Updates on my Car and Summer Progress


First of all, thank you all so much for sending in money to help me after I mentioned that my car broke down in my last letter! I did not know what to expect after sending that letter out, other than that God would provide what I needed, when I needed it. And I have certainly found that to be the case.

Over the last month I had been commuting every day using our camp truck, when our speaker for The Verge, our high school age camp, had heard that I was in need of a car. He went home, and about 2 weeks later, he overheard that some missionaries from his church were heading back to Thailand and were wanting to sell a car that they kept in here in the US, while they were gone. So, he got us together. It also happened to be that they were able to drive the car up to me to see it, since I’m not able to really leave camp during the week. They were also gracious enough to give me a pretty hefty discount on the price, because they appreciated what I did here at camp and understood what position serving at a camp puts me in financially. Overall, I had about $1,250 come in that I put toward the car, and with the money that I save during the summer by not buying groceries, I had almost exactly what I needed to afford the car. So, again, thank you all for being a part of God’s provision for me.


I feel like I have seen this again and again throughout the summer. I would say that this is the case every summer, but I think maybe I’m just more aware of it this summer in particular. For instance, the past few months I have been more seriously studying God’s word and reading books about specific concepts that I was coming across. Through this studying, it sparked a desire in me to want to share this with our staff, because I was concerned about how much time they’re spending in God’s word, outside of the chapel sessions. So, after praying about it and asking God questions.What do we study? Is it something we the staff need? Is this something I should be doing? And, after a few weeks, I began to plan the study out. The study that I had planned, however, didn’t really happen though. We were going to get together in the afternoon, but for the majority of the summer, there just always seemed to have things come up the interfered. Thunderstorms, activities for groups, having to assign spotters for the pool, helping with the trading post, and others things seemed to come up every day. So, through that I felt a bit discouraged. On one hand, studying God’s word and striving to understand Him more fully is never bad. But, I didn’t want what I was learning to stay with me, and so I felt a little disappointed that I didn’t really have a chance to do that. But, midway through the summer, I understood that that was not the case.

At church, there came a need for someone to take over leading the morning Sunday school/ discussion time for our high school and college age, and my name came up. So, after hearing about it, I found myself and one other guy from our church leading that the next week. Though the study is not on what I had prepared for earlier, the time I spent preparing has given me some time to think about how to best present it, time to reflect on how we did our studies during the summer, and how to engage people with the material. I wouldn’t say I have it all figured out yet, but it was a good head start. We’ve been working our way through Acts for a few weeks at this point, and it’s going pretty well.

Now, after saying all of that, I think it should be important to note that throughout the summer, we ended up extending the time we meet in the morning and building in time for a Bible study. We weren’t expecting to do that before, it sort of just happened after we had such a good response to some things we did during our staff training week. So, through that, God had also eased my concern for our staff’s spiritual health.

I’m reminded of a passage in Matthew 7:7-12 that came up in a book I was reading this summer by John Piper. Matthew 7:7-12 reads as follows:

“7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

I certainly asked and God answered. Though, it was not what I asked, I know that what he gave me was good.  I wonder how many times we ask for things not knowing what the consequences would be if they turned out that way we want. In my particular situation, I probably wasn’t ready. Based on how the summer has turned out, I would have also been kind of overwhelmed based on all of the things we had going on.

I’ll be sending out a letter before the end of the month going into more detail about the summer, so I’ll just wait until then.


As always, check out upcoming events at hickorycove.org.


Spring Projects and the Upcoming Summer

Hey everyone, it’s been a bit longer than I intended for this post, but we’ve been pretty busy this spring and winter! We’ve had an influx of activity that we normally don’t have at this time of the year because we’ve moved some activities that we usually do in the fall up to the spring. Most notably, we had our annual 5k trail run,”Race to the Cove”, moved to the end of February, and we’ve moved our golf fundraiser “Fore the Kids” up to mid April. So, between that, our scheduled work week, an open house event, and our annual Women’s Weekend Away, we’ve been pretty busy. Obviously, we also have summer coming up soon, so planning for that is always a priority as well.

