A Chance to Be Known, Learn, and Grow at Outdoor School
An ideal camp experience is multi-faceted: It helps campers delight in God’s creation, it cultivates friendships and family relationships, it fosters rest and renewal, and above all, it connects campers with Jesus. Twin Rocks bountifully realizes all of these objectives, and more, during its two fall weeks of Outdoor School for Homeschool Families.
Outdoor School for Homeschool Families is unique. It is a typical outdoor school program, but one where the whole family is invited. It is like a standard family camp, but with classes focused on science, exploration, and nature. And it purposely targets the specific needs of homeschooled children and their parents. Families laugh, learn, and explore God’s incredible creation together. Each week includes engaging classes, evening worship, and a variety of classic camp activities like boating, archery, and arts and crafts.
“We really like the science classes and the Biblical application,” writes one family. Another family shares, “This has been the best week I have ever spent with my kids! I have never felt such warmth, support and acceptance. You have an amazing presence of the Spirit here.”
This fall, Twin Rocks will embark upon its sixth year hosting this special program, with camps the weeks of September 18-22 and October 2-6. Under the theme, “Connected to Creation – Ecological Studies of the Pacific Northwest,” campers will study the relationships of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings, and discover some of the amazing ways God’s creatures and creations work in harmony with one another, and how humans can best care for the world.
The program began in 2012 under the creative leadership of Twin Rocks’ founding Outdoor Education Director, Joel Thomas, and continues today under the care and expertise of Emily Sargent and her assistant, Katey Astleford. Key to the program’s success has been ongoing coordination with groups of homeschool families – most notably Firmly Planted Family, under the direction of Jay & Heidi St. John.
At outdoor school community is forged and fortified. Building relationships with other families who live nearby, or even in other cities and states, is a big part of what returning families love about the program. Kids and parents alike enjoy coming back each year to spend a week with friends. Notes one family, “My son with Asperger’s found acceptance and friendship with some of the teenagers. That means so much. I have felt such support and found this week to help me realize how good it feels to be in a community of Christians.”
The breadth and depth of the classes is another reason families love the program. The theme changes each year, but one commonality is a focus on getting kids and families outside exploring nature and learning about the miraculous world God created. Hands-on classes with fun objectives help foster a lifelong love of learning. Over the years, campers have enjoyed such activities as dissecting sharks, building underwater robots, learning all about mammals, and taking “field trips” to local tide pools and fish hatcheries. At the heart of it all is a desire to point families toward God: “I loved the worship. Singing to the Lord made me feel good all over. It made me feel close to God. I’ve never felt like that before.” If you would like to find out more about how you can be a part of this wonderful program, either by attending and/or by volunteering, please visit twinrocks.org or contact Emily Sargent at [email protected].
Volunteer Spotlight: Fae McClure
“I love every minute of it; it’s fun!” enthuses Twin Rocks long-time volunteer Fae McClure. A decade, 4,500 volunteer hours of service, endless loads of laundry, countless happy campers—that’s a snapshot of Fae’s Twin Rocks tenure. For each of the past 10 years, Fae has spent her summers volunteering at the camp. She trades the 100 plus degree heat of her Yuma, Arizona home for long days in the Twin Rocks laundry room washing, drying, and folding sheets, towels, rags, and whatever else needs a good clean.
Fae arrives at camp each Memorial Day after several days’ journey by car, stopping in Salem along the way to visit Oregon family. Camp staff spruces up the camp’s RV, which waits in readiness for Fae’s move-in day. Fae had a chance this summer to upgrade from RV to “park model home,” but chose the familiar, smaller RV: “It’s my kind of home away from home.”
Fae has a long history of volunteerism beginning after her husband passed away in 1993. Wanting something to keep herself busy, she applied with the Haggai Institute of Atlanta, Georgia, whose Maui, Hawaii base was looking for summer hotel maids. She worked there for eight summers along with her twin sister, Rae Winstone, also a former Twin Rocks volunteer. Growing up in the First Christian Church in Fall City, Oregon, Fae says her time at the Haggai Institute was when her spiritual life really deepened. It was there, where foreign Christian leaders are trained in national evangelism, that Fae heard international tales of people finding God through very difficult life situations. She enjoyed meeting many interesting people, remembering fondly the time she drove a Nigerian king to church.
This past year Fae learned again of God’s faithfulness as she faced cancer. Her Yuma friends and church community, along with her Twin Rocks family from afar, covered her in prayer as she faced surgery and diagnostics. Fae recalls with emotion the “bubble of prayer” she felt surrounded by before her successful surgery. She rejoiced in the smooth surgery and experienced “no pain afterwards!” Fae was concerned that her recovery process might prohibit her returning to camp this summer, but her doctor assured her that the physical activity of moving laundry around would actually be good for her.
“It’s hard to articulate the magnitude of what we mean by ‘camp laundry,’” says Volunteer Coordinator, LeAnn Beebe. “It’s simply unending, especially in the summer time. Fae cheerfully tackles loads and loads after each all-camp cleaning and washes mounds of kitchen rags and aprons each day. I wonder sometimes how many times she’s washed the same sheet! Fae is invaluable to camp operations each summer and has truly become camp family to us here.”
