SpringHill Blog

Finding 'brave' at SpringHill

At SpringHill, our mission is to glorify God by creating life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know Jesus Christ and grow in their relationship with Him. We want all kids to experience the love and hope of God, and one way we make that happen is through scholarships. We never want money to be the reason a kid can’t come to SpringHill!

Kalaysia came to Michigan Overnight this summer because of a scholarship fund. Her story of overcoming her fears and experiencing God’s love during her week is exactly what the SpringHill experience is all about.

“I didn’t end up in the same cabin as my friends, so I didn’t know any of the girls in my cabin. For the first day, I was quiet and stayed to myself. But then we started doing ‘get to know me’ games and it was really fun. I started to come out of my shell a bit.

I’ve gotten to do a lot of new things here. I was really scared of riding a horse, but I wanted to face my fear. And so I just got on and it was actually really fun. We got to ride through the forest, and it was easy to control my horse and learn how to stop her. Another thing I tried was tubing. I had never been on a boat before, but it was so fun to go tubing, bouncing around with the water splashing everywhere.

I also went on the zipline, even though I’m afraid of heights and I’ve never been on a zipline before. I was really scared to jump down, because when you’re at the top everything is so small underneath you and you realize how high you are. I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t do it.’ But I wanted to go with my summer leader, Angela, and a friend from my cabin. They both jumped, and I didn’t want to jump too late and be riding by myself, so I jumped too. I thought it was going to be scary, but it was so fun! I loved looking around at everything and spinning and going so fast.

I think I’m here for a reason; I think that God wants me to open up and try all these new things so I can see how capable I am. Every time I was scared, I thought to myself ‘if I wasn’t meant to do this, I wouldn’t be here right now.’ I would just say a quick prayer, like ‘protect me, God,’ and then I would dowhatever I was afraid of. It always ended up being fun, and different than what I expected.

Now, I know more about who God wants me to be. I can tell He wants me to come out of my shell because of all the people who say, ‘Come on Kalaysia, you can do it! I know you can do it!’ He sent these people to me because He wants me to open up. After camp, I know I’ll be braver and ready to try new things. I would tell anyone coming to SpringHill that you don’t have to rush anything, but if you really want to try something, just go for it! It’ll always turn out great because God’s got you.”

Kalaysia’s transformation is just one of many stories God is writing this summer, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of the SpringHill community — that means you! Become a volunteer, prayer partner, host home, or a donor and join in. Learn more here.

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What's at the core of SpringHill?

A few weekends ago I found myself in a car with 5 people I had just met, on our way to SpringHill Michigan for 2-day staff training. I had never experienced SpringHill before. I never went there as a kid. It was my first time on staff. It was my first time experiencing anything SpringHill. I knew I was going to be staying in a cabin and that I’d be learning a lot, but I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.

Staff training at SpringHill is the first time everyone is together – summer leaders, activities staff, administrators, directors, and interns like me. The weekend is the foundation of the training each summer leader will go through before kids come to experience SpringHill. I expected lots of seminars and talking, but what I didn’t expect were dance parties or the level of excitement I witnessed, or the tight knit community that began to form so early on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of the very first things I learned at training was the core values of SpringHill: Relationally Focused, Contagious Joy, Holy Discontent, and Adventurous Faith. These ideas are the foundation of SpringHill, and as the weekend progressed, I saw them in action.

Here’s how I experienced each core value during my time at Michigan Overnight:

Relationally Focused

From the moment I entered the property, the air was buzzing with energy. Each staff member I met over the course of the weekend looked me in the eye and welcomed me. Despite the fact that I was a total stranger who showed up late to the icebreaker games, everyone welcomed me with joy, opening the circle without hesitation so I could join in.

After games was dinner. The dining hall was full of round tables that made it easy to connect with those at your table. Dinner wasn’t just about eating; it also gave me time to ask questions, laugh, and get to know those around me. SpringHill’s relational focus made me feel at ease with over 400 strangers that were turning into friends.

Contagious Joy

The very process of entering the auditorium for each training session was full of joy. As we all waited to go inside, we would gather on the lawn outside, playing six-square and laughing and talking together. A few groups even burst out into camp songs. When the doors opened, staff members greeted us with cheers and high-fives, and joined us in a dance party down at the front of the stage as lively music resonated through the auditorium. In nearly every moment of the weekend, SpringHill was alive with a unifying energy that spread from person to person in waves. It was hard not to be swept up in it!

Holy Discontent

After the initial adrenaline rush of entering the auditorium and worshipping together, we settled in for our training sessions. This was where I experienced SpringHill’s commitmentto continuous, God-inspired improvement.

Michael Perry, president of SpringHill,shared SpringHill’s visionand challenged each staff member to reflect on their own personal mission and core values. Mary Bowers, head of Human Resources, taught summer leaders how to create a safe, embracing community for each child in their cabins. Each session built upon the last, and it was evident how deeply SpringHill wanted to challenge and develop staff to improve the safety of each child they would serve.

Adventurous Faith

The most powerful example of Adventurous Faith was in the session on the history of SpringHill. Tony Schmid, Michigan Overnight Divisional Director, and Sara VanWinkle, Day Camp Divisional Director, chose three important people in SpringHill’s history and shared how their trust in the Lord changed SpringHill. After each story was complete, Tony or Sara would write their name in chalk on a gray brick and place it at the edge of the stage. When we were caught up to the present, we found bricks and chalk under our seats. We were invited to write our names on them and add them to the stage. It was an invitation to see ourselves as a part of SpringHill’s history. I watched the wall grow, brick by brick, as the summer leaders of 2018 added their names. It was a symbol of each person committing to serve, trusting in the Lord to work through them. To see my name supported by the literal foundation of those who had come before me gave me chills. The wall grew until it stretched across the entire stage, and remained there to remind us of the community of faith that surrounded us.

I entered 2-day training with no idea what I was getting in to, but left with confidence that the Lord had guided me to serve at SpringHill. I was welcomed with joy and inspired to serve wholeheartedly. Now, I have the privilege of carrying the values of SpringHill as I work for the summer and every day afterward.

Discovering your core values can be a great experience. Take some time to think about the things that really motivate you, and put them somewhere you will see them every day! You can learn more about SpringHill’s core values here.

Contributed by Rebecca Hurshman, Copywriting Intern

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Adventurous Faith isn't comfortable

Although it has been spring for over a month now, it has not really felt like it. Winter seemed to drag on forever but now spring is FINALLY in the air! And spring means that summer is just around the corner. We are so excited to start another summer of life-changing experiences!


I have had the privilege of being involved at SpringHill in three different capacities. As a TST camper in high school, a summer staff member for 3 summers, and now as full-time staff. This summer will be my first as a Day Camp Director. It has been truly special working in a place with like-minded people all united in Christ. I am proud to tell people where I work, but my favorite part about my spiel is explaining my personal favorite SpringHill Core Value “Adventurous Faith.”


As followers of Jesus, we are sometimes called to do some crazy stuff. Like trusting in something we literally cannot see! Or maybe we are called to do some things we are very uncomfortable doing. Either way, Jesus has a habit of making sure His followers learn and grow to avoid becoming stagnant. This can be difficult because human beings can be inherently scared of new things.


While society today is geared toward keeping us comfortable where we are, Adventurous Faith calls us to something more than we currently are. To learn and grow is to be counter-cultural and that is not easy. I’ve heard it said that personal growth is humanity’s greatest fear and strongest need. Strange isn’t it? We need to learn and grow but we are so afraid of it! This kind of thinking and fear can lead to complacency. If you avoid growth, then you stay the same.