But besides being busy, it’s also been a very productive winter/spring. We had our highest turn out for the 5k race than we’ve ever had in the past, with over 120 people run this year, and the weather was perfect. It was also much less work on me this year, personally, since I wasn’t fighting the leaves off the trails every week. Overall, I think I only had to walk and leaf blow the trails about 4 or 5 times this year, as compared to the 8 or 9 times that I’ve had to walk it when we had it in the fall. That may seem excessive, but we like to have our course completely ready two weeks ahead of time, so that we can have runners test it before the actual race. So, after we have the initial set up done, we have to then re-mark with paint and fix any tape that comes down during that two week period.

We also did lots of general clean up around camp in preparation for our open house event in March. This is the third open house event that we’ve tried to host here at camp, and once again, we had it rained out. It was disappointing, to be sure, but at the same time humbling. After all, we have tried to do these events to try to expose more people to camp, show them what we have to offer, and, by bringing more people to camp, have more of an impact on more lives. But, we have not had any of those events actually happen. In fact, last year, every one our events that we have tried to host to raise funds for projects, raise funds for scholarships, or bring more people to camp have been canceled because of weather related events. And yet, through all of that,  God has provided for us here at camp, and money has come in to sustain those programs and our ministry here. We have tried to schedule our efforts in order to bring more people in and witness to them, and yet we must go back and understand that it is not us who truly does the work, but it is God. He is the one who truly has the impact on lives, and sustains us. That is not to say that trying to do an open house event was a waste, it just had a different purpose than what we had intended. Coming out of the winter season, we don’t have very many people come through, and so some of the our facilities tend to be a bit more run down,  or at the very least, are not as much of a priority in that season. But, with an open house event, we want to present camp in the best light possible. So, it gives us a hard deadline to work with for getting things ready for the spring.

With that in mind, it reminds me of a verse in proverbs in relation to God’s will, our own, and His sovereignty. Proverbs 16:9 simply says, ” The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord direct his steps.” Though we meant it for one thing, God meant it for another, and so I’m inclined to believe that it was all for the best.

Aside from all of this, I’ve had quite a few projects in the works. Some of these are for the summer activities and others for general use around camp.

Our theme this year is “Power-up“, so we’ll be doing some retro graphics for decorations, and doing some activities that relate back to some older video games. The chest is for a hiking activity in the woods, where the kids will go on a quest that works similarly to old adventure style games. I’ve put a lot into this one in particular, so I may make another post later that deals specifically with it, but for now I don’t want to ruin any of the surprise.20180406_131559.jpg

We also have some general maintenance and improvements for areas, of course. This year I made a rack to hold all of our zipline equipment, so that we aren’t just laying it on tarps on the ground anymore. Also pictured is our Registrar, Reagan Lail, as we set up for a group coming over to try out the zipline.


I also made a pulpit for camp, as we’ve just been using music stands for the past couple years whenever people are speaking. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but sometimes the stands can’t take much weight, so they just slide down or tilt unnecessarily. So I put a little time in on the side to make a more permanent solution. It also gave me an opportunity to try out some things I’ve learned about making curved feet.

Beyond that, I’ve got a few other projects before summer gets here, but I’ll post some pictures when I get to those. And actually, I’m planning on posting more pictures to facebook specifically about projects instead of just posting here. That way it’s not just all of the picture at once, and probably more pictures of the projects as I’m actually working on them.

As always, thank you all so much for the support you show me, whether that’s encouragement, financial support, or prayers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through any of the information on my contact page, and check hickorycove.org to stay up to date on events here at camp!

