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  • Writer's pictureAnna Shellman

TM Camping: Q3 Newsletter

TM Camping - Summer 2023 Update

God has moved in incredible ways leading up to, and during the summer at each of our TM Camping properties. From providing donations, volunteers, support, and much more – God has made a way for each of our camps to operate fully despite the storms that caused substantial damage and flooding to Rock N Water and San Marcos in late 2022, and a blizzard that struck the Crestline community in early 2023. Despite the loss and damage to property, God provided a way for recovery – leading to thousands of campers and guests coming to our camps to see, know, and experience Him.


We’ve also had a new director join our TM Camping family at the beginning of the summer season! We are excited to welcome our new Camp Director to Tonto Rim, Jason Doll. Jason arrived just in time to see things in full summer mode at Tonto Rim. We are grateful to have his leadership at Tonto Rim and can’t wait to see what God will do through him.


God has been at work in the lives of so many this summer, and we are so thankful for your partnership with us. Thank you for your gifts, volunteers, prayers, and all the ways you have faithfully supported this ministry. We hope this newsletter gives you an insight into how God is using your contributions to grow the Kingdom. Thousands of campers and guests have come to Thousand Pines, San Marcos, Tonto Rim, Rock N Water, and Lake Gregory, and have had unique adventures and experiences - but the mission remains the same. Campers and guests get the chance to see, know and experience God.

 

Thousand Pines - Mike Encoe, Program Director

It is hard to believe that summer has gone by so quickly. This year has been uniquely great. We are fully staffed for the first time since the pandemic. Program camps have been sold out nearly every week, and our theme has been a huge hit! The summer theme is Sound Doctrine based on Titus 1:9, which says, "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." Using an analogy of music, this is a theme about the tenants of Christian doctrine that every believer in the world since Christ can unify around: The Trinity, the Bible, the Gospel, and the church.

During the off-season, I met with several pastors to discuss the most effective way to facilitate decisions on Gospel night. This summer, we invited our students to make one of four decisions: Press play to start a new relationship with Jesus, press repeat to return to Christ if you have wandered away, press fast forward if you are already following Christ but want to grow, or press pause if you aren't ready to become a Christian because you still have questions. Each student grabbed a button on their way out of the chapel representing their decision. In cabins, they shared what button they chose and why. Then, the following day, we offered four seminars, one for each decision. It was incredible to see the students respond with such enthusiasm to God's call on their lives. My favorite part has been the students who exchanged their pause button for a play button at the end of the week because God answered their questions! Praise the Father for His unyielding faithfulness to the ministry here at Thousand Pines!

 

San Marcos - Tommy Garwood, Camp Director

This summer has been an absolute treasure. June saw many church youth and elementary camps. One particular treasure was Royal Family Kids camp, where we hosted foster children for the week. For 22 years we have had the privilege of partnering with them to shower the love of Jesus over these kids. This was one of the best weeks ever for them. Every day seemed to run with ease as many children received the love offered by Christ for the first time. We were so encouraged this year to welcome two former RFKid campers as volunteer staff. What a joy!

Only God knew when we chose our Summer Camp program theme one year ago, just how many campers and staff alike would need to hear the chapel messages associated with it. Night after night, the chapel filled with campers and staff exhausted, and disappointed from trying to find ultimate fulfillment in temporary earthly treasures. Our pirate themed quest for “The Greatest Treasure,” was anchored in Jesus’ words found in Matthew 6:19-21. These verses contrast temporary earthly treasure with treasure in heaven, declaring that “Where yer treasure be, there yer heart be too.” One by one, temporary treasures were seen to crumble under the weight of our expectations. Jesus was praised as the only eternal treasure that can bear the weight of worship.


On the last morning of camp, we gather around The Bell and give everyone an opportunity to testify as to what God has done in their lives. It is a highlight to hear how God opened their hearts and minds to see, know, and experience Him.


Thanks to each and everyone one of you that supports this ministry and makes it possible to bring the Gospel to so many.

 

Tonto Rim - Jason Doll, Camp Director

This year has been my first opportunity to serve in the Christian camping ministry. In the time that I have been at Tonto Rim Christian Camp, I have seen a growing ministry that is touching the lives of men, women, boys, and girls in the name of Jesus. It is amazing to see God at work in such remarkable ways.

Burrowed in the mountains, where birds chirp and elk walk, this oasis captured the hearts of thousands of people this year. Being in the midst of God’s beautiful creation set the stage for powerful conversations, leading thousands of men, women, boys and girls to make the most important decision of their lives right here at Tonto Rim Christian Camp – giving their lives to Christ Jesus.


