One recent morning during breakfast at Twin Rocks, Debbie Dingman (Twin Rocks baker and cook) was serving as the breakfast buffet “runner.” While she was checking to see that the buffet line was amply stocked, a guest expressed his thanks for the delicious meals that Twin Rocks provides. Noticing that his nametag identified him as part of the high school orchestra group, Debbie thanked him and shared how much she had enjoyed hearing the students’ music that weekend. After a short conversation, the instructor invited Debbie to the student recital that would take place later that day.
During her lunch break, Debbie made her way to the Meetinghouse where all of the student musicians were performing for their peers. She sat down, taking in a piece performed by a very talented cellist, when the instructor she had met that morning came and sat next to her. Motioning to a wall, he said, “One of the things I like and appreciate most about this place is that picture over there.” Debbie thought he must be talking about the large picture of Jesus’ hands, with his palms open and facing the viewer. But after asking him this, he replied, “No, that small one right there. With Jesus standing in the middle of the people.”
He was referring to the well-known Quaker painting The Presence in the Midst. For him, this depiction is a reflection of life: “Every time we are playing music here, I imagine Jesus in the corner of the room. In the public school setting I work in, I can’t talk about that, but I can pray, and I can ask Jesus to be in our midst just the way that painting shows. I often imagine that picture wherever I am, whether I’m in the classroom or not.” From this teacher’s perspective, music is part of God’s creation, and every note is a testimony to this. Whether students know where the music comes from, he sees it as God’s gift to them and in them.
Telling this story later, Debbie said, “It made my day. These experiences remind me why we do what we do, staying behind the scenes to scrub dishes and bake dinner rolls. It’s a joy to know and support the guests at Twin Rocks.”
In addition to this high school orchestra, in 2016 Twin Rocks has partnered with 31 public and private schools, churches representing 23 denominations for 130 retreats (including eight whose primary spoken language is not English), seven organizations for people in recovery from addiction, and numerous other nonprofits.
Here are a few recent experiences shared by people in these groups:
■ My friend and I went kayaking and it was our first time. Not only did we get to enjoy the lake and the adventure of kayaking, but we were able to connect on a deeper level and it was such an amazing time!
■ Because your staff and facility are so great there are minimal distractions to students and staff, which creates an atmosphere conducive to the Spirit working.
■ Great to have so many ways to connect with my daughter in God’s creation.
■ Always a pleasure to be here and be able to relax and listen to God in this setting.
■ Great experience overall with our 5th graders and a pleasant facility to serve us. I was here 5 years ago with my now 10th grader and you’ve only improved since. It was great then, too! The beauty of the ocean right there is a true testimony to God’s creative genius!
Many people refer to Twin Rocks as their “home away from home” — a place they visit time and again throughout their lives. They first encounter Twin Rocks as kids or youth, and find themselves deeply impacted by their camp experiences. So, as young adults they return, eager to share the power of Twin Rocks with a new generation of campers. And in so doing find themselves blessed with a joy and personal growth that comes from serving and assisting others.
One such example is Joseph Harrison. As a high schooler growing up in Central Washington, in 2013 Joseph attended Surfside, his first Twin Rocks camp. “The highlight of that experience was the people. The guys in my cabin were so accepting right off the bat and I am still friends with some of them to this day, almost four years later.”
Taking the advice of these newfound friends, Joseph enrolled the next summer in Twin Rocks’ five-week Servant Leadership Program. The following year he became part of the college-age Summer Staff program. “It was one of the biggest life-changing experiences I have ever had…. I am thankful for Twin Rocks as a camp because it has helped foster growth in me as a youth as well as an adult, both spiritually and emotionally.” One encounter that Joseph recalls was particularly meaningful: “One of my campers who had maintained his distance for most of the week of camp came up to me during solo time and started asking me questions about Jesus and the creation story. I thought, ‘so this is what my faith is for — to share it.’ I have no way of knowing if it made a lasting impact on him, but it made a lasting impact on me. I was always unsure of how exactly to share my faith, but when he asked, it just started pouring out of me…. These are the experiences that help me grow, and these are the experiences that I will look back on and be thankful for.”
Colin Atchison, who grew up in Tillamook County, is another example. His first time at Twin Rocks was at Day Camp in grade school. In high school, Colin began looking for his first job. Having heard from his friends about the positive work environment they enjoyed at Twin Rocks, Colin became a part-time Twin Rocks employee at age 15. He participated in SALT (Servant and Leadership Training), a program for high school-age Twin Rocks employees, and continued working at camp throughout high school. During this time, Colin had the opportunity to work alongside several groups of Summer Staff. Observing the depth of community that was forged among each summer’s group, Colin decided to experience it for himself, returning to serve on Summer Staff in 2015. “I think what makes Twin Rocks unique is the people… Everyone that shows up knows, or will soon know, that there’s a special atmosphere there where people can connect with God.”
Through serving behind the scenes in the kitchen, counseling at summer camp, and being campers themselves, both Colin and Joseph experienced tremendous growth at Twin Rocks at many stages of life. And they are just two of hundreds of people impacted by similar experiences, people who joyously call Twin Rocks their “home away from home.”
This past summer, Twin Rocks was blessed by an exceptional group of young people in its Servant Leadership Program and Summer Staff. They did a great job pursuing deeper walks with God while helping others do the same. They thrived serving behind the scenes and grew to become great counselors! Here are a few comments from this past summer:
■ “God has shown me how to rely on Him completely when my own strength fails.” — Whitney Schrader, SS
■ “I felt like Summer Staff harbored the opportunity for me to redefine the spiritual aspect of my life. I was able to learn how to make my faith a central part of my relationships.” — Joseph Harrison, SS
■ “I’ve learned a deeper understanding of what it means to listen to God working in your life and how to live God’s will out.” — Madi Baldwin, SLP
For summer 2017, Twin Rocks is looking for a committed group of people to learn to grow, serve, minister, and lead in a caring and Christ-centered community. High school students (SLP) and college-age young adults (Summer Staff) interested in this experience should consider applying (go to twinrocks.org and click on the “Serving” tab for more information).