Pine Cove offered me this current position, they had no idea that I had begun to pray, “Lord, please give me a change at work.” I only shared that with Randy because I was just tired and ready for a change. And literally within a week or two, they approached me about this job and I immediately said, “Yes!”  

What is your camp name and how did you get it?
Sugar Pop. The short of it is that I am sweet and I “popped the question” to Randy. We will just leave it at that.

Back up. You proposed to Randy?
(Jan laughs) I knew how I felt about him and he wasn’t big on verbalizing things so I just said, “What do you think about marriage?” He said he wasn’t ready for that commitment. 

I heard what he said, but because I felt like he really loved me the way I loved him, I just didn’t accept that answer and moved on to the next question.  

“What do you think about getting married this summer?” He said, “Okay!”

Then we told our families we were getting married that following summer. And 40 years later, here we are!


Tell us about your family.
Randy currently works as a part-time utilities technician at Pine Cove. We have two children, Jack and Liz, and both of them have worked at Pine Cove in different capacities. We also have the special honor of being grandparents to four grandchildren and one of them works part-time in Pine Cove’s retail department.


What is one story from your time in Pine Cove’s ministry that vividly sticks out in your memory?
There have just been so many. We have just made some of the dearest friends and worked with the dearest people. It has been absolutely life changing.

But one that has always stuck out is our very first summer working at family camp. We had no idea what family camp was all about or what it looked like. We sat down to dinner at a young mom’s table, who had three baby boys, three years old and under. We were just chit chatting and helping her with her children, when she just started bawling. She said, “This is the first warm meal I’ve eaten in years and I am just so overcome.” This family still comes to camp and two of those boys have been on staff!

This moment sticks out to us as the time we finally understood what this place means to people. We just had no idea. We’ve gotten to witness this summer after summer after summer.


You’re stranded on a desert island with two other Pine Cove staffers. Who do you choose and why?
Of course, Randy! Because he is a Mr. Fix-It who can do anything. I would also choose Vicki “Mama Mia” George who would cook the best meals, even if we just had rice and coconuts to work with… she would even make that taste good! Plus, we are just really good friends. Oh! And if I could bring a third I would choose Julie “Meow Mix” Livesay because I’ve always said you just need her on your team.


What is your most embarrassing camp moment?
I’ve had gazillions. But probably the name game. It was just horrifying. I can’t stand being up on the stage and my mind just went totally blank. They asked me questions and I just agreed and said yes to everything.  

“Do you love Star Wars?” Yes!

“Is chocolate ice cream your favorite?” Yes!

When I got off the stage Randy said, “You answered everything so wrong!” And I said, “I know! I just needed to get off that stage! I couldn’t even think!”

You’ll never see me watching Star Wars or eating chocolate ice cream!

What are some of your favorite things right now?
Our Lab puppy named Rose. Any time spent with grandkids. This is Us, the TV show. Seafood. Working on our fixer upper cabin near San Antonio.

What is your favorite Bible verse?
Psalm 51:10, which says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” The Lord has used this in my life so many times and I turn to it a lot.

How has camp changed you?
Oh, my goodness, in what way has it not changed me? I came to Pine Cove as a grown woman in my late 30’s and it has just been such a joy in our lives. It has played a huge part in my maturing process, even at that age, and given us an eternal perspective. It has also equipped us to do hard things.

Anything else?
We have gotten to work with so many incredible people over the years. Kindall Womack Wilks, Jacey Redfearn Brown, the Livesays. We still have deep, wonderful friendships with these people, even years later. I can honestly say that I haven’t had a day where I woke up and wasn’t excited to go to work.

Posted Nov 6, 2019

Jenny Sowers Rutland

Former Staff

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