Scenic view of trees at camp

Where Are They Now: Chris “Hip Shot” Sherrod

by Karissa Pitaniello


Catch up with Pine Cove’s long-time friend and previous director of the Bluffs, Chris “Hip Shot” Sherrod! Chris faithfully served the Bluffs for 10 years, and the impact he had on family camp, our summer staffers, and Pine Cove as a whole still resonates today! Read about his current season of life, be encouraged through the reminder of God’s faithfulness when we depend on Him, and learn what it means to prioritize a greenhouse in your walk with the Lord! 

What brought you to Pine Cove and how long were you on staff there?

In 2007 my family was in Columbus, Georgia, and I had been on staff at a church there for eight years as the youth and college pastor. I had been a school teacher before that for six years. While I was doing both school teaching and leading the youth program, I really got more and more burdened for the family overall. I loved young people, but I really felt like such a foundational part of a child’s life is mom and dad’s marriage. And then I noticed how the church always encouraged dads to lead their families, but they usually didn’t really know what that meant. I also was convicted of how families weren’t usually just spending time together because of how busy they were.

So, my last year as the youth pastor, I asked if I could be the family pastor at our church and still have the youth under me. During that time, there was a girl in my college group who grew up in Texas and had come out to Pine Cove. She had told me about family camp, which I literally had never heard of. I was thinking, “That is a weird idea… the whole family goes to camp?” There was one family in my church who were campers at the Bluffs, so they knew about an open position at the Bluffs. At the time I was hesitant because Texas seemed so far away and our whole family was in the southeast. 

But I ended up calling Kevin East and finding out more about family camp, and then I talked to Craig Langemier. I was so fascinated and intrigued! What Craig and Kevin were doing in the summers is what I was trying to do at my church! I was trying to write family devotionals. I was trying to encourage the dads, I was trying to strengthen marriages, and then I was trying to do more together with parents and kids while I was still trying to do a separate youth program. I thought, “I still get to disciple college students, I still get to impact youth, but I get to challenge dads to lead and I get to strengthen marriages and family, and I get to write family devotionals.” I couldn’t believe such a place existed. So I went on staff in December of 2007, and was there until January 1st, 2019, right after the New Year’s Conference.

How long ago did you move to Dallas and what brought you there?

We moved here in June of 2022 and I took a job at Watermark Community Church as the Marriage and Family Director. What that means is the kids’ ministry is under me, the student ministry is under me, and the marriage ministry is under me. I oversee anything related to parenting and anything related to the family. So I’m not running all of those, but I get to lead the people that are leading those ministries. The goal of my position was to have more of a unified feel, direction, and purpose for anything impacting the family. One of Watermark’s strategic priorities that the elders wanted was to strengthen marriages and families. So, that’s what brought us here!

What has the transition from “camp life” to your new role been like?

What’s been fun is that the staff culture at Watermark is not a whole lot different than Pine Cove! So many of the staff here have worked at either Kanakuk, T Bar M, or Pine Cove—some of them I even worked with! So the culture has been really an easy shift. Both Watermark and Pine Cove are also Gospel centered. So the transition hasn’t been hard. We were sad to leave Tyler because we love Tyler and we really had planned on landing the plane there—our three grown sons are married and live in Tyler, and our grandchildren are in Tyler. Thankfully, it’s only 90 miles away, but the Lord just moves His people and we were excited to trust Him and see what He had in store. 

How did your time as a director at Pine Cove equip you for your current role?

It for sure made me more confident and bold to talk to men about leading, and it definitely sharpened me as a dad. My wife and I have eight kids, so I felt like what I was sharing with the dads at Pine Cove was usually me just sharing what the Lord had been teaching me. It taught me the importance of emphasizing a strong marriage in order to emphasize a strong family. So overall, Pine Cove solidified my convictions.

What’s also been on my heart recently is focusing less on what the church is doing on Sunday, because that’s just a programmed hour out of the whole week. But instead, focusing on equipping the family to be strong and engaged each day. Pine Cove taught me the amazing simplicity of: when parents do spend time with their kids, whether it’s a theme night or rite night at family camp, it doesn’t have to be this huge programmed thing—the important part is that you have time together. 

What are some funny memories from your time at Pine Cove that stand out?

There’s just so many times where, I can laugh now, but I was just scrambling on opening day. I’m sure anyone who’s worked at camp can relate to that. I remember one year on opening day of Week One at four in the afternoon a thunderstorm hit and we lost power. And at the Shores and the Bluffs, if the power goes out, then the well goes out, so your water supply goes out. So then you’ve got to figure out bathroom situations and how to cook dinner, which again, now you can laugh at, but at the time I was just freaking out. So that’s funny to look back on.

What was always fun for me was watching all of the kids and adults really laugh at skits and be entertained by the goofiness of them. I got to watch families for over a decade, as they just sat back and got to laugh. Also, I loved seeing brand-new families drive through the gauntlet with eyes wide open, not knowing what they got themselves into, then seeing them be all in by Tuesday.

This is more nostalgic than funny, but one of the coolest parts of being there for multiple years was watching summer staffers move on, get married and have kids, and then come back as family campers.

And for them to say, “I didn’t realize what a blessing I was being to these parents until I came back as a camper.” I got to watch one of my previous staffers, who had been a Cove Kids counselor, tearing up as she handed her baby over to a Cove Kids counselor. So that was one of the coolest things to see staff come back, or kids who grew up as campers then come back as staffers who loved the impact that family camp had on them.

What’s a lesson that the Lord used camp to teach you?

Well, one of the blessings of being a family camp director is that part of your job is to sit under the teaching of all the family camp speakers that you bring in. And so God taught me so many lessons through that, and my marriage and parenting was strengthened through getting discipled all summer long by really wise leaders. 

