You may be wondering why I’m posting about The Hunger Games. We’ve never posted on movies before, especially a movie trailer. But, we’ve never had one of our Directors in a movie before! Just before counselors arrived for training, our own Jon Brooks spent a couple days as a background extra in the role of a Peacekeeper in the upcoming movie. He was in several scenes, none more emotionally charged than the Reaping. But little did Jon know that he would be the unknown face next to Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) when the trailer premiered yesterday!
We had a lot of fun in the office watching the scene and grabbing screen shots to share with family. Lo and behold, though, that particular shot was featured on the front page of Yahoo! and E! online. Crazy, huh?
With parental approval, the movie should be a lot of fun since it was the popular book at Rockmont this summer for both staff and campers. To see it played out will be exciting. Adding to the interest in our area is the fact that many of the scenes from The Arena were shot not far from Rockmont property!
On Thursday night, the Thanksgiving Tour reached its westernmost stop at the home of Sam and Jan Coker in Jackson, Mississippi! As I approached the house, I could smell a fire burning on the patio, carrying the aroma of camp over the house to greet me. I had a great feeling about the evening from the very start! Soon after I had set-up for the show with the help of Joe, himself a Birch camper last summer, we were welcoming veteran Rockmonters into the home. The Dinkins and Monroes showed up, and they were soon followed by another family who was coming to visit and learn more about camp.
We jumped right into supper, and then headed out to the patio – the same one where I had smelled the fire burning earlier – and roasted marshmallows and crafted our s’mores. With all the boys laughing around the fire, the warm flames in the center of it all, and with the occasional rush to extinguish a flaming marshmallow on the end of your neighbor’s clothes hanger, it felt like we were all back at camp together. Rockmont was fully alive in Jackson last night!
After dinner and s’mores, we moved back into the living room to watch the camp video, discuss the exciting things experienced last summer, and dream about all that is in store for us next summer! The setting was quite relaxed, sharing Rockmont stories with one another and learning about all the things that God has been doing in our lives since camp ended. We’re so grateful for the Rockmont family in Jackson and look forward to seeing more folks from the “City with Soul” headed our way this summer!
I really enjoy visiting other cities and seeing the Rockmont families that are there. Nashville is no exception! The Music City is one of our biggest camper cities, and we also have staff there. The Cook, Locke, and Eidson families were gracious hosts and put together great events for Rockmont. Scott, our Mountain Camp Director, is a teacher at St Paul’s, and Daniel Weatherby, one of our Tribal Directors, is a student at Belmont. One of my favorite coffee shops is also in Nashville, The Frothy Monkey.
On Tuesday, Dan and Scott were at the Cooks’ home, and there was a great turnout of new and veteran families. Wednesday, Scott, Daniel, and I were all on hand to share with friends of the Lockes, and we had a great time sharing the story (see artist’s sketch of the show). The time with the Lockes is always fun for me, since Graham (a Rockmont Alum) was my first counselor back in 1994! Thursday, Scott and I visited with the Eidson family, who have hosted me more than any other family! So it’s always great to re-connect with them and meet their friends.
In addition to the family showings, spending time with Scott, his soon-to-be-bride Stephanie, and Daniel is valued time. Like many in the Rockmont community feel, the friendships that are built during the summer are slipped back in to easily, like a broken-in pair of shoes (or boots, being in Nashville). Daniel and I went in to a few music shops and played guitars that cost more than our cars, and we all shared meals together. It was wonderful.
Shawn is hitting the road this week, so look for his updates on Facebook and Twitter as he goes through Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi!
On Monday, the Thanksgiving Tour crossed time zones and headed northwest to Birmingham, Alabama to visit the Watts family. Russell and Beth, along with their son David, were employing a new recruiting technique that I have never seen before at a Rockmont home show. It involved 10 pounds of 8-week-old silver labrador retriever, and it’s name was “Pepper.” This little pup was just the hook we needed, as she was passed around throughout the evening.
The neighborhood really turned out for the show, including a number of veteran Rockmonters, ranging in age from 10 to 17! There were also some new families that had come to check us out and learn more about Rockmont. After viewing the camp video, the parents asked some great questions, including a question about how we select our staff. This was a great opportunity for us to talk about the recruiting process!
