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 Intern
We'd love to hear how your experience at SpringHill has impacted your life. Whether it was an experience from this past summer or you're reflecting back on years ago we always encourage sharing of how God is working through SpringHill.