Why I Do What I Do

I recently sent this out to everyone on my regular mailing list, but I thought it would be good to post here as well. I realized that many times when I post things on here or other send out letters that I don’t really talk about the purpose behind why I do what I do here.  Partially, this is because when I write letters, I focus on the things that I am specifically doing right now, things that are the most pressing, or events that affect me most as an individual. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I feel like it keeps you better informed on things to pray for right here and now. But, when I focus on those topics, because there is usually quite a bit going on, it is easy to forget to explain the bigger picture behind it.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at what our goal here at camp is, and how I fit into it. Our mission statement here at camp is as follows:

“To provide a haven in God’s creation where young people are challenged to become effective, kingdom-minded Christ followers through sound Bible teaching and meaningful discipleship relationships.”


You’ll notice that no where in there does it say anything about activities or games. Yes, it is true that the activities are a good way to draw kids here, because who wouldn’t want to come to camp and play games. And because of that, we probably have a bigger impact. But, I think it goes beyond just that. In most cases, the campers that come here for their first time won’t know anyone else. And that can be a challenging experience, especially growing up. So our activities are then a way to get kids out of their shells, have some fun, give them something to bond with the other kids and their counselors over, and make some memories. By doing this, we can help the campers build relationships and through those relationships the counselors can share how Christ has changed their lives. After volunteering here for many years, I’ve seen it time and time again where kids, even those who are initially hostile to the gospel and want nothing to do with it, can be won over by the example of a kind counselor or other campers.  So, in that way, I hope to use my role to encourage others to be the light written about in Matthew 5:16.


“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”


Of course, that in itself is only part of my job. Unlike to the campers themselves, I have a more direct ministry to our staff, especially to those who are here for the full summer. We have our staff here for usually 2-3 weeks, and sometimes up to 12 weeks. That’s a long time to spend with people, working together for 10-12 hours days. So during that time we try to develop relationships with them as well and challenge them to grow closer in their walk with Christ.  They come with their own struggles they are dealing with, and that’s our opportunity to come alongside them and encourage them.


And that’s how I see my role here at camp. It’s not generally direct teaching to the campers, but I think it’s still important. So when you see me talking about what we’re doing next and working on and how I’m doing, I hope you can appreciate how that relates to the larger scheme. 


On a completely different note, things are progressing pretty well with the house. I recently just added a new page in my Personal Projects page called Refinishing the floors  where I talk about the sanding, scraping, and sealing the hardwood floors I found underneath the carpet my house. Now that the floors are done, it lets me progress with a few other projects, like finishing my trim and baseboards and remodeling the larger kitchen!




House Renovations and The Spring

20171213_115229.jpgI’m finally moved into my house now! I closed on the property on December 29th and then my family came up to help me make it a bit more livable. We removed many walls that the previous owner in order to bring the house back to it’s original floor plan. The previous owner had divided the house up into 3 distinct sections: a top floor apartment, a larger apartment on the bottom, and another smaller apartment on the bottom. So one of the first things we removed were the walls that were blocking off a door and separating the two bottom apartments.

We then removed the larger, more dated kitchen in the larger apartment. We also tore up carpeting and linoleum that was throughout the bottom floor of the house that was covering up it’s original hardwood floors. One of the areas next to the old kitchen had two layers of linoleum as well, and so there’s still lots of glue stuck to the ground that I’ll need to try to get up with a sander. If that doesn’t work then I’ll have to look at other flooring options.

Currently I have my bedroom, the living room, part of the future dining room/ kitchen, and foyer painted. At least, mostly painted anyway. I still have a little trim to do in the dining room and foyer, actually. But currently the house is fine for living in, and I’ve moved in so that I can continue to work on it in my down time after work.

I was fortunate that I purchased it when I did, as we didn’t have anything happening at camp for the first week and a half of the year. So, I was able to take time off and work on the house exclusively.

Aside from my house, I also put together our first annual staff retreat to review how our summer went and to get suggestions on how to make it better for next year. We spent about 6 hours together going over everything from activities to the kitchen to our Leaders in Training program (LIT) to counseling. I recorded our sessions for that weekend, and I’ve since listened through it to jot down the specifics of what we’ve talked about. So I’ve got a good starting point on what we need to change for next year. We only had about 15 people but I’m hoping we’ll have more attendees next year.