We visit colleges and universities around the Southeast during the off-season. I’m writing this article even now from the Student Union at Mississippi State University, and tomorrow I will be visiting staff in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama. Once we share our vision and mission with these college students and get them to apply, we then spend an hour or more interviewing them so that we can go deeper. We ask them a host of questions, including questions about their own personal growth and spiritual development. They capture a glimpse of our vision for male development, and we determine whether they’re a good fit for this very important work that we do during the summer. Our staff are our most important asset, and so we really invest some time in the recruiting process!
It’s always a joy to visit Birmingham, which has brought us some great staff and fun campers over the years. We will be back next Monday, this time at the Harmons’ home. Thanks again to the Watts family being such gracious hosts! The Thanksgiving Tour continues…
One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to see all the excitement that Rockmont campers bring to these events. When I pulled up to the Beverly home in Thomasville, I was quickly greeted by 3 family dogs and by Max and Rich, two veteran campers. I was looking around for Strong, their brother, and soon discovered that I couldn’t see him because he was climbing a tree. Though I was in southern Georgia, I felt like I was back home in Black Mountain. What a warm welcome!
We were soon joined by the Newman family, and settled in for an afternoon of swapping Rockmont stories and discussing opportunities for next summer. We watched the camp video and then talked Rockmont for quite a while. The boys got so excited telling their own stories from camp that the excitement was almost tangible! We’re so grateful for the Thomasville as our Rockmont family continues to grow there.
One of the highlights of the evening was getting to see Max’s fly tying shop. Max’s dad (also, Max) had built a fly tying station onto the desk in Max’s room, complete with a wood-burned trout in the center of the tool wheel. Max had all his tools set out, including the very important whip-finisher. He also had a proud display of a number of flies that he had tied both at Rockmont and in his own workshop at home. What a cool thing to see Rockmont skills being used and further developed at home! Thanks for a great visit, Thomasville!
While I now live in good ol’ Carolina, I do enjoy driving down to the Deep South. It reminds me of growing up. Many people will argue that Florida isn’t truly a southern state, and that’s fine. But the landscape of old growth oaks and pines and rural communities of northern Florida mirror those of southern Georgia. There’s not much difference between Lake City, FL and Valdosta, GA. Of course, that’s leaving out a certain football game this weekend (GO GATORS). Anyway, it’s like coming home. So I was glad to arrive in Hahira, GA on Tuesday and visit with the Anderson family and their friends.
We had a beautiful setup on their porch, overlooking their farm in the twilight. I joked that it was distracting to look at during the Q&A time! The Andersons were great hosts, and we had a very good discussion with their friends. Time and again, it’s wonderful to be invited in to people’s homes and share the story of Rockmont with the bigger story of what God has for our lives.
Yesterday, I took a lovely drive down rural highways to Tallahassee. The party was hosted by Elizabeth & Jon Bussey, and we had a great time talking about Rockmont and sharing the mission. There was a good mix of new and veteran families, which is always fun. It’s great to see the wide-eyed expectation of someone seeing Rockmont for the first time and asking questions about what’s possible. Equally rewarding is hearing veteran families talk about what was meaningful and important to them. I believe that most young men and families leave Rockmont with something more than just a good time. There is a sense of community, a belief in yourself and who God made you to be, and a willingness to serve. Of course, it’s fun also. What guy doesn’t enjoy 200-ft water slides and face paint while playing Gladiator?!
One more show tonight in Dothan, AL, with the Ivey Family. This is my 3rd year with the Ivey’s and a show I always look forward to. Hope to see the local Rockmont family soon!
The leaves are taking flight here at Rockmont, having reached their peak colors in the last couple weeks! Even as I write, the wind is carrying away our leaves to resting places all over camp and beyond. Our trees will soon appear bare and enter a long winter’s rest before returning with new growth in the Spring. This cycle of changing, taking leave, and later returning is reflected in our work with campers and staff. This summer camp has a way of changing people, of growing them, sending them off into new adventures, and then drawing them back again.