A specific example that sticks out was Bob Livesay telling me, “God doesn’t want your performance, He wants your dependence.” During my time at camp, I think the Lord continued to reveal that to me in different ways. It’s the same thing we would teach the college students at staff orientation, “You’ve got to be fully dependent on the Lord.” We weren’t just trying to put on family activities, or program things perfectly so that everyone had a great time. I learned the need to instead be fully dependent on the Lord, because none of it was worth it if He wasn’t in control. I had to keep reminding myself, “Lord, I’m fully dependent on you to change dads’ hearts to turn back to their wives or their kids or to restore marriages.” 

There was one instance where we had a family where mom and dad had been divorced and then remarried other people, and they all came to family camp together. I remember thinking, “This is a recipe for drama and dysfunction.” But the daughter got saved that week and she said, “I want my dad and my stepdad to baptize me at the same time.” And at the end of the week, during camper share, the moms were encouraging each other. They were saying, “I’m so glad that my daughter is getting to spend half of her time with you.” I was shocked, thinking, “What is this? This is crazy.” I got to see the Lord do literally the opposite of what I expected. I was bracing for chaos, and instead God unified them.

Another big thing that I learned overall at camp was the importance of what I referred to as the “greenhouse.” Plants can grow anywhere, but in a greenhouse there’s optimal growth because you’ve got the wrong elements isolated and the right elements emphasized at the same time. When I was a youth pastor, my students would bring up having a “camp high.” They would want to sing camp songs and try to bring camp back to church. What made camp so great? Well, they were under the teaching of God’s word. They were worshiping, they were out in His creation. They were isolated from the world. They didn’t have the distraction of their phone, and they were in Christian community. But here’s the big one: they were open and expecting God to teach them something. 

So, I think camp taught me that we should continue to prioritize those disciplines or practices in our daily lives. We should show up to church on Sunday with the same expectation that campers have—”no matter what, I’m ready to be rebuked, I’m ready to be challenged, I’m ready to be convicted, whatever the Lord has for me.” And continuing to isolate distractions from the world and emphasize things that draw us near to God—His word, community, worshiping Him, etc. 

How did you get your camp name?

So, “Hip Shot” is my camp name, which sounds really cool and a lot of people assume there’s a cool story potentially involving old western movies or something like that. But, the honest story begins with my mom giving me leopard skin underwear as a joke when I was in college. I usually didn’t wear them, but if I ran out of clean clothes and needed underwear, sometimes they came in handy. When I was in college at Auburn, 2000 miles away from home, I got bronchitis once and I got super, super sick. It was miserable. So I went to the campus nurse and she told me the best thing they could do was give me a shot in my hip. So, I was already pretty embarrassed because a shot in the hip usually means a shot more in your “watermelon” area. And as she was giving me my shot, she said, “Oh, nice underwear!” And I was completely stunned. I totally forgot I was wearing my leopard underwear because I was so sick I didn’t even think about it. That was easily my most humiliating moment. I shared that story during my name game in 2007 at the New Year’s Conference before campers got there, and that’s how “Hip Shot” came to be!

You’ve been a family camp speaker for several years now. What are some of your favorite things about speaking at camp?

I love getting to dive in to get to know the families. Early on, even as director, I remember sometimes waiting until Friday to go deeper. I learned that instead I needed to just jump in on day one since I’ve only got six days with the families. I love getting to do that as a speaker as well. Even if I never got to see those families again after that week, I got to be all in and really focused on their week. Also as a speaker, I love just being available for God to use me however He wants to. I’ve loved watching over and over and over again families be encouraged by whatever I speak on, saying, “That is exactly what I needed to hear,” and knowing God completely orchestrated that. Also, I’ve had the chance to speak at multiple different family camps, and each time I’ve been encouraged by how single moms show up to grow and are always supported. I’ve gotten to watch the church continuously come around single moms and encourage them, and that’s definitely been a favorite thing of mine too.

You’re a grandparent now! What’s this season been like for you and your wife?

I think I would just describe it as really sweet. All five of my grandkids are in Tyler, so we’re there often. I’ve just loved the joy of watching my kids be parents and being able to explain to them, “Now you know how much I’ve always loved you.” We’re hoping to bring our grandkids to family camp as soon as we can. There’s been two different times where our kids have come to family camp and brought my grandkids when I was a speaker, and we’re going to do that this summer at Chimney Point, which we’re excited about. It’s just been a joy having them around. 

And I think grandparents are more chill for a lot of reasons, but one of them is you realize how fast your children grow up. I think you just enjoy each stage more because you know how fast it goes by. And as a parent, I know at least early on, it’s almost like you’re wishing every stage away. “Shouldn’t they be crawling now? Shouldn’t they be walking now? Shouldn’t they be potty trained now?” You’re wishing every stage away rather than just enjoying the stage. It really will pass by quickly, so enjoy it.

What’s God been teaching you recently?

I’ve been studying Psalms this fall and winter, and His steadfast love and faithfulness are all throughout it. He’s been teaching and reminding me that His steadfast love—that Hebrew word is hesed—is His covenant love. It’s not based on your performance, it’s all because He loves you. And also His faithfulness. He’s been faithful to bring me through all my different jobs, and He’s been faithful to use anything I have to offer as I’m fumbling and stumbling through being a dad and a husband and a grandfather. Old songs such as “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” are becoming more and more dear to me because the longer I live, the more I see His faithfulness. Even when I’m not faithful—I know how fickle my heart is, but God will always be faithful and offer His steadfast love. He’s a rock, a strong tower, a fortress. He’s the one.

Posted Feb 21, 2024

Karissa Pitaniello

Content Coordinator

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