It is easy for Christians to fall into this complacency problem, but our God is a God of growth. He calls us into this Adventurous Faith with an outstretched hand, waiting for us to grab it. He is so adventurous that He called Moses to lead a rebellion. He is so adventurous that He came down to Earth Himself. He is so adventurous that He walked on water and invited us to do the same. Our God is clearly an adventurous God.


Take the aforementioned story of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33). When the disciples see Jesus on the water they become terrified, but Jesus instantly attempts to calm them. He tells them to not be afraid and to have courage (v. 27). I can picture Jesus stretching out a hand while the waves crash around Him. A calming presence in the middle of a torrential downpour. This is what Jesus is to us. He is the calm DURING the storm. Not before or after. He calls us to Him. Sometimes that means taking a crazy risk (like walking on water) but we can take heart in Him.


My favorite part about this whole story are the words Jesus says after he tells the disciples to take courage. He says three words that can solve all of our problems. He tells them, “I am here.” These words have the power to change lives. Jesus is here. With us. This should be life altering!


Our days change completely when we remember that Jesus is here with us. Right now. We should be waking up with a renewed sense of purpose instead of sleepily dropping our phones on our faces while we groggily check Facebook. If we knew Jesus was right next to us, here with us, would we still act in the same way?


Whenever my siblings and I were misbehaving when we were younger my mom would always ask us, “is that how you would act if 6-time NBA Champion Michael Jordan were here?” Obviously, the answer is no, I’d be asking to see his six championship rings. But, what if we constantly remembered that Jesus is with us all the time…how would we act? How would it change our behavior? I would like to really challenge all of us to go through our days as if Jesus were there, watching our lives. I bet we would all be more adventurously faithful if we remembered He were there. Ready to help.


Think about it in terms of our daily lives at SpringHill. When we are setting up a new Day Camp on week 10, God is there. When we are eating lunch and have no energy left to conquer the day, Jesus is there. When a kid asks an AMAZING question about Jesus, the Holy Spirit is there to guide us. When we have to perform the lunch time skit AGAIN and do the same lines AGAIN, God is there. Let us find joy in that!


I am so excited for this summer and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for SpringHill. I pray that we may all be rested for summer because it is going to be the best summer ever.


This blog post was contributed by Kurt Miller, West Michigan Recruiting Specialist

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What makes a SpringHill Experience special?

What makes a summer at SpringHill one of the most impactful experiences of your life? This is a question we are asked time and again by kids, families, and summer leaders and WE LOVE it! It’s a chance for us to tell you the ways we’ve fallen in love with this place, and, more importantly, to tell you how the people that have had a SpringHill experience are impacted by Christ. Here are three things that come to mind…

Legacy and Tradition

Traditions are deeply rooted in camp culture, and we take pride in knowing that we too have traditions here. They come and go depending on what decade and generation of SpringHill you belong to, but we cherish them because they helped bring meaning to our experiences.

For the past decade or more Crud Wars has been a staple for our 6-9 th grade programs. The same can be said for our 4th-6th grade programs when you think about Wednesday Night Live, or what about Infiltration X for our 1st-3rd graders? And there are service projects for TST, The Voyager canoe for our older campers, and dare we say Duct Tape Man from family camp?

Traditions can help us feel bought in to something bigger then ourselves. They are an opportunity for all of us to have a shared experience with a cabin mate, fellow staffer, or family member. At SpringHill these traditions develop a sense of belonging and purpose to help our campers, summer leaders, and families say “I was a part of that in ‘x’ year!” We don’t keep doing them because we want to ride the train for as long as possible. We do them so we can relate and show that the way an experience unfolds is impactful and valuable to everyone involved.

Summer Leaders…as you prepare to arrive at camp for the summer, get ready! There is going to be a lot to learn, but we know you are going to hit the ground running. You have the most important job at SpringHill, telling kids about Jesus, and you’re going to be doing the weirdest stuff to convey His life-saving Message. Where else have you taught someone about Jesus while eating spaghetti with no utensils or blobbing them sky high?

Relationships

No…we’re not going to talk about the crush you’ve had (or will have). Relationships are the most important thing we develop. Your ability to speak into another person’s life is based on the relationship you have with them.

Kids look up to our leaders at some of their most vulnerable moments for guidance. We’ve all had kids get scared on the top of the zip line, and who is there to help them through their fear? One of you…their summer leader. When little Tina asks about who Jesus is and how she can invite Him into her life…you’re the one that will be there. It sounds like a lot of pressure and that’s okay, because at the end of the day, you’re going help kids have a life-impacting experience.

You’re also going to be learning what it’s like to live in one of the most intentional communities you will ever be part of. We always talk about how our ‘SpringHill friends’ are still the closest we have and there’s a reason for that. You’re going to be working with 400 people that you may say are your best friends after your three-month summer.

Jesus Christ

You can’t talk about SpringHill without talking about the fact that Christ MOVES here! He’s always moving and doing and making things new without SpringHill…but He is, after all, our main focus. Kids need to learn about Jesus! Summer leaders are passionate about Him and love telling kids about Him! It’s a known fact.

Countless kids come into contact with Jesus for the first time while they are at SpringHill and, for some reason, He has chosen us to walk alongside them through the process. There’s also a lot of trust from parents to allow our Summer Leaders to be the guide for their kids. It is our mission to make sure that everyone hears the good news of Jesus Christ. As a summer leader you will go through a lot of spiritual growth yourself that will prepare and enable you to answer the hard questions kids have, and to help them understand what it means to be a Christian in the future. Christ does amazing work at SpringHill…we’re simply here to help lay the foundation.

Whether this is going to be your first summer or tenth, we hope and pray you will have the most impactful experience of your life here at SpringHill.

Are you interested in becoming a SpringHill Summer Leader? Apply today.

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How well do you know SpringHill?

1. In which year was SpringHill founded?

a.1959

b.1969

c.1979

d.1989


2. The SpringHill property in Evart, MI used to be a:

a. Shetland pony farm

b. Military training facility

c. Wildlife preserve

d. Tulip farm


3. SpringHill’s two overnight locations used to be called:

a. Old Camp & New Camp

b. Copper Country & Red Brush

c. Camp 44 & Camp 39

d. North Camp & South Camp


4. Types of cabins at SpringHill have included:

a. Covered wagons

b. Cabins on stilts

c. Stockade houses

d. All of the above


5. For how many years has SpringHill Day Camp been running?

a. 8

b. 10

c. 12

d. 14


6. Approximately how many staff members will be hired this summer?

a. 250

b. 500

c. 750

d. 1000


7. Which items are essential for Crud Wars?

a. Flour, horse feed, shaving cream

b. Jello, powdered sugar, whipped cream

c. Oatmeal, tie-dye, marshmallow fluff

d. Paint, mud, toothpaste


8. Finish this song: “Flea! Flea fly! __________”

a. La vista!

b. SpringHill rules!

c. Flea fly flo!

d. Boom!


9. What do we say after praying at SpringHill?

a. Amen and amen.

b. Crowns for Jesus!

c. Hoo rah!

d. Your Kingdom come.


