The HoneyRock Team's Food Donations!

Posted August 2, 2017

Our kitchen staff has a pretty tall order during the summer season. Not only do they need to feed all of the mouths that come through the Chrouser Hall doors (two shift’s worth of mouths, most days), they also need to make sure all of those dishes are done so that every table can be re-set in the 15 minutes between those meal shifts. Oh, and they need to do that three times per day. What’s amazing about this is that there is hardly ever a situation where there’s not enough food. The people in our kitchen are remarkable.


One of the inevitable results of feeding so many people, and making sure the food doesn’t run out in the process, is leftovers. Lots of leftovers. In the past, there wasn’t much we could do with them except throw them away. That all changed very recently under the vision and leadership of Thomas, our new food service manager. Moving forward, we are reducing our food waste, introducing processes to become more sustainable and partnering with nearby ministries to help in any way we can.


We’ve begun packing and freezing any usable leftovers from our meals in Chrouser with the intention of donating anything we can to whoever might need it. Thomas calls it “ministry food”. Almost right away, we were able to make a connection, through one of our summer kitchen-staff members, with a nearby ministry in Gaastra, MI called Mission Bible Training Center (MBTC). They run a discipleship training program and rehabilitation center that is offered at no cost to their participants. In fact, they’ve been fully funded by donors and gifts since the organization was founded in 1962. And just last month, on a rather unseasonably chilly Thursday afternoon, Ron and Steve, two gentlemen from MBTC came by to pick up a few week’s worth of frozen leftovers from the kitchen freezers. As I was talking to Steve, who is one of the directors, about their funding model, I was going to ask him, “so you’ll just go and go until you can’t?” He beat me to the punch and said, “we’ll be going until Jesus returns”. I liked that.

Food Team

HoneyRock has the opportunity to serve all over the world, but we’re also aware of our place here in the Northwoods. We’re part of a neighborhood, in a sense, and with that comes the responsibility to engage in love. The fact that we’re proximate to, and able to partner with a ministry that does a different, though just as valuable, kind of work for the Kingdom is a living reality that life in Christ transcends organizational boundaries. We’re excited about this new initiative, and hope you will join us in praying for more opportunities to serve our community locally, as well as around the world.

You can learn more about Mission Teens, MBTC’s parent organization here.

Passage is Just Around the Corner!

Posted July 11, 2017


So, Passage is less that one month away and we’re here to bring calm to your mind and hopefully make some things a little bit more concrete as you anticipate what might now seem like a swirling mass of unknowns.

Alright, first, this is Passage, which means it is also a class through which you will earn college credit. This means that having your coursework completed before you arrive is actually important, not only for your character development and spiritual formation, but for getting a good start on your whole college experience. Your professors will expect it, and you should too.


Next, you will get the opportunity to enjoy a tech-free environment during Passage regardless of the track you are pursuing. Time and again we discover that taking time to put down screens opens us up to the opportunity of being present, and being present helps us grow in love, character, and relationship. This means so many wonderful things that you will undoubtedly discover during your time here. It also means you can take advantage of the USPS! Because if you write or receive a letter, nobody is going to need to delete it to free up storage.

How about the weather, you ask? Perfectly pleasant. The sun gets hot in the afternoons, making the lake extra attractive (we have canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards that you will be able to use). We’ll get an occasional thunderstorm, too, if you’re into those. And the nights can tend to get cool as well, so if you’re into stargazing, or want a shot at seeing the Northern Lights (it seriously happens), a jacket is great to have.


Lastly, you’ll be living in community in the context of group style housing. This is such a great environment for getting to know your cohort as you do life with them through your Passage experience! Practically speaking, this means bunk beds during your time at HoneyRock and in the city (for Urban track students). Sleeping bags are great for bunk beds, but twin sheets and blankets also work just fine.


We’re so excited for you to be here, and we hope and believe that amidst the whirlwind of this transition that God will meet all of your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. See you soon!

Welcome the Wileys

Posted July 6, 2017

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Meet the Wileys! Our community is grateful that Thomas had accepted the offer to become the latest addition to our permanent staff as the Food Service Manager, a post he officially started in the middle of May this year. In fact, he started the first day for SLS, SALT and WIN. No pressure.

Thomas brings a new kind of energy to our kitchen. Not only is there new delicious food coming out of the windows, but Thomas fosters a desire to reach and disciple people by way of his experience in the culinary world. In fact, he and his family discovered the Food Service Manager listing by searching the Internet for “chef ministry employment.” For Thomas and his family, it’s not just about the food; it’s about inspiring something a little bit bigger.


Thomas’s love of cooking started as a kid, learning all he could from his mother, and it simply never went away. At 17, he worked as a busboy at a local restaurant in his hometown of Minneapolis, which led an opportunity to become a cook. This served as his springboard into the hotel and hospitality industry where he worked with the Radisson Hotel chain for nearly 6 years.

In 2005 Thomas and Polly, then 4 years married, opened their own restaurant in the resort area of Okoboji, Iowa, and in 2006 they participated in a life-changing short-term mission trip to the East African country of Tanzania.


Thomas will tell you that this was the time when his career as a chef and his family’s desire for ministry intersected. They returned to East Africa several times over the years, and in 2012 they made the move from the States to pursue their Tanzanian ministry full-time. We really appreciate the kind of perspective that their Tanzanian ministry has cultivated, as it deeply contributes to our initiative to be a leader in the global camping community.

