Fellows Thoughts

Posted April 21, 2017

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Fellows Blog

Some thoughts from Luke Taylor, one of our current HoneyRock Fellows:    


For my wife and I, camp ministry was one of those things that seemed like it was probably a long way off. We'd met at a camp in Estes Park, CO in the summer of 2012 and, after we got married in January of 2016, we began to dream about what a life together in camp ministry might look like. However, in a world where experience is highly valued in the process of acquiring employment, and limited opportunities for volunteering in our local context, we were ultimately left wondering how or when we would be able to pursue this dream.

     Through a series of grace-filled events, my wife began an application for the HoneyRock Fellows program, but we were still under the impression that a move to Three Lakes, WI from Lynchburg, VA was just not in the cards for our newly formed household. I had a stable full-time job, our mouths were fed, and those student loan payments weren't going to stop coming. 

     It was after a staff member contacted my wife and encouraged her to complete an application when we realized that there might be the rumblings of some seismic event that would occur in our lives. We took a hard look at what the Fellows program actually was, and the array of other exciting things that were happening at HoneyRock with the graduate school and Vanguard programs, and we felt that we were being offered a chance at really living into something that to us, at that point, was only a dream for the future. The opportunity to live in close community with people, to be a presence in the collective life of a cohort of transitioning young people, and to gain hands-on experience in the Christian camping world really made this a no-brainer for my wife and I. We knew that we'd come into a moment that would likely define the trajectory of our life together forever. It was as if Christ chose HoneyRock for us, he opened a door into the wild, and all we had to do was say "yes". But questions abounded: would there be enough money? What about health insurance? What does Wisconsin look like? What if the people are crazy? Where are we even goingWho does this? In the end, the scales tipped in favor of leaving those questions up to the Lord. The opportunity to take the plunge into camp ministry was in front of us, and we were stepping into that wild with Christ as our guide. 

     You know that process you go through when you're determining whether or not such and such a decision will likely end with a positive outcome? That process where you're working basically with hypotheticals, the imagination and the internet (that's what we had)? Our time at HoneyRock, even after two months, has proven to us that we are very good at imposing limits on what Christ can accomplish when He opens doors for us into wild things. I have learned more than I thought, I have experienced hosts of new things, I get to live life with young people who are curious and bright and full of struggles thatI've already had and already have. I am experiencing the story of the Kingdom in a way that is so up close and personal. This is an intangible benefit. As a tangible benefit, I am afforded the opportunity to see how a flourishing Christian camping ministry plays out in the world. This implies real life experience that will eventually find its way on to a resume. On an individual level, I have space to explore aspects of my personal spiritual formation that I otherwise would not have. The space includes intellectual space, but also the space of nature and the beauty of Christ's created order. It is amplifying my understanding of my own humanness in the context of divine love in unique and special ways.  

     If you're like me, maybe you possess some kind of soul-deep restlessness, some sense that you are floating in Christ's world like a listless tumbleweed. Or maybe you're like my wife, and you crave intimate relationality and the inherently communal way of life that is camp ministry. Or maybe it's something entirely different. Either way, there is authentic experience to be had in this place, and we are living, discovering, and "being" in it day after day. 

XC Skiing at HoneyRock!

Posted February 7, 2017

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Two days after 12+ inches of snow fell in the Northwoods, the Cross Country Ski class of Wheaton College made their way up to HoneyRock for MLK weekend. It was an awesome opportunity to learn a new sport and enjoy the beautiful (and snowy!) Northwoods.

Snow Path

Students learned about all aspects of the sport: dressing for the weather, waxing skiis for optimal performance, technical skills required to ski, and more! Then, they applied their learning and hit the trails both at HoneyRock and on the Anvil Lakes Trail system in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.


Bryce, a CFM Graduate Student, co-led the class. He remembers one of his favorite moments, saying, “On Saturday night we cut tracks out onto the lake and skied in silence under the stars.  As we passed under the bridge I heard a voice behind me say, "This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen."

The MilkyWay

This class isn’t just about learning how to kick double-pole or dog trot (XC ski terms!). It goes deeper than technical skills. We love offering students a place apart from Wheaton College – allowing them time to reflect and silence themselves before the Lord. When asked what her time was like, one student noted the peace she felt. She continued, “I loved we got to spend so much time in the snowy woods just enjoying nature and enjoying hanging out with each other.” This is HoneyRock at it’s best: teaching valuable life skills while making space for authentic community and connecting people with God’s creation.


We can’t wait for next year!