10. What do we call the SpringHill logo?

a. The SpringHill Spring

b. The Excitement Symbol

c. The Praise Point

d. The Energy Mark


Answers:

1. B: 1969. 269 kids came to SpringHill our first summer! Now we have about 28,000 every year!

2. A: Shetland pony farm. The pony farm, called Spring Hill Farms, was operated by the Decker family in the 1950s.

3. C: Camp 44 & Camp 39. The numbers referred to the latitude (geographic coordinates) of the properties.

4. D: All of the above. Today, some of SpringHill’s housing units include cabooses, teepees, forts, and even an airplane!

5. C: 12. Day Camp started in 2006.

6. D: 1000. College students from across America (and sometimes even outside of America) come to work for SpringHill every summer!

7. A: Flour, horse feed, shaving cream. Crud Wars is a messy but fun activity played by anyone in our 6th-9th grade program.

8. C: Flea fly flo! These are lyrics from a repeat-after-me campfire song known as “Flea”. You might have already heard it before!

9. B: Crowns for Jesus! We stand in a circle and hold hands when we pray. When we say “Crowns for Jesus” we put our hands in the air, so the circle resembles a crown, our heads are the jewels and our hands are the points.

10. D: The Energy Mark. You’ll see The Energy Mark everywhere at SpringHill! It was created to capture the SpringHill experience - It’s fun, energetic, and some say they even see the “Jesus fish” in it!


How did you do? Share your score in the comments below!

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Traveling with Day Camps: Host Home 101

One of the greatest parts of SpringHill Day Camps is the opportunity for travel. After training (if you’re on a day camp team), you’ll stay in a new place every week, which can be very exciting, but also a little nerve-racking. You’ll start to hear the term “host home” and think to yourself, “How do I act? What do I do? I have to stay in a stranger’s house? What is this place? Who am I? What’s happening?” Okay, that may be a tad dramatic, but honestly, this is one aspect of SpringHill that you DO NOT need to freak out about.


PSA - HOST HOMES. ARE. AWESOME.


But don’t take my word for it - Here are a couple of things our very own SpringHill staff say about their host home experience:

“I loved trying new family food favorites, what family customs were like in their home, hearing their ‘coming to Christ’ stories, and the surprise of where we would stay next!”

“Welcoming. Refreshing. Supportive. Interested in our lives.”

“I enjoyed being able to talk about our day with the host families and sharing our faith stories with them. It was so nice to have a safe place to open up and be vulnerable.”

“I really enjoyed trying new things, taking adventures with the host home family – like, I got to drive a boat on a lake last summer!”


Having personally experienced host homes with a myriad of my staff throughout the years, I can personally attest to its unique and wonderful experience. For those unfamiliar, let’s start with the basics.

Our church partner(s) get the word out that we (the SpringHill team) are coming, and families respond by opening up their homes for us to stay in! It’s like AirBnB but at no charge to you!


Here are a few of the perks in no particular order:

1. COMFORTABLE BEDS & SPACES - Good sleep is a must

2. HOT showers

3. HOME-COOKED MEALS. Let me say it again, home-cooked meals. This will mean something to you after 10 weeks on the road!

4. Big BACKYARDS to play frisbee and Spike Ball in

5. POOLS + Saunas. - This is often typical

6. Explorations of your new town on weekends/evenings

7. Real coffee. Like, really good coffee - You’re going to need it!

There’s a lot more to say about host homes, but just know that you can put any uneasy feelings you may have to rest! Just sit back, relax and get ready for the best summer ever!

Contributed by Alisha Garza, Heartland Day Camp Director

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Summer Leader Blogs: Emily's Story

I had spent a long time trying to decide if returning to Springhill for a second summer was something I wanted to do, I prayed a lot about it and it seemed that every other opportunity ended back at Springhill. I was a lifeguard last year at Michigan Overnight and I knew I wanted to try a new position, so I figured that a middle school counselor would be something more challenging for me. When I arrived, I went to all the training sessions, which meant that camp was starting and everything was real, yet I had this weird feeling I wasn’t going to be a counselor. I brushed it off because the feeling made no sense to me, what else would I be?

A couple days into training, I was talking to Matt Hildebrand, a director at Springhill, and I told him that I was going into my senior year of nursing school. At the time I vowed that my summers were for fun and no nursing was allowed because 1. I am going to do it for the rest of my life and 2. My entire school year is devoted to countless hours of nursing and I needed a break.

I knew they were still looking for people to fill spots in the infirmary, so right when I spilled the beans about my major I immediately regretted it. Matt first offered me a health officer position, which I turned down due to my no-nursing summer vow. Then after further discussion he offered me the Copper Country Infirmary lead position.

I prayed a lot about the decision, asked for a lot of advice, and of course cried of confusion and fighting off lies that told me “I couldn’t handle a lead position”. To me, anything with the word ‘lead’ at the end of it sounded way more challenging then I had originally expected or anticipated for the summer. But I knew which option God was asking me to take; I was just too scared to admit it.

I ended up accepting the Infirmary lead position. I felt honored but also angry. I didn’t want my summer to be about nursing yet. But that is exactly what God was asking me to do. I am graduating in one year, so for more times than I can count I have cried to the Lord telling Him of my anxiousness in becoming an RN and how I don’t feel prepared or ready. Little did I know this job was an answer to those prayers, I just couldn’t see it at the time. I also later realized that God asking me to take the infirmary position was a huge affirmation of my calling as a nurse.

The summer started with a lot of anxiousness and battling my insecurities of not feeling confident or good enough. As the summer progressed, I not only gained confidence in my nursing skills and leadership abilities, but I learned that serving people in the infirmary brought me joy. Joy that I did not know nursing could bring me…another answered prayer. I learned what it looks like to love more selflessly and I was humbled more than once by watching God relentlessly pursue campers that I had no patience for.

There were two kids that stuck out during the summer. They gave us a hard time in the infirmary with everything from homesickness to behavioral problems and I admit that I was totally fine if they ended up going home, yet both kids stayed and both kids ended up giving their lives to Christ. God loved those kids unconditionally and I learned that I needed to do the same.

During training, we were asked to write our goal or mission statement for the summer. In my mission statement, I included at the end “trusting the Lord’s will over my life”. When writing this, I was still a middle school counselor and had not yet been offered the job as infirmary lead. This summer God showed me a deeper understanding of what it means to trust His will over my life. Even when my insecurities, doubts and fears of failure lead me to choose paths that are easier and more comfortable. We serve a God that cares enough to intervene in our lives that we may not sit still but live more abundantly.

This summer has taught me that God is trustworthy. He is faithful. I don’t need to stress about graduating in a year because I serve a God who knows what I need, and will push me out of my comfort zone. It has been an honor to work at Springhill and be a part of something so much bigger than myself.


Interested in working at SpringHill? Learn more about your summer job and apply online.

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Summer Leader Blogs: Colin's Story

When I was 18, I graduated high school, and had my eyes set on becoming an engineer. I was certain that I wanted to help people by rebuilding crumbling infrastructure around the world. When I was a sophomore at Calvin College, I realized Civil Engineering was not for me. Honestly, I hated it. I switched majors to Social Work still with the consistent underlying desire to help others. I felt God pushing me somewhere and I had no idea where. Immediately after switching degrees, I saw a Facebook post from someone I would describe as barely an acquaintance saying SpringHill was a wonderful place, and people (I) should sign up to work there. Now, I had no idea this is what God wanted me to do. I wish I could say I did, but no, I just signed up because it looked like fun. God had other plans, God was at work to grow my faith and my character.

