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      HoneyRock Hosts Midwest Region Annual Christian Camp and Conference Association

      Every summer for as long as I can remember, I have gone to camp. And every time I arrived at camp, I felt huge excitement about all that lay ahead of me: meeting cabin mates, singing around campfires, sailing, swimming, hiking, canoeing, laughing, learning, growing. But one thing excited me more than all other aspects of camp. It was what drew me back summer after summer.
      It was the staff.
      They knew me. I knew that when I climbed out of that cramped station wagon or off of that bus, I would see familiar faces smiling, feel an arm around my shoulders, look into the eyes of people who remembered my name among many, my story among hundreds.  It was these people—not the buildings or programs or activities—that made camp more than a place.  These fun, hard-working, Jesus-loving people gave camp a soul. 
      Some of these same staff people and many more from Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska gathered at HoneyRock March 9-12 for the annual Christian Camp and Conference Association (3CA) Conference.  Hosted each spring at a different Wisconsin camp, the conference connects, trains and encourages camp and conference professionals. It is a week for camp people to go to camp--to be served instead of serving, to be taught instead of teaching, to do activities instead of leading them. 
      Near the end of winter retreat ministry and before the summer, the 3CA conference gives camp staff a time to refresh and refocus before another season of intense ministry. Over 250 camp staff from 30 camps spent time connecting with old friends and getting to know new ones over cups of coffee and conversation around Chrouser Center tables. HoneyRock became a place apart for camp staff, whether they needed time alone on a walk, a good laugh, or a climb on the ice wall. 
      Highlights from this year’s conference included great messages from Nate Oates, a long-time HoneyRock friend and pastor from California as well as high-quality seminars on a variety of topics. Attendees also enjoyed numerous outdoor activities around camp.
      HoneyRock Ministry Service Team members, grad students and staff worked tirelessly to create a memorable conference for their partners in camp ministry. A highlight for HoneyRock staff was winning the inter-camp broomball tournament on home ice.


      We at HoneyRock are thankful for the opportunity to have hosted the conference to encourage and equip camp leaders. After all, it is these staff who are the smiling faces, the poured-out servants who give camps a living, breathing heartbeat that draws people to the heart of God.

      Written By Anne Eppler


      Wheaton Passage ... What track are you on?

      If I had to describe my Wheaton College experience in one word I would choose: FORMATIONAL. Three days before graduation, May 8th, 2014, the last day of finals, I sat in my favorite room on campus, Gold Star Chapel,  reflecting on my Wheaton Experience in a tangle of sentimentality and a confusing web of emotions that ranged from utter sadness to overwhelming excitement. I wrote in my journal:
      “Lord, you have been good to me here in this place. I don’t ever want to forget how you have formed me here; forming my heart through this place, with this community. Lord, give me the grace to remember, for, as Job humbly proclaimed, standing in your mighty presence, ‘my ears had heard of you, but now, my eyes have seen you.’ 
      The four years I spent at Wheaton were the most challenging four years of my life, but I saw and experienced God in innumerable ways as He used Wheaton College to form and transform my heart in His likeness. 
      Since 1961, Wheaton College has been conducting Wheaton Passage, one of the oldest and largest first year college orientation programs in the United States. The move to college is a major life transition.
      Research has shown that how college starts has a major impact on how college goes. Colleges and universities have responded to this growing awareness by developing adventure based orientation programs, like Wheaton Passage, to ease the transition to college.
      Now a graduate student in Christian Formation at HoneyRock, I have spent a lot of time pondering and reflecting on the specific ways that I was formed by my Wheaton College experience. In my role as the Passage Coordinator, I have been challenged to think about what it actually means to ‘be formed’ and how can I facilitate “formation” for incoming freshman.
      From what I have discovered, the key to maximizing opportunities for formation and transformation is intentionality in transitions. A well-managed transition provides a framework for academic success and a sense of community for each student. When transitions are not managed well, the potential for change (i.e. formation) is lessened by the shock of the change and the unproductive tools used to navigate through the landscape of change. 
      Conducted through HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, Wheaton Passage is designed to be intentional about the transition to Wheaton College. Passage provides opportunities to help students form friendships, connect with faculty and build foundations for spiritual formation.
      The percentage of incoming students participating in Wheaton College increases every year, with 43% of the 2014 freshman class participating. During the first phase, students spend 3-8 days in small groups at HoneyRock, in the Wilderness, or in downtown Chicago (students get to choose their adventure) with a Wheaton Upperclassman or alumni staff.  During the second phase, all tracks come together at HoneyRock to be mentored, participate in spiritual formation discussions and engage in large group activities with Wheaton Faculty before heading back to Wheaton for Freshman Orientation. 
      To get a true view to the transforming power of Passage, listen to this year’s students describe their experience: 
      “It was a great way to be exposed to different ministries, making it feel like God is working in Chicago. It was also a good way to bond with my group and be able to share those experiences."
      "Wheaton Passage challenged me in ways I'd never expected ...spiritually, physically, and socially. It was the best experience of my life. It gave me a new perspective on life and helped smooth the transition to college."
      "Being immersed in nature was an incredible experience. I had never been physically and spiritually challenged in that way before. It was so much easier to connect to God and others in an environment where it didn't matter what I wore or looked like or what kind of cell phone I had; we were all on the same page."
      If you are a new Wheaton student or know someone that is coming to Wheaton this fall, check out the Wheaton Passage web page for registration details or to get more information at: www.wheaton/edu/honeyrock/students/passage.   
      Join us for Wheaton Passage to maximize your Wheaton College experience!