Christian Heritage Academy "Winterium" The HoneyRock Way

Posted January 20, 2017

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Retreat Group

This week HoneyRock hosted a unique retreat for freshmen and sophomores from Christian Heritage Academy (CHA) who came to experience the beauty of the Northwoods, delve into their personal leadership styles, and build up their faith. This is CHA's first Winterim retreat with HoneyRock. CHA came to HoneyRock with their students as a key step in preparing them for their journey beyond high school and to provide them with a different experience over Winterim break.

Snow Backpackers

Wheaton College graduate students planned, built, and led this experiential learning retreat. Every part of the day offered students opportunities for growth and development. Through a diverse set of activities, these students spent four days exploring leadership styles, building self-awareness, practicing personal responsibility, and reflecting on Biblical leadership. After attending in-depth seminars, students applied what they learned through challenge initiatives, activities, and an overnight trip to a historic HoneyRock cabin deep in the woods!

Horses In the Snow

From trekking on snowshoes for 2 miles in 16 inches of fresh powder to successfully completing all of their challenge initiatives, these students grew deeper in their understanding of themselves as leaders and God as our ultimate leader. Students left the retreat feeling “more energized and leadership like.”

Retreat Campers

We are thankful for the opportunity to impact these young peoples’ lives in a positive way, and sharing the word of Christ as they move toward becoming leaders and exploring God’s calling for their lives!

~ written by Sarah Davis and edited by Noah Lawrence

Blasting Away Expectations

Posted January 1, 2017

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If I am ever near a Taco Bell ... I make a point to go, even if I have to do a U-turn or cross six lanes of traffic I am going. This summer I had a day off at HoneyRock and chose to drive about 45 minutes to get to the nearest Taco Bell to get my usual order. I was so excited for a Baja Blast with a Crunch Wrap Supreme. I tried to enunciate in the drive thru so that the cashier would understand my southern accent because she usually doesn’t and I have to repeat myself at least three times. I was dumbfounded when she said to me “we’re out of Baja Blast, I’m sorry”. What?! Taco Bell, out of their signature drink? I had driven out of my way for this specific thing and they didn’t have it. My expectations were not met.

A couple of years ago, I traveled to a conference in New York City for an interfaith gathering. I expected it to be a weekend full of reconciliation, peace and love. My friends and I quickly realized we were at a different conference than expected and spent the weekend talking about social justice and protesting. My expectation was to better understand other religions, how to come together to learn about our differences and how we can make a change in the world. I did not expect to be handed an umbrella so that I could defend myself in a mock protest. My expectations were completely different than what I experienced

When coming to HoneyRock, I definitely had expectations about living and working in Christian community. There are things that I thought would be true which have not been true at all, and there have been things that have really surprised me. It is not that expectations are wrong, but that personal dispositions can destroy a community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together says “those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial”.


What I love about HoneyRock is that it is a place where I am able to live in community with other believers and practice the way that Jesus loved others. He recklessly pursued anyone, not expecting his followers to meet a certain quota. Living in Christian community is an amazing opportunity to practice this love, showing grace to yourself and to others, even when your expectations are not met. It takes the focus off of you and places it on being a disciple of Jesus, loving others even when they do not have Baja Blast or throw an umbrella at you.


Ephesians 4:25-37: So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbour the truth” because we belong to each other. And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you, Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil…. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT) 


~ written by Breann Lindsey, first year graduate student at HoneyRock

The Perfect Tree

Posted December 20, 2016

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Christmas at HoneyRock 2016

One of the many perks of living on a wooded property in the northwoods is that we never have to buy a Christmas tree!  For the past twenty-two winters, the Ribbe family has ventured out a few weeks before Christmas to find the perfect tree.  What surprises me every time is that from a distance, what looks like the “perfect” tree is, upon closer inspection, often a cluster of two or three smaller trees.  To separate one out would leave us with a tree not much better than Charlie Brown’s.  The other dilemma is that each person in our family has a slightly different idea of what “perfect” is.  Thus begins the emotional process of finding, not finding, finding, not finding, finding THE PERFECT TREE.  

This year we found a great tree…tall, full, and shapely (see picture).  Other years, we’ve haven’t been as fortunate and had to settle for sparse, wide or crooked.  But at  the end of the day, once decorated and lit, each tree was beautiful because it was OUR tree. Meaningful ornaments were hung.  Special gifts were placed beneath.  Family gathered around.  PERFECT!

In this busy season, don’t be distracted by an illusion of “perfect”.  Ask God to give you eyes to see truth, and you might find something wonderful!

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”   Psalm 119:18

~ written by Jackie Ribbe, Site & Facilities Office Assistant

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