Notes from the Northwoods Vol. 2

I always remember college semesters passing by quickly, but the fact that in one month I’ll be on my Christmas break from Wheaton/HoneyRock is absolutely ridiculous. Where has the time gone? My 24th birthday has come and gone. The “branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves” and the lakes are freezing over. The horses have been hauled home from their autumn pasture, the fireplaces are crackling, and the ice rinks are being built. Winter in the North is here!

November 5th felt like the end of something special and the beginning of an incredible journey. For ten days my graduate cohort and I were in our “Theology and Practice of Outdoor Ministry” course intensive. If I had the time, I could write an entire book on that experience – the friendships, the books, the lectures, the discussions, the field trips, and the feeling of being in a room of brilliant people who are passionate about camp ministry. Is it really possible that everything I had hoped for in a graduate-level classroom became reality? Praise the Lord.

It’s as if I’ve been viewing the entire Christian camping world through the fogged up windshield of a car. The road is full of distractions, everything is whizzing by in a blur, and sometimes other drivers on the road kick up rocks that crack the windshield. Our TPOM class served as a parking lot on this road trip journey. We pulled off into the parking lot to fill up on fuel, take a look at some maps, and phone a friend for directions. When we had a good idea of where we were headed, we piled back into the car to start the rest of our journey, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

If you haven’t heard, I finally got a pony! Well, I have a new pony entrusted to me (which is basically the same thing, right?) Charming and Early, chestnut Shetland ponies, were donated to HoneyRock with the intent of making them driving ponies. They came to us about as feral as a domesticated horse can be, and I’ve been training Early to work on her halter leading skills and desensitizing. She’s as cute as little ponies can be, and she has the attitude to match.

The HoneyRock barn has been busy building foundational layers of training on five horses who are either young, green, or both. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside incredible friends and mentors, and they’ve shown me new ways of looking at my faith through the eyes of a horse. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been learning with the broader Christian camp equestrian community.

Bonding with Early, one of the new mini mares at HoneyRock.

I was in Pennsylvania for October 17-20 for my best friend’s wedding. It was a jam-packed weekend filled with love, friends, laughter, joy, and celebration. Compared to the swamps of Wisconsin, it was good being back in the Allegheny mountains.

My favorite week of the year, the national conference for the Christian Camp & Conference Association is coming up in just over two weeks. I can’t wait to see what “Beyond” has in store for us!

Speaking of CCCA. On November 6 the HoneyRock community had the pleasure of hearing Mark Heasman, president of Christian Camping International, speak on the global camping movement and how its impacting tens of thousands of lives across the world. He explained that the minister of All Souls London exclaimed,

The CCI movement is one of the most strategic Christian missions in the world.

By encouraging, enabling, and equipping Christian camp leaders, CCI uses camp ministry to present the Gospel to grow the Church. And somehow, by the grace of God, we get to be a part of His movement. I couldn’t ask for a better career, lifestyle, or passion.

Life in the Northwoods…

  • When your new favorite way to spend a Saturday night is through a watercolor painting party with friends.
  • When your professor suggests we simply bring the coffee pots into the classroom, to make caffeinating more efficient.
  • When your field trip for grad school involves walking barefoot in the Wisconsin forest in November (no toes were lost in the making of that experience.)
  • Where you accidentally kick a chipmunk while walking down a trail and then stop and stare at each other, wondering how exactly that happened.
  • When you and your housemates run down to the waterfront to watch the most spectacular sunset.
  • When all the restaurants close by 8 pm.
  • When grad school means reading books by a fireplace in the middle of the woods on a Saturday afternoon.
  • When coffee shop open mic night songs are about baseball.
  • When your barista tells you to prepare for -40 degree winter temperatures and that “Sure, you could drive your truck across the lake.”
  • When your professor tells you, “You could take a van to dinner at the director’s house, or you could canoe!”
  • When skidding around a frozen lagoon is the best way to spend mid-day classroom breaks.



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Sun setting on a Wisconsin autumn.



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