Pine Valley Camp started its 2022 season a couple of weeks ago. We checked in with Matto Reichart, Jr., Camp Director to tell us all about Pine Valley and how we as a church can help them make a difference in the lives of children.
By Gordon Ovenshine
For At-Risk Kids
Campers’ faces light up when they jump in the pool, ride the water slide or straddle a horse. They beeline for the pizza spaghetti and don’t even get them started on cabin pranks and girl’s night.
All kids deserve the chance to attend a summer camp, especially in today’s era of digital excess and stress. Pine Valley Camp, a ministry partner of Christ Church at Grove Farm, provides a Christian camp experience to hundreds of children who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
Good News Camp
Pine Valley creates an experience where at-risk youth encounter God’s creation, loving community, and the Gospel. Campers take “steps,” not “programs” to become followers of the King.
Summer camp is one of those quintessential experiences of fun, exercise, and enrichment, plus unfolding crushes, bug-bites, and tears for a few. Some campers arrive scared and nervous, shipped off at 10 to the great unknown. Volunteers help children see that it’s going to be alright, even great. Go camp!
“We are so grateful to Christ Church,” says Matto Reichart, Jr., camp director, noting our church’s ongoing support. “You guys are investing, giving the gift of camp, and going above and beyond for people. I thank Christ Church at Grove Farm.”
Day in the Life
The rooftop comes down, the day begins with life lessons and testimonies in the chapel. After “church,” campers rotate between outdoor activities. It’s like a bag of chips, you can’t just have one. Kids take on a water slide, swimming, go-karts, canoeing, and horses. Campers break for lunch, followed by quiet time in no-AC or connectivity cabins and more events. After dinner, girls hit the pool for girls’ night, no boys allowed, gross.
Loving on them
Children need love and support, especially those from broken homes. Pine Valley meets children where they’re at, baggage and all. Staff minister throughout the day. A counselor comforts one boy close to tears outside the chapel. Another staffer reads from the Gospel of John, sitting with a camper beneath a tree. Girls relish a moment of comfort with live bunnies.
As always, Pine Valley follows Jesus’ teaching. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus takes the little children in His arms and says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
“We extend the hope of the Gospel to these kids,” camp director Reichart said. “We have a unique calling. We believe every kid should go to camp, and we realize not every kid can afford camp.
Getting Dirty for a Good Cause
There are all kinds of ways to volunteer. The camp needs handymen and women, office assistants, prayer walk partners, snack masters, luggage escorts, and rebuilders. Carpenters, masons, plumbers, and electricians tackle odd jobs, and ministry groups may adopt an ongoing project, such as cabin maintenance.
Other opportunities include mulching and flower maintenance, deep cleaning of cabins, and greeting people in the love of Jesus. Hospitality teams welcome students to camp on Sundays. Individuals and ministries may also support Pine Valley financially, or take photographs for camp publicity.
Remember the words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
With Jesus as the foundation, staff members expose campers to the Gospel and convey the truth that God’s way is the best way to live, Reichart said. The mission extends beyond a week of summer camp. Pine Valley aims to plant a seed for Christian service, hoping campers will engage their communities for Christ.
“We see the brokenness in these kids,” Reichart said. “The truth is we’re all broken and in need of a Savior.”
If you’d like to volunteer at Pine Valley Camp or make a donation for camp lunches and dinners, or a monetary donation, email Matto Reichart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Pine Valley Camp, visit their website: https://pinevalleycamp.org/home