A short while after returning to back to the US, Thomas took a job as a food manager and production chef for a non-profit organization called Operation Blessing, a division of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club. In short, his job was to travel in a semi-truck-turned-mobile-kitchen to areas of disaster relief and make sure hungry people had something to eat. The work was incredibly demanding. Disaster strikes anywhere, and at any time, so Thomas would sometimes need to move from one job to the next with little warning, and there would be long stretches of time where he would be away from his family.


Now, he Wileys can often be seen working together in the HoneyRock kitchen, preparing food alongside other summer staff, which is something they love about being here in the Northwoods. It would be an understatement to say that Thomas has big plans for how we do food at HoneyRock. His goal is to be the best in the industry, and that means really good things for you. From homemade, HR signature recipes (there’s this new kind of cinnamon honey butter that’s being served that is absolutely fantastic) to turning the kitchen into a kind of leadership development laboratory, the whole culture of our culinary experience at HoneyRock is catching a new, tasty wind. Needless to say, we are expectant of the Wiley’s ministry and food for years to come.

By the Light of the Fire

Posted June 20, 2017

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Fire Stories

 A good fire with good people is a good thing for the soul; many of us here at HoneyRock know this because we’ve experienced it. What you may not know is that in 1974, an anthropologist from the University of Utah, Polly Wiessner, spent 174 days with a relatively unknown African people-group and recorded, in detail, their daily and nightly conversations (check out a couple of the articles about the study here and here) to figure out how their community campfires might be contributing to their social networks.

Fire Stories

During the day, the vast majority of conversational topics tended to revolve around issues of work and things that were happening in the community. Then, as the sun fell and the people put down their daily labor, something remarkable happened: they would gather around a fire and begin telling stories.

Think about the appetite of the children’s imagination as they heard of their heritage and tales of their ancestors. Amazingly, 81% of their nightly conversation around the fire was dedicated to stories and imaginative retellings. Wiessner’s study affirms that there’s something that just draws us to the shared experience of storytelling.

Fire Stories

The campfire and the storytelling shared around it are unsung centerpieces in the transformation that happens at HoneyRock. Whether it’s s’mores with Family Camp or WIN, or the lifeblood of a voyage into the wilderness with any of our camper programs, for whatever reason, it seems like our awareness of the presence of God is finely tuned in the crackle and pop and hiss of a well-made flame.

Fire Stories

So we eagerly anticipate all of the things that will happen this summer by the light of the fire. We look forward to psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “Kumbaya” may be considered a relic of a bygone age, but “Let Us Adore” will leap from the mouths of campers and staff alike, as they gather together to tell their own stories.

How have the fires you’ve sat around, whether at HoneyRock or away affected your walk with God and community?

Passage, the way to Transition for First Year Students!

Posted May 30, 2017


There are so many transitions in this life. Among endless others, here are some of the particularly good, stuff-of-life ones:

  • Our miraculous emergence from the womb into the world.

  • Baby food to solid food.

  • Falling in love...in fifth grade.

  • Falling out of love...two weeks later.

  • Puberty, yup.

  • Moving away and moving in.

And on and on it could go, transitions of place, self, our social networks, our responsibilities and longings, our cares and fears. The thing about these kinds of transitions is that they are almost always formational in one way or another. Transitions shape our perspectives and hearts, and often determine whether or not we’ll thrive when we decide to embrace the new places we find ourselves in.


The transition from anywhere into college is a big deal, something that is well understood by the people that spend their lives here at HoneyRock. People like Rachael Cyrus, our Passage manager, and Rob Ribbe, our director, have been applying some next-level thinking to this whole transition idea; they even conducted a study on the Passage program and published research on what they found. So, if you’re interested in setting yourself up for a great experience at Wheaton, or maybe just in avoiding the angst and uncertainty you now feel after scrolling through the photos of your potential roommate on Facebook, this is something that deserves your attention.


To summarize their findings, Rachael Cyrus and Rob Ribbe write, “The results of this study suggest that there is a statistically significant difference between outdoor orientation program (Passage) and non-outdoor orientation program students (not Passage) in overall adaptation to college, social adjustment, and attachment to institution.” Their research shows that Passage students tend to orient to the college environment better than other incoming students on several different levels.

Here is Wheaton student Molly Reeves putting it in her own words:

“I was encouraged by an alumna friend to attend Passage. Initially, I was doubting my decision to come to Wheaton. I figured Passage would help me figure if Wheaton was really the place I wanted to be. Thankfully, being a part of Passage not only confirmed to me that Wheaton was where I needed to be, but it was through experiences at Passage that I met some of my closest friends! It was so wonderful to have a faculty member that I knew before I even moved in freshman year, and having a group of girls to regularly meet with over the course of the first semester was a huge blessing to my awkward, insecure freshman self. If you are excited about Wheaton, nervous, or unsure, I would highly suggest that you consider Passage! I can guarantee that you will meet amazing people, have an outdoor adventure, and get a vision for what the Lord wants to do in your Wheaton experience.”

Sign up for Passage online today! http://www.wheaton.edu/HoneyRock/Students/Passage  

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