Over her summers at Twin Rocks, Fae enjoys most her great community of co-workers. Fae keeps in touch with one summer staffer in particular, Tess Beckwith (2010). “I’m her Arizona grandma and she’s my east coast grandchild (Tess lives in Philadelphia).” They keep in touch through letters and postcards and call each other every year on New Year’s Day. Fae loves seeing campers stroll by the laundry room and enjoys when summer staff introduce their campers to her. “Seeing all the kids keeps me young. I don’t think I’m 78.” Fae recalls a summer staffer asking her one day, “Do you really enjoy folding sheets?” Fae replied without hesitation, “Yes I do. I love folding sheets!”
Fun Fae Facts:
■ Favorite camp food: Chicken Wings and Cornbread
■ Favorite place on camp: Welcome Center
■ Favorite color: Blue
■ Hobbies: Reading, Coloring, Jigsaw Puzzles
■ Best part of her job: Working with the great community here
■ Least favorite part of her job: Digging rags out of the washer!
You Should Know…
■ As of this writing, summer camps at Twin Rocks are in full swing. They have been enjoying great attendance and tremendous success. Here are some early reports from campers:
• Funnest camp ever! Brings me closer to Jesus every time I come.
• It’s my first time and I definitely want to come back!
• I love being in God’s presence here at Twin Rocks. It’s one of my favorite places to be.
• Camp is the best and I will try to come every year.
• I have never had more fun!
• The best week of my life.
• My counselors were awesome.
• I am definitely closer with God from this week.
■ During this past year, two of Twin Rocks’ longstanding crafts-related guest groups enjoyed momentous anniversaries. Friends by the Sea Rug Hooking Camp, directed by Arlene Strutz, celebrated 30 years of annual weeklong camps, and Ocean Waves Quilt Camp and director Jane Wise reached the 25-year mark at Twin Rocks. These excellent programs boast a highly loyal clientele and are firmly imbedded in the fabric of Twin Rocks’ culture and calendar.
■ Twin Rocks welcomed a great group of 16 Summer Staff on June 1: Emily Astleford, Hannah Bartlett, Josh Tull, Naomi Banham, Katie Newton, Daniel Larabee, Janae Erickson, Anney Astleford, Josh Harding, Esther Hibbs, Carolyn Mahn, Grant Banham, Marissa Kendall, David Miller, Joshua Ice, and Brad Metcalfe. Among them, 11 colleges and universities and 7 states are represented. In addition to serving as the core counseling staff for Twin Rocks’ summer camps, the Summer Staff help with camp operations in kitchen, housekeeping, recreation, grounds, and maintenance.
■ June 25th marked the beginning of the camp’s five-week high school Servant Leadership Program (SLP). This impressive group includes Meghan Cammack, Evan Secrist, Jacob Suarez, Clarissa Vavrosky, Rachel Russell, Micah Schmidt, Yulia Graham, and Rose Evans.
■ In 2016, Twin Rocks implemented a tiered pricing structure for its summer camps, a successful endeavor that provided a much-needed $20,000 in its first year toward the camp’s tight budget. Twin Rocks is exceedingly grateful for the generosity of the many families who voluntarily choose to pay “The True Cost of Camp,” bypassing the traditional discounted rate.
■ Daniel Woodward joined the current group of Twin Rocks interns in January. As a child, Daniel attended Twin Rocks’ Afterschool Camp for Kids (TRACKS), Day Camp, and the camp’s slate of overnight summer camps, before eventually joining the Twin Rocks staff as a part-time employee during high school. Daniel rounds out the camp’s group of five 2016-17 interns.
■ Fun fact from the decades: 80 years ago, in 1937, non-Friends groups began renting Twin Rocks’ facilities because of the newly built dormitory Hadley Hall. Now, in addition to its own programming, Twin Rocks enjoys rental partnerships each year with 23 denominations for 130 retreats, 7 organizations for people in recovery, 32 public and private schools, nonprofits serving individuals and families affected by disability, and more.
From the Director’s Desk
I paused to laugh at myself. I was sitting with a cup of coffee last Saturday morning before work, and I chuckled as I reviewed the words I had just jotted into my journal: “Lord, I’m feeling discouraged and afraid.”
My circumstances weren’t humorous. I faced some difficult challenges, and I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and fearful. It was helpful to write down my concerns.
However, the context struck me as funny. The previous day I had listened to an eloquent devotional shared by Grant Banham, one of the camp’s college-age Summer Staff members, as he reflected on a difficult situation in his own life.
Grant quoted Joshua 1:9 from memory: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Here I was 24 hours later using those exact words – “afraid” and “discouraged” – to describe myself. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.
I don’t believe God wants us to hide our fears and discouragements. Instead, it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and bring them before Him in prayer. The mistake comes when I fail to recognize God’s trustworthiness and His promise to be with me wherever I go. Earlier in that same chapter, God tells Joshua, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
I can relax and lean on Jesus. I can step forward in strong and courageous ways, because none of my trials is beyond God’s abilities. I won’t face them alone. God cares. Ultimately, God wins.
What a blessing it is to work at Twin Rocks Friends Camp as we gather regularly to pray, read Scripture, and learn from one another. Our youth and young adults glean tidbits from the older generation, helping them become more faithful followers of Jesus. And vice versa.
What a joy. Thanks, God. And thanks, Grant.
— Ken Beebe, Executive Director