      -written by Rachael Cyrus '14


      Phoenix & Eclipse

      A story of true service, of being planted in a place by God and serving to the best of their ability. 

      By Erin Sharp, Ranch Coordinator at HoneyRock

      Anyone who knows me is very aware that God has used horses to teach me about what it means to follow Christ. Horses are the greatest teachers on earth because of the gifts that God has given them. It’s hard to find a teacher more equipped with grace and patience then a horse. Maybe you’re asking “How could this be? How could a horse be a teacher?” The answer is Christ. The patience and grace a horse carries is just a small sliver of what our awesome God holds. Through my passion for horses, Christ has given me glimpses of Himself. 

      Most recently, God has been teaching me to approach life with open hands. The ability to walk forward with confidence simply because I know our awesome God has me in His hands is not a quality that I have not yet perfected. It’s easy for me to feel comfortable when I have a “plan” or lots of cash in savings etc. I must admit that fully giving myself over to Christ and submitting to His plans is a challenge at times. With open hands … I can trust that HE has a plan and that I can rely completely on his provisions.

      If you have been to HoneyRock, then chances are you have met our beautiful Percheron draft horses, Phoenix and Eclipse. For the past twelve years, they have served at HoneyRock by giving fully of themselves through numerous sleigh and wagon rides. They have enriched the lives of many simply by engaging fully in their jobs at HoneyRock. 

      The story of how Phoenix and Eclipse came to HoneyRock is filled with sadness and blessings. Around 2002, a man dying of cancer felt his draft horses needed to find a new home before he passed away. His draft horses were the apple of his eye. It was his wish that Phoenix and Eclipse find a place where they would continue to bless people and where they would be well cared for and loved. My dad (Mark Patterson- Ranch Coordinator at the time) and Don Kerns went to meet this man and learn more about his horses. It didn’t take long for Mark and Don to see how much these two horses meant to the dying man and how truly special these horses were. 

      Phoenix and Eclipse soon found themselves in a new place surrounded by nothing familiar. They did not choose to leave their home with their beloved owner. In fact, I’m sure if you asked them, they would have chosen to stay in a familiar place where life was comfortable. Not long after their arrival at HoneyRock, cancer took the man’s life and with it, everything his horses had come to know as home. God knew this would happen and in His provision, Phoenix and Eclipse came to HoneyRock. 