So far in 2023, we have seen some amazing things happening in the lives of campers and staff. We can testify that God keeps His promises, for He was in our midst, as He promised in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”


This year, we have seen solid growth in the number of campers and groups that came to Tonto Rim. Thousands of men, women and kids came from all over and made memories and had experiences that will last a lifetime. Kids have had had exciting and fun experiences as the camp schedules are packed with amazing opportunities, activities, trips to the lake, ziplining, cave exploring, worship, devotionals, campfires with smores’ and laughter – all providing an opportunity to find God in a new way.


This year, we have kept moving forward with new building projects, the remodeling of cabins, and opening a new indoor game room. The tremendous growth in the number of campers made it a challenge to accommodate all their needs, but we succeeded. This demonstrated to us the importance of continuing forward with building projects, working to provide more lodging, more meeting locations, and a Welcome Center. We are confident that God will provide the resources needed to keep growing so we can continue changing lives everyday here at Tonto Rim.


As we celebrate a year of high points, we hope you have gained insight into all that God has accomplished through your investment of time, talents, finances, and prayers. This ministry isn’t possible without your faithful partnership. We believe that God is at work here at Tonto Rim and we are confident that He is going to continue to do even greater things in the months and years to come.

 

Rock N Water - Joel Jay, Camp Director

Looking back on the 2023 season, between both the 49er Fun program and Summer Adventure Program, one common theme that continues to surface is that of provision. Specifically, the provision of our sovereign and loving God providing exactly what we need, right when we need it. When it was looking like there weren’t going to be enough guides to help serve our campers, the Lord provided exactly what we needed. When we desperately needed new ovens for the kitchen a few people donated, and we were able to get them. During a record high water/snowpack year, all our canyons we typically use weren’t safe to hike and swim and then BOOM, the Lord provided an awesome canyon for us to adventure on until the flows went back down to normal. These are only a few instances and honestly, there’s too many to list, but you get the moral of the story.


The biggest reason I love working at Rock-N-Water is that people get to experience God through adventures in His creation, and boy howdy did that happen this spring and summer! We’ve had quite a few new groups join us this year, along with groups that have been coming to RNW for 10+ years, and groups everywhere in between. Regardless of how long campers have been coming to RNW, each and every camper was able to see, know and experience God in a new way.

As we wrap up the 2023 season, I am humbled and grateful to get to serve here alongside so many people that are so passionate about Jesus and the campers that come through RNW. We look to 2024 with great anticipation to see how the Lord will move!

 

Thousand Pines Outdoor Education: Greg Lewis, Director

Our Outdoor Education programs run during the school year, and while we don’t run programs in the summer – we have still been busy!


Our year-round team has been working on curriculum updates, making sure we can provide great instruction based on the science standards that the teachers are already using in their classrooms. This makes it possible for teachers to point back to our trip when they cover the material. It also allows us to unlock that "a-ha!" moment when students get to have a hands-on experience during a lesson at their school.


We are also excited to welcome our incoming OE Manager, Jeremy Hagman. He comes to us with several years of camp and science program experience in California and Texas, as well as having been a classroom teacher in and around Long Beach. His wife and two young daughters will also be joining our local community when they move on-site.


Lastly, we have spent time prayerfully preparing for our incoming staff and their year, setting up opportunities for them to learn and grow professionally and to be able to personally see, know, and experience God while they are here. Come on up to Thousand Pines, this year if you want to learn about pine cones, animal bones, gemstones, or anything in between. We are looking forward to what this fall, and the upcoming school year has in store.

 

Lake Gregory - Nathan Godwin, General Manager

The fall rains and spring snows added so much moisture to the mountain that the creeks haven’t stopped flowing into the lake all year. As a result, Lake Gregory has been nearly 3 feet above full all summer long. We praise God for the extra rain and snow, relieving the mountain’s drought. The record water depths and smaller beaches did not stop the summer fun. More than 75,000 people came in to enjoy the water park between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. On July 1st the community hosted an estimated 12,000 visitors for our annual Independence Day celebrations. That’s equal to the entire population of Crestline! The Lake Gregory Company wowed the crowds with an evening show of nearly 2,000 fireworks.


Lake Gregory does so much more than just swimming, fishing, and weddings. We extend our impact through day-use groups that come from local youth programs like the Boys and Girls Club, Girl Scouts and Camps. This summer we hosted 892 campers from Thousand Pines for water activities at Lake Gregory, adding value to the programming and ministry happening there.


Want to be part of the action? Join us as we work to improve the Lake Gregory community for all by supporting our Playground Project. In funding the playground you’ll touch the lives of thousands of children for decades to come. Find more info at LakeGregory.com/playground


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