Coming up this year, we have our first Men’s weekend that Hickory Cove is putting on. It’s actually starting today, so if this is your first time hearing about it, I apologize that I didn’t mention it earlier. If you don’t want to miss any other events we have going on, go to hickorycove.org or follow us on facebook.

Anyway, we also have our 5k Race coming up that was rescheduled because of poor weather last year. That is taking place on February 24th, and I’m sure if you’ll come that you’ll have a great time. Even if you’re not interested in running the course, it’s still a nice hike through our woods, so you should come on out. Or if you’re interested in volunteering to help out, contact me and I’ll get you connected with the right people to get registered.

As I continue working on different projects around the house I’ll be sure to take a few pictures and upload them to keep everyone in the loop. I also should have a regular letter going out soon for those that may not follow this blog.

As always, if you have any questions about what I do at Hickory Cove, how to pray for me, what you can help with, or just want to see how I’m doing, feel free to email me or call. All of my contact information is listed here.

House Update

I realized after I posted about the upcoming purchase of the house that I had not actually posted any pictures of it. So I figured now that I’ve had some more inspections done on it, I’d post a bit more about it. So, the house itself has 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathroom, 2 full kitchens, and a kitchenette. It was divided into two parts at some point, so one side has a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The other side has everything else. I’m not sure why they had a kitchenette put in upstairs, but it probably won’t be there that long. I’ll probably keep the sink up there, but I don’t see a need for a stove or fridge.

Anyway, we had everything inspected, and it all seems good, with the exception that there’s a leak in the upstairs bathroom behind a wall. Luckily there’s a shut off in the basement just for the upstairs and I won’t really need to be up there for a while, so I can take my time fixing that if I need to. There was also a few nails popping up on the roof, but the roof itself was put on 5 years ago, so it should be good for a while if I just do a bit of maintenance on it. Overall, I’m very excited about it and getting in there to deal with a few things that would be nice to get done before I move in, like painting, taking the carpet out, and refinishing the wood floors.



Moving, Winter organizing, and Summer Review weekend

I’ve looked at probably 14 or 15 houses in person and like 60 online in the last few months, and I think I’ve found a house that will work for me! They’ve already accepted my offer on the house and we’re currently having some inspections done. Based on what I’ve seen already, and what’s been done already, it seems like everything will work out though.

The house will require some work like new painting, a remodel of one of the kitchens ( it has two because it had part of the house split into an in-law suite), removal of the old carpet and refinishing the floor, and a few changes to the floor plan. Some of that doesn’t have to happen immediately though, and has helped a lot in having the price reduced. It’s in a pretty nice area of Hickory and has lots of useful things nearby, like a hardware store, food store, restaurants, etc. It’s also only about 20 minutes from camp! It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to get in there and get some work done. There’s a lot of potential and a lot of space at 1600 sq ft.


Besides that, we’re winding down for the year here at camp. I’ve got one weekend coming up planned  for the 15-16 that is what we’re calling our Summer in review staff retreat. It’s just a chance for us to get just our staff from the summer together and talk about all of the good things from the summer and what we can work on in the future. This is the first time we’ve done this and so our numbers are fairly small, but I’m hoping to continue doing this in the future. I think it’s very important to get good, detailed information from our staff, and sometimes surveys have a hard time conveying all of that.

We’ve also been busy getting things ready for the winter and reorganizing different areas. I’ve cleaned out and reorganized our archery shed recently, and I’ve got some plans restructuring our program closet with a huge work table that spans the length of the closet.

20171206_151458.jpgI’m just waiting on a few supplies to start that one, but I’m pretty excited because storage space is always a problem for us here.

That’s all for right now, but as I know more about the house and I start working on projects associated with that, I’ll try to keep this updated. After the summer, I seemed to drop off a bit, because of how busy we were, but I think I’ll be able to post pretty regularly again now.

As always, thank you all for your support as I keep serving here at Hickory Cove, both in prayer and financially. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do here without all of your support.





