Pine Cove Christian Camps hit the road

Campers have fun with pool noodles at Camp in the City. Jason Pedreros | Multimedia journalist

By Jason Pedreros | Multimedia Journalist

Most people have heard of the traditional on-site camp: Go to camp for a week, meet your crazy counselor, make new friends and have a blast. This summer, Baylor students ventured out across the country to be counselors and leaders at top summer camps. Some students even got the opportunity to take their camp experience on the road.

Pine Cove Christian Camps has a “Camp on Wheels” called Camp in the City. There are eight teams spread out — four in Tyler and four in Columbus.

One of the eight teams is Team Boulder, led by Baylor alum Garret “Busta Move” Ward. College-age students or counselors get to set up and run activities with their campers in addition to leading them spiritually.

“Camp in the City is a partnership between the local church and Pine Cove that enables the church to more reach out to their community and get more plugged into their local church,” Ward said. We bring college-aged staff to love on campers in the ways that we’ve seen Jesus do for us — traveling to a different city each week to share the gospel with host homes, families and campers. God is good and I love this ministry.

Pine Cove has a lot of traditions — one of which is the use of camp names. Camp names are used to break down walls with children and to make first impressions between counselors and campers more memorable and fun. To get a camp name, a staffer gets called out during the “Name Game” and gets asked any question posed by a crowd of counselors. Ward said camp names are filled with embarrassing and entertaining backstories.

Aledo senior Kate “Cookin’ Mama” Norman explains that her name came from one simple question.

“I literally got asked one question,” Norman said. “They asked me what my favorite Gameboy game was and I said that I had a Nintendo DS and my favorite game was ‘Cooking Mama’. Fernando yelled ‘sell it’ as a joke but people all started cheering, so they made that my name.”

Norman was the camp’s health assistant for first half of the summer and a counselor the second half.

“It’s great being an education major. I take the things I learned in my classes into camp and use them in a real-life setting,” Norman said. It’s cool to see and know campers and host siblings outside the school setting. You get to know more about them, how they act and receive information.”

Community and growth is huge for Camp in the City, according to Katy junior Daniela “Soh No” Icther.

“I can be myself and really honest with everyone and not have to worry sharing something with someone and them thinking differently of me,” Icther said.

At Camp in The City, counselors spend every waking moment in community, whether at camp or with their host homes after the day is done.

Ward said waking up every morning at 6 a.m. and playing with kids until 5 p.m. for months at a time can be tiring and stressful at times. When kids can misbehave and act out, the team has to push on.

“’The joy of the Lord is our strength,’ and I really believe He gives us what we need to keep on going,” Ward said. We can only take it so far on our own. Encouragement from each other goes a long way as well.”