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.Continue Reading
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:
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.
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!
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.
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 InternContinue Reading
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 SpecialistContinue Reading
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…
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?
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.
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.Continue Reading
1. In which year was SpringHill founded?
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?
6. Approximately how many staff members will be hired this summer?
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!
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
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!Continue Reading
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 DirectorContinue Reading
Kids really do say the darnedest things, but a summer spent working at SpringHill will have you uttering some oddities as well. While SpringHill trains its staff effectively on how to share the gospel, how to talk to parents, and what exactly to say when communicating cabin rules, there are some conversations that no amount of training can cover. So, to try and prepare you for the unpredictable, here are ten statements you might be surprised to find yourself saying this summer.
1. “You want me…to pray for…your dog?”
There’s a good chance you’ll have a kid at one point or another who seems deeply affected by the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. And as you tiptoe near them, murmuring a silent prayer, and preparing yourself for promotional status in paradise, you might even notice them crying, and your heart will go out to them. You might put your hand on their shoulder so gently they’ll think it’s an angel wing, and you’ll ask, “How ya doin’, buddy?” in the sweetest tone you can muster. Then, like a pot boiling over, they’ll burst into tears and blubber out the question that’s been steaming on their heart, “Will my dog/cat/hamster go to heaven? Can you pray for them?
2. “Seriously, how many churros have you eaten?”
Listen, we all love a good taco dinner. But, we have to accept the fact that there is more to a meal than delicious sticks of deep-fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar. You have to eat dinner. Kids pile churros on their plates like they’re building Hollywood mansions out of Lincoln Logs.
3. “No, I’m not 40.”
Kids think any person taller than them, and with the faintest odor of adulthood, must be some version of ancient. Be prepared for some wild guesses of your age, but don’t be offended if one kid guesses 55 and another guesses 14.
There must be some kind of built-in spring in a child’s legs that employs anytime something remotely exciting happens. The thrill of a Day Camp Large Group, for example, has kids popping up and down more than die-hard Beliebers at a Justin Bieber concert. Of course, we love encouraging enthusiasm at SpringHill, but if one shoots up, they all do, and before you know it, no one can see through the thick jungle of ecstatic kids and no one’s paying attention.
5. “Let me see that chainsaw!”
You’ll be doing the moves in your sleep and rapping the song in the shower.
6. “I really do love these kids.”
Of all the abnormal statements you might catch yourself saying this summer, the one that might surprise you the most could be something along the lines of, “I really do love these kids.” Children, with all their quirks, funny sayings, and unpredictable moments help make a summer at SpringHill memorable, and you’ll find yourself loving your campers with an affection so pure and profound that it must be from above.
The God who, through Jesus, said, “Let the little children come to me,” loves each of these kids with an eternal affection that surpasses the capability of any summer staff. Know that Jesus will be smiling down on all of your goofy campers this summer, and we can only imagine he’ll be chuckling too. And, we, by his grace, get to smile with him “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”Continue Reading
Hey Summer Leaders, we are super excited for you to join us this summer! There are roughly 1,200 other Summer Leaders who will be joining you this summer for an experience like no other. Every year we have a theme that runs throughout SpringHill, through games, skits, activities, and programming. This year’s theme is Spy – so make sure you get all your secret agent, counter informant and CIA gear collected and loaded up. It is going to be fantastic!
Like all good spy stories, being a Summer Leader at SpringHill requires a step of faith to accept the mission at hand. After all, spy stories are only good if the Spy chooses to do the hard or impossible thing. Taking that step of faith is the hard part, and it is not so much the risk in taking the step, it is the unknown after the step that concerns us the most. The unknown of what the summer is going to be like; Will I make new friends? Will I be able to handle working with kids? Will I be able to do my job? Will God show up?
These are all valid questions. But we know from countless Bible stories that when we step out boldly in faith and pursue a relationship with our Father, He honors that commitment and helps us accomplish our mission. From David and Goliath to the entire book of Acts, the theme in each of these missions involves a person (or people) who had intimacy with God. And through that intimacy, God allowed these people perspective and equipped them to handle the situation at hand.
John Eldredge in his book Walking with God calls this intimacy “a conversational intimacy”. In each one of these Bible stories, the followers literally had conversations with God before stepping out.
So how do we get this same intimacy with God?
As mentioned above, all good Spies have access to an arsenal of secret gadgets. Most of the time Spy gadgetry gives the outward appearance of being a nonchalant ordinary object that is modified to perform a more elaborate and powerful function. For instance, a “regular” retractable ink pen turns into a laser that can cut through metal with the touch of a button. Or a “simple” watch launches a micro drone camera to take video surveillance with a twist of the face. These tools seem far-fetched but they come in handy at just the right time and in the correct way.
As Christians, we also have an arsenal of gadgets which seem ordinary and every day, but when used correctly, are powerful enough to save the day. The gadget we need to highlight is our access to intimacy with God through prayer. It is fairly innocuous on the outset, but using prayer has the potential of keeping us consistently connected with God. In this waiting period prior to summer starting, we get to have conversations with God about SpringHill, about our campers, about the ministry sites we will be at, about the people we meet, about each other, or about anything we want. Our excitement, anxiety, wonder, and delight all must be moderated by this gadget of prayer for us to be affective. Deploying this gadget now will better prepare us for the summer and how God will use us for SpringHill’s mission and for the specific mission God has for you.
Preparing for summer in the middle of December may seem like something only nerds and summer camp directors do, but when we are looking to be transformed and connected to our creator, it may take time. The best way to discover your mission is by becoming one with the mind of God. In John 15, Jesus teaches that we are branches and branches are only good at completing their mission, that is producing fruit, if they are connected to the Vine. We have to be so close to the Vine that our systems and thought process are in line with Jesus’. Biologically speaking Jesus is asking us to be in such unison with Him that it is hard to know where Jesus ends and we begin.
So, in this stage of preparing and gearing up for our summer at SpringHill, we have to use the power of prayer. Get used to be being in conversation with God. Talk to him throughout the day, don’t wait until meal times or bed time. When walking to class, or driving to work, or just before hanging out with a friend, be in conversation with God. Be prepared to listen too. And if you need words to speak head over to the Scriptures (a Psalm, Hebrews, etc.) and just talk to God using His own words to draw you closer to Him and to know him more.
What happens when we use the gadget of prayer and have conversational intimacy with God? We understand and get better at doing the thing Paul tells us to do in the third shortest verse in the bible “Pray continually” (1 Thess 5:17). Think about a car ride with a good friend – Of course there can be moments of silence. But when we take trips with friends and the conversation is flowing, it is just that, a flow or a rhythm. When we begin this conversational intimacy with God we have this back and forth rhythm and we begin to know the mind of God. And when we know the mind of God we can ask anything we want and it will be given to us (John 15:7) …Now that is a powerful gadget and one we should be well versed in using if we are going to accomplish our mission.Continue Reading
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.
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.
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.
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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.