After a fulfilling summer, one person who was filled with God’s love and then took leave from this place was Dave Gardner. Perhaps you remember his news articles posted on our website this past summer, saturated with a deep love for Rockmont and a strong understanding of the power of the summer camp experience. Dave who has been spending his summers at Rockmont for well over a decade is also a recent University of Florida graduate. Having completed school and with a burning desire in his heart to freely give what has been given to him in abundance, Dave recently set out on The World Race to share God’s love abroad and will be serving in 11 countries over the course of the next 11 months.
Just recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with Dave via Skype. Over the last couple weeks, Dave has been building strong working relationships with his fellow mission team members as well as getting settled into the Rosa de Amor orphanage in San Lucas, Guatemala. Dave’s primary work has been a combination of teaching Bible classes as well as leading praise and worship songs with his new travel guitar. He’s even taught the children at the orphanage a few of the Holy Motions we do during Evening Watch at camp. There are now children in Guatemala who know “Ants Marching.” Besides teaching and leading songs, a huge part of Dave’s work is simply playing with and loving on the children at the home. That’s the most fulfilling part for Dave and his team members! Dave has also had some opportunity for adventure. When he returns, you will have to ask him about roasting marshmallows atop a Guatemalan volcano.
This is just one story of a Rockmonter taking leave from camp and doing something good for the world. Others are impacting their homes, neighborhoods, and larger communities right where they live. It can be hard for us all to spend so much of the year apart, but we know that God is working in and through Rockmonters wherever they are. When we see one another again in the summer, it will be exciting to see where the Spirit carried each one of us during the Fall, Winter, and Spring months that separate our summers here. Looking forward to hearing your story before long!
Follow Dave’s journey around the world at http://davidgardner.theworldrace.org/. Stay tuned for more updates on God’s work in and through the lives of the Rockmont family both in the United States and abroad.
I had the pleasure of making a beautiful drive along I-40 from Asheville to Knoxville. The leaves are in their full display of fall color (see slideshow here), making every turn a reminder of God’s handiwork.
When I arrived in Knoxville, at the home of Ashley & Todd Stamper, I was warmly greeted by the family. Soon after set up, the families started arriving. It was a large group of past, current, and future Rockmont campers, and we had a great time catching up, sharing the mission of Rockmont, asking great questions, and learning about Why we do this work with young men.
Another cool part of the visit was getting to see 3 Dads who were a part of our Father/Son Weekend this past April, and how they described the impact it had on them and their sons. Excitement was definitely high for the 2012 Father/Son Weekends coming up next May! Learn more by visiting the Father/Son page on our website
(I regret not getting the picture earlier in the evening, missing out on the 2 other boys and their Dads who had attended Rockmont themselves!)
Well that’s all the travel we have for this week. Next week, Matt heads down to Valdosta, Tallahassee, and Dothan. See you on the road!
Hey Everyone! The fall colors are in full effect here in Western North Carolina, splashing beautiful yellows, reds, and oranges across the landscape. Take a look through the pictures and experience it for yourself!
Pictures were taken in Pisgah National Forest, Montreat, and Camp Rockmont.
What an incredibly beautiful drive it was yesterday heading east down I-40 on my way to visit the Copeland family in Chapel Hill, NC! All the poplars, oaks, and maple trees were filled with vibrant color as I passed by the Seven Sisters mountain range and the mountains surrounding Linville Gorge. Though the mountains are awe-inspiring time of year, it’s always exciting to drive out of them to go see Rockmont families at our home showings!
When I arrived at the Copeland home, I was greeted by Rockmont camper and Flying Eagle Award recipient Benton. As we waited on guests to arrive, we enjoyed watching some of the slide show pictures from last summer. I was so impressed with how much Benton remembered from his camp experience! It was confirmation that our work really does have a lasting and memorable impact on each child. Benton was soon joined by the Stepuras, a fellow Rockmont family, and another visiting family that had come to learn more about this place that Benton has grown to love.
We were also joined by Bert Ellison, a long-time Rockmonter and past Assistant Director living in Durham. Bert was a great help throughout the show. His love for Rockmont is very evident, and we love meeting up with him whenever we can on the road. It was a great day to be in Chapel Hill, and we look forward to growing our numbers in that area!