      Psalm 36:5-6 (NIV)
      5 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
      Your faithfulness to the skies.
      6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
      your justice like the great deep.
      You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. 
      Throughout their years at HoneyRock, they have served faithfully. This does not mean there weren’t hard days for these horses. Regardless, Phoenix and Eclipse have been fully engaged in doing God’s work and because this, many of us are blessed. Phoenix and Eclipse truly reflect the light of our awesome God.
      Now, the years of hard work have begun to show itself upon their aging bodies. They don’t have the endurance and strength they once did.  So, in His wisdom … God has pressed into me the hard reality that it is, once again, time for Phoenix and Eclipse to move on.  Driving for hours with my dad on the cold winter nights or going out to wrangler breakfast every morning in the summer are just some of my precious memories  with Phoenix and Eclipse. My first reaction is to hold them close and keep them here at HoneyRock. Letting them go feels like letting go of all the beautiful memories that includes to two majestic creatures.
      What if the original owner never responded to God calling him to donate them to HoneyRock? He, too, could have kept his hands closed and not let God use the horses to bless so many. So who am I to limit God’s work through these horses? Just because they can no longer fill roles at HoneyRock does not mean they are done. 
      All along God knew this day would come and I know now that He has a new plan for Phoenix and Eclipse. God has provided a retirement home, where these two wonderful horses can continue to bless people. Phoenix and Eclipse have given me a beautiful example of how keeping open hands allows God to do his work through me … not limiting myself to the things that “I” can control. The act of letting go and trusting in God has blessed my life a million times over and I pray that I can continue to embrace Christ in my journey through life.

      HoneyRock's Campamento Ministerio se internacionaliza! 

      Coming out of the gate area at the San Pedro Sula Airport in Honduras last October, I saw my name written in black marker on a small piece of cardboard. Hot and tired, I was greeted with a huge smile and warm hug.  My Spanish is very limited and my host's English was limited as well, but off we went together to the Christian Camping International-Latin America Summit.  

      This was a three day gathering of camp leaders from across all of South and Central America to celebrate 50 years of camp ministry training and collaboration through CCI.  The Summit included training to equip the national and regional leadership of the Church of Latin America for continued development through Christian camping.  CCI-LA director Robert Bruneau laid out a compelling strategic vision for the next 50 years of Christian camping in the area.  Unlike the United States, the Church in Latin America is exploding and Christian camping is at the center of it all!
      With years of experience at HoneyRock, my contribution focused on the integration of college, seminary training, and the Christian camping movement.  Working together with  Robert Bruneau , we are seeking ways to provide HoneyRock’s graduate school training to emerging leaders for the Christian camping movement in that region. Another example of how HoneyRock is serving the global movement of Christian camping.
      Photo Details: HoneyRock staff Scott Eppler and Muhia Karianjahi (first and third standing from left, in blue and red HoneyRock Tee shirts) and Graduate Assistant Shane Seaton (sitting second from left) pose with Christian Camping International-Eastern Africa leaders at the end of a safety and first aid training in November 2014.

      Muhia Karianjahi, Graduate Program and Global Initiatives Manager for HoneyRock, is leading our efforts in this area.  He serves on the Board of CCI-Worldwide, an organization that coordinates the efforts of 22 regional/national associations, like CCI-LA, to promote Christian camping as a means of heeling the Church and fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.  In the past six months, HoneyRock staff has participated in training events Kenya, Honduras, Portugal.  In March, Dr. Karianijahi will attend a CCI-Worldwide board meeting in South Africa.  
      As part of our global ministry, we have recently established an International Leadership Development program in which emerging leaders from camps around the world can come to HoneyRock for the summer and participate in one of our leadership schools.  Each year our summer staff is made up of individuals from 15-20 countries, each represented by their national flag hanging in the dining hall.  
      Thanks to the Billy Graham Center Scholarship program, we have had several national leaders graduate from our Masters Degree Program in Outdoor Adventure Leadership including Esdras Kresbky, President CCI-Brazil, Judith Dixon of CCI-Jamaica, and Lisa Anderson-Umna of CCI-LA.  As part of our strategic effort to enhance our global reach, the HoneyRock staff has been engaging a process of developing our intercultural competence so that our community is welcoming and effective in serving the world.
      We are blessed by the opportunity to engage the word, receive the world and serve the world through the Christian camping movement.  
      Escrito por Rob Ribbe y Muhia Karianjahi






      Love Found at HoneyRock

      When I had small children, Valentine’s Day was one of our favorite times of the year.  What mom wouldn’t gush with love after receiving sweet wishes from preschoolers who spoke simply from their hearts such sentiments as “I luv you more than anyone in the world” and “I want to marry you mommy!”  Now I am the mom of four teenagers, and while my daughter is still quick to express her love, the boys…well…let’s just say it isn’t their favorite day of the year anymore!  
      Today I find myself reflecting on my greatest earthly love!   My courtship with Rob began over 25 years ago at none other than the most romantic place on earth….HoneyRock!  In 1989, Rob and I led a two-week wilderness trip with 8 juvenile delinquent boys from McHenry County.  It was during that time we realized we made a great team!  I also think that if you are still attracted to each other after two weeks of living in the woods, it is meant to be!  
      So, two years later on September 14, 1991, we sealed the deal and were married in the old HoneyRock Dyrness chapel.  What a fun weekend of celebrating with 150 family and friends, topping off the festivities with a “hoot-n-hollerin” square dance!
      I am so thankful for that time of my life.  I am also grateful that we were able to commemorate our special day with an engraved “Stone of Remembrance”.  Our paver joins many others lining the walkway to the entrance of the new HoneyRock chapel.  
      Any one entering this beautiful place of worship is walking over testimonies of God’s work through HoneyRock, many being similar love stories to Rob and mine.  Share your story of love found at HoneyRock ...
      Regardless if your HoneyRock story is one of finding human love or something entirely different, they all reflect the greatest love possible:
      “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16. 
      - Jackie Ribbe

      Have you ever considered working at HoneyRock? Check out these new job opportunities for 2015

      Do you love working outdoors?

      Ever thought of pursuing a graduate degree in adventure minsitry but not sure how you would pay for it?

      A permanent, full-time position has recently opened for our full-time Adventure Ministries Program Manager. This role works as part of our program team by providing leadership to adventure ministries and the wilderness component of Wheaton Passage, HoneyRock’s flagship college orientation program. This position is located in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Its primary functions include managing the summer adventure ministry program, co-leading the Wheaton Passage program, supervising high school adventure programs, course instruction, leading our Wheaton-based adventure trip program, developing college partnerships, participating as a program team member, facilitating wilderness tripping and our trip locker, managing Challenge Course programming, and administrative planning and coordination.


      HoneyRock currently has 7 Graduate Assistant (GA) positions open for hire. These positions are part-time and responsible for coordinating a program area of HoneyRock, under the direction of a Program Manager. The GA positions are designed to prepare exceptional leaders for the Christian outdoor, adventure, and camp ministry movements. This is accomplished by giving these individuals the context for integrating their coursework with real life ministry as part of the HoneyRock staff. Individuals in these graduate assistantships are enrolled in the Outdoor and Adventure Ministry graduate concentration, are expected to integrate their learning with their program leadership responsibilities, are fully immersed in the HoneyRock community, and are mentored along the way by a professional in the field. It is our goal to give them enough of a stipend that it covers the cost of tuition. These positions involve 3 summers and 2 school years of ministry and learning. The first summer GAs are an assistant to the outgoing GA. This is followed by a school year taking courses, a summer running their program, a second school year finishing the degree, and final summer training their replacement. It is our desire to help place these individuals in ministry in the US or abroad with a HoneyRock partner upon completion of the 28-month experience.


      For more information on these roles or to apply, visit Wheaton College’s employment opportunities webpage.