For the last three summers, I worked at SpringHill in a variety of roles. I had the opportunity to find a family of Christ followers that supported me during and in between camp seasons. My first year, it was an ongoing joke that we were all just camp friends but we should be, “real” friends or friends after camp too. To this day, I still talk and keep in regular contact with those “real” friends. We still joke about all the crazy things that happened at SpringHill. The kind of stories that you had to see to believe. The campers that you just can’t help but remember forever. The times you were barely able to make it through the week.

My time at SpringHill was more than the friendships, the God moments that shaped me, the memories we had, the stories we experienced. It was a place where I also learned a bunch of different skills. To think on my feet when an activity can’t run anymore and we need to come up with a new one. To improvise when an Area Director is sick and we need another person for the skit. To manage my time and energy, so I can still give all I can to those kids coming week 10.

SpringHill is a place where I learned to grow as a real leader. Not one who is just in charge of people, but a person that people want to have in charge of them. I learned how to relate to high schoolers, middle schoolers, college students, and elementary students all at the same time. I learned to be a person that seeks after God, and isn’t afraid to go into the unknown of who I will be living with next week in my host home or the unknown of life after camp. All of this wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have learned any of this, met any of these people, or done any of the awesome things that I got to, if God hadn’t prepared my heart first, and hadn’t put that random guy into my life so I would apply to be a counselor. It is a crazy thing, and it still baffles me, but I did the possible and God made the impossible happen.

Interested in working at SpringHill? Learn more about your summer job and apply online.

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Summer Leader Blogs: Conner's Story

Over the past five summers, I have served in a number of roles with SpringHill – as a Day Camps counselor, area director, assistant director, and site coordinator. I would say I’ve had an extensive and well-rounded SpringHill experience. In addition to working with kids in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, helping them to learn about their God and grow in their faith, I learned a lot about my own faith, my relationships with others, and my calling. Here are just a few of the more important lessons I’ve learned.

Pay attention to the leaders around you.

To this day, some of the people I respect most in this world are those that I’ve worked alongside as a leader or who have led me. From fellow counselors to fellow assistant directors to directors, I’ve met and known people that have helped shape the person I’ve become and am still becoming. SpringHill attracts great people with a similar vision and mission: proclaiming the gospel of Christ to young people – it’s no wonder that I, along with so many others, have formed lifelong friendships and relationships during my time at SpringHill.

Be a leader yourself.

When I interviewed for SpringHill during the spring of 2013 to become a member of Summer Staff, I didn’t consider myself a leader in any sense of the word. Sure, I had been a senior leader for my cross country and track teams in high school and led worship frequently in school chapels, but I didn’t think that I had inherent leadership qualities or abilities. I considered myself a follower without any agency. Fast forward a year to Summer 2014, and I found myself entering leadership staff as an area director. Camp brings out the leader in you – embrace that and don’t shrug off your role as a leader. You’re not just a counselor – you are a counselor, and, as such, you have an important leadership role. Grow into that, even if it’s difficult or seems out of place.

SpringHill is a place for professional development, too.

No, camp is not just for people who want to have a fun summer away before they head back into the “real world” – whatever that means. SpringHill also provides opportunities for professional growth for its leaders. Through my SpringHill experience, I’ve developed and grown in various professional areas, including customer service, organization, communication, and human and staff relations. As I enter the field of education, my SpringHill experience has been incredibly helpful to developing instruction, leadership, and communication that is necessary for teaching.

Enjoy your time at SpringHill.

Seriously – don’t get bogged down by what might seem stressful or menial. This is a life-changing experience, so make the most of it. Develop meaningful relationships; love on a bunch of kids; grow in your faith; proclaim the gospel; share your testimony with a friend. Also, don’t forget the smaller things, like telling jokes, sharing funny camper stories and quotes, drenching scores of campers during counselor splash-off, and making a fool of yourself in a lunch-time skit or lip-sync battle.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. In any given summer at SpringHill, there are countless lessons to be shared and to be learned. The thing is: for them to make a true difference, you need to learn them for yourself.

Interested in working at SpringHill? Learn more about your summer job and apply online.

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Summer Leader Blogs: Bailey's Story

My first summer at Springhill was everything; I woke up each morning amazed that God had chosen me to work at a place where I got to share the love of Christ openly, worship every day, and provide a safe space for kids to come, ask questions, and begin to take ownership of their faith. It was an unbelievably beautiful, exhausting, joy-filled summer.

Fast forward to a few months later and I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I felt called to come back to SpringHill - my spirit was so secure in where God wanted me and what He wanted me to be doing, but I was turned down for the job. Uncertainty rocked my world; why had God given me so much confidence in applying, if that wasn’t where He wanted me? I decided to try to learn contentment. I accepted, after many tears and many hours of talking at God, that I must have misunderstood His plan for me. It was a season without clarity, and it was hard.

Fast forward again: it’s May and I’m preparing to study abroad in Taiwan. Through what I believe was a lot of prompting from God, I am offered another interview for the same position I was turned down for a few months back, but there’s a catch: I’ll be working with a new age group. I finished the interview and thought, “No way. This is too good to be true. God wouldn’t make me wait all these months and deal with rejection, if this is where He wanted me after all. Don’t get your hopes up.”

I woke up one morning in Taiwan, expecting life to proceed as normal. I turned my alarm off and saw an email from Springhill. I was offered the position! I immediately woke up everyone I knew to celebrate God’s faithfulness with me! What a joyous day! Shortly after, though, fear crept in. It was a new camp center and I wouldn’t know a soul. Plus, I would be arriving to training late because of studying abroad. I felt unworthy and unequipped.

This summer wasn’t easy by any stretch, but I saw more growth, more freedom, more victory, and more life-changing grace than ever before. This summer I served in an entirely new capacity. I shared the gospel at campfires, supported and loved both campers and staff, and learned to accept love, help, and support from others who wanted to see my faith strengthened and grown. This summer I learned to ask big, trust in God’s unending faithfulness, and watch as the King of Kings opened the eyes and softened the hearts of hundreds of campers. Campers who realized for the first time that they are loved, not because of what they’ve done, but because of who created them and who they are in Him. God has used SpringHill to teach me to trust in His faithfulness, to rest in His promises, and to lean into a community that would become a family of the most wonderful, sacrificially loving, selfless people I have ever encountered. God grew me that first summer, make no mistake, He just wasn’t even close to being finished with me at Springhill.

I am so grateful that God would bring me back and for providing a place like SpringHill that is about so much more than working with kids, making lifelong friends, and having fun. Springhill is a place that creates opportunities for kids and staff to passionately pursue God, and I promise that if He asks you to go and you answer in faith, you will encounter Him like never before.

Interested in working at SpringHill? Learn more about your summer job and apply online.

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SpringHill through a kid's eyes

I started going to SpringHill after 1st grade and have gone every year since. 2017 will be my 9th year.

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I love SpringHill because it forces you to socialize with people. We don’t have our phones, so our only source of communication is the people that are in the same cabin as us.

It’s so refreshing to be able to have real conversations without worrying about looking through my Instagram feed or if the person I’m talking to has more followers than I do, because at SpringHill it doesn’t matter.

You have the chance to meet some amazing people at SpringHill who will become your best friends for that week. They have similar stories and are in similar places that you are with your faith. I’ve met one of my best friends there who I’m still constantly texting and Face Timing, and I will have the opportunity to see her again at camp this year.

I also love it for the messages. They really relate to what teenagers are going through, and we get to go more in depth with Bible stories; the teachings help you relate the Bible to life and find God in anything you do.

Also, the food is amazing.

