Scenic view of trees at camp

Training 1,400 Summer Staff

by Valerie Morby

Pine Cove Orientation

The first two days of Pine Cove Orientation, or “The Way” as it’s more commonly referred to, are two of my favorite days of the year. An enormous amount of preparation work culminates in an explosion of lights, energy, dancing, learning, cheers, praise and worship, and all of the Pine Cove craziness you’d expect.

It must be an incredibly overwhelming experience for our new staff members. They wait outside the auditorium for the doors to finally open on their first full day on staff. Then they walk into the enormous Cowan Center at the University of Texas at Tyler and are immediately greeted by extremely loud Christian rap music, swirling lights, screaming college staff, and spontaneous cheering and dancing.


These two days at Cowan are very important to the training process for our staff. They are taught about the history of Pine Cove, information about health and safety, abuse prevention, how to share the Gospel, and what it means to “Bump the Lamp.”

BUMP THE LAMP (v.) A phrase taught to the Pine Cove staff during their orientation to describe going the extra mile in their duties. The phrase serves as a reminder throughout the course of the summer to go above and beyond the call of duty.

We take the safety of our campers very seriously, so it’s important that we are able to clearly communicate the high standards we have at Pine Cove for safe activities, meals, cabins, and every other aspect of camp. We bring in a licensed and professional counselor to speak on abuse prevention and a staff doctor to teach about how to keep campers and fellow staff healthy. Summer staff members learn how to operate a fire extinguisher, respond to inclement weather, drive camp vehicles, and much, much more.

But we do our best to make it a fun experience as well. The Way was introduced with a medley of songs that culminated in a performance of “One Way More,” inspired by the musical Les Miserables. The Jeff Johnson Band not only led worship, but also gave away a free copy of their new album “Covers Collection, Vol.1” to every single summer staffer! The Wayz News team, featuring field reporter Harold Darren, kept everyone (hilariously) informed, and even awarded three lucky winners with brand-new Spikeball sets. The summer staff learned some new dance moves courtesy of Dr. Shakel’s Cornerstones of Dance training, and even got to see Jeff Johnson himself jump in on a skit. Throw in a giant camp-wide game of dodgeball, an insane jump rope performance by the Heart Throbbers, and a 1,400-person “Wobble” dance, and you’ve got a pretty awesome orientation.

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Ultimately, though, everyone was continually reminded about why we do all of this. Why we spend so much time hiring a solid team of summer staff and diligently training them.

Pine Cove exists to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory.

Our staff are committed to seeing campers build strong relationships with the Lord. To see Him repair broken hearts and broken families. To reach untouched campers and leading them to Christ.

“Six days of intentional ministry can mean an eternity of relationship with the Father in heaven, through the work of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
-Pine Cove President and CEO Mario “High Five” Zandstra


We’re ready for Summer 2013, and we hope you are too!

Posted May 31, 2013

Valerie Morby

Social Media and Copy Manager

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