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Meet Jeanne Halverson, Summer Camp Director, Pilgrim Pines 2012

by Reverend Heather Miner

In February, Jeanne Halverson agreed to serve as Summer Camp Director for Pilgrim Pines 2012.

“It’s a different world up there.  Kindness is cooler than macho-ness, and benevolence gets you more friends than trickery.  I found out that I must have more than a little good in me, because I was a very popular guy.  It is easy to be kind at camp.  Honesty is common practice, trust is as easily accepted as given, and even KP is taken with a smile.”  Jeff Gaskill

     Jeanne Halverson’s reason for  volunteering to be this year’s Summer Camp Director is that young people like Jeff see themselves in a mirror unlike any other:  a mirror which reflects back what is good and holy about them.   Jeanne takes it as her “personal conceit” that heaven is found here and now.  She writes, “I am walking on Holy Ground and everyone I meet is a kindred Citizen of the Realm.”  She continues by saying, “There are rules.  In heaven, I am required to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly knowing that God loves each of us equally and uniquely.” 

     Jeanne has been a mainstay of camp since 1985 when her daughter, now the Dr. Reverend Sarah Halverson, was a Junior Camper.  She lived at camp serving as the Program/Camp Director 2003-2004.  Then she married Dwight who adored her and kept her busy when they moved into Pilgrim Place.  Still, she continued to serve as a volunteer.  This year, Jeanne has said some hard goodbyes to loved ones (including Dwight) who have passed through this life into the next.  The new quiet was broken by a knock at her door.  Into her home walked Petra Malleis-Sternberg and Keith Clark with a proposition that she be the one to direct Pilgrim Pines Summer Camp 2012.   

     Having just attended a memorial service for one who led outdoor camp in another state, Jeanne recalled how testimony after testimony about this man’s life was about how outdoor ministry had changed lives.  Through Facebook she stays in contact with past counselors who continue to be friends.  They make her so proud.   “They are so spiritual,” she lauded.  “They love God and they love people.  They respect God’s earth.” 

     And then she thought…”I love Pilgrim Pines and all the campers AND I know the kid’s favorite hiding places when its getting dangerously close to curfew!  So why not give it another try!” 

     Here she is, a little older, a little wiser, trusting God will use her and all the contacts she has made over the years, and continues to make as she visits churches, to staff the camp with loving volunteers. 

     She proclaims:  “This year’s camp will be built on love:  love of God, love of kids, and love of camp.” 

     Her credentials that led to her being hired as the Program/Summer Camp Director in the first place are a degree in Recreation Administration, a work history of overseeing managers and social workers, and an ability to recruit, train, listen, model, affirm, acknowledge, redirect, cultivate, energize, and honestly praise.   She appreciates camp, having had three children who were greatly influenced by their experience.  And, she has an organizational mind.

     When asked how she was going to get this all done, she had a plan.  Contact past camp counselors and ask them to give one week of their vacation to serve at Pilgrim Pines so that another may have the experience they had.  Ask them to ask their friends if they would apply to serve.  Visit churches.  Locate a point person, and present, with them, both the opportunity to volunteer and the opportunity for their children to come.  Those with experience will be the lead counselors.  Those who are new to camp will assist.  “Everything must be done right,” she repeated.  It was clear that she has high standards for those who would come and be with our children.   

      She’s developed a church presentation and is ready to reintroduce camp to the next generation.  This is a perfect time to invite her into your church and get involved in changing kid’s lives. 

     As she talked, it became clear that this new model presents some new opportunities.  A large church could staff a week on its own.  She had already challenged one to do so.  Churches could partner and staff a week together.  Moms and Dads could serve during the week their children are at camp, working in a different cabin from their children, but still sharing in an experience that will be talked about for years to come.   Mature believers have a chance to share their faith with the next generation.  We all have the chance to go to camp once again! 

     The one thing Jeanne doesn’t have to do is design curriculum.  That has already been done by a group of Christian educators which included June Boutwell.  The children will experience “The Secrets of the Kingdom,” activities based on the parables of Jesus.  Each child will be encouraged to find the “treasure hidden within them” as they sing the songs of the Pines. 

     That’s fitting.  Long ago Jeanne found that treasure within herself.  Since then, she has spent a life time cultivating the kind of faith that longs to connect with and express the wild goodness of God.

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