The counselors are so amazingly chosen, and they are basically your big sisters for the week. They help grow your faith and help you along your walk with Christ. They are real with you, and let you talk about anything with them, which is such a cool opportunity to have. I look forward to being a counselor at SpringHill when I graduate!

Emily Walsworth is a high school student, daughter of Robyn, and a TST camper this summer.

It’s not too late to register for a week at SpringHill - See all your options here

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SpringHill through a mom's eyes

SpringHill is just an all around amazing place, with the most loving and Godly people everywhere you turn. I remember my friends going to SpringHill when I was a young girl. I always wished I could go, but I never asked my parents if I could. I always felt bad asking them to pay for things.

I was reminded of SpringHill by a coworker when my daughter was in first grade and my son was in kindergarten. I looked it up, and was very impressed with all that I read, so I signed my daughter up that summer after 1st grade. My husband Jeff, son Caden, and daughter Emily made the 3 hour trek up north to SpringHill in Evart, Michigan.

The young people that greeted us at the entrance were so full of energy I actually cried with joy and excitement for what my daughter was soon to experience. They spoke to both of my kids, made them feel like they were the focus of the day, and even my shy son got a little excited.

The check in process was a well oiled machine, and my daughter waved with excitement as they swept her off on a fire truck while we followed behind in order to help her set up and say our goodbyes. I loved how they posted photos everyday so we could “check” on our daughter a bit, and I also loved that we could leave mail for her to open each day.


We took a tour of the camp and my husband commented that he wished he could go to camp here and wondered if they ever needed volunteers. I went home and looked up information and soon signed both of us up to volunteer the following year.


We picked her up and she was just absolutely full of joy and excitement, she asked if she could stay another week! We immediately signed her and my son up for the following year. This year my daughter will be attending her 9th year, this year in TST, and my son, in his 8th year, will be attending New Frontiers High Adventures.

We are blessed with a home church that has helped teach our kids God’s truths and stories in deep and meaningful ways, but sometimes my kids have felt some of the general conversations in small groups were not quite deep enough. Every summer at SpringHill they have approached their counselors, and every year, their counselors have taken time to speak to them at their current level and answer their questions.

One summer my daughter was struggling with a few typical teen things, and her counselor approached me on the last day and asked if she could keep in touch with her. She followed up with her for some time after camp was over. Amazing!

I have also attended many women’s retreats with amazing speakers, musicians, and so many fun activities. I finally got the camp experience I never had as a kid, and I can’t wait for more. Our family has attended several family camps, and I have co-lead my kids and other students on a few winter retreats at SpringHill.

Everything is done with a focus on God, with excellence, and attention to detail. If Walt Disney were to design a Christian Camp for all seasons, he couldn’t have done it better than SpringHill! No detail missed, something for everyone, an overwhelming sense of safety and everyone feels loved and important.


Blog post contributed by Robyn Walsworth, SpringHill mom

There’s still time to register for an awesome week at SpringHill. See all your options here.

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Being a Summer Leader: The most fun I’ve ever had

As I head into week 7 at camp, I am starting to realize how quickly the summer has gone by. When I look back at my experience thus far, I can honestly say that this is the best summer I can remember. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have had the privilege of not only sharing the Gospel with kids, but I’ve grown as a leader and in my own relationship with Christ. There’s also one other big reason that this has been the best summer – Camp is SO much fun!

I know that’s sort of a given. And yes, being a Summer Leader is work and it’s tiring, but I can honestly say that I thank God for the fun he gives my campers and I every day. We get to zip line, ride horses, play paintball, blob, slide, run, dance, go crazy, and the list goes on. Being a Summer Leader at SpringHill brings out the kid in me and has been an amazing break from the demands and distractions of the “real world.” The campers I’ve had this summer have taught me how much fun it is to just be a kid.

Aside from working with campers each week, I also get to work alongside some amazing people. They are the type of men and women that you feel comfortable laughing with, crying in front of, having hard discussions with, and diving into Scriptures with. They are a group of brothers and sisters in Christ who were individually called to bring something to this team. God did an incredible job assembling our staff and they keep me motivated and accountable. Because of the fun we’ve had, the challenges we’ve faced and the time we’ve spent together, we know we’re going to finish the summer well.

And it’s the reason that I’m really not looking forward to saying goodbye to SpringHill. Getting to participate in all the activities camp has to offer alongside campers and incredible friends seems a little too good to be true. But that’s been a huge part of my job as a Summer Leader.

Written by Jacob Kerr, 2016 Summer Leader. Jacob is a junior at Purdue University pursuing a major in marketing. He is working this summer as an InPursuit counselor at SpringHill Indiana. He loves hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and getting ice cream at Dairy Queen. He has a passion for helping kids grow in their relationship with Christ and hopes God will use him this summer to do exactly that. Jacob will be documenting his experience as a Summer Leader in this blog series. Check out the other posts in this series on life changing experiences, having the right attitude and why I work at SpringHill.

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Being a Summer Leader: Attitude is everything

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We are a few weeks into camp, and it has been evident that God has shown up. It’s been amazing to watch campers grow in their relationship with Christ right in front of my eyes, even though I only have them for a week. I’ve seen middle school guys learn the importance of worship, encouragement of others, and how to become closer to God each day without becoming stagnant in their faith. Every counselor I’ve talked to has a different incredible story of how one of their campers had a life changing experience where they could feel the Holy Spirit moving.

One aspect of camp that has stood out to me so far is the importance of having a good attitude. Being a Summer Leader at SpringHill is a satisfying, fun job, but I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t tough. The campground here at the Indiana location is fairly spread out, meaning we walk most everywhere we need to go. It’s hot, we’re all tired, and everyone is anxious to get to our next activity. But what I’m learning is that a positive attitude from just one camper or Leader can change everything.

In the book of Acts, Paul goes through more trials than we can count. He was beaten, wrongfully thrown in jail, ridiculed, and beaten some more. Being a Christian and following God’s plan isn’t going to be easy. It should be the toughest thing we’ll have to face. But Paul praised God anyways. So much so that even the Roman jailers took notice and wanted to know about this God he was following. He goes on in Philippians and says “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” He says no matter what the situation is “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Here at camp, we obviously don’t go through the same trials Paul faced, but there are definitely times where we want to complain. But we praise God anyway.

We had a lot of rain last week and unfortunately got stuck inside for most of one day. We made the best of it and had some fun with skits and free time in the pool room. One of my campers came up to me later that day and said, “You know what Jacob, I’m glad it rained. We got a chance to get to know each other better and have an awesome foosball tournament.” A round of applause went through my head as I agreed with him. Our attitudes can make or break a week at camp. If one camper chooses to have a positive attitude no matter the situation, the rest of the group feeds off his energy. It’s an amazing thing to watch. There will be times at camp when we will have to walk longer than you want to, or it will rain, or it will be hot, or we’ll be tired, but we’ll praise God anyway.

Written by Jacob Kerr, 2016 Summer Leader. Jacob is a junior at Purdue University pursuing a major in marketing. He is working this summer as an InPursuit counselor at SpringHill Indiana. He loves hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and getting ice cream at Dairy Queen. He has a passion for helping kids grow in their relationship with Christ and hopes God will use him this summer to do exactly that. Jacob will be documenting his experience as a Summer Leader in this blog series. Check out his first blog on life changing experiences. Continue Reading

Being a Summer Leader: Life changing experiences can be hard to come by

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Life changing experiences can be hard to come by. Personally, I’ve only had a few, and the thought of creating one for someone else seems like a daunting task. Here at SpringHill, I have the opportunity to go through a life changing experience for myself and have the privilege of helping campers do the same. I made the decision to give my summer to Jesus as I felt called to be a summer staff, or “summer leader” as we like to call it here. This summer I will be a camp counselor for 6th-9th grade boys at SpringHill.