The End of Summer and Beginning of Fall

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, but I’m still here! The summer went wonderfully, with very few problems this year. The feedback I’ve gotten on all of the changes this year has been great, as well! At times it was a bit hectic trying to get things together for the various trips that we took, like to the high ropes course or to the kayaking trip down the New River, but we persevered and it seems like everyone had a great time. With a bit of experience under my belt, I’m sure I’ll be better prepared for any trips we end up taking next year too!

Our staff did a great job again this year, as well. Of course nothing we do here could have happened without their help. Many of them committed to helping us out for huge sections of the summer, even months at a time. And as exhausting as it was, I’m sure they would tell you that it was very rewarding. By now most of our staff except for our two interns and a few local people have headed back to school, which means the fall season has truly started for us.

August and September have been very busy for us so far, with usually only a day in between groups to clean up. We’ve been very fortunate with our weather around here though, aside from what we’ve gotten from the hurricanes, so that helps a lot with some of the long hours. 20170907_192515

Honestly with the weather right now, if you’re looking for a time to come by here and visit with us, now may be the time. We have a few events coming up too!

First, we have our Lumberjack weekend, which is our father- son weekend on October 6-8th. We’ll have canoeing trips out on the lake, fishing on the shore and also on a pontoon, archery, axe throwing, night hikes, and a few others that need some more work before I announce them. Pricing for a family starts at $125 for the weekend.

Second, we have our Fore the Kids golf fundraiser in the morning and afternoon on followed by our silent auction at night on October 9th. The proceeds from all of that go towards our scholarship fund to help families send their kids to camp that would not otherwise be able to afford it. The cost for a golfer is $85 which includes everything for the day, like cart rental, green fees, lunch, and dinner. If you’d just like to come for the dinner and silent auction, that is only $25.

If that stuff seems like something you’d be interested in or just want more details check out the links above, or head to our website at hickorycove.org.

Dining Room Painting and Family Camp Planning

Things are slowly falling into place for summer around here as we approach the summer season here at camp. As you’ve probably heard, our theme this year is “The Light Side”, and so we’ve decided to go with a spacey theme. So, like most years, we’ve repainted our dining hall, and it’s looking fantastic. We had a friend of camp come in who loves to paint, and she’s done a great job with the space.

I’ve also been working on a few smaller projects for our upcoming Family Camp Weekend, which takes place on May 26th-28th. For the past few years, we’ve done a small carnival during Family camp where we put on a few games, have cotton candy, and win some prizes. So, with that in mind, I decided to add a few more events this year. We’ll have a timed basketball shooting stand, a football throwing station with points based on accuracy, and a plinko game for different prizes. We may also have one more event as well, but it’s a bit of an undertaking to do it right, so I may not have the time this year. I forgot to take some pictures for parts of the process for those, but I’ll keep it updated here.

We also had S.W.A.T. come in and do some projects around Camp in the past few weeks. With all of the different groups coming to help us spruce up and fix things around camp, you’d think think we wouldn’t have any projects left, but sadly, that’s never the case. S.W.A.T. is a great group of people who go around to different camps, generally one camp per month on a weekend, and volunteer their time and skills to fix things that staff at a camp may not have the time or resources to fix otherwise. They’ve been coming to Hickory Cove for years now, and it’s always a pleasure to work alongside them and catch up on how they’re doing. This year they helped us fix our flooding problem in one of our buildings, pressure washed our whole gym, built a stair case on a house on Camp’s property, built a border for our tether ball pit, taking out our old walk in fridge and freezer, and many more things as well.

As we get closer to the summer I’ll have much less time to send out my usual letters, so there may be a point where I only post on here for a few months. If you want to keep up to date, you can subscribe and get an email notification when I post here. Something should post to Facebook when I post here as well.

Better Posting and Work Projects around Camp

Starting today I’ll be having my posts that I’ve been making on my blog also go to Facebook so that it’s easier to keep up with.

