Camp Pine Springs is beginning week seven and the counselors have experienced trials and victories. Counselors arrived at Pine Springs on May 26th for a week of training and preparation before ten long weeks of campers.
Each week brings in new directors and new campers, making each week at Pine Springs completely unique. However, several elements are present each session. Crazy games are a regular at Pine Springs; spaghetti bobbing with a shaving cream beard, baby oil slip’n’slides, duct taping cabin mates to poles, and flour bomb wars all make for fun along with skits and canteen time to sing, dance, and just act goofy.
The fun and games are, well, fun and games, but Pine Springs counselor and LCU sophomore, Weston Wyly, explains what really makes Pine Springs special.
“Pine Springs is a special place where God’s presence is truly felt. Week after week I see kids come in broken and worn out by the world, but by the time they leave camp, they are filled with hope, joy, and a renewed faith,” explains Wyly. “The spirit of Pine Springs is so contagious. It takes only a few days to lose yourself and fall in love with everything about this camp. The campers are truly what make the camp special. They bring so much energy, passion, and faith to this place. It’s inspiring. Although the mountains surrounding camp may be magnificent, it’s God working in these kid’s lives that makes Pine Springs absolutely beautiful.”
And God certainly has been working in the campers lives. As of week five, Pine Springs has witnessed over 20 baptisms, something Pine Springs counselor and LCU junior, Jessica Kissinger says has been the most amazing highlight of the summer. Worship is a focal point at Pine Springs.
“When the campers need someone to talk to about how the lesson made them feel, we are there to listen and comfort them,” says Kissinger. “We build this bond of trust with them, and that makes a difference in their lives.”
Baptisms, bonds, and the individual stories of lives being changed make God’s presence in the Sacramento Mountains of Lincoln National Forest indisputable.
On week five, David Harrelson from Las Cruces, NM, brought several campers from the children’s home. One of those campers was Jordan. On the first day of camp, Jordan approached Wyly and told him that only three weeks ago his father had disappeared on him and his brothers. No one knew where he was or if he’d ever be back. Throughout the week, Jordan created special bonds between counselors and fellow campers as he discovered a true Father who will never leave him. At the end of the week, awards were given out. For Jordan’s “family” group, a well-known camper, Garrett Coppedge, received the award for “Best Family Leader.” When accepting the award, Garrett took the mic and told everyone at Pine Springs that he couldn’t accept the award because it needed to go to the guy who was truly a leader and strong in his faith when everything was against him. Garrett then handed the award to Jordan in an undoubtedly touching moment.
For nearly 55 years Pine Springs has made such an impact on the lives of campers. The camp was established in 1960 and in 1999 the board of the camp donated it to LCU. In December 2006, the Pine Springs Camp Land Exchange Act was approved by the U.S. Congress. It allowed LCU to hand over 80 acres of undeveloped land currently owned by the university to the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. In return, LCU acquired an amount of land equal in value. As a result of this exchange, all the land owned by LCU became contiguous and allowed for expansion of recreational facilities in order to meet the needs for a growing number of campers. Representative Randy Neugebauer was instrumental in that legislation.
The camp was founded by Vernon Cone. D.A. Cochran (father of Libby German) was on the board that donated the camp to LCU. Other key people with Pine Springs over the years have been Glen Warwick, Steve German, Stan Samuels, Mike Deans, and Mike Selleck.