Everyone has a great summer camp story. Maybe you did something brave, made a best friend, or started to look at life in a way you hadn’t before. For me, I am hoping to play a part in kids’ lives by helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus, foster friendships with their peers and brothers in Christ at camp, be a role model, and say the prayer with them that changes their lives forever by accepting Christ into their hearts. I hope that when my campers look at me, they don’t see their super fun, super cool camp counselor (though that would be nice). I hope they see the love of Christ shining through me. I pray that God will use me in ways I didn’t know I was capable of.

This summer job might be the most important summer of my life. I may never have another opportunity to constantly be with a handful of young guys where my only purposes for being there are to share the Gospel and have fun with them! Each camper comes to camp with a different need in their lives. Some simply need Jesus, some need to develop their faith and leadership, and some just need a friend to talk to because they haven’t been heard for years. Our jobs are to recognize what they need and just be that for them! It’s not going to be easy. In fact this job is far too big to do alone. The great thing about SpringHill is that we have our fellow counselors, but more importantly we know Jesus has our backs and is with us through it all.

In training we talked a lot about how Jesus called Peter to follow Him even though he was just a fisherman. He called fishermen, tax collectors, and sinners. I’ve met counselors from all different backgrounds and walks with Christ. The more summer leaders I meet the more I realize how different we all are. We’re different but each of us have one thing in common: we were called and we answered.

Written by Jacob Kerr, 2016 Summer Leader. Jacob is a junior at Purdue University pursuing a major in marketing. He is working this summer as an InPursuit counselor at SpringHill Indiana. He loves hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and getting ice cream at Dairy Queen. He has a passion for helping kids grow in their relationship with Christ and hopes God will use him this summer to do exactly that. Jacob will be documenting his experience as a Summer Leader in this blog series. Jacob is shown in the photo above on the right.

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A letter to parents about SpringHill's top priority

Dear Parents,

As a father of four children, believe me when I say that I know parents have many priorities and goals for their kids. My wife Denise and I certainly do. But I also know as our kids grew up, there was only one priority that always made it to the top. – Their safety and wellbeing.

As the leader of a growing organization I also understand that places like SpringHill have many priorities. Sometimes organizations do not always have clarity about which priority is actually the most important one, the one that comes before all others. But at SpringHill, like you as a parent, we (every one of our board members, staff and volunteers) are crystal clear about our top priority. We know and are committed to the one thing that supersedes them all.

Our number one priority is the safety of our campers, staff and guests. Every other priority we have is no better than second place to this one. We like to refer to it as F.T.K. – “For the Kids” and it represents our highest commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our campers, staff and guests.

And that doesn’t just mean physical safety and wellbeing. That means physical, emotional and spiritual safety and wellbeing of each and every child, teen and young adult who sets foot on a SpringHill property. Every young person was created in the image of God and deserves to be treated like the precious being that they are.

We take pride in our ability to carefully select the counselors and staff who work at SpringHill. The selection process includes interviews, reference checks, professional recommendations, and background checks which includes searching staff names against criminal history, sex offender, and child abuse perpetrator registries across the country. We have a very high return rate of staff each summer and that ensures one of the most important aspects of camp - A culture of safety. We believe that our compulsory training program, which is presented to staff during orientation and is continued throughout the entire season is “state of the art.”

We come alongside parents and help educate them on how to keep their children safe when they’re away from their care. The “No Touch Zone” Policy was created by the American Camp Association (ACA) and it has become part of our staff safety and training manuals. We believe that parents who introduce their children to the “No Touch Zone” are teaching a substantial, new system of self-protection. We hope you find it as vital as we do. Read more about our policy here.

So please know we love kids. We exist to serve them. And we believe Christ in kids represent the best hope for a broken and hurting world. This is why we’re compelled to do all we can to keep kids safe. Without creating this kind of safety we have no grounds, no right nor opportunity to do the work we’re called to do – creating life impacting experiences where young people can come to know Jesus Christ and grow in their relationship with Him.

So this summer as it has been for 45 previous summers, SpringHill is 100% F.T.K., For the Kids, which means a safe, exciting and life transforming summer.

Here’s to summer 2015! Can’t wait to see you and your kids at SpringHill.

Sincerely,

Michael Perry,

President, SpringHill

This is Michael’s 17th summer at SpringHill. He lives in Evart, Michigan with his wife Denise and has four kids - Michael, Christina, Mitch and Jonathan.

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How to raise Christian kids in a non-Christian world

content-pre-teen-boys-prayer.jpgWhen it comes to raising your kids, mistakes will be made, victories will be celebrated, tears will be shed and laughter will be contagious. You take each moment as it comes and treasure the time spent with your little ones while they’re still at home.

But what happens when they venture out into a world that will throw temptations in their path with each step they take? A world that won’t celebrate their steadfastness, but will instead try to test it?

Bringing up your kids in a Christian environment means preparing them for a world that isn’t so Christ-focused. But that’s easier said than done, right? Just bringing your family to church each week doesn’t ensure they will have the right foundation to make it in this world.

So what does it take to prepare your kids through a solid, Christian foundation? Is it just about having family Bible time, or does it go deeper than that?

The Foundation

Building the groundwork for your kids is the first step to providing them with what they need. Here are a few tools to guide you in the right direction.

  • Live as an example for your kids. As a parent, you know that your kids, no matter their ages, watch how you react, how you choose your words and how you make decisions. In many households, children model what they know and see. If you choose to make an effort to live like Jesus, your kids are more likely to do the same!
  • Set them up for success. Expecting your child to fail or give into temptation doesn’t build them up in Christ. Provide them with opportunities to shine! What does this look like practically? One way is to help them establish a positive, Christian group of friends.
  • Create an open environment at home. If your kids know they can come to you with anything, they won’t be as tempted to hide mistakes, decisions or questions.

The Opportunities

Spending time at church and in your home with the family lays a great foundation. But sooner or later, your kids won’t be under your watchful eye. Providing them with places to feel independent when they’re young enables them to start creating good habits and decision-making skills now.

  • Sports are a a great place for kids to thrive. Not only does joining a sport give them an opportunity to get out some energy and have fun, but it also teaches them how to do so with other adults and children. They learn independence, decision-making skills, patience and how to give glory to God in all they do. When kids learn how to do everything for the glory of God, it’s easier to keep that mindset as they grow older!
  • Mission trips instill a servant’s attitude while reminding kids of all they have to be thankful for. Keep in mind, that some ages may not be ready for a mission trip until the end of middle school or high school. As their parent, you know when the right time is for a trip that will challenge them spiritually and will give them the chance to grow in their faith.
  • Christian summer camp creates an environment for all ages that helps them make decisions about their faith. It’s a great way for your child to gain a little independence in a contained, monitored, fun and safe environment. Counselors provide mentorship and are young enough to meet kids where they are and share their testimony and journey and provide a safe place for questions.

So while it may be scary to think about your kids out in the real world, remember that you have opportunities to set them up for success while they’re still young. And don’t forget, raising your kids isn’t just about doing all the right things and giving the perfect advice. Prayer and displaying patience is a huge aspect of parenthood! You aren’t perfect, but God is. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Ensuring that your kids will not turn from their faith and their convictions means praying for them each day and giving them over to the Lord. After all, He’s the One who directs their steps and holds their future.

