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  

Family Style Recipe - People

Posted May 12, 2017

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“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of the people”. – St. Luke, Acts 2:46

















I won’t lie, I like Netflix, and I’m not sure there’s anything entirely wrong with that. However, I get at least a little convicted when I realize that, as far as mealtime goes, I’ve probably spent more time eating and watching Netflix over the past two years than I have eating and being with the people I love most in the whole world. A good show, sporting event, or movie can do great things for community, but one of the best things about HoneyRock is that so many of the “staples” of our modern life are left so far in the rearview, and it changes how we eat together.

There are no TVs in Chrouser so, when you’re sitting down together for a meal at HoneyRock, it’s difficult to really do anything without acknowledging the presence of the people around you. Maybe this is the greatest gift of breaking bread together; while we enjoy nourishing our bodies with food, we also address the deepest longings of our soul. This is part of the reason we do family-style eating up here, and has been from the beginning, because it nudges us towards each other, both in proximity and in our connectedness.


But this is HoneyRock, and because of our culture here, it is very easy to establish this personal precedent. Yes, it is, but you can do it. This doesn’t have to be an every-night kind of thing; do it once a week, or twice a month. Just run with the idea that one meal together with family is better than zero meals. Now, how to address electronics. Easy, put all phones in the middle of the table, and the first person to touch their phone has to do the dishes. Any takers?

There you have it, folks, the recipe for vintage family-style meals at HoneyRock for your own hearth and home. Now you can set your table, grab the people that you love most, sit down to some tasty food, and talk about how much you miss the lake.

~ written by Lucas Taylor

Family Style Recipe - The Table

Posted May 2, 2017

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“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.”
– Shauna Niequist


Eating together has been a part of the human experience forever. However, eating around the table is a relatively recent development in the scheme of human history. Some people say it started with the Greeks, but most people say that the table really started to occupy a central place in dining during the period of the great halls in the Middle Ages. Yes, it’s true that we’ve come a long way from these often smoky, likely odorous, gatherings around large trestle tables, but if Niequist is right, and she probably is, we have plenty to be thankful for.

The tables in the Chrouser dining hall have a history of their own, and depending on who you are, the stories that you tell about those tables are potentially very different. Maybe you’re a veteran of the old dining hall, seated around circular tables, fighting your bunkmates for one of the eight chairs. And because there were ten people in your cabin, maybe when you lost that fight you were one of the two poor souls that had to be moved to the “overflow table”. Maybe you remember how obnoxious it was to navigate the clutter, carrying all sorts of highly spillable items.

It took lots of playing around, three mock-ups and just as many trial runs in the design of Chrouser’s table space. What was for certain was that the circular tables had to go. A square or rectangular table would conserve space and make for easier navigation. Another non-negotiable was that the tables needed to have room for an entire cabin, ten people. The vital task, then, was finding the right dimensions.

Once the design was chosen, the work was completed by a craftsman and woodworker in the upper peninsula. In the year 1994, 33 new tables were delivered to their home in Chrouser dining hall. Then we had the first ingredient of the HoneyRock family-style dinner properly surveyed, the table, the “beating center” of this peculiar community, I can’t help but wonder, what about you? What is the story of your table? How do you gather?


As a two part blog series, Lucas Taylor, one of the program assistants at HoneyRock, will continue sharing how we do meal time at HoneyRock - our history and our traditions. As we break bread together, consider how what has blessed this time is during your next HoneyRock experience.


- written by Lucas Taylor



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 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.

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