With that in mind, we’ve been working on a bunch of projects since Women’s weekend. Our friends up at Grace Bible Church in Virginia came down with a bunch of hands to help out with some work projects for a few days, and we got a lot done. We recently switched over our water for our main buildings over to city water, instead of our wells. We’ve recently just been having lots of problems with them, and with the upcoming addition to our dining hall, we’d need to switch over anyway. This left a huge trench through our property, so the first thing we did was fill that in. We also used added some more gravel to where the trench crossed our driveway and made a speed bump.

We also took our bushes around the trading post and put in flowers instead.

We had enough people to split into about 3 projects at a time, so while those were going on, we also had people cleaning our docks and staining them. The stain we used is also textured, so that it’ll be harder to slip on when wet.

We also put a border on our nine-square and filled it in with gravel so that we won’t have people stepping in mud anymore.20170425_134109

We’re also planning on putting a border on our swing set later and tether ball. On top of all of this, we also had some time to build some planters for our fire pit area up at the gym and string lights around it.

Very little of this would have happened without the funds that Grace Bible Church brought for our work projects, so we’re very grateful to them. Not to mention all of the time they dedicated to the projects. It would have easily taken us a full week or more to get all of this done with just the few of us here at camp.

Women’s Weekend Away, Work Week, and More

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything. That must mean summer is coming. Recently we’ve had a few different events happening here at camp. On March 19th we had our annual work week, where anyone that wants to come and volunteer to spruce up camp can come and help us with some projects around camp. If you’re interested in coming some other time, that’s fine as long as we know. But we have a specific week blocked off each year so that people can plan ahead. We actually have 2 or 3 other groups that are coming in before summer starts to help with other projects.

I had some other things to take care of for few days of the week, but I was able to get some volunteers to help me remove some of the brush that I had cut down at our paintball course. I honestly had forgotten that I had cut down that much, so I was really thankful to have some helping hands with that.


We had 2 or 3 loads of branches and small trees like that to throw onto our burn pile, just from paintball. There was plenty more dead wood around that we could have taken, but that’s a slightly lower priority than some other things.

Women’s Weekend Away also happened on April 7-9th. So there was lots of prep for that. It’s actually kind of nice to have something like that a month or two before summer. Aside from it just being a great weekend, it helps to have a firm deadline to work toward for getting portions of camp ready. We have groups before that weekend, but that’s our first sponsored event of the year, and we want to make sure it’s especially nice. So it brings to light any small things that can slip between the cracks when we’re planning for some larger events, like our weeks during the summer.

I don’t have any pictures of the weekend, but I’m sure there’s some on our facebook page or our main website at hickorycove.org.

I’ve also been working on a few projects, either some personal projects, like a family tree plaque for my grandparents, or projects for work like finishing up the wooden book plaque for women’s weekend or a new movable cross that I made.

I also did some work on our life jacket rack, but I don’t have any pictures of the process because I was trying to make sure it was ready for the weekend. I might take some pictures of the finished project and post them later though. Essentially, I got rid of the double hinged doors on the front that had started falling apart and put on two separate sets of doors that close like cabinets and revamped how the life jackets sit inside so that they sit neatly and flat. I also put some hooks on it to hold spare buckets and to hold our paddle board for our lifeguards.

I honestly would like to get rid of the whole thing still and get a building that I could walk into and store the life jackets, paddles, and other things in, but we just don’t have the money for something like that. I would need to level off a space though, and on top of that we just don’t have the money for something like that right now. But, If you have a shed in decent condition and would like to donate it to us, I’m sure I could find a use for it. If you have anything else you think we could maybe use, contact me and I’ll let you know though.

Right now we have our weekends booked up, but if you’re interested in coming by, we’re having an open house on April 23rd and again on May 21st. Come by, see what we’re about and what we have to offer.

We also are having our Family Camp Weekend, on May 26th- May 29th. We have things for all age groups, and generally we have a decent turn out. Prices are based on families, not individuals, unless I’m mistaken, and it goes through memorial day, so it’s a long weekend. We tend to have an outdoor movie, our regular activities like paintball, zip line, archery, slingshots, etc. If you want more info though, go check out our page for it, here.