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48 Hours to share your Power of Camp story!

If you’ve ever experienced summer camp, you probably have a few stories to tell. Perhaps you met your spouse at camp, or gave your life to Jesus there. Maybe you met lifelong friends and came home with a renewed perspective on your purpose in life. It could’ve even directed your career path or college major. You probably even remember some of the ridiculous camp songs you sang.

Whatever the story may be, a lot of us can look back on our camp experience with fond memories. Which got us thinking, what’s your power of camp story? This video was recently released by the Christian Camp and Conference Association and it shows some of the challenges kids are faced with in today’s world. Technology, peer pressure, self doubt, depression - All things that bog kids down and force them to grow up too quickly. At SpringHill, we believe in the Power of Camp and we believe that kids should have the chance to BE KIDS. To play, learn, grow, be mentored, poured into and recharged. To experience God in nature, community, activities, prayer and worship.

Whether your story is about your kids or yourself, we know lives have been changed and we know there are thousands of stories out there just waiting to be told. So share your story with us!

How to Share your Power of Camp Story

1. Submit your Power of Camp story in the comments below

2. We will review and share stories on our website and Facebook

3. We will select the winning story in just 48 hours!

4. You will earn two extra entries by tagging a friend along with your story

4. The winner will be randomly selected and will receive $100 off the cost of an overnight location of their choice (Michigan or Indiana) for the 2015 or 2016 summer

Terms & Conditions

Anyone is eligible to enter the Power of Camp story. Stories that are off topic, inappropriate or offensive will be removed and will not qualify for the prize. One winning story will be randomly selected at 1pm EST on Friday, May 8, 2015. By entering your story you acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or any other third party and you agree to a complete release of those parties from any or all liability in connection with this contest. SpringHill reserves the right to edit stories for accuracy, grammar and length. SpringHill also reserves the right to terminate the promotion at any time.

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Devotional: How is God’s Knowing Different From Mine?

Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord and might in power; His understanding has no limit.”

One of the glories of God is that He knows everything! As Psalm 147:5 states, “His understanding has no limit.” This is one of the great wonders of God because our knowledge and understanding have limits!

It is impossible for us to know everything or gain “enough” knowledge and that can crush us. It questions our sense of rights and challenges our ego. This is something I dealt with and unfortunately, learned the hard way.

In my school, most people only claimed to be Christians because that’s how they were raised—like most of us, never understanding the full grace of God.

Many would go to church on Sunday, claim to follow Christ in chapel, but on the weekends openly do things that didn’t reflect this. This was everywhere in my school. I began to notice a difference in how a lot of my friends treated the sin in their lives and how it affected me. Most of them were okay with living this way, but I never was.

My attitude became judgmental, those in my school that didn’t take their faith seriously, never knew as much as I did. They weren’t faithful to Christ in the way they lived it. They didn’t study Scripture the way I did (so I must know more than them).

Have you ever let your thoughts drift here?

Because of their lack of commitment to Christ, I view them as lower than me. I saw myself as a better Christian. I claimed that because I took my faith seriously and I dedicated my times of study to Scripture, I must know everything.

Theology and religion classes were simple for me. I passed with flying colors and never had to worry about studying. I could always justify my wrong with Scripture, and when that failed my judgmental attitude as I “held them accountable.”

I now see this as one of the worst beliefs I ever held!

Having graduated from high school, I went off to college to study religion and youth ministry. College began a new chapter in my life, but I still had the same attitude: “I knew everything or at least enough, and college was what I had to do to move on in life.”

As the year went on, I began meeting older, wiser people. Classes that I was expecting to be easy were hard—I actually had to study to pass these classes! Effort was required because what I thought I understood were sounding like brand new ideas to me.

After countless situations where I simply didn’t know the answer, I began to realize something—I don’t know everything!

Humiliated, and still trying to accept this, I’m beginning to work on some changes. This fact is so blatant, that I can’t avoid coming to terms with it.

I’m in my second year of college and I still struggle today with the idea that there is always room to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and faith. God is using this as a reminder to humble me and help me grow. Scripture shows that it’s okay to feel this way. It’s ok to know I’m only human and don’t need to know everything.

I’ve found Psalm 147:5 to be very comforting: “great is our Lord and might in power; his understanding has no limit” (NIV). This is what makes God us different. He is our Father and we are His children. We can look to Him for wisdom and knowledge, and in that, He gets the glory!

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Being Batman: Strengthening spiritual muscles at Family Camp

Kids love superheroes.

They think of them as strong, confident and physically fit. And they tend to rank right up there with professional athletes, firefighters, and the president when kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. In fact, a recent Cornell University study even showed that when kids associate healthy foods and behaviors with what a superhero would eat or do, their own behaviors change too! Yes, when kids associate healthy food with superheroes, they actually choose apples over French fries.

And that’s why I’m so excited about integrating our summer theme, Superheroes!, into each of our family camps this summer: we’ll inspire kids of all ages to want to live differently because of the choices they see superheroes making, and the behaviors they see modeled by the people they look up to the most.

Which has me thinking…

How do my own kids see me?

Honestly, it’s a question we should all ask as moms and dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents: Do the kids who look up to me see me as strong, confident and spiritually fit…or something a little more…flabby?

Well, if it’s the latter, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Nope. Right now, we’re designing our family camp schedule and programming to create space for life change, not just for the kids, but for all of us, even moms and dads. And I believe that an intentional weekend away can provide a sort of do-over for those of us who have gotten a little spiritually soft in the spiritual leadership of our families.

Why Family Camp?

Family camp is kind of like a spiritual reset button. It’s a place where kids are expecting to talk about Jesus. They’re expecting to do devotions, to hang out with mom or dad, and to do things they don’t normally do. And it provides the perfect environment to try again, and exercise those spiritual muscles.

At family camp, moms and dads can initiate spiritual conversations with children. They can begin a new pattern of daily, family devotionals. They begin again to model the kinds of character and behaviors that kids long to see in their parents. And even if they haven’t done these things in a while, your kids won’t think you’re weird… they’ll think you’re a superhero!

With these things in mind, we’ll be doing a few things a little differently this summer at Michigan family camps. We’ll be back to one main session at a time, giving families the chance to worship together. We’ll be offering more interactive elements during those sessions that allow parents and kids, and extended family members, to try out their new spiritual muscles: praying together, practicing brief devotional elements together, and more. And we’ll be creating intentional spaces around camp for parents to be the superheroes their kids really need.

If this sounds like an exciting opportunity for your family, you can register for family camp today and learn more about scheduling and pricing.

Contributed by Michigan Overnight Retreats Director Eric Woods - Eric writes his own blog about life, leadership and ministry.

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Blessings in Busyness

How to overcome the distractions and turn your thoughts to God

Returning to routine after the craziness of the New Year can make life feel normal again. However, schedules quickly fill with the kids’ sports games, church functions and enough work from the office to keep you busy all evening.

Suddenly, you barely have time to catch your breath.

Falling into a routine of busyness can leave you feeling stressed and pulled in a hundred different directions. When frustration and exhaustion take over during this season, how do you search for the blessings each day?

Finding blessings in the midst of balancing everything on the schedule can almost feel like another task on the to do list. Today’s society screams instant gratification and throws guilt our way when we try to relax from work. It can feel as if the busyness of each day holds nothing but assignments to complete and no time to even think about anything else.

