Notes from the Northwoods Vol. 1

For the past year-plus, I’ve been writing Reflections posts on this site. Partly as an exercise in meeting my deadlines and writing honestly. Partly as an update to friends and family. Partly as a record for future Rebecca to remember these days of being slightly dazed and confused, living a life that’s not always laid out in a color-coded planner.

Now that I’ve relocated to the Northwoods of Wisconsin to attend graduate school at Wheaton College’s Graduate School (more on that in a moment), it’s time for a renaming of sorts. “Reflections” has now become “Notes from the Northwoods.”

Why did I decide to go to graduate school? I’ve joked with people that apparently I need a Master’s degree to take people into the woods and ride horses with them. That part is only halfway true. Do I need another degree to “do camp?” Not necessarily. Do I absolutely adore the American higher education system? Not always. But do I think it’s part of a larger career game I’m playing? Absolutely.

My dream of directing my own camp is alive and well. God’s calling on my life to share His Gospel with others through horses is something I don’t go a day without thinking about.

When I was considering undergraduate programs, I almost went to Houghton College to study outdoor education and leadership. I decided that should I ever go for a Master’s degree, I didn’t want to have two degrees in essentially the same field. That, combined with other opportunities at Slippery Rock, led me to accept the offer from SRU. Now that I think about it, I first looked at Wheaton’s graduate school program way back in 2013. My, how things come full-circle.

Since I enrolled in the residential graduate school program, I’ll be living, working, and studying at Wheaton’s HoneyRock camp for the next two years (my expected graduation date is May 2021.) My fellow grad students and I will be running programs and operations for the camp while we take courses in spiritual formation, theology, program/curriculum development, etc.

I’ll also be working under the direction of a CHA instructor who has also worked as a horse trainer and farrier. I’ll be teaching arena lessons, guiding trail rides, and hiring summer wrangler staffers.

When I left Buena Vista, I knew I was headed toward things that will be technically good. Higher education. Horses. Camp life. Fifteen-year-old Rebecca would have been stoked. Twenty-three-year-old Rebecca is still stoked, but it’s a bit more complicated now. I’m sure it’ll be good. But my friends-turned-family won’t be there.

Deer Valley’s Dream Team. Spring Canyon’s Mountain Mafia. East Main’s Tortellini Thursday. The Loft Family. These incredible people and I have lived life together over the past two and a half years, and they’re what made Colorado home. Sure, mountains are great and blue skies make everyone happier, but without them, BV would just be another checkmark on the map. image

God-willing, I’ll be back in May 2021. I’m sure there will be many more years filled with wine drinking, chess-playing, swing dancing, mountain road driving, horseback riding, letter writing, and laughter. Until then, take care of the Loft, take care of the Ranch, and take care of each other. I’ll see you in a few weeks.

It was hard to drive 1300 miles into the unknown.

If I know anything about myself, it’s that I don’t always handle big transitions well. I was that girl who was unsure of spending a week away from home when she went away to a small summer camp for the very first time, even though she knew it would be full of horses (one of her very favorite things.) I’m still that girl who is concerned about making friends and finding stability in a foreign place. Sometimes I think traveling abroad for a month is easier than simply switching American states.

However, one of the most reassuring things about living my life with Jesus is that He’s always got a plan, and that plan is always for my good and His glory. He’s there in the late-night drives when you’re between places that you know. He’s there in the early mornings walking to a strange barn. He’s there in the chaotic dining rooms and winding back roads and confusing scheduling meetings. He’s there. He’s always there.

In my first week at HoneyRock, I helped put 160 people in canoes to go to a floating worship session in the middle of Long Lake. Between the candles, the songs, the night sky, and the mirror glass water, He was there. I’m resting in His Truths, knowing the unfamiliar newness with pass with time. Even in the midst of the newness, camp is still camp and God’s love is still overwhelming.

View of Long Lake from the HoneyRock Lagoon (PC: Rachel N.)



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