It was the summer of 1993. Bren, my wife to be, was sitting in Pine Cove Summer Counselor orientation…enduring the rite of passage for any Pine Cove Counselor…the “NAME GAME.” An event where the “chosen one” stands in front of the other staff and the questions start coming…screamed out…”most embarrassing moment?” “Most exciting time in life?”...you answer…they respond with more questions…more shouting…and then…it happens…they give you a name…it’s given…not chosen…and corresponds to the answers given in the inquisition. That NAME is forever yours…your real name will no longer be used at camp…the entire summer…the campers will never know your real name…until the very end…it is just how it is. Her name given…Peeka Boobaka…she was called Peeka for short…she served with others…like Icy Hot…Tippa Canoe…
Kansas...for 5 weeks, pouring their lives into the
kids attending Pine Cove Ranch…
She knew the environment of Pine Cove…she knew what it was all about…and this past Spring came to me and said she wanted us to go to Family Camp this summer. “Fine,” I replied…whatever…we will work around my training schedule…it is 2 weeks before Hotter N Hell 100 miler.
Let me be frank with you for a moment. Last year was a challenge for Bren and I…In April we learned we would have our 4th kid…It was a tough year…emotionally…spiritually…a year for a rocky marriage….the very thought of another in diapers. Because the week before Christmas just isn’t busy enough…
Kyle Ryan was born on
December 22… and only 4 days prior, my Mom shatters her hip in the foyer of my
The Late Christian Singer and Song writer, Keith Green summed up where I was in life at the beginning of 2012:
“My Eyes are Dry. My Faith is Old. My Heart is Hard. My prayers are cold.”
So last Sunday, August 5, we loaded up the van and made the trip 15 minutes outside of Tyler, Texas…the piney woods of East Texas…and Pine Cove – The Bluffs…family camp… Divine Providence had been set in motion.
We are met at the gate of the Bluffs…with overly excited college age counselors who were in desperate need for a detox from caffeine…they seemed so happy that we are there. They make us get out of our car…leaving an idling vehicle in the middle of the road…they usher us into the Summit, a large room that would serve as chow hall, activity center, and meeting room…we register…sign up for activities…then shown to our family cabin…a counselor had already unloaded all of our bags into the room...expecting nothing in return…heck…I didn’t even know who he was. From a world where busy schedules, self indulgence, and selfish desires are the paradigm…We were now in a world where those characteristics seemed foreign. College age counselors begin to pour their lives into ours…with a smile…cheerful service...I look over and “Oh No,” a camp boat driver is feeding
“Enigma” is serving our family dinner and then ever so graciously admonished me
for trying to help clean up afterwards.
The days are filled with camp activities…each child will be in a very small group with others their age and lead by a Counselor, who for the next 6 days will invest their lives into our children…for 6 days our kids will go swimming, horseback riding, taking a wild ride on the banana boat…or the exhilarating excursion on the zip line. There will be Bible Studies, silly games…crazy times…archery, bb guns…the water slide…the Blob...I would see “Snarewise” hanging out with Luke…or “Toes” leading some crazy cheer and Hope giggling….I would see “Fly” walking with Macy and both laughing. “C-Pay” would grab
take him to Cove Kids so Bren and I
could attend the morning speakers meeting…Rick and Judy Taylor…parents of 4
kids…only to learn that 3 of their children are in their 30’s. Their oldest had drowned at the age of 5
trying to save his drowning bother. His
name was Kyle. My wife looks at me…the healing of 2011 had
begun. The material being taught was not
new to Bren and I…and frankly, that was not what was important at that
moment…but the providence of God…and the birth of our 4th child, Kyle…a gift…so much joy…
Macy and "Fly"
Hope and "Toes"
“ My Eyes are Dry. My Faith is Old. My Heart is Hard. My prayers are cold …and I know how I ought to be, Alive to You…and Dead to me…”
On Monday Morning, we received a knock on the door at “Hubs” was there and she was to take care of our kids as Bren and I would go for a Horseback Trail ride to Breakfast…she would return on Wednesday morning to do the same so we could watch the sunrise while ripping across the water on a Wave Runner. On Tuesday night, the staff had picnic baskets ready for Bren and I…dinner without the children…followed by a boat ride at sunset…an awe inspiring experience.
It was a week of perfect blend…time with Bren and I alone…and time with the entire family…Wednesday…We all scampered down to the lake (minus
Kyle) to ride the banana
boat…a wild ride to be insured by the driver “Leggo my Eggo” An awesome time with the family…lots of
laughs…and “Leggo” and I hit it off…as well as a 42 year old guy can hit it off
with a College guy…I learned on the day that we left Pine Cove, that WE were
his dedicated family he prayed for all week.
Macy and "Fender Bender"
Kyle and "Dance Pants"
Kyle with "Enigma" and "C- Pay"
Macy and Hope...getting on the Zip Line
Kyle and Judy Taylor
“My Eyes are Dry. My Faith is Old. My Heart is Hard. My prayers are cold …and I know how I ought to be, Alive to You…and Dead to me.”
“What can be done for an old heart like mine? Soften it up with oil and wine. The oil is you, your Spirit of Love. Please wash me anew with the wine of your love.”
We are back at home…reflecting…I just heard my daughter Macy say, ”I bet they are having Ice Cream Sundaes right not!” I have lost count how many time my two daughters have watched the
given to each family reviewing the week.
What I have not lost sight of is the exuberance and spirit of the college student in regards to their faith…the excitement of serving others without request or expectations of anything in return…the unselfish act of pouring their life into us and our kids…the gracious patience of “Monkey Business” and “Liberty” as they coaxed my wife to begin the decent down the zip line…the crazy skits by “Fishface” and “Dance Pants”…the daily family devotions with “Woo Woo”…”Red Beats” always making the sure the horses were saddled up and ready to go every morning….the swimming pool basketball game with “Thunder from Down Under” and letting him know that the old man still had a hook shot…;-)
“What can be done for an old heart like mine? Soften it up with oil and wine.”
And for that week…THEY…the Staff served as the Oil and Wine…
"Leggo My Eggo" and Me...
Luke and "Snare"
Not a bicycle seat...but I had a blast...this was a Friday afternoon cattle drive.
Super Hero Night...Breakfast Boy and Wobble Woman overcome the "Evil" Badazzler
Hope hoopin it up...
Kyle and "Oh No!"