Blessings, however, come in all different forms. Sometimes you don’t have to search for them, you just have to be willing to look in the right direction.

  • Find a moment to be still. Psalm 46:10 says to “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” When you make time to sit in the presence of the Lord, you exalt his name. You also set yourself up for a more relaxing day, no matter how busy.
  • Carry Scripture written on index cards. This provides you with a way to refresh your spirit when you’re on the go.
  • Keep a notepad with you, and whenever you feel thankful for something, write it down for yourself. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” If you make a habit of writing down what you are thankful for, then finding blessings throughout your day will grow easier and easier.
  • Make time for fun. At SpringHill we work hard and play hard. We know that community together is important, and it takes time to share a meal, play a game or have an intentional conversation, but it’s essential. When you work hard, you have to play hard.

God is always providing ways for you to feel refreshed. Don’t allow life to get so busy that you miss out on these blessings. The busyness we endure not only distracts us from our families, friends, church community and neighborhood, but it ultimately distracts us from our relationship with Jesus.

Starting today, make it a point to find the blessings in your life. When stress takes over, step back, take a breath and turn your thoughts to Christ, the only one who can bring you through this season of busyness.

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How to Choose the Best Summer Experience for Your Child

With school out for the summer, days easily fill with the pool, neighborhood sports tournaments and lazy afternoons in front of the TV. For the kids, this time simply means vacation. As a parent, this time holds more importance than simply time out of the classroom.

Choosing a summer experience for your child isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. You know the importance of making sure each day fills with the right balance of fun and challenge that will encourage growth during this season.

What are my options?

After sitting in classrooms all day during the school year, summer is the time for kids to drink in some sunshine. Thankfully, there are plenty of summer activities to choose from that help kids get their energy out in a constructive way.

  • Summer sports leagues prove an excellent option for your energetic child. Without the stress of school or the worry of homework, spending time with a team can be a way for your child to meet new friends and learn how to work together with others.
  • Academic programs can be a fun way for children to experience learning outside the classroom in a more hands-on environment.
  • Day camps offer a chance for your child to experience a camp atmosphere without the nerves that come with spending nights away from home.
  • Overnight camps are a great option if your child is ready to experience an adventure away from home.

How do I choose?

You know your child best. Finding the right activity that will help your child thrive this summer means thinking about what your child needs and what will provide the best experience. While there are options that last all summer, going to camp for a week could be the perfect choice for you.

Summer camp provides a wonderful balance of activity, learning, fellowship and independence for campers. During a week at camp, kids experience life-changing lessons as they learn new skills and form bonds with other campers and their counselors.

No matter the age, kids can face issues of confidence and identity at school. When they arrive at camp, the competition and need to impress disappears as the focus becomes new friends, fun activities and personal growth.

At SpringHill , we train our staff to not only keep a safe environment for and have fun with your kids, but we also train up leaders who will guide campers into a deeper relationship with Christ. After a week at SpringHill , your camper will come home with a greater understanding of who Jesus is.

What’s the first step?

Don’t wait until school is out before you make your summer selection! Take time this week to talk with your child and decide what experience is the best choice. If that decision includes summer camp, check out your options at SpringHill. We offer partial weeks so even if your child is required to attend an academic program or is committed to a sport, your family can still experience SpringHill if only for a few days out of the week.

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Three Ways to Plan Your Summer Schedule

With summer approaching faster than you can keep up with, thoughts of organization fly out the window as your calendar clutters with all possible appointments, play dates for the kids and vacations.

Unfortunately, the excitement of summer gives way to stress as your schedule grows overwhelming. How do you keep up with the plans and the continually changing appointments and family schedules?

Planning out your summer doesn’t need to feel stressful. If you stay ahead of the game with these tips, your schedule won’t appear as daunting to deal with.

  • Get organized. Take a few hours to figure out the important, set in stone appointments. If you know ahead of time which days you have birthdays or booked vacations, you will feel much more organized when filling in the rest of your calendar.
  • Use pencil (or technology). As your schedule takes shape with the important dates, write everything else in your calendar using pencil. That way, when life throws a curve ball and a plan changes, you can easily erase it from your schedule, keeping everything organized and neat. Make use of technology by setting up a synchronized calendar on your smartphone. Things are easily editable and shared with everyone.
  • Make time for family. Family comes before all other plans. Before the summer begins, sit down with everyone and discuss the family activities you want to do together. Whether it’s a weekend road trip to the beach or a family camp at SpringHill, make time for an opportunity that will provide your family with the chance to learn more about Christ and each other.

You can’t plan for everything, but we hope that these simple tips will help you spend less time coordinating baseball games and swimming lessons, and more time spent with family and friends enjoying the summer season.

Find out more about family camps and other opportunities for the whole crew this summer.

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Be Approachable

This spring at our Memorial Day Family Camp, Jeffrey Dean mentioned two keys to great parenting: being approachable and being unshockable. As today’s guest blogger, Jeffrey takes a closer look at the need for approachable parents.

Have you heard of the Guinea worm disease? The Guinea worm is one of the largest human parasites. People get infected when they drink or swim in parasite-filled waters and unknowingly ingest the larvae of Guinea worms. In about a year, the worms pierce the intestinal wall, grow to adulthood, and mate. The worms eventually mature to a length of as much as three feet. They make their way through the body to the surface of the skin causing swelling and burning blisters.

Here’s where the problem intensifies: To soothe the burning, an infected person often runs to local water sources and immerses his or her infected limbs into the water for relief. Unfortunately this is exactly what the female (males die off inside the body) Guinea worm wants: access to water. Once in water, she lays hundreds of thousands of more eggs. And the cycle continues.

In many ways this horrific process is one that is repeated over and again in the spiritual lives of teens everywhere. In their search for relief from life’s “diseases,” countless teens run to the infected waters of the world: drinking, drugs, cutting, sex, partying, binging, porn, and more. In the moment their choices may appear as soothing and innocent as the local waters appear to those infected by the Guinea worm. But below the surface lies a raging and burning consequence that will never satisfy and will only leave them desperate for more.

I met a teen named Katie at a conference I spoke at. She sent me an e-mail detailing poor choice after poor choice in her life, each one compounding her troubles, but none of them bringing resolution. She finished, “What am I supposed to do? Help.” I wish I could say that Katie’s was an isolated story. She picked the wrong goal, then in an attempt to heal her hurts, she hastily jumped into other relationships, only to continue the same mistakes again and again. I hear from countless teens just like Katie from across the country. The specifics of their stories are different, but inside all are seeking help from the “diseases” of the world, and many are jumping into infected waters.

As a parent who loves God, it’s important for you to guide your teen to real safety. I’m convinced that Christian teens are desperate to be taught how to stand for what is right. But many aren’t sure how to do so. They need help, and, often want our help as influencers in their lives. However, many feel as though a parent is unapproachable when it comes to the big struggles of the teen life.

There is a war being waged daily for your teen’s soul, and the consequences can be deadly. But there is hope. Ephesians 6:10 encourages us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” The Bible gives us tools for suiting up in armor, taking up shields of faith, and holding firm the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Your teen needs you to suit-up for battle. Your teen can’t find alone.

Work to create an environment in your home that screams to your teen, “I am approachable.” Strive to help your teen see that, unlike the infected waters of this world, you offer a safe place of help, hope wisdom and support that will never fail!

Parents: What are some ways that you help your teenage kids see you as approachable?

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