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  • Writer's pictureAnna Shellman

TM Camping Newsletter, February 2023

A message from Steve Garcia, President / Executive Director of TM Camping



The word “investment” is one that is near and dear to my heart. Many years ago (over 20), when I started working for TM Camping and Thousand Pines Christian Camp, we did not have a retirement plan for new full time staff that were not managers. Since the camp didn’t have a plan in place for entry-level newbies like me, I opened an account that I would then contribute to on my own, without the benefit of matching funds. Although in my twenties still, I began thinking about the road ahead, and I started planning for the future. Every full time position I had obtained previously came with a standard pension or 401k option. Most employers had a matching contribution plan that was meant to incentivize employee savings toward retirement. I had always contributed what I could afford to, so that I’d be putting a little away each pay period. Although small amounts at first, in theory, those consistent contributions and savings were to grow commensurate with an expected increase in wages over time too. The expectation was, and still is, that after a lifelong career of saving, there would be a sum of resources to work with that would sustain living needs later in life when my working capacity diminishes. I hope it actually works!

This last year was one that reminded me of this principle. Several generations back, a successful citrus farmer-turned developer, looked at property in the San Bernardino Mountains and decided it was time to invest. Arthur Gregory had a vision for the future community development of Crestline. He imagined a lake surrounded by a rural alpine community of homes that folks would invest in themselves, for year-round and seasonal enjoyment. Early plans called for the development of winding streets and roads that would mimic a “little Switzerland” in these Southern California Mountains. His plan was to build a dam, fill the reservoir with water, carve and pave all the streets, mark out all the lots to be built upon, and create the up-and-coming town of Crestline. In the process, he also envisioned the community having a Christian retreat center at the top of the hill that would host Christian Camping events for churches in the Southern California region. So, Arthur invested. He built the dam, paved the roads, developed the lots and sold the properties. Henceforth, the town of Crestline was established as an unincorporated community of San Bernardino County. At the same time, Thousand Pines Baptist Camp was established in 1938.

Fast-forward 85+ years, and Thousand Pines has grown to become the hub for TM Camping Co. We now have 7 camping brands: 4 camp properties, 2 outdoor science schools, and 1 outdoor recreation company. Altogether, we specialize in Christian Camping, Outdoor Education, and what we like to call Adventure Recreation. We are 7 unique companies under one banner and with one mission. TM Camping exists to “Help people see, know, and experience God.” And we do this with the use of these camping and outdoor recreational locations, programs, and activities. I’m not sure if this is what Arthur Gregory imagined when he offered the first 10 acres to the Southern California Baptist Convention for $10 in 1938. But we are now running all these ministries, and also running Lake Gregory Regional Park for the County of San Bernardino. Even in this, we believe we can fulfill our stated mission and purpose within the local community of Crestline. But it all takes the same thing that Arthur Gregory offered…investment.

As we come to the year when we will celebrate our 85th anniversary, we invite you to do the same. Just last year, we were able to invest in our camping properties at every location. With new roofs, generators, wells, walk-in refrigerators, outdoor amphitheaters, buses, work trucks and golf carts, we are in better operational shape than we’ve ever been. But we still have lots of improvements and plans ahead. Because of generous estate gifts and investments made decades ago, all our camping ministries not only survived through 16 months of mandated shutdown during Covid, we thrived and were able to sling-shot our way out of the closures into full operation and record-breaking attendance at all our camps. Last year we were able to invest over $1.3M into our properties, so as to better prepare for the life-changing ministry ahead. And we are grateful for that opportunity. Last year alone, we were able to catch up on years of deferred maintenance, and better prepare for the coming seasons. At this point, we believe we’ve seen well over a million campers. And we’re actively investing now for the million more the Lord is bringing our way. We exist to help people know God more, through the experiences they have at our locales of ministry. So, we’re actively investing in that purpose. Will you join us? We invite you to do exactly that! Matthew 25:14-30 comes to mind.

With love and great appreciation,

Stephen Garcia

President + Executive Director


An Update on Rock N Water, from Camp Director, Joel Jay

Last year ended up as one of the biggest years Rock N Water has ever had from a camper and financial perspective, but it also was a big year of change in general. Aaron Daly stepped down as Director to spend more time with family and I took the reins in October. We had another crazy fire season (which seems to be more and more a regular thing out here), but thank the Lord that the fires only affected a few trips.

As 2023 ramps up and we get ready to dive into the spring season of 49er Fun, followed directly by our summer adventure program, I can't help but look around the camp and see how much HE has His hands all over this place. After almost 2 straight months of rain, there has been quite a bit of flooding in the area and since we sit right on the river we took a bit of a hit. However, thank the Lord, we only had a few trees fall over...there's quite a bit of clean up work picking up debris that washed into camp, but it could have been much worse!

Looking forward, we have another big season ahead of us which is looking like it will top last year! As you pray for Rock N Water please pray for our next generation of guides coming through the ranks and that the Lord would move in a powerful way in each and every camper and staff member that comes through.

Thank you,

Joel Jay


An Update on San Marcos, from Camp Director, Tommy Garwood

The Lord really showed up in 2022. San Marcos Christian Camp had a wonderful year of ministry. We had the joy of seeing lives changed, the lives not just of campers but the lives of our staff as well. God has called together a dynamite team that loves Jesus unflinchingly, serves selflessly, and works tirelessly. Our Summer staff members were such a joy to see in action. From food service, program & recreation, to hospitality, they excelled in helping people see, know, and experience God.

The New Year, 2023, arrived with a splash, literally. We had a shocking downpour of rain that caused considerable damage. Though we have been working feverishly to get everything straightened out, we continue to recognize what a blessing it is to know that though circumstances may take us by surprise, nothing will ever catch our Sovereign God off guard. Moreover, we have the joy of seeing all the creative ways that God is supplying and will supply all our needs. We continue to believe that God intends to use San Marcos in mighty ways this year.

In 2023, we are very excited to be adding three weeks of elementary-age program to our summer camp offerings. We have a pirate theme this year called, "The Search for the Ultimate Treasure." We are excitedly building our summer team so that we can pour into their lives and they, in turn, will pour into the lives of our campers. I want to invite you to partner with us.

Do you know someone 18 or older who loves Jesus and who serves with a smile? Send them to San Marcos for the summer so that we can invest in them. Do you know elementary, Jr, or Sr high school-aged students? Send them to San Marcos Summer Camp where we will spur them on in "The Search for the Ultimate Treasure."

"For where yer treasure be... there yer heart be too." Matthew 6:19-24

Thank you,

Tommy Garwood


An Update on Tonto Rim from Interim Director, Tom Raisbeck

Tonto Rim, along with all of the other TM Camps, exists to help people see, know, and experience God.

Life is all about seasons, and with each season God begins a new work and that’s what’s going on here at Tonto Rim. Tonto Rim is currently going through a transition of leadership. Chris and Lori Walsh, who directed Tonto Rim for the last 11 years have moved on. They are taking some time seeking direction for what God has next and enjoying a well deserved break.

During the transition God has been faithful to put together a great staff who love and care for the camp as if it's their own. The future of Tonto Rim is bright and as I write this there is a new energy and excitement amongst the employees here at Tonto Rim as they anticipate what God has in store.

We are looking forward to over 50% of last summer's staff returning for this year! New staff are being hired to help with facilities, kitchen and hospitality. New guest groups are coming, and returning groups are signing up. God is providing in a big way both in staffing and financially. We are all excited to see what God has in store and what His plans are for the future of Tonto Rim

As we move into this new season, pray with us as we continue to seek God’s leading and direction for Tonto Rim.


Outdoor Education Update from Outdoor Education Manager, Greg Lewis

This past season for Thousand Pines Outdoor Education has been incredible! One of my favorite moments this fall was seeing teachers arrive whose schools haven't been here since their initial closures due to covid. These teachers haven't been here for nearly 4 years – and their arrival is all smiles and joy. Why? Because at Thousand Pines we provide extraordinary experiences to every guest, including students and teachers. Our team this year has gone above and beyond to support not just our guests but each other, being ministry-minded even when we are serving public schools – maybe especially when we are serving public schools.

One teacher has been coming for over 10 years with a public school in Riverside and this year he wrote on his evaluation: "As a believer in Christ it is really cool for me to bring kids to a program that is not church-related but with obvious church-inspired facilities. It is a great seed for a secular school." We know that we plant educational seeds, and environmental seeds, and seeds of self-improvement and growth and fun, but the seeds of Christ's love are our favorite.


Thousand Pines Winter Program Update from Program Director, Mike Encoe

Thank you for your active involvement with Thousand Pines. Whether you attend, pray, or give, all your efforts are paying off. As I write this, we are entering our last week of Winter Camp, which has been incredible! According to countless research articles, society is more anxious and depressed than ever. People of all ages do not feel rested, and are reporting increased negative experiences and less joy than at any other time in history. Our Winter Camp theme this year is "The Home Games." We decided to directly address the crisis that our students are undergoing. Rather than talking about the problem, we focused on the solution - Hope in Jesus Christ! Our theme verse was a prayer from Paul to the suffering church of Rome, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)."

Dozens of students have decided to follow Jesus for the first time this season! Countless more have chosen to return to the Lord! My favorite moment occurred during a high school camp. With nervous knees, a single girl stood before her peers in Whittier Chapel to declare that she was becoming a Christ follower. Everyone around her who had been praying for this moment erupted in tears. The speaker addressed her personally, and then 170 people raised their hands to pray for her. What a beautiful picture of the love God has for the one! That may be the most love I have ever felt in a chapel.

Thank you again for your involvement in our ministry. Your prayers, gifts, and service are actively expanding the Kingdom of God! We are now gearing up for a busy spring and summer. With faithful anticipation, I am excited to see the Lord continue to change lives here at Thousand Pines.

Thank you,

Mike Encoe

Thank you for your continuous support, giving, and prayer for the ministry taking place